How Formula Feeding Made Me a Better Mom

This post is dedicated to all of the other fearless formula feeders, and the ones who aren’t fearless yet, and to every mom who has been humbled by the experience of becoming a parent.

 

I was a smug breast-feeding mom. Of course, that was before I had kids.

To be clear, I don’t think that most breast-feeding moms are smug. Most of my friends who breast-feed are super cool and don’t seem to have an opinion one way or another about how other people should feed their babies (or at least they don’t broadcast it). I was not one of those moms.

When I was pregnant, I was 100% sure that my baby would be breast-fed. I read all the pro-breast-feeding articles and bought into the statistics that there were only a miniscule number of women who truly couldn’t breast-feed. I nodded along in pre-natal class as the instructor drilled into our heads that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. I heard the stories about how much breast-feeding could hurt, and quickly dismissed them. Thrush, mastitis, sore nipples? There was a treatment for all of that. Moms who quit breast-feeding because of the pain just didn’t try hard enough. Moms who chose not to even try breast-feeing were simply uneducated. I looked down my nose at moms in the store buying formula, and felt proud of the relationship that I was about to have with my baby.

Then he was born. I’ve written before about difficulties I had while breast-feeding: the dread I would feel as I saw his open mouth come towards me, the moments that I almost passed out or vomited when he latched due to the excruciating pain. I pushed through those moments for weeks and then months until finally, my body made the choice for me. I had to switch to formula.

I felt totally defeated. I was a quitter. I had one task as a new mom: feeding my baby, and I had failed at it. I was a bad mom. All of a sudden, every decision that I made seemed to feed into my self-condemnation. My baby sleeping in his own room at 3 months old? Should be co-sleeping. Bad mom. Pushing my baby in a stroller? Should be baby-wearing. Bad mom. Not feeling bonded with my three-month-old? Should be overwhelmed with all-consuming love. Bad mom. The refrain echoed though my head all day, and into the night as I gave my baby his bottle, and then looked disgustedly at my body which had failed me and my baby.

Around that time I started looking online for support. The dizzying world of online parenting groups can be tricky to navigate for moms who are in a good place, but for a new mom in the throws of post-partum depression, it was the final straw. I was met with a flood of judgment. Some of it was outright: I was told that I was poisoning my baby by giving him formula, that I didn’t love my baby enough to do what was best for him, and that I was stupid for letting the formula companies manipulate me into buying something that my baby didn’t need. Some of the judgment was more subtle: the oh-so-often repeated chorus of “breast is best”; the sly digs “formula-feeding moms can’t bond with their babies the way breast-feeding moms can”; the inaccurately quoted statistics about formula-fed babies being obese or less intelligent or sickly.

I was mired in that community for a long time, with other people’s judgments feeding into my own self-doubt. Then I read the book “Bottled Up” by Suzanne Barston and found some supportive online communities, and things started to turn around. I realized that there were other women out there who, like me, wanted to breast-feed but couldn’t. There were some who didn’t want to breast feed at all for various reasons. There were all kinds of different moms making different decisions, and I saw the hurt and vulnerability that they were experiencing from being judged. Learning that I was not alone was more than liberating. It was cathartic. It was like a slow dawn out of my depression. I started to look at my son differently. He was doing okay, wasn’t he? He was happy and healthy, and most importantly, he was fed. Maybe I wasn’t such a bad mom after all.

Not being successful at breast-feeding knocked me down a peg or two. Or a hundred. It was the single most humbling experience of my life. It was the first time I had really tried and failed at something. And it taught me my first important lesson of motherhood: my expectations aren’t always going to match with reality.

I have come out the other side of that darkness with a much more flexible approach to parenting. I have an idea in my head about the type of mom that I want to be, but it’s far less rigid than it used to be. I know that who my son is will dictate a lot of my decisions. I’ve given myself permission to change my mind about how I raise him. I’ve let go of most of my pre-conceived ideas and take each decision one at a time. And if something doesn’t work, I don’t beat myself up about it. I just try something else. I’ve relaxed. A lot.

