Despite all the hard evidence to the contrary, I like to keep things simple. I don't like clutter. I don't keep birthday cards. I don't scrapbook. I clean out closets regularly.
And I don't breastfeed.
Please, put away your torches and pitchforks. I'm not dismissing the benefits of breastfeeding--although, let's be honest, the pros of breastfeeding do tend to be overstated. Boob-Nazi propaganda tells you that breastfeeding is cheaper than bottle-feeding; yet Boob Nazis are currently gunning for tax breaks on equipment associated with breastfeeding like breast pumps, which can costs hundreds of dollars. Boob Nazis will tell you that breastfeeding is more convenient than bottle-feeding; tell that to every mother who has ever been banished to a dressing room or bathroom at the mall in order to nurse. I can plug my baby's mouth with a bottle anywhere I please without the need for privacy--or worse yet, without being gawked at by people who have a complex about breasts being out in public no matter how natural the cause. Boob Nazis will tell you that breastfeeding makes for healthier, smarter children. I was bottle-fed, as were a lot of my friends, not to mention my very own first-born. None of us are sickly, weak, or retarded, thank you very much.
So despite the obvious hyperbole, I will concede that breastfeeding is the more natural option and thus probably the most beneficial in the sense that usually Mother Nature knows what she's doing. However Mother Nature also designed us for more than sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day, driving gas-guzzling pollution machines on paved roads, and shoving our faces full of processed, chemically-engineered foods all day long. Breastfeeding is great in the way that using cloth diapers is great, or eating organic is great, or not owning a television is great. Numerous studies have been done on the effects of too much screen time on young children, yet no one is calling Social Services about my son watching too many Thomas the Train DVDs. But I am faced on a daily basis, and from otherwise passive and supportive sources, with Boob Nazi propaganda aimed to shame me into doing 'what's best' for my child. I would bet if one compared the material out there persecuting anyone entertaining the idea of bottle-feeding their baby to the material out there condemning smoking and drinking while pregnant, the amount of anti-bottle-feeding material would win hands down.
As I've said before, breastfeeding is great. It's natural, it's healthy, it makes your child love you more, whatever. You can name all the benefits you want, but you will not change my mind. Why? Because breastfeeding makes me crazy.
Breastfeeding takes work, and I don't think anyone--even Boob Nazis--would dispute that. It's not something the comes easily for most. Add in hormones that go from sky-high amounts to plummeting through the floor in a matter of days, visits from family and friends, lack of sleep, and not to mention being responsible for A HUMAN BEING'S LIFE (one who decided to make his debut early, underweight, jaundiced, and absolutely not interested in my breasts at all, by the way), and I was quickly overwhelmed after the birth of my first son. I like control, I like simplicity, I like schedules and routine. None of those things exist when you have a newborn. So for me, nothing was of more importance than gaining back some semblance of control and routine so that I felt like a productive member of society again, rather than a blobby, crying, hot mess of a failure. There were way too many balls up in the air, and some of them just had to go. If taking breastfeeding out of the equation and submitting to that evil known as formula feeding made me happier, then so be it. If the most satisfying moment of my life was emerging from the pain and drama of labor the proud new mother of a healthy baby boy, the relief I felt after hearing my crying child immediately shushed and lulled to sleep with a bottle of formula in his mouth was a VERY close second. It was as if someone had unlocked my shackles. I could eat, I could shower, I could (dare I say it) poop. Hell, I could leave him in the care of someone else while I went for a drive with my husband. I was a new woman! More importantly, I was sane. The hazy hysteria of new motherhood faded away as I let go of things that I didn't HAVE to do.
Pureeing your own organic baby food to avoid cost and chemicals? Washing loads of cloth diapers to save the environment? Giving birth in an inflatable tub in your living room without an epidural? Go for it! Each of us has to find our own way in motherhood. If you can take on breastfeeding, or not vaccinating, or not feeding your child the occasional Happy Meal, and you are no worse for the wear, then I say why not. But I refuse to sacrifice my sanity to meet ideals set by someone else. Particularly when the cons of bottle-feeding are minimal at best. No one has ever had their perfectly healthy newborn baby turned into mentally handicapped boy-in-a-bubble because of formula. After all, if my pediatrician doesn't mind, why should anyone else?
So save the lectures and stern looks. Don't attempt to tell me to give it just one more try. I'm well aware of all the harm that may befall my child by denying him my breasts. I'm also well aware of the undeniable benefits to a newborn baby that come with having a stress-free, well-adjusted, loving and attentive mother. And that is something I would never dream of sacrificing, Boob Nazis be damned!