Over the last few days I have been reading all kinds of articles about different types of birthing options and feeding options. My plan has been to go for a natural birth, if I can. I'm realistic enough to know that my pain tolerance isn't as great as it once was and with age I'm finding myself pro-medication. I also am struggling with feeding Penelope. I couldn't breastfeed with Olivia for several reasons, the main one being my post-partum depression was so bad that there was no bonding happening and quite frankly, how either of us made it out of that is a miracle. With Jackson he was such a huge eater from birth that there was no way. I mean, this kid chugged down 8 ounces of formula in a half hour.
Let that sink in.
But what has become abundantly clear to me is that as a society, we are really terrible to each other. Not just humans in general (though that is certainly applicable), but as women. As mothers, we are terrible to each other. Every article I read has comments from people of polarizing views.
A few months ago remember the commercial that was supposed to be a parody on parenting? You had your breastfeeding moms, your formula moms, the baby wearing moms, the stroller moms, the small group of dads, etc and they all look like they are there for a giant gang fight but then a stroller runs away and they all run after it and it's supposed to be this "we're all in it together" type thing? Except nobody took it as that, it was all "which group was portrayed the worst?" and it sent parents over the edge with terrible comments.
Recently, there are memes from some crazy group that say things along the lines if you have a c-section you have failed at motherhood already. If you had your child in any way other than a drug free natural birth, you should have your child taken away. Granted, it's probably internet trolls at the helm, but even still. To make a mother feel inferior based on the way her child came into this world? Deplorable. If you were in labor for 100 hours, full of pain, drug free like a total warrior- good for you. It doesn't make you any more of a mother. If you gave it an hour and demand an epidural? Good for you. Either way, you birthed a human. And that is a triumphant miracle no matter how it happened.
I've gotten into arguments with the whole "breast is best" slogan and how it's really a terrible thing to push on a mother. Yes, I get it- breast milk is wonderful. It's handy, it's cheaper, it's natural, it's super great. But you know what? So is formula. You know why? Because at least you're feeding your baby. Are either of my children at a disadvantage because I didn't breastfeed? No. Both are healthy, smart, and right on track since birth. Instead of supporting other mothers, or being grateful they are taking care of their baby, we're so quick to point out what they should be doing. We say, "Well, it's not meant to be easy. But there are support systems! It takes practice! It gets easier!". All of which are the worst possible things to say to a mother at 2 a.m. when she hasn't slept, she's in pain, the baby won't stop crying, she won't stop crying, and she wants it all to end.
I know that because I was there.
I have never in all my life felt like the worst parent in the world like I did the time I had a lactation consultant, a pediatrician, and a mental health doctor all telling me to just try harder and not to worry that I felt nothing towards my baby. I felt pressured. I felt ridiculed, I didn't feel supported, and I was scared. I was scared that on day two, I was already failing as a mom.
And quite frankly?
No mother should ever feel that way. Ever. no matter what.
Because what works for you, won't always work for someone else. We're so quick to push opinions and show facts and be a right fighter. We're bullying each other over parenting. What ever happened to minding your own business? Even if someone puts it all out there, why do we feel we have to comment on it? Why do we have take an opportunity to tell another mama how to do something better? Why can't you just worry about you?
Instead, we should say things like:
"It's so hard. I know. It gets better, but by god- it takes awhile."
"It's going to be OK."
"You're doing a great job."
"It's OK to feel like you aren't doing it right. You are doing everything right."
"Can I help you with anything?"
Things like that. Why, as women, who demand that men treat us as equals do we treat each other like crap? I'm all for sharing an opinion, facts, ideas, whatever so long as you were asked to give it.
To me, it's no wonder we're raising a generation of mean girls. We're doing that because we are mean girls. We are not supportive of each other, we are not showing our daughters what it means to pull another mom out of a rut. We're so busy being right that we forget that it isn't even about us. It's about our babies. Our job as a parent is to make sure we raise decent human beings with kind hearts, good morals, and gentle souls. How we get to that point is up to us. We have no right to look down on anyone who takes a slightly different path than what we think is best to get their child to that point.
Will they fail? They might. They might do a better job than we do.
But even still.
The fact I am getting ready to have my third baby and I already am worried about the stigma of asking for epidural is kind of horrible. The fact I'm scared to say I want to mostly formula feed, but I'd like to try to pump what I can and give that too and how I know it'll mean a lactation consultant will come to my room and try their best to get me to try breastfeeding, how I know I'll feel upset and anxious and they won't care. They won't care because their job is to push the "breast is best" and tell me it'll be OK and I'll get the hang of it. Which will only make me feel more stress and I'll resent being the sole person feeding her.
I know all of this will happen because that's what society thinks is helpful. It's not. It would be nice, if for once people said, "You know what? Whatever you want to do, I will help you and I won't question your motives or try to push anything on you. Tell me what I can do to make what you want happen, no questions asked." Can you imagine how great a woman would feel leaving her care facility after delivery?
So I ask of you to think about what you post on Facebook, Twitter, wherever before you do it. YOU think you're being helpful by posting facts and reasonable arguments. They might all be totally true. But you at the same time might be inadvertently bringing another mother down. I don't think you mean to, but you're doing it. And is it worth it? Is it worth bringing someone else down when they are just doing the best they can doing the hardest job on the planet?