I look at other parents differently too. I used to think that I had an idea of the ideal parent. Now I know that each family defines their own ideal. It’s not my place to decide for them how they should raise their kids. I could look at another mom who raises her child differently than me and think, “She’s wrong”. Or I could have empathy for a fellow mom and appreciate that I don’t know her, her baby, or why she made that decision. I can realize that it’s ridiculous to judge a parent based on a handful of their choices or a few moments of observation.

It’s hard. Sometimes I see a mom making a choice that I wouldn’t, and I catch myself thinking, “I would never…” Then I remember that there was a time when I thought the same thing while looking at a can of formula. I remember myself as a pregnant mom, so adamantly opposed to formula that I refused to even have any in the house when my baby was born, and I remember the hot-faced shame that I felt having to make a midnight run for formula and bottles because my baby was hungry and I couldn’t feed him. I never say never. Things that I’m not doing today might be the answer for tomorrow’s problems.

Several months ago I discovered that my son has a severe lip tie. It makes breast-feeding incredibly difficult and painful. It doesn’t matter how hard I tried, it never would have gotten better. It may have been able to be fixed, if all of the experts that I consulted hadn’t missed it. But you know what? It’s okay. It’s taken me a long time to get to the place where I can say that it is truly okay. I’m sorry that my transition to motherhood wasn’t smoother, but I’m thankful for the experience. It’s helped me look at my value and worth as a mother as more than an equation. I’m more than the difference between what I’m doing “right” and what I’m doing “wrong”. My son is a beautiful and complex human being who is more than a function of what he was fed. I like to have faith that even if breast-feeding had worked for me, that I would have lost my smugness and judgment towards other moms, but I can say for sure that the experience I had made me more compassionate and forgiving towards myself, to others, and to my son. And that has made me a better mom.

My New Life

Hello! I’ve been away for a while, but I’m still alive. Since I last posted, a lot has happened, and I’ve taken a few weeks to get my bearings and my head above water.

The big news is that my partner got a job working out of town. He’s working about 16 hours away, for four weeks at a time. He’ll be back at home for about a week and a half before heading back for another four weeks. That means that Baby P. and I are on our own most of the time now. When he first accepted the job, I was scared shitless. Could I do it? What would it be like to not get a break for a month at a time? Could I manage on my own?

The situation isn’t ideal, but the job that he got will help us out in some ways. Financially, it will greatly contribute to our income, which will help to offset the exorbitant cost of daycare. It will also allow me the option of working part-time.

Which brings me to my next news…I got a new job. It’s actually almost exactly the same as my old job. It’s for the same employer, and I’ll be doing the same thing, just for less hours. It means that Baby P. will be in daycare for four days a week as opposed to five, and I can pick him up around 4:00 instead of 6:00. That might not seem like much difference, but for moms with babies in daycare, you know that those couple of extra hours mean a lot.

So, Baby P. and I are just getting used to our first stint on our own. It’s honestly not as bad as I thought it would be. It’s tiring for sure, and I miss having my partner here, but we’re getting through the days. Although I feel a lot better about going back to work part-time, the clock is still ticking down to my sweet boy being in daycare. I’m just trying to enjoy these last couple of months, rest when I can, and hopefully get back to writing like I was. I hope that all of you are doing well, and I look forward to catching up with you and reading the posts that I missed when I was away!

A Letter to My Pre-Mom Self

Dear Meagan,

Right now you are six months pregnant. I’m writing to you from a year in the future because there are some things that I wish my future self would have told me when I was in your shoes (or whatever you’re able to squeeze your feet into these days).

First of all, I want to let you know that your baby is healthy. I know that you’re worried when he doesn’t move around very much and you obsess over everything that could be wrong. Relax. He’s fine.

Please, try to enjoy these last few months of your pregnancy. Now that the morning sickness has eased up and you’re in the home stretch, you’re going to start feeling better and better until he’s born (oh yes, it is a “he” by the way). Enjoy all of the attention that you’re getting and how special everyone is making you feel. It won’t last forever. Right now you think you’ll go crazy if another person asks when you are due or how you’re feeling. In a year you’ll be so desperate for any kind of adult interaction that you’ll be striking up conversations with strangers in the grocery store.

