Monday, July 11, 2011

No Substitute For Mom

Lincoln's pediatrician told us before we moved to Tucson, that with the adjustment to the heat here, Lincoln might be wanting to nurse quite a bit more often so as to keep from dehydrating.

I won't go it to all the details, but suffice it to say that that has turned out to be a very true statement.

He told me that I might want to consider giving him a little Pedialyte each day to assist in keeping him hydrated. So, on the 4th of July we tried some out. But Lincoln was not amused with the experience. He certainly wasn't pleased with the flavor (strawberry), and after tasting a bit myself I could see why - the stuff tastes disgusting. And, not only was I trying to make my baby drink cough syrup - a would be traumatic event for any child - I was serving it to him in a bottle. And after over 4 months of life, never having had a bottle to his lips the experience was confusing at best.

I decided before we try Pedialyte again (in a different flavor next time), that we should get him at least somewhat familiar with a bottle. So yesterday I pumped a couple ounces and let Squire have his first go at feeding his son. Lincoln received it pretty well. Though he seemed a bit confused as he looked from bottle to me, to me to dad, to his bottle again. The taste was familiar to him, but the experience was certainly not.

You know something? I really didn't like my baby drinking out of a bottle. For about 2 seconds as Squire was feeding Lincoln, I thought, "Oh! How sweet!" And then just as quickly my thoughts turned to indignation. I felt irritated and a little vulnerable as I watched my baby being nourished from a source outside myself. "I don't like this. I don't like that bottle," I kept telling Squire. Though the bottle was supplying nourishment provided by me, he wasn't getting it from me. I was happy to accommodate Lincoln's cries for me when he decided that instead of finishing all the milk from the plastic that he preferred me to nurse him for the rest of his feeding.

I thought quite a bit about this silly(?) incident yesterday. At church, the lesson was on the roles of mothers, fathers, and children in the family. Through pondering over this isolated experience of mine, I came to the deeper general conclusion that the responsibilities of motherhood were never meant to be passed off to others.

No, I don't think it would be the end of the world if my son drank my breast milk from a bottle every now and then. And, I certainly don't believe that I should be the only source of nourishment and knowledge for my child throughout the course of his life. As his mother, am I not raising my son to become a secure, happy, independent adult? I am.

But we have time to get to independence. And in the time my little baby is in my care, I have the sacred calling to be his primary nurturer. I know it isn't politically correct to say this, but I believe it still the same. In our modern world we have forgotten that before the the advent of man-made formula and breast pumps, babies needed their mothers to survive. And, this small experience I had yesterday reminded me yet again, that despite (and in spite!) of the advent of modern ideals and technology - babies still need their mothers.   

6 comments:

  1. I think you're a tad silly that, even though it's your milk, it bothers you that he drinks from a bottle. I understand the predatory Mominess of doing things yourself and that "you always do it best" cause your Mom feeling!

    And not all babies were breastfed in the past before formula wasn't available. Wet nurses or goat or cow's milk was often given to young babies. Formula is WAY better than what some people used to feed babies and definitely not a bad thing! Just keep it in mind. I may have breastfeed both of my twins longer than 12 months, but they also both drank formula from time to time too.

    Breast is best, but go easy on those who can't or even choose not to breastfeed. Their kids can still end up going to Harvard too.

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  2. I love blogging because it truly is a place where you can put your opinion, just like your tag says, "IMO." I respect that but would like to add one disclaimer if you don't mind. :) As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ as well, I'd like to say to all non-members reading this that although Jami is awesome for including LDS links, the issue of breastfeeding is strictly a personal decision, and one that the church does not force upon anyone. Just clarifying. :)

    I am happy to read that you enjoy breastfeeding so much because I wish I did more. I am a little selfish and LOVE my Girls Nights Out and freedom that pumping and/or supplementing provides. But then again, you are "A Bit Backward" as you say but there is nothing wrong with that. Power to ya girl!

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  3. @ Lindsey: Thanks for pointing that out Lindsey. This post was simply my opinion. The church does not carry an opinion on this particular issue of breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding. The church's official counsel is found in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" where is simply states: "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children." :)

    @ Katelyn: I wasn't attacking formula per se. Nor was this post an attack on those who can't or don't breastfeed. (I was feeding my baby something other than breast milk. And some of my own from a bottle - both evidence that I was ok with trying something other than "Breast".) And just to clarify for myself as well, I am not 100% anti-bottle or formula. I plan to continue working with Lincoln on the bottle a bit each day so that I can get my own girl's night/date night in soon. :)

    This post is more a blanket statement about how we have all these things nowadays (and yes, they are superior options to what we used to have) that make separating ourselves from our babies and children more possible. Especially in America there is a drive to make our children "independent!" before they've even learned to focus with their eyes. While it can be convenient (and I'm grateful there are options for all - whatever their personal circumstances may be), I'm questioning whether it is right to incorporate so many of those products at every possible turn. Formula and bottles are great for a lot of people, but their unnaturalness gives me an uncomfortable feeling - a feeling that we are moving too far away from our children in general. Both physically and emotionally.

    Another example I'll incorporate into this discussion: there are piles and piles and piles of articles written about how mothers shouldn't feel guilty about leaving their babies to go back to work. Yet, I can't seem to find many for moms who feel guilty for their choice to stay at home with their babies. (Though I can find some about women feeling bored and lonely at home - I have a really exciting post about this in the works.) I know this is yet another touchy subject for many. I'm not saying that in every circumstance a mother shouldn't work, though I am suggesting that the uncomfortable feelings we have about separating ourselves from our children may be an indicator that we are going in an unwise direction. The inklings we experience in parenting should not be ignored.

    I thought it a bit silly of myself to have felt so strongly about this experience of my baby drinking my milk from a bottle which is why I took the time to think on it some more. Upon studying it more deeply, I found it was because it was a philosophical extension of my beliefs about the importance of mothers - that they should be there for their children - and not just in quality time, but quantity as well. What are the value of our thoughts and feelings if we do not take the time to understand why we have them?

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  4. I appreciate your considering such a deep thought from such a daily task. As I read this it didn't seem to me that the issue here was breast feeding, but something much more intrinsic to motherhood and the family as whole. Not that there is no substitute for breast milk, (because absolutely Katelyn--we've made huge strides to healthier formula and frankly moms get tired and could use a minute some times), but that there is no substitute for mom. It is not the bottle that is the problem, nor the formula, it is the synthetic representation of motherhood. Although it's a good substitute, actually a great substitute, it can't transcend the word we use to describe it--substitute. Mother's are irreplaceable, gender roles are irreplaceable. Contemporary language, try as it might to make everything politically correct, cannot create a politically correct term for mother. It is intrinsic to humanity, irreplaceable. It is rare that in a society where it is so popular to emphasize gender neutrality that our very own language can't escape one of it's first linguistic creations. So let the bottle feeder and the breast feeder link arms and embrace a calling that supersedes modernities failed attempt at trivializing it's intrinsic calling: motherhood.

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  5. Beautiful summary Kristen!

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  6. @ Kristen: Amen my friend. You said it perfectly.

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