It’s hilariously funny to me how I was so judgmental towards other parents before becoming a parent. “You should always do this, you should never do that” type of judgments. After becoming a mother, I continued this way for a while, even judging myself – whether or not I thought I was being a “good” parent. That all changed around the time my daughter was 9 months old.
I had this firm belief that I was going to exclusively breastfeed until Brooklyn was one year old. It was my goal and expectation. I said that after the year mark I would see how things were going and probably wean her shortly after. Here’s the reality – My body stopped producing enough milk around 9 months. This was probably for a combination of reasons. I was working more and having to pump more often. We were also sleeping through the night (score!) which meant not breastfeeding at night. She got her bottom two teeth and started biting me. (Yes, that hurts as much as it sounds like it would.) And honestly, she wasn’t as interested in breastfeeding anymore. She would latch on for about 30 seconds and pull away and it would be a struggle to get her back on. The final reason was that I went to my OBGYN because I was having excessive bleeding multiple times a month. She found an ovarian cyst. She put me back on the pill and told me that I would want to stop breastfeeding so that Brooklyn wouldn’t be getting those hormones. (That cyst is now gone a few months later, whew!)
I was really hard on myself about this change of plans. Here was the reality: my body slowly stopped producing milk, my baby was fine with it, and she is perfectly healthy. Here’s how my mind went: You should have tried harder, you should have gotten up at night to pump, it’s my fault. Ugh. It makes me cringe thinking about it now. I was judging myself big time, as I had previously judged other mothers who didn’t/couldn’t breastfeed. I’m sure some mothers reading this are judging me right now for not making enough of an effort. In fact, I’ve hesitated sharing my experience for fear of judgment from other moms.
One of the things that my yoga practice has taught me is to listen to my body. Hear it’s cues. I realized how incredible my body is through pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. My body has an intelligence that I don’t fully understand. And my body was telling me that it was time to stop breastfeeding. My baby was even pulling away and telling me it was time to stop. My mind just took a little longer to catch up to the reality of the situation.
Since then I have made a huge effort to be less judgmental toward myself and other parents. The truth is, being a parent is hard. You have a little person that you have to make tons of decisions for – carseats, childcare, food, vaccines, schools, activities…the list goes on and on. I believe that 99% of parents are making the best choice for their child with the best intentions at heart. It might be different from your choice and that’s ok. It’s important to remember that we are all individuals with different personalities and we have children who are individuals with different personalities. What works for one family might seem insane to another and vice versa. There is no one size fits all answer to everything.
Do I wish I could have breastfeed longer? Yes. Am I going to beat myself up about it? No. Will I judge moms who never breastfeed? No. Will I judge the mom who supplements with formula? No. Will I judge other mom who breastfeeds until their child is 3? No. It’s none of my business. They are making the best choice for themselves and their baby. Who am I to judge?