It’s okay to marvel in feeling your little baby squirm around inside your tummy. I know that everyone is telling you that by the time he’s born you’ll be tired of it, but you won’t. And trust me, once he’s here you are going to miss that feeling so much. Being pregnant is amazing, and you’ll regret it if you don’t appreciate it because you’re afraid to stop worrying. So stop feeling guilty when you’re not obsessing, and start having fun!

Labour sucks. I know that you think that women might be exaggerating how much it hurts, but they’re not. It’s the worst pain you’ll ever know. That being said, it will be over before you know it and a few days later you will have almost completely forgotten the pain. It might be a good idea to prepare some techniques for dealing with it, though. I know that you’re self-sufficient and think you can just muddle through, but learning some breathing exercises or relaxation techniques will really help.

Once the baby is here, you will be in for the shock of your life. There is no way that I can prepare you, so I won’t even try. You’ve already been told a million times about the lack of sleep and crying and all of that. So I’ll just give you a few words of advice.

DO NOT worry about what anyone else says or thinks or how they believe you should raise your baby. Honestly, you care way too much about how other people perceive you and it will make for a difficult first few months with your son. There is no way that you will ever make everyone happy, so don’t even try. Just do your best. I know, I know, you’re thinking that they probably know more because they have experience and you don’t. Nope. Not true. You know your baby and they don’t, so just ignore them.

Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go according to plan. Right now, you think that women who decide not to breastfeed just aren’t trying hard enough. Well, I hate to tell you, but by six months your son is going to be exclusively formula fed. But you know what? He’s healthy and awesome! This single thing is going to cause you more stress during your son’s first year than anything else. Just don’t sweat it.

I would like to tell you to get your rest while you can, but how many times have you already been told that? Besides, it’s not like you can save up rest for when you’ll really need it. I think that pre-parent free time is something that can only be appreciated after your kids are here. So just do your own thing, take two naps a day, fool around on the computer, and enjoy being solo.

I’m really quite jealous of you because soon you will get to experience becoming a mom for the first time. You’ll hate feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing, but by the time your son is one you’ll look back on those first few weeks with such unbelievable nostalgia: moments like when you and C are huddled over the baby in the hospital, both trying to figure out how to put a diaper on your grey, scrawny, alien-looking baby; or having the nurse help you get him into the car seat; or how nervous you’ll be to give him his first bath. Enjoy your inexperience and the newness of everything. In a few months, you’ll have it all down to a science. God, I miss those early days. Enjoy them.

Being a mom will change your life, but in ways that you won’t know until it happens. You’ll have so much more patience and perspective and you will sweat the small stuff WAY less. These are all good things. But I know that you’ve already been told this many, many times before, and right now the last thing you want is yet another person giving you advice or telling you how it’s going to be.

I imagine that as you read this, you’re sitting in your office with your feet up on a chair and the fan on. Give your belly a little rub from me. The little boy who is growing in there is AMAZING. He’s unbelievably cute (even more than you can imagine), and smart, and sweet, and funny, and he’s going to make your life so much more complete than you think possible. I know that you’re probably rolling your eyes at the clichés, but it’s true, so cut me some slack. It’s me! (Or you).

Well, I guess I’ll let you get back to whatever you were doing (stop Googling statistics on fetal viability. HE’S FINE). On your lunch break, run waddle across the street to Old Navy and pick up some pyjama pants. That’s going to be your mat leave wardrobe. Nice, right?

Before I go, I’ll leave you with my top three final pieces of advice:

  1. Relax
  2. Relax
  3. Relax

Everything is going to be okay. It will be amazing. You’ll see.

Love,

Meagan

PS-Oh, I almost forgot. Would you mind please getting an imprint or impression of his hands and feet when he’s born? I forgot to do it, and when he’s eight months old and you’re looking at newborn babies, it will be hard to believe he was ever that small.

