Blogosphere Therapy

As most you know, I am pretty new to this whole blogging thing. My first blog post was just over a month ago. I actually started blogging shortly after I started tweeting because 140 characters was not quite enough to say what I wanted to say. I started tweeting because I love that it is called ‘tweeting’ and I wanted to participate in the conversation. Staying at home is lonely sometimes and I wanted to connect. Blogging has become an outlet for me, the opportunity to get something off my chest or just share, whether or not someone is listening.

It has also become something more: Therapy. I entered the blogosphere with a pretty big chip on my shoulder about motherhood. Actually, one particular aspect of motherhood- my inability to breastfeed. When I started blogging I had no idea just how much this was bothering me and impacting how I felt about myself as a mother. Through the process of not just writing for my blog, but also reading other blogs and commenting (and therefore participating in a community), I have gone through a number of stages. A therapy of sorts. I thought I would share.

1. Self awareness. I started to realize just how much of a sore spot the breastfeeding issue was for me when I found myself getting really upset by the conversations I was seeing on twitter and some blogs. When I first got on twitter I started following popular “mommy bloggers” out of interest in what they were saying. I soon figured out that some of these bloggers were essentially saying I had messed up royally and was harming my child with formula. Instead of just letting these opinions of totally strangers just roll off my shoulders, I felt really hurt.

2. Expressing myself. I wrote two post on my breastfeeding experiences and feelings. (And now it gets personal… and Breastfeeding and Feminism: Let’s Move on to the Third Wave.) I got what I had to say, for the most part, off my chest.

3. Realizing that I was not alone. When I wrote that post about breastfeeding and feminism and amazing thing happened. The Fearless Formula Feeder found me and put a link to my post on her blog. This meant so much to me. Not only to be recognized, but also to have someone reach out to me and help me realize I was not alone. Through her blog I connected to a bunch of other women who have been through even more difficult challenges then I had.

4. Anger. But there was something about realizing I was not alone that also got me more upset– because it made me realize just how widespread and devastating the effects of the prevailing attitudes on formula feeding were. Now I wasn’t just upset about what I had been through, I was bothered that so many of us were being judged so harshly. Especially because many of us, who really wanted to breastfeed and did everything we could to make it happen, were no being told a) didn’t do it right/didn’t try hard enough and b) were harming our kids intelligence and health by ‘giving in’ to formula. I wanted to take on the ‘big players’ of lactivism directly and question their approach. Tell them to not use fear and guilt as a tactic to promote something so good. Somehow change their minds.

5. Understanding. Luckily I had to the good sense to re-evaluate this approach pretty quickly, so as to avoid going overboard and get myself into an un-winable argument with anyone. (The Fearless Formula Feeder is much better then I at engaging in this debate in a reasonable and respectful way! I just get upset.) Also, I started to realize that many of these Mom’s who I felt were judging me were feeling judged themselves, just on different issues. Furthermore, a lot of what they were saying wasn’t coming from a place of judgment, but rather a bigger context of the injustices they see in the world. Yes, they come across judgmental sometimes, but I realized I don’t think they realize or mean to.

6. Healing. And then, just when I was feeling overwhelmed by all the judgment, a lovely thing started to happen. All of a sudden I kept seeing all these blog posts about acceptance. Posts urging each other to stop judging. After weeks of seeing so many posts that seemed harsh and judgmental the blogosphere started to balance it’s self out. (I should note that I have always been lucky that all of you that comment on my blog and all of your blogs that I often read had always been non-judgy. I am talking the wider blogosphere.)

(Here are some of those posts. I am sure there are some more great ones out there, feel free to post some more links in the comments.

From Cloth Diapers, a blog post from Cotton Babies.

From Nummies Blog, a blog post from Nummies.

From The Bad Mom’s Club, a blog post from motherbumper.

From (not specifically about judgment, but refreshingly supportive of a cause without being judgmental.) :

7. Accepting. I have started accepting that discussions about parenting are going to rustle some feathers. And that sometimes others will say things I don’t like. When they do, I can either choose to politely disagree or I can ignore it. Sometimes it worth it to say something and sometimes it isn’t. Realizing that I may not like someones stance on one issue, but I can still respect them and agree with other things they are writing about.

8. Forgiveness. Of myself and of others. But most importantly of myself. I really really did do everything I could. And it is okay.

So all of this in a month? For free? Certainly a good deal as therapy goes! I wonder how I will feel after I have been blogging for a year?

Also:  Thank you. It is amazing how quickly I have found such a wonderful, accepting and intelligent group of bloggers and parents out there to talk to. Thanks for all your comments and for reading. You guys all rock.


11 responses to “Blogosphere Therapy

  1. Jen February 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    #1 Rule: Feed the baby – both food and love.

    As long as you follow that rule, you’re doing good. My midwife, also a lactation consultant, was extremely helpful to me in the early days of breastfeeding, and I fully credit her for my BF relationship that I had with Kale. It was that rule that she gave me that took oodles of pressure – both from me and from others – off my back. I too have been lucky enough to find some moms to support me in the bad times, and celebrate with me in the good. I’ve lost some friends too but have no regrets.

