By Jocelyn Rowe
Remember that one time when you applied to have your child enrolled in that private elite preschool program only to have them rejected because they weren’t breastfed? Or that time when your 5-year-old came home crying when no one would play with him on the playground because they could tell he was formula fed as a baby? No? Oh wait, that’s right. That probably never happened because it would be completely asinine.
So why do so many people care about how you feed your baby? I mean, in the end, aren’t they all going to be eating chicken nuggets off your minivan floor some day?
When I was pregnant with my first child, all of the different people in my life took a newfound interest in how I was going to be feeding my baby. Family members, friends, even the cashier at Kohl’s all asked me the same question: “Are you going to breastfeed or bottle feed?” I honestly hadn’t given it much thought, so I turned to my dearest and truest friend. My one companion that always has the answers to all my life’s problems. Google.
However, Google did not prepare me for the virtual bloodshed that occurs in mommy internet forums. Seriously, these women make Mike Tyson look like a defenseless puppy. Hiding behind the comfort of computer screens, they will not hesitate to remind you that if you are not breastfeeding, you might as well feed your baby rat poison. So when I knowingly made the choice not to breastfeed, I knew I needed to come up with an arsenal of lies and excuses to defend my choice in the public eye.
The truth of the matter was that I simply did not want to breastfeed. The mere thought of breastfeeding made me cringe. I could actually feel my nipples crying just thinking about it. Or maybe that was just my boobs leaking, but still.
And every time I tried to envision nursing my newborn, the same daydream would play out in my head. I pictured myself breathing heavily while hovering over my husband at 3 AM. My fists would be clenched and my eyes would be burning from my lack of sleep. And there, in our king sized bed made of clouds and unicorn fur, my husband would be sleeping belly up, like a bloated dead goldfish. His mouth would be wide open as melodies that sounded like chainsaws would muffle from his mouth. I’d stare and silently ponder, “Could I suffocate him with a pillow?” or ”Would he fit in a wood chipper?” And this would all be his fault. That’s right. This would all be his fault due to his inability to lactate and his capacity to sleep through nuclear warfare.
I’ve been called selfish for formula feeding. Maybe I am. All I know is that having a human being take over your body for 9 months can be exhausting. I cringe thinking about my baby’s tiny little jaws latching down on my cracked, bleeding nipples.
After I give birth, I enjoy having a drink or 2 without having to worry about giving my baby its first beer buzz. I also enjoy getting a few hours of sleep while my husband takes a night shift to feed the baby.
Do these things all make me a bad mother? My family thinks I’m awesome, so I’m pretty sure that’s all that matters. I will never apologize for formula feeding my kids. Contrary to popular belief, baby formula actually does not consist of anthrax and Satan’s tears. My children are happy, healthy, smart and loved even though I was warned that bottle feeding them would ensure they’d contract typhoid fever, hate me and be jobless for an eternity.
I think we should just leave all mothers alone regardless of how they are feeding their babies. Motherhood is challenging enough already.
About the Author
Jocelyn lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and 2 kids. As a high school teacher, she spends time Googling the meaning to rap lyrics and Urban Dictionarying slang terms so that she can appear cooler than she really is. She enjoys running, drinking copious amounts of white wine, and pretending that she cooks for her family.