Love At First Sight

I have a confession to make. I didn’t fall in love with my baby the moment that I saw him.

I was prepared to. I heard stories of the glorious feeling of meeting your baby for the first time; one mom likened it to “the heavens opening up and angels singing”. I watched birth videos where moms wept with happiness while they cradled their new bundle of joy in their arms. When asked about the best moment in their lives, inevitably a parent will recall that moment when they first laid eyes on their new baby. Yup, I was ready for an overwhelming, instantaneous love.

The first time that I saw my baby was on the operating table after having a c-section. I had an epidural, but was fully alert. I felt them tugging him out, then heard his tiny cry. It sounded so foreign. I thought that somehow I might recognize it, or feel some connection with it. It just sounded like a baby crying. His dad got to see him first while they cleaned him up and weighed him. I laid there, shaking violently due to the medication, waiting to see this tiny person that I had carried inside me for nine months. My partner did his best to describe our new baby while I waited to meet him: it was a boy and he had dark hair and all of his fingers and toes. It seemed like forever before they finally brought him to me.

Love to Love You Baby (song)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was wrapped in a green towel with a little white hat on his head. The nurse put him on my chest and I put my hand on him. His face was all puffy and his eyes were unfocused and we both just laid there, me staring at him and him staring past me. After a couple of minutes, the took him away again and then wheeled me to the recovery room. That was it.

I was happy to finally meet him, but I didn’t fall in love at first sight. For the first few days, when I held him it felt like I was holding someone else’s baby. He didn’t feel like he was mine. I felt like a failure and a bad mom.

As the days passed and we started to get to know each other, my love for him grew. Now, almost nine months later, when I look back on the day that he was born I feel that overwhelming rush of emotion for my newborn baby…in hindsight. I don’t think my love for my baby is static. It grows and evolves and changes as he does and as I do. We just needed to get to know each other, that’s all.

The Big Question

P question

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Are you nursing?”

I’ve been asked that question more times and by more people than I can count. It usually comes right after, “How old is he?” and right before, “How does he sleep?” It’s not just people I’m acquainted with who want to know if I’m breastfeeding. Many random strangers also seem quite curious about how I’m feeding my baby. Here is a shortlist of people who have asked me if I nurse my son:

  • Most of my friends
  • Some of my coworkers
  • My son’s doctor
  • The cashier at the thrift store across the street from my house
  • Cashiers (plural) at the grocery store
  • The hairdresser that I went to one time
  • A staff member at my gym when I went in to cancel my membership
  • Strangers that we encounter on our walks

And this list is by no means exhaustive.

Some people have a legitimate reason to ask. For example, during my son’s two month checkup, the doctor noticed that his weight was a bit low. Naturally, she’d follow up by asking what he was eating. I get that. But when someone comes up to us on the street to comment on how cute he is, why do they need to know if he eats from a breast or a bottle?

When my son was very young and I was still struggling with the fact that I had to formula-feed him, I used to hate it when people asked. It came at me like an accusation and I felt like a little kid about to be punished as I stammered out a reply, “Uh, no..I mean, yeah, we did in the beginning. I guess he did for about three months, but it just didn’t work, so, uh, now I don’t…but he’s okay…” I tried so hard to justify how I fed him. Now, when people ask, I just offer a simple, “No.” I guess a more appropriate reply might be, “Why do you ask?” but I don’t want to make a big deal about it. I give them a quick answer and move on.

I find it kind of weird. It’s like when I was pregnant and people used to come up to me and touch my belly uninvited. Once you conceive a child, is your body now part of the common collective, free to touch and everyone’s business? Or maybe I’m just thinking about this too much.

Do people ask you how you feed your baby? Is it weird?

It’s Time to Get Used to It

There is a video making its way around social media. It’s entitled Embarrassed and it’s a spoken word poem by a woman named Hollie McNish. In it, she expresses her frustration with the stigma surrounding breastfeeding in public and how she’s tired of having to feed her infant daughter in dirty bathrooms just so that she doesn’t offend anyone.