    Keep at it. I’m learning there is no greater humbling experience than becoming a parent. Every day I question myself. 🙂

  2. Megan February 19, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and putting this out there. It’s funny. I feel so much more closely aligned with the attitudes and approaches you and the other moms I’ve encountered through FFF’s blog, than I do with the breastfeeding mothers.

    I know, as someone who chose to and was able to breastfeed, I don’t EXACTLY fit in with you guys. But, I thank you for accepting me anyway. Because, as you have said yourself, we have to learn to accept each ot no matter what our choices. I have struggled greatly with breastfeeding and don’t exactly have the most positive feelings about it all of the time. I am grateful it worked out, but I feel guilty about not loving it the way most bf’ing mothers do, and so I don’t exactly feel at home with some of them.

    Anyway, I’ll stop rambling. I’m attaching a link to a blog I wrote about judgment a few months ago. Check it out if you’re interested. And hey! Let’s keep the dialogue open. After all, you and I have a lot in common!

    • amoment2think February 19, 2010 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks so much Megan. And I think the fact that both formula feeding Moms and Breastfeeding Moms can feel like they fit in via the FFF’s blog is why it is such a great blog. I think that is the whole point.

      I also think you make a very good point about your feelings about breastfeeding. While I can’t speak for anyone who has successfully breastfed, I think the extreme language sometimes used by ‘lactivist’ alienate not just formula feeders, but also Mom’s who breastfeed but don’t always feel 100% positive about it. Without taking anything away from how wonderful nursing can be (when it works) and what ideal nutrition it is for your baby– it is damn hard work that has a huge impact on every aspect of your life. I wouldn’t feel guilty at all about not always feeling positive about it if I were you.

      Now I am going to go read the link to posted. Thank you!! 🙂

  3. Megan February 19, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Yeah, it really is hard work. It’s been a rough year. Between the mastitis, her nursing strikes, her screaming in the car because she wouldn’t nurse before we left, biting, trying to find places to nurse her (I wish I had the guts to just nurse wherever I am, but I don’t), and everything in between, I am exhausted. And while the lactivists seem to judge their worth by who can breastfeed their toddler the longest, I’m counting down to her first birthday when she can be weaned. Thank you for telling me I shouldn’t feel guilty. I need to hear that.

    I’m not saying I think formula feeding isn’t also hard work and hard in its own way. And I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed nursing at all. Just that it’s a lot harder than I ever imagined. I know I will be sad when we’re all done, but I imagine it to be much in the same way that a woman would be sad to wean a baby from the bottle. In either case, you watch your toddler walk around with her sippy cup and you miss the days when you held her and fed her, either with a boob or a bottle, you know?

    Okay, I’m rambling again. I do this when I’ve had a glass of wine. FFF can attest to that one after a rambling email I sent her while in a similar condition! LOL

    • amoment2think February 20, 2010 at 9:31 am

      I think you should be really proud of yourself. If I know anything from the 3 1/2 months I attempted breastfeeding is that I know it is hard. And I have great respect for those who do it for any length of time, if that is 1 week, 3 months, 6 months or 3 years. And yes, there are hard parts about formula feeding… but I don’t think it is the same. But I think you are right that we will all miss our little baby as they turn from babies to toddlers and beyond.

  4. Fearless Formula Feeder February 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Wow- thank you so much for all the sweet things you said about my blog. It means more to me than you can possibly know.

    You are honestly one of the coolest people I’ve “met” through the blogosphere (another one is Megan who you’ve been chatting with in these comments…:) She and her blog are pretty awesome too). Your compassion and intellect just shine through your words in a way that is so rare, not only in the world of new motherhood, but in the world in and of itself. I am glad you decided to start blogging, as I suspect you’ll be putting a lot of thought-provoking stuff out there in the future.

    I agree with you about blogging being like therapy! I actually had another, more personal blog prior to FFF, where I worked through many of the emotions and tribulations of trying to conceive, miscarriage, and pregnancy. It was like a diary, but better – b/c people would come and comment and suddenly it was like my feelings were validated, and I felt less alone. Powerful stuff.

    Thanks again for the shout out… you are amazing!

    • amoment2think February 20, 2010 at 4:29 pm

      Thank you so much. That means a lot to me. I am just really glad your blog is out there. I feel the same way about finding you.

      Interestingly when I first started writing this blog I really didn’t intend for it to be as personal as it has become. But I agree that there is something about not only being able to say what you need to but to have others acknowledge it that is powerful.

  5. Perpetua February 20, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    All of this rings so true for me, you can’t even imagine.

  6. smdcanada February 20, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Fascinating. What a journey in a month! As a new blogger too, who knew there was this whole blog world out there with so many conversations to join. In the end, there’s something really powerful about just telling our stories, just writing it all down.

    And who knew, before we all became parents, that learning to feed our children could be so challenging. There are many, many routes to a happy and nourished child. We all have to find our own way. And the more we can support each other, the better!

    • amoment2think February 21, 2010 at 9:28 am

      I know, I actually never really thought about the blog world community before I started blogging. It is a lovely surprise.

      I agree, there are many routes to a happy and nourished child. 🙂

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