“Hello,” I answered the phone in a sing-song voice seeing my friend’s name on caller ID.
On the other end of the line I heard a small soft hiccup sound. “Wendy,” (a pause filled with weeping) — I gently responded, “I’m here.”
“Am I a bad mom?,” barely audible asked my friend, Rachel.
Immediately my mind raced — Oh boy, she’d only been a mother for 2 weeks and haunted by a question many parents ask. I retained my insistence of her good mothering skills and being a great mom. I suspected something more was happening. I wanted to hear her story about her poignant question and tears.
“What makes you ask?”
In a quivering voice, Rachel shared about a conversation she had with a co-worker who has 3 children. Rachel informed her that she didn’t like breast-feeding and was considering formula. Rather than receiving empathy or interest, her co-worker scolded and declared “to be a good mother she should only breast-feed.” When Rachel received this opinion, she shut down and felt ashamed.
“That bitch! How dare she say such a hateful thing to you.” My breathing heavy. “What do you want to do?”
Rachel chuckled and sniffed her nose. She told me she enjoyed time with her newborn but was exhausted. She felt guilty about not experiencing breast-feeding as an opportunity for deep connection with her infant. She despised the time invested in sitting, revolving the choirs/activities around feedings, and waking up every 2 to 3 hours during the night.
With tremendous clarity, Rachel said, “I don’t want to be resentful of my baby.”
Whatever Rachel decided, she could make a strong and confident decision once her feelings and narrative were explored, ultimately making a desirable and wise choice.