I know that I can get up on my soapbox about how formula-feeding moms can be treated, but I’m not blind to the fact that breastfeeding moms have their own challenges. I’ve never been asked to leave a restaurant for feeding my baby. I’ve never chosen to feed him in a stinky bathroom because I didn’t want anyone to see him eating. When people see him drinking from a bottle at 8 months old, they aren’t compelled to ask me if he’s too old for it. If he’s still drinking from a bottle at two years old, I won’t have to worry that people will call me a pedophile.

It’s really time that we end the double standard of being bombarded by advertising images of half-naked women, yet getting puritanical over the tiny bit of flesh exposed when a woman feeds her baby.

If this is okay:

Bra model

Image courtesy of victoriassecret.com

Then this is okay:

Breastfeeding mom

Image courtesy of acutezmedia.com

Check out the video and share it with your mom friends. Because no one should feel compelled to give their baby a meal in a stinky public bathroom sitting on a cold toilet seat lid.

 

Easy 3-Ingredient Raspberry Freezer Jam

raspberry jam

A few days ago I went to a local u-pick and picked a bucket full of raspberries. I intended to make jam with them, but a couple of days later they were still sitting in the bucket in my fridge. The weather has been really warm here, and as I sat in my sweltering apartment I just couldn’t muster up enthusiasm to stand over a boiling water canner all day. Then I remembered a recipe that I saw in one of my cookbooks for freezer jam.

Freezer jam is so ridiculously simple to make. You don’t need any special equipment. You don’t even need to use your stove! It’s perfect for hot summer days when you have a hankering for some jam and there is an abundance of fresh fruit around. From start to finish, you can have your own homemade jam in about an hour. You’ll just want to make sure that you have enough room in your freezer to store the jam when you’re done. If you have kids that like to help this is perfect because it’s easy and you don’t have to worry about them burning themselves or breaking glass jars.

raspberries

Easy 3-Ingredient Raspberry Freezer Jam
Makes about 5 cups

8 cups fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 package freezer jam pectin

  1. In a large bowl, mash the raspberries with a potato masher, one cup at a time. Measure 4 cups of fruit.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and pectin.
  3. Add the sugar and pectin to the raspberries and stir for 3 minutes.
  4. Ladle into freezer jam containers (or other airtight containers), leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top.
  5. Put the lids on the containers and let rest at room temperature until set, about 30 minutes.
  6. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks, or freeze for up to a year.

Our Finest Moments

I feel compelled to write a post in response to an article that is making its way around social media right now. I left a rather lengthy reply on his post, but still had more to say. Plus, with over 6300 replies and counting, I’m pretty sure that mine is now lost in the shuffle.

The article is called “You Just Broke Your Child. Congratulations” and is a call-out to dads to make time for their kids and let their children know that they are a priority. The author wrote three pages on the subject, and I basically agree with most of what he said. I don’t think that his advice should be directed just to dads either. All of us, moms and dads, should be letting our sons and daughters know how much they are loved.

Something about the article made me uncomfortable though. At the very beginning of his post, he describes witnessing a scene between a father and son at Costco, in which a dad forcefully makes his son stand still and quietly. On the first reading, my heart ached for the little boy who was “broken” by his father. I scrolled to the bottom of the post to read the comments (Oh Lord…never read the comments), and was accosted by accusations from a number of moms who said that they would have called the police and social services. I stopped reading after about a dozen comments, but I think the last one I read was them mobilizing to see if they could hunt this dad down.

Before we start organizing a posse to bring this guy to justice, we need to step back and take a look at ourselves. Who among us has never had a moment when we’ve snapped at our kids, or ignored them when they were begging for our attention? Who hasn’t offered an exasperated sigh or yelled out of frustration? I’m not saying that what this man did was okay. I’m not saying that he’s necessarily a good dad. I just think that it’s hard to judge the quality of a person’s parenting skills on a few minutes observation of what may not have been his proudest moment.

