As someone who has been an outspoken advocate of breastfeeding for a number of years, was scary for me to admit publicly that I am having to formula-feed Baby G. I was afraid people would call me a big fat hypocrite – and a few have – just as I was afraid for a long time to tell anyone that my child had a serious drug problem because I was afraid people would blame the attachment parenting style of baby-care that I’ve written about (and lived). But I felt like I needed to be as honest as possible about the problems I have had breastfeeding this time because so many people have been so supportive and kind as I’ve shared our family’s story so far. I may not share every detail of my life as a mother (I chose to remain mum on Henry’s struggles for several years before I spoke publicly about it) but when I do decide to open up about something in particular, I am going to tell the truth. And the truth is that I can’t seem to make nursing work this time because there’s no milk.
(As an aside, in case you wondered, Henry was formula-fed.)
The fact that I am unable to breastfeed my baby this time around doesn’t diminish my belief in the critical infant-maternal health benefits of breastfeeding for populations of women and babies. But my current experience has certainly offered me yet another perspective on the complexities of mothering in general. If only breastfeeding and bed-sharing COULD prevent addiction in teenagers. God how I wish that were true. But they don’t. And neither do spanking, letting babies cry it out, or vegetarian diets or cloth diapers or the right brand of infant formula or a more expensive stroller or two-parent homes or the perfect child spacing or…or…or