Was I a subpar mom because I didn't nurse my babies?

Was I a subpar mom because I didn't nurse my babies?

There has been a hot story out of Chicago the past couple days: a woman got kicked out of a trade show at McCormick Place because she had her 10-day old baby with her.  The rules, which she was aware of before she made the trip from Minnesota, were that children under 16 were not allowed.  She had hoped they wouldn’t apply to her.  While I find that attitude irritating, that’s not what bothers me most about it all.

At the crux of the story is that fact that this new mom was breastfeeding her baby and therefore couldn’t be separated from him to make the trip, which was apparently a great opportunity for her family owned winery.  She was reportely asked to leave the trade show shortly after she finished nursing her baby, and some have concluded she was kicked out of the show because she had been breastfeeding.  Who knows.

It doesn’t take a lot to ignite my mommy guilt, but any extensive sort of breastfeeding debate usually does the trick.  I had four kids and didn’t nurse any of them.  Not even for one day in the hospital before deciding it was too hard.  I never even tried.

Looking back, I’m not really sure why I didn’t even give it a whirl.  My mom didn’t? I had a friend with kids and she didn’t? I had to go back to work with my first two at six weeks?  The bottom line is that I don’t have a reason.

As I continued to procreate, I started to question my original decision.  In fact, I explored the possibility of nursing my fourth.  I even did research!  And I got scared about trying to do something that seemed that daunting with three others toddling around.  So I browsed through Bottlefeeding Without Guilt instead (seriously- it exists).

I’ve since carried the insecurity with me that I didn’t really do all I could have for my babies.  That could also (in my mind) be interpreted as me not loving them quite as much of those other mommies.  So when I hear about moms like the one at the trade show who can’t be separated from their babies because they’re nursing, I actually feel a little pang of jealousy.  Did I miss out on a bond with my babies because I didn’t nurse them?  Oh, to tell people that you can't possibly be separated from your baby because (dramatic pause) you're nursing. *sigh*

But as I ponder this latest news story, I start to reconsider my feelings.  I had to return to work crazy early with my first two kids, and that was still 4 ½ weeks later than this incident.  Putting my non-nursing self in the place of the winery woman, I still couldn’t have brought myself to leave a 10-day old baby for something work related.  Not because I was nursing or no one else could care for them, but because it doesn’t quite feel natural to leave a baby that young and trot off a couple states away, nursing or not.

My kids were freakishly healthy youngsters.  They’re all smart and (if you judge by communication via cell phone- calls, text volume, etc.) I have a close relationship with each of them.  I like to think that each turned out just right, and I hereby solemnly swear to stop (16 to 21 years later) beating myself up about the thing I didn’t do.

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