I’ll tell you about my finest moment. It was a few months ago on a sunny spring day. Baby P. would have been around four months old or so and he was going through a phase where he was crying pretty much nonstop. After lunch one day, at the end of my rope, I decided to put him in his stroller and get out of the house, if only so the sound of the traffic would muffle the constant whining. As I tried to place him into the stroller, he started stiffening up and squirming around. I was trying to manoeuvre him into the straps, but they were getting all twisted around. He was getting progressively more hysterical, his tiny face turning bright red, as the straps got more and more twisted. After about five minutes of trying, my patience ran out.

I took him and placed him safely in his crib, then closed his bedroom door as he wailed away. I walked back into the living room where I proceeded to kick the ever-loving shit out the stroller. I mean, there were pieces of it everywhere. My frustration diffused, I reassembled the stroller, went into my baby’s room and got him out of his bed, put him into the stroller, and went out for a nice walk.

Could I have better handled the situation? Of course. Could I have done a worse job? Sure. I could have shaken my baby or screamed at him or let him watch as I beat up a defenseless piece of baby equipment. My point is that if anyone had seen me in that moment, in a fit of rage with my baby crying alone in his room, they would have thought I was a monster. If they had seen me just ten minutes later, they would have seen a happy mom and baby out for a walk on a lovely day.

I don’t know this dad’s story. I don’t know if he treats his son like that all the time, or if he was just having a bad moment on a bad day. Instead of jumping to call social services or threatening him, why not just offer a sympathetic smile and a “Rough day, huh?” Maybe just knowing that someone else sees what he’s doing will be enough for him to stop it. Maybe not. But before rushing to judgement, if you look deep down, you’ll know that there was a moment when you were there too.

The Countdown is On…

Four months to go. Four months of my maternity leave is left. 118 days until I’m sitting in my office and my sweet baby boy is in the care of someone else.

I know that seems like a long time away, and I know that I’m incredibly lucky to live in a country where I’m able to spend a full year with my son. But to me, it’s not nearly long enough and my time at home with him is slipping away, day by day.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. And by thinking about it, I mean completely obsessing over it. I go through endless options in my head, trying to think of a way that I can put off going back to work for at least another year or two. With daycare coming in at a whopping $1100 per month, there is more than just emotional incentive for me to stay at home. It seems ridiculous that I will be spending my days aching to see my little boy, and paying someone half of my monthly pay cheque for the benefit of it.

With seemingly no other option, I try to think of the benefits of daycare. He’ll get to socialize with other children his own age, something that he rarely does hanging out at home with me all day. He’ll take part in a variety of enriching activities (I’m actually quite happy with where he’ll be going; they have a full calendar of pretty cool daily activities including dance, arts, different languages, and gardening). Our time together, although limited, will be so much more special.

But (no matter what, I always come up with a “but”) he won’t be with me all day. Someone else will be there for milestones like his first words and possibly his first steps. They’ll get to know him day in  day out. I’ll get him up in the morning and put him to bed at night, and the rest of the day he’ll be with someone else. The thought of it is heart wrenching.

I have so many questions that no one can answer. Will he hate it? Will he cry when I drop him off and when I pick him up? Will he start to forget about me? Will he no longer consider me his primary caretaker? Will we still know each other as well as we do now, and have the same bond? Will the daycare providers treat him with the same love and respect that I do?

I hate it. I hate that I have to hand him over to someone else and trust that they’ll care for him the way that I would (which no one ever will or could). I hate that I’m going to be sitting in my office for eight hours a day answering mindless questions and doing work that is completely inconsequential when I should be caring for my baby. I would do anything to not have to go back to work. But (!) even with the exorbitant cost of child care, we still can’t afford to exist on one income.

So, for now, I’ll count down the days and try not to think too much about what’s coming up at the end of October. Being sad all day now will just ruin the last months that I have at home with him. I know that lots of people place their kids in full-time daycare and it works out. I’m sure it will get easier as time goes on, and I’m sure it won’t be nearly as awful as I’m imagining. I just wish that there were some other way.

