Monday, July 9, 2012

Platinum Boobies: A Double Edged Sword

So last week, my boobies went platinum.

And no, I'm not talking about this:

Last week, my Monkey turned 18 months old. It was a busy week with the nasty storms that came through a few days before and the 4th of July, so I honestly didn't even remember his "half-birthday" until the next day. Then I realized....

I have now been breastfeeding Monkey for 18 months.

Much longer than my initial 6 month goal.

Much longer than my revised goal of 12 months.

Much longer than my original "I think it's weird to nurse when they can crawl/walk/talk" comfort level.

And I have reached what many women consider to be "Platinum" status.

For those that are not aware of the medals, here's a crash course of the status levels I see most often:

Now, I am NOT a fan of the "breastfeeding medals" that go around on popular parenting forums. Many super pro-BF moms have their current medal "status" in their signatures for their posts/comments or on their profile so that every other member on the forum can see their status.

And I'm not hating on them for being proud that they have reached a particular milestone. But, the concept of a BF mom receiving a medal/status for reaching a particular milestone frustrates me because it is a double edged sword.

What about the mom who tried like hell to BF, but wasn't able to for more than a few days due to a variety of reasons? What about the mom who thought she was unable to BF, so she stopped trying during those crucial first few weeks? What about the mom who is medically unable to BF due to health conditions, such as medication she must take that is not safe for BF?

These medals do NOTHING for these moms but make them feel guilty for not BF for longer.

What about the mom who chooses to use formula from the start instead of BF? I mean, it is her choice, and while it is not the one I would make for me and my family, I will not tell that she is making a wrong choice.

These medals do NOTHING for that mom except try to say that the BF moms with medals are better moms, further perpetuating the stupid "Mommy Wars."

So, YES breastfeeding is work. But having a baby is work no matter what you decide regarding breastfeeding or formula. If you are providing adequate nutrition for your child, whether you are breastfeeding straight from the tap, pumping and bottle-feeding, using donor milk, or using formula, what matters is that your child is eating and growing. I mean, it's not like you are giving the baby a bottle of Red Bull or something.

So really, we all deserve medals for meeting the basic nutritional needs. In fact, some of my "fake" friends that I grew to love via an online parenting forum actually started putting bottles/formula cans in their signatures, which was AWESOME.

We would end up with one person having  ( o )( o )  in their signature to show that they had BF for 6 months. And another person might have  [=]  in their signature to show that they had fed their child for 6 months. I mean, it was all very tongue-in-cheek and meant to be funny, which I thought it was hilarious!

I never really saw it as those moms being defensive about their choice or doing it to anger the BF moms. I saw those moms with the "formula fed" status in their signatures and thought, "Hey, these ladies realize that parenting is not about medals, status, and flaunting your accomplishments in the face of other moms. AND they are doing it with humor, I LIKE THEM!!"

I mean, I am ALL ABOUT BREASTFEEDING, but I know that it is hard (even when it is easy), I know that we live in a society that sees it as sexualized and gross, I know that many women (and men) grow up today without seeing anyone breastfeed in their families, and I know that there are some family situations that parents may decide that not breastfeeding will work better for their personal situation.

So who I am to judge and decide that I deserve to flaunt an imaginary medal in the faces of all these other parents? I am no better or worse than another parent based solely on the duration of breastfeeding. 

So no, I am NOT a fan of the breastfeeding medals because I feel that they serve to further the "Mommy Wars", make moms feel defensive or guilty about their own choices, and stop moms from discussing feeding choices altogether to avoid any judgment or backlash.

But, I AM a fan of recognizing an accomplishment. And breastfeeding for 18 months, pushing my comfort level limits off a steep cliff, facing scrutiny from family and friends because I am "still" breastfeeding...ALL of this deserves to be celebrated.

So yes, my boobies turned platinum. But they are still just boobs. My son is still my son. And in a few years, no one is going to be able to look at either of us and say, "Oh, I can TOTALLY tell that you BF for 18 months!!"

Well, unless I really DO get a medal, in which case I will rock that medal around my neck all the time and everyone I meet will ask, "Hey, why do you have a platinum medal with boobs on it?" Then they will know.

So it all boils down to this:

Celebrate what makes YOU feel good about being a parent, but know that it does NOT necessarily make you BETTER than another parent.

We all rock in different areas in the parenting stratospehere. For instance, my kids will never wear a Halloween costume that I made on my own. Unless they want to be a ghost with a simple white sheet, because I could totally do that. But, when I look at the cool homemade costumes that other parents do each year, I do not feel inadequare or that they are better than me. They are DIFFERENT than me. I can admire their accomplishments without feeling like crap that my kids are wearing something I grabbed at a costume store.

So, if you breastfed, whether it was for 2 minutes or 2 years, GOOD FOR YOU.

If you formula fed, whether it was your personal choice from the start or how it just ended up working out in the grand scheme of things, GOOD FOR YOU.

Let's all celebrate and support each other in our parenting decisions. Let's all agree to respectfully disagree when we do not make the same decisions.

And I will go celebrate my platinum boobies by nursing my Monkey boy to sleep. Which, let's face it, is MUCH better than any old medal.

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