Yes, I am “Mom Enough”

Perfectly happy with her bottle. A happy baby is all that matters!

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the latest issue of TIME.  You know, the one with the mom breastfeeding her 3-year-old son? (I’m  not posting it here because I think it’s gotten enough play in the media already. And, this is my blog and  I think my baby is cuter. )  I find lots of things wrong with the magazine cover.  (Can we say “humiliation” for that kid when his friends see the picture?) But what bothers me most isn’t the photo, it’s the text. The cover asks “Are You Mom Enough”  Four simple words that pit mom against mom.  Four simple words that cause judgement. That cause doubt. That cause pain. Just in time for Mother’s Day.

As if us moms don’t have enough on our plates, already. As if we don’t question every decision we make. As if we don’t feel like failures at least half the time. As if.

Now TIME tries to make us feel “less than”  on Mother’s Day.

“Breast or bottle?”  is one of the most personal choices a woman will ever make. It isn’t something that any mom takes lightly (at least none of the moms I know) It’s serious business. It’s about the nourishment, and survival of our babies.  The breastfeeding choice brings many other decisions to be made, like, “how long?”

This cover (though, I have not yet read the article itself) seems to say “If you don’t breastfeed your kid through college, you’re a failure….you are not ‘Mom enough'”  I know it’s about more than breast-feeding.  Attachment parenting also includes things like baby-wearing and co-sleeping.  But since the photo is clearly the big topic of discussion, breastfeeding is what I’m addressing here.

Avery is almost 6 weeks old.  For the  last 6 weeks I have struggled with breastfeeding. It was difficult from day one when every nurse at the hospital gave different (terrible, tear and rage inducing) advice.  At first we thought it was just the typical learning curve and we’d “get it” sooner or later.  But then we discovered (after a week of tears–both mine and Avery’s) that she couldn’t latch due to an issue with her palate. We got a shield, and things seemed to work, but she was ALWAYS hungry, and clearly not getting enough milk.  I’ve worked with a lactation consultant, and my doctor, yet, for some reason, my body doesn’t produce much milk.   Not a day (or feeding) goes by where I don’t feel upset that I can’t feed my baby as nature intended. (If we were animals, in the wild, Avery wouldn’t survive. She’d starve to death.  Fortunately we’re not. And we have formula for those of us who are unable or who choose not to breastfeed.  ) But I know I have done all I can do.

I was “Mom Enough” to ask for help.
I was “Mom Enough” to take fenugreek supplements for weeks.
I was “Mom Enough” to sit home for 72 hours and pump every 2 hours around the clock.
I was “Mom Enough” to keep trying even when I could only pump a heartbreaking few drops of milk.
I was “Mom Enough” to ask for help (again)
I was “Mom Enough” to realize that it wasn’t working.
I was “Mom Enough” to know that feeding my baby was the most important thing.
I was “Mom Enough” to see that Avery was thriving on formula.
I am “Mom Enough” to do what is best for myself.
I am”Mom Enough” to do what is best for my child.
I am “Mom Enough” to know that each mom makes choices based on what works for her, and her baby.
I am “Mom Enough” not to judge those choices.

I am “Mom Enough” to love my baby girl, and know what is best for her.

Maybe I’m not “Mom enough” to breastfeed my child into adulthood, but I am”Mom Enough” to know that I am “OK” with that.

We are all “Mom Enough”  despite what some magazine covers and other, nasty and cruel moms may try to make us feel.

If you are interested in this topic, Carla from “All of Me Now”  is running a series on How The Mommy Wars Were Won.  It will address topics just like this, and talk abut how we can stop fighting and realize that, as moms, we’re all in this together.  I wrote a post for it, and hope to write more. Check it out!

6 comments

  1. kamellia73 says:

    Good for you!! Those early weeks can be so hard and so stressful. I know a mom who pumped for months and months trying to get her milk to come in (it finally did!), and another whose baby wouldn’t latch so she expressed breast-milk to put in bottles for a year. I’m sure I would have given up much sooner. My son was a preemie and we had to mix formula with breast milk for several months. Without modern technology, my baby or I, or both of us, would have died. We are lucky to have the resources we have now.
    We all do our best (and most of us wish we could do even better), and the TIME cover was deliberately trying to play into the anxiety that many of us have about our mothering abilities.

  2. theangelforever says:

    Thank goodness mothers know that it does not matter what, how, or why we do certain things – only that we do what is best for our kids. Nobody really understand how had nursing is those first weeks until you experience it. I pumped for my oldest for 3 months before he latched and it was only because I had a witch of a lactation consultant tell me to quit. Avery is gorgeous and you are an amazing mother. Being happy is the most important thing. As a formula fed baby of a mother who never produced milk, it was my mother’s love that mattered most.

    Time – they can go jump off a bridge. Clearly their sales are down and the only reason they produced that cover and subject was to get copies sold. Problem is I will not read nor buy their magazine. Those words hurt and not because of nursing. I knew they were trying to get mothers to go to war against each other. Of course, bigger in my mind is the real victim in this. Did anyone think about that three year old little boy on the cover? We all know who he is now. Children are cruel and you know this will not go away when he gets older and is in school. I blame everyone involved for not thinking of the person that had no real say in this situation.

  3. Megan says:

    Sarah, your experience with BFing is similar to mine with my little boy. With my daughter, I chose formula. Then as I got close to so many mamas who BF, I decided I wanted to do it with my son. I was excited for it. But I only made it through 2 days. His jaw position made latching difficult so the lactation consultant told me to pump every two hours, put him to the breast every two hours (before pumping) and then supplement with formula.She said he wouldn’t get the nourishment he needed just from BFing, since his jaw was so off. I was mom enough to realize that there was no way I could do all of that and take care of my 21 month old daughter at the same time. Formula worked great for her, she is a thriving, healthy & smart 2 year old now. So I made the decision to give up my dream of BFing my son, because it was the best thing for our entire family. I’m still holding out hope that it works when baby number 3 comes along though :)

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