One of my best friends is pregnant, single and scared.
I've been talking to her through her process and tried to let her know that she is a suitable mother, despite the fact that she keeps complaining and saying that motherhood is not what she was born to do (I don't think anybody does, but specifically for her, I never thought she was going to stay childless forever)
But within all our conversations, I've found myself pushing her into breast-feeding. I've been very insistent with it and, even though she says she'll "try", she's not convinced at all. Says it's not her "hit".
And then I realized I was becoming one of those Nazi mothers that want to impose her own ways into others. And for women that work full time and think the best place for a baby is daycare, it can push you away from them and you can end up being of little to no help.
Then I sat and wondered why I was being so pushy. I have never told her "it's the best for the baby" or "you would be a bad mother if you didn't". I'm more for the "it's best for you" and "the baby would be fine anyway, but breast just makes everything so much easier".
But the fact is, yes, I have gone way above the Mexican standards with my kids, mostly for convenience and practicality, but I do believe it's the best for the baby. And that's when my own life comes into play, that's what I'm really trying to keep them from: baby me.
I was born in the most artificial environment that there is. Evicted 10 days before due date for no medical reason other than ensuring "no labor would occur" and having been deemed "perfectly healthy", I couldn't have brought more problems to my mother if I had tried.
And it all started with the breasts. I latched, I ate, there was milk. Too bad milk was just too much and my feeding needs were 10 days behind. As a result, my mom acquired Mastitis and got very, very sick. OF course, being a doctor, it never occurred to her to seek help, to manually remove the milk (she tried a nasty pump that would stimulate her even more and not get a drop out) or to feed me on demand instead of a rigid 3 hour schedule. It was 1970s Mexico and natural mothering was for poor country unsophisticated women.
What happened afterwards was a series of unfortunate events from which I barely survived, and not without lifelong consequences.
My mom got antibiotics, I was given a bottle and started giving back whatever came in. Yep, turns out I am one of those babies that were intolerant to cow's milk protein. Since we're talking about way before hydrolyzed formulas, somebody suggested soy. Well, it stayed in, so our adventure began. 2 months into it, it was clear that I was not gaining any weight, I had severe respiratory problems and I needed to be moved to a cleaner city. Still had to wait 4 months for that to happen (my mom had to keep working while my dad got his first paycheck).
The series of illnesses and diseases that happened in that period, and the 8 months afterwards is so big that I cannot name them all, but apparently, I don't need a lot of vaccination: I'm already immune (well, I had a measles shot, and got the disease the next week). Viral and bacterial infections became the norm, and within 6 months after birth, I had only gained one pound. I survived on having been a "big healthy baby" from the start. My immune system was so weak that germs had just targeted me and made my body their favorite habitat.
Then another doctor recommended ultra-pasteurized milk, which was new at that time, and it stayed in. Finally I started to gain some strength and weight, but infections did not stop for another 6 months. Turning 1 year of age, and after 6 months of breathing better and getting real food, I started to be a normal child for the first time. But I wasn't growing and my energy levels were still low. I would go to daycare, come back and sleep all afternoon and evening. Wake up, have dinner and sleep again.
2 years later, my father nailed it. A TSH test was done and a diagnosis became evident. My thyroid had stopped working. Of course, knowing the problem leads to treat it, and thanks to a magical pill I have become a healthy adult, with enough energy to deal even with 2 little monsters and a sick husband, work at home and even wash diapers. But at a high cost. I've been taking medications all my life, and it will stop the day I die.
It was much later on in life that I found out there is a huge link between soy and thyroid diseases, and there was even a study correlating soy fed babies with early hypothyroidism (that several sources say it was not conducted properly). My parents always told me it had been one of the multiple infections I had had. But even if that was the culprit, why did the germs not attack other organs, or why other organs resisted attacks better? Yes, I had a genetic disposition, but it was supposed to happen when I turned 40, not before I turned 1.
My parents feel that I blame them for it. How could I? They have taken care of me always, even now. I have no resentment whatsoever for them, specially since I know she tried. I still question the doctor's call to have a programmed c.section at 38 weeks when I was obviously not ready to come out, but that was common practice with a prior c.sec. Maybe that's why I waited until 41 weeks to evict Tiny Guy from the womb.
Certainly, there are several options now for intolerant babies that do not involve soy, which has been discouraged. My dad recommends rice milk before hydrolyzed, it is cheaper and healthier. But it is no breast or comes close to it. There are no antibodies, no allergy protection, no micro-exposure to allergens, no cannabinoids, no oligo-saccharides to help the intestinal flora grow.
Maybe that explains my pushiness. I don't want other babies and mothers to go through what my mom and I went and have gone. Not all diseases can be avoided, not all situations can be prevented. But breast does reduce the probability of them happening in your own kids, so, for easiness, for convenience, for fashion or for fun, give breasts a try.