 

25 Signs That You Might Not Be a Natural Parent

I subscribe to a couple of natural parenting groups on Facebook, and a link popped up on my newsfeed the other day that listed 25 signs that you’re a natural parent. It was a fun, lighthearted look at some of the practices that come along with natural parenting (for the record, I try to avoid labels like “natural parent” or “attachment parent” when possible, but it was a cute article). Then I looked at the comments. Oh, Lord, I’ve said it before, but NEVER look at the comments.

There was, of course, one commenter who “rolled her eyes at how mainstream the list was”, then proceeded to give a point by point assertion of how she was even more natural, and therefore a better parent. I especially liked her condescending query of “doesn’t everyone?” when discussing packing organic lunches and making her own laundry soap.

Uh, no. In spite of the fact that it seems to be the new standard, we don’t all parent that way. I hit a few points on the list, but definitely not all of them. So, in response to that comment, here is my point by point list of 25 signs that you might not be a “natural parent”:

  1. You vaccinate your kids according to the recommended schedule, and feel good that they are protected against potentially fatal diseases and that they are contributing to the herd immunity for unvaccinated children.
  2. You gave birth in a hospital and/or were induced, used pain medication, or had a c-section.
  3. You have fed your baby puréed food out of a jar or a pouch.
  4. Two words: formula feeder.
  5. If you breast-fed, at some point you “topped up” or supplemented with formula.
  6. You buy powdered formula from the store, or the pre-mixed ready-to-eat formula.
  7. Your child’s primary health care provider is a pediatrician.
  8. When illness strikes you do what works, even if it means using over-the-counter medication.
  9. Your kids attend public school and possibly also attended pre-school or daycare.
  10. When someone says, “What are you doing?” you reply, “Doing laundry.” With store-bought soap.
  11. You did not eat, freeze, encapsulate, dry, plant, or preserve your placenta in any way. You may not have even seen your placenta.
  12. The only people present at your birth were your doctor and your partner.
  13. You pack your kids non-organic fruit, store-bought bread, and juice boxes in their plastic lunch box.
  14. One (or more!) of your Pinterest boards has a title like “Meals in less than 30 minutes” or “COOKIES!!!” or “Barbie cleaning tips”.
  15. You’ve asked a stranger where they bought their stroller.
  16. You buy your vegetables from the store.
  17. Your children’s chore list includes loading the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, and Windexing their handprints off the window.
  18. Your trash can is full of disposable diapers.
  19. You’ll be using your next pay cheque to buy more diapers, wipes, and formula.
  20. Your friend calls you to ask you if you have a canning pot and you tell her that you don’t, but let her know that jam is on sale this week at the grocery store.
  21. Within minutes of meeting a new friend you’ve swapped birth stories, but neither of you mentioned whether you used a doctor or a midwife.
  22. You know the cheapest place to buy formula and diapers, the closest store that sells baby food, and exactly how many uses you can get out of a Diaper Genie refill.
  23. It’s the middle of winter and you and your kids are stuffing your faces with store-bought hot chocolate and marshmallows.
  24. Your kids wear something with a Disney or Pixar character on it.
  25. You try to limit the amount of TV that your kid watches, but sometimes putting him down in front of “Blue’s Clues” for half an hour is the only break that you’ll get all day.

I want to be clear that I am not mocking the original list or saying that one way of parenting is better than the other. This list is in response to a specific comment, but I know that the commenter doesn’t speak for the natural parenting community (in fact, everyone was pretty quick to let her know that she was out of line).

My intention is not to draw a line between natural parents and…unnatural (?) parents. I had a midwife and I make my own baby food, bake my own bread, grow a garden, and babywear. I also buy disposable diapers and use store-bought formula, and my son is fully vaccinated. Does that make me a natural parent? Who knows? Does it matter?

I think that parents who make their own laundry soap and homeschool should be proud of themselves. That’s a lot of work! But I think moms who buy their laundry detergent from the store and have to put their kids in daycare should be equally as proud of themselves. We’re all working hard, and the most important thing is to find a way to parent that works with your own lifestyle.

Disposable diapers or cloth, homemade or store-bought, organic or not, we’re all doing okay. No eye-rolling necessary.