Adventures in Drool: My talk with Dr. Sears
Last week, I met Dr. Bill Sears.
Sears has been in the press lately for supporting long-term breastfeeding; in some cases past the age of 2.
He spoke to a group of mostly women about the importance of breastfeeding and gave ways to encourage others to breastfeed longer. Sears said breastfeeding should be the norm in the United States like it is in other countries. It strengthens the bond between mother and child, as well as providing neurological and behavioral support for the baby.
That's all well and good. I mean, who doesn't want a smarter baby? And, who doesn't want a stronger bond with their baby?
That seems like common sense. But many women were bottle fed and still believe it is better than breast. As women, let's encourage conversations about the importance of providing breastmilk to our babies for as long as possible.
While I was very impressed by Dr. Sears, I am also hesitant to say he is correct in all areas of his theory.
He tells women to breastfeed longer, but for many that isn't always an option. After listening to his speech, and after thinking about it for nearly a week, I feel I must tell my breastfeeding story.
When Droolface was born, I knew I would breastfeed. It seemed natural to me, and also I had researched the endless benefits of breastmilk. My mother breastfed me, so I would certainly breastfeed Droolface.
I had images of mother and child nestled in bed and cooing while breastfeeding. I imagined it would come naturally. After all, women for thousands of years have done it, so why not me?
It was not as I had imagined. It was hard. Really hard.
Droolface resisted and couldn't get a proper latch because he didn't have a prominent chin. I was sore and couldn't get in the best position to facilitate the latch. And, he was starving. All the time.
It was a struggle.
After practice and practice, we were doing better at breastfeeding. It was exhausting, but I did eventually feel that motherly glow of providing nourishment to my child.
Droolface was always hungry, and he lost nearly a pound of his birth weight, causing our pediatrician to become concerned that he wasn't thriving. I pushed on, breastfeeding more and more to try and satiate my baby.
I pumped, I fed, I ate, I slept. That was basically all I focused on for two weeks. I tried fenugreek and other teas to improve the amount of breastmilk I produced. I pumped every two hours to encourage more production.
I felt like a dairy cow that wasn't performing. We joked I would be put out to pasture for failure to produce.
While I tried to find the humor, I eventually had to resort to formula.
I am still sad that I couldn't perform - but it does not make me a bad mother. I had to come to terms with that.
In the end, I breastfed for almost six months, but I was lousy at it. My body just doesn't do what women have done for thousands of years.
Listening to Dr. Sears (a man) wax poetic about the glories of breastfeeding just brought back all those feelings of failure that I had when I had to stop giving my son "the best medicine."
But, you know what, I tried my best. And, even though I ended up giving up on breastfeeding, that does not make me a bad mother. My son is healthy and thriving in every sense of the world ... and guess what, he's still smart.
So, when you are living your life, yes, listen to those experts out there. But, don't take it to heart if you have to tweak the perfect plan. Sometimes things don't work out. All you can do is your best, and that is good enough.
I still support breastfeeding and think all moms should give it a try. But, don't feel like a failure if you can't do it until your child is 6 years old. Do what is best for your family - that's all anyone can ask for.
Have a great week droolers!