I have read a lot, I mean, a lot, of parenting websites before giving birth. I thought forewarned is forearmed and so read everything I was recommended about pregnancy and parenting. I was full of facts and figures about pregnancy, pre-term labour, symptoms of pre-eclampsia, views of both the camps in the epidural or no- epidural debate (I'm a wuss about pain, guess what I chose?) , chances of cord-wrapped-around-neck - you name it- and I had read something about it.
But when I got to being the mommy part- after my child was born, I was stumped. I guess this is a malady amongst women of my generation, of these years, in the early Twenty-First century, give or take a couple decades depending upon the stage of development(read access to the internet) in the country. We get to soak in information by the Mbps full, we just don't think about what such a life-changing experience will actually do to our lives.
I see that younger girls in any family are better prepared because they see the older ones go through this. But most families have one or two children at most and so, most girls, are girls with no immediate woman family member go through the process of emerging motherhood in front of their eyes after they are grown up enough to appreciate this. So they go through this process for the first time by themselves with no benchmarks/goal posts/I'm so fucking this up - in sight. But that is different story for a different day.
My main problem happened with breast-feeding - but it is not the problem itself that is my issue. It is the die-hards I had read before who had been insisting that this is the only way to parent- breatsfeeding or no feeding at all(starving baby will learn to latch on) road- and whose voices are the most stringent in the online motherhood, babyhood, early days, etc portals. I was so taken in by their argument, that I had, in my best intentions towards my as yet unborn child and worst inexperience with little humans and how they never do what you would reasonably expect them to - and hence the problems that might come my way, insisted that I would not buy and take a bottle and formula to the hospital along with all other supplies.
Alas, my child just would not latch on. No matter what I tried. Throw in hormones, tiredness from the pushing the 3.8kg baby out, and the bleeding and the soreness due to the stitches - oh yeah, the worst parts in the "What to expect while expecting" are all true. And I tried. So hard. I met three lactation consultants and was pushed and poked and squeezed - oh yeah- another thing they don't tell women who are about to be mothers- nope, breasts are no more about sex or sexiness- they are now baby-nutrition-machines and all sorts of women will take amazing liberties with them - nurses, doctors, visiting aunties and grandmas, servant maids, basically almost every woman who has been a mother and can claim to be an Indian, thinks she's an expert on breast-feeding and will try to help. By suggesting ways to hold baby, ways to put breast into baby's mouth, how to keep it there, how to stop a baby who won't release its hold, etc.
We, my baby and I, eventually overcame our latching issues - but only after weeks of tears (Oh, why won't the baby latch on?) "Its been a whole day, we have to feed the baby something" to weeks of pain ( Where is the nipple-cream??? Arghhh), Let's try nipple shields, Breast - Pumping? Nope, nothing works, to overflow problems ("I'm leaking again, where's the baby?"). We went through the whole gamut along with loss of hunger and hair(for me- the kid was just fine) due to the stress, the blues, the doubting Thomases, more blues, the breast-squeezing-and-shoving-it-into-baby's-mouth aunties, hassle of getting the birth certificate, sitting down and getting up, etc
Which is why I say - screw it! Is breastmilk good for the child? Undoubtedly. Is it necessary? Nope. Is formula easier? Yes. Is sterilising easy? Nope. Highly time consuming, monotonous, and if you don't do it right- the bottles become petri dishes. Want to do a bit of both types? Sure, why not? But if the kid gets too attached to one way, you can't get it to switch ways easily.
Any way you chose is likely to be stressful, and there is no right way. In all this stress, you only lose out on the sweet, innocent, beautiful baby's first few days, which will never come back.
Just pick your way, don't stress, and most importantly, don't judge a woman who picks a way different from yours and force your way down her throat or more aptly, down her baby's throat.
Baby happy and healthy? You are set.
Happy motherhood ladies!