Can I tell you a secret?
I'm a little afraid of the Internet this week. August 1st -7th is World Breastfeeding Week, and as a breastfeeding mom, I'm ready to shout my success from the proverbial Internet rooftops. I've nursed Ben for 14 months, and I have been pretty vocal about how I've overcome some nasty hurdles so that I could breastfeed him.
But I am also a former formula-feeding mom. Max grew strong and healthy with formula, and I remember how it felt to see so many moms high-fiving each other during World Breastfeeding Week. Of course I was thrilled for them, but I was heartbroken for myself. I felt ostracized by their celebrations, and became increasingly fragile and sensitive to judgment.
There's going to be drama on the Internet this week, ladies. Moms like to shame each other. We do it because we're exhausted, or frustrated, or feeling unsure about our own parenting choices. So in honor of the warrior moms on both sides of the World Breastfeeding Week celebrations, I officially present to you 30 Ways That Breastfeeding and Bottle-Feeding Are Exactly The Same:
1. You are only half-awake when you have to feed your baby at 3 a.m. And again at 3:45 a.m. And again at 5:15 a.m sweet Jesus why are you still waking up little baby?!
2. You hold your breath when it's time for their weigh-in at the pediatrician's office, and cross your fingers for just a few more ounces gained this time.
3. You cry over spilled milk. That stuff is precious, and it's painful when it's wasted.
4. You pay way too much attention to your baby's poop. Is there enough? What color is it? Will you be in the middle of the grocery store when they have their next blow-out?
5. You become an artful dodger of spit-up.
6. You will argue with someone over how you are feeding your baby, when you are feeding your baby, or what you are feeding your baby.
7. You will wonder if you're doing it wrong, and convince yourself that everyone else has learned how to do it right.
8. You'll start out at the bottom of the learning curve, and look back with pride when you realize that it didn't get easier... you got better at it.
9. You'll rely heavily on a vice to get you through the first few months of constant feeding. Coffee, Sonic drinks, wine, decaf tea, chocolate. Something that is just for you.
10. You will pray that your baby falls asleep while you're feeding him. You will close your eyes and pretend to be asleep, so that they get bored and go to sleep. Mostly, you will actually fall asleep.
11. You will talk to yourself. A lot. As if your baby could actually read your mind, and hear the "Please go to sleep. Please go to sleep. Please go to sleep. Oh my God what the hell was that NOISE?!" prayer.
12. As soon as you sit down to feed the baby, your toddler wants something.
13. As soon as you sit down to feed the baby, the doorbell rings.
14. As soon as you sit down to feed the baby, you hear your 5-year-old dumping an entire bag of pretzels on the floor because he is "big now, Mom" and can get his own snacks.
15. Your baby tries to grab your glasses off of your face every time you feed her. You give up and let her. Who needs to see, when you're pretending to be asleep?
16. Regardless of what you're feeding her, she would prefer your drink. And it's even better if she can put her entire arm in your glass.
17. You will obsess over having "enough" to feed her.
18. You think a lot about feeding your baby, but not enough about feeding yourself. So you eat Goldfish crackers for breakfast and try not to drop crumbs on the baby's head as you feed him.
19. When you are feeding your baby in public, you convince yourself that everyone is watching you... and judging you.
20. You will have to pee as soon as your baby stops crying and starts eating.
21. Your baby will get distracted by the noise of a butterfly cruising by outside the window, or a train coming through the town 30 miles away. Your feeding session will be over when he tries to catch the butterfly, or board the train.
22. You'll cry when you have to go back to work, and let someone else feed him.
23. You'll cry when it hits you that you're never going back to work, and that you're the one who will be responsible for feeding him forever and ever until the end of time.
24. Your mother-in-law will have an opinion about how you feed your baby.
25. Your pediatrician, your neighbor, and the guy who bags your groceries will, too.
26. You'll obsess over whether or not your baby will take a bottle from the sitter the first time you go out on a date night.
27. You are secretly proud of the fact that you are the only one who can get him to go to sleep, because you have that special thing that you do together while he eats, and you sing that special song that only you sing.
28. One day you take a breath, and realize that you did it. You've made it this far, and you really are OK.
29. So you look back and you reach your hand out to the mom who is just starting the journey, and you promise her that you'll teach her your tricks. That she can do it, too. And you tell her that the best part of feeding your baby with love, is that...
30. You will memorize the way his eyelashes melt into his cheeks as he drinks, and live for the moments when his chubby little palm pats your arm. The best part of your day will be the silent minutes when you and your baby relax into each other, and he eats, and you breathe, and you rock.
Kim Simon is a Co-Founder of the I Support You project, which aims to foster understanding and connection between formula-feeding and breastfeeding moms. To learn more about this campaign, please visit the I Support You Movement or Mama By The Bay.