Feeding Battles – The not so rosy story behind chubby cheeks and rosy lips

As a mother of a 3 month old, it seems to me that the world out there is divided half and half in its opinion for what is right for my son. By Gods grace, I have a child who is hungry 90% of his wake time. Needless to say then, that whenever we have to make the occasional trip out of the sanctity of our home, he still needs to be fed. Since at this age, he can only be given milk, I am left with all but two options – breastfeed or bottle feed. 

This is where the dilemma begins. 

As soon as I take out a bottle to mix formula milk, I become the victim of accusing stares from all the well meaning society out there. How could I subject my infant to formula at such a tender age? Don’t I know the benefits of breastfeeding? I must be a very bad mother not to even try breastfeeding….. and so on.

On the other hand, if I unbutton my shirt and start breastfeeding in a public area, the same society considers it quite equivalent to pornography. 

What is the world out there trying to tell me? Don’t give bottle, don’t give your breast, then does that mean that as long as I am outside my house, I should not in any way provide any source of nourishment to my infant. I should let him scream and howl till we reach a hidden, secret spot where the prying eyes of the society can no longer judge us. Would that be acceptable?

In the world of today, where women are either working or playing an active role in running the house which includes constant visits to buy stuff and managing an array of workers, breastfeeding is constantly on the decline. The situation is so bad that the doctors have to beg and plead new mothers to breastfeed exclusively for six months. Let us admit that we the society contribute to this trend in a way that we don’t even realize.

As a second time mother, I can vouch for the fact that breastfeeding is not easy. While it is the most natural process for any women, it comes with it’s own set of painful challenges. Most mothers struggle with these challenges night and day in order to provide what is best for their child. When it is the best thing to happen for any any child, why does the society makes the mother think that she is indulging in inappropriate behavior if she meets the demands of her child in a public place. Such reactions from the society are bound to deter any well meaning mother to continue breastfeeding, if her responsibilities include stepping out of the home frequently. 

I have heard suggestions like “Oh! That’s hardly a problem! Why don’t you stay inside the house for as long as you are breastfeeding.” Have I committed a crime to be under house arrest for at least six months or am I projecting a wrong image of motherhood if I step outside the house with an infant who wants to be fed? Sometimes I think even cigarette smoking is not considered as harmful to the public as breastfeeding is.

I have never asked my readers to share my blog, but I am breaking my rules with this one. As a reader, I request you, if you agree with me and you think that awareness on breastfeeding needs to be promoted, I request you to share this with as many people as you can. Till such time, the society continues to consider breastfeeding taboo, this practice will continue to decline. This would mean that we are leaving our next generations with not only a warmer planet, no fossil fuels and fresh water, but also a much weaker body system. Please comment, share and help in promoting breastfeeding. 

Birth Day Present

The softness of his hand, the smell of his skin

The sparkle in his eyes, that toothless grin

The soft, hairy cheeks, the silken hair

The fingers that curl around mine saying I will always be there

The sound of his burp, the shape of his nose

The tiny feet with long slender toes

The curdled milk on his freckled face

The peaceful sleep amidst the craze

On his birth day, I got this present

Wrapped in white blankets, straight from heaven

With this gift, my life’s complete 

What else could anyone give that could mean more than this.

Monster High

My eight year old daughter and I went shopping yesterday to buy her a long promised gift. She wanted to buy a newly introduced toy which she had seen on the internet. I had no clue what it was and was hoping never to find it in the small, unorganized toy shops of Hyderabad. I was, of course, dead wrong.

As we entered the shop, the toy collection was right in front of the door. Obviously, it was the highest in demand, to get the center stage position in the shop. The minute I saw the collection, I regretted not doing my research online and promising my darling that I will buy it for her (if it was within a certain budget). After all, what could possibly go wrong with a toy.

The toy she wanted is part of a collection called Monster High. It is a collection of dolls featuring ghost characters with scary teeth, wings and skeletons. To imagine how they look, try and visualize Dracula in lady form. I was shocked, first to think why the hell would Toy makers create something so monstrous and then to think, why the hell, my daughter, who was till date living in the world of Princesses and Barbies, suddenly switch to the world of skeletons, ghosts and blood! All these years, she fantasized about being a princess and it scared me out of my wits to imagine her now starting to fantasize about being a monster!

I tried to reason with her explaining she had so many dolls and she could try something else. She remained adamant on buying this latest toy. In the end, I admitted to her that I did not life this toy because I didn’t like monsters. Monsters were scary and could cause her bad dreams in the night. She looked at me incredulously and asked “But why do you think monsters are scary? After all, they look so much like us humans!” 

I was caught completely off guard. Her openness of thought and acceptance of all creatures (even monsters included) was at a level which I can never hope to match. I, as an adult, could differentiate between good and bad, beautiful and ugly but she, at her age, couldn’t care less about it. For her, it was just a new toy. 

The next time, I meet a monster, I hope I remember not to be scared of him. After all 90 percent of him would still look like me only! 🙂

My Mom and the Mom me

Mom visited me recently and as usual we sat for hours together talking about nothing and everything. While I struggle to juggle between the needs of a grown kid and an infant, the foremost thought that kept going on in my mind was – How did my Mom bring up three children all born within a span of 4 years? And along with that clean the house, cook meals, tend to an ageing mother in law, stitch, sew and even socialize. She is not gifted with any super power and we, of course, were not super behaved kids. Then how??? How could she, and perhaps all Moms of that time, achieve this miracle, while I struggle with it daily, even though I have half the responsibilities she had. In addition, I have ten times more technology and environmental support systems in place to help me bring up my kids. 

When I finally asked her, she just looked at me with a confused look (as if wondering – why was I asking such a silly question) and said “Pata nahin, bas kar liya”. (Don’t know how we did it, but we just did). I, who was look for some silver bullet answers to solve my problems, did not appreciate this response. There must be something that moms of that age did, that I was not getting right. Was it something they ate, or something they wore or something they fed the children? I really had to find the answer behind the miracle.

After more persistent probing, she finally admitted that life was tough for them too, but they didn’t have time to worry about it. Perhaps even more important, they didn’t have a choice but to take on all the responsibilities. That made me think that the reason I considered my life difficult was because I had the luxury of time to think about it. More so, I had a string of friends and relatives, ready to pamper me and listen to my woes. This constant attention actually put me in the sympathy zone and encouraged me to cry about my life all the more. 

One simple solution, therefore, to make life easy would be to make it so tough, that I simply didn’t have any time to think about how difficult it was. Or another solution could be, to close doors to all well meaning ears and face my problems myself. Either solution doesn’t seem appealing to me and I am pretty sure I could never adopt either one of them. So till such time that the miracle doesn’t happen for me, I choose to believe that moms of that age were truly blessed with some super power and perhaps if I was devoted enough to my children, I would find that super power too, someday!

P.S: I was proudly showcasing a fancy mobile crib to my mother. This gadget has cute toys hanging from it. It rotates above the crib with music and keeps the child entertained. When I asked my Mom, how did she keep her children entertained, she said “We used to tie colorful balloons from the fan!”

Life sometimes is so simple!