Children are who they are because they are LOVED

"It breaks my heart several times a day when I visit this group (Facebook breastfeeding support group). Yes, there's tons of great information and encouragement, but it's also just full-to-overflowing with poor sweet mamas who are worrying themselves ragged. Your choice to breastfeed your baby is great (it really is!) and babies are designed to breastfeed (they really are!). But if it's hard, your baby will be fine. If it's just not working out, your baby will be fine. If you had a rough start and you feel bad about that and regret it, your baby will still be fine. Yes, of course breastmilk when at all possible, from mother's or donor's breast, in a cup or bottle or SNS or feeding tube. But your child is going to be fine because you love her.

See my kids? The nerd will be 11 next week. Her name is Sarah. We took Bradley Method classes and were going to have a fabulous unmedicated birth and breastfeed the minute she was born. But she was born by cesarean, without any labor, and was only 3 lbs. She was completely healthy, and stayed with me in my room, but we just couldn't get her to nurse. So I pumped milk for her every three hours, day and night, for 12 months. These days she's in full-on preteen mode. She has the voice of an angel. A near-genius IQ and ego to go with it. HORRIBLE handwriting. And thinks having two brothers is God's punishment. She's awesome!

The pirate? His name is Caleb and he's 9. We were going to have a glorious home water birth with Caleb. But I labored for 52 hours and my midwife did everything she could, but I just couldn't dilate past 7cm. Thankfully by the time we got to the hospital I'd dilated to 9cm, and about 5 hours later he was born, just 5 lbs and... grey. 1 minute APGAR was *1*. But he was resuscitated right there on the bed between my legs, cord intact, and perked up beautifully with a 5 min APGAR of 9. Again, tried my darnedest to nurse him, but we just couldn't figure it out. I EP'd for 3 months, but had a child just under 2 to contend with as well, so from 3-12 months he was exclusively formula fed. These days he's a Minecraft freak. When I take electronics away he goes outside and organizes the neighbor kids into a game of "Minecraft in real life". He's an amazing, 100% self-taught pianist. He's the most tender-hearted, empathetic child I've ever met. He's awesome!

The princess? That's 6 year old Anna. I didn't even know I was "in labor" when I went to the hospital. I just couldn't sleep one night and decided to go up there just to be checked for dilation "for fun". I was 7cm, and gave birth to her on my hands and knees, about an hour after I got to the hospital. She was 8 lbs, by FAR my biggest baby. She began nursing the minute she was born and didn't stop until she told me 2 months after her third birthday that she felt she was ready, and would like to celebrate with the weaning party we'd been talking about for a year.  These days she's just the light of our lives. Sweet, kind, we call her "Anna Poppins" because she's "practically perfect in every way."  At 3 years old she'd tell everyone, "My name's Anna Willy (Lily) and I NEVER do bad fangs (things)!"...and she really never does. She is currently my smallest child, despite having been born large and having nursed past age 3. 5th percentile for both height and weight. When kids tease her for being small she tells them she's "a DIME among PENNIES and if you don't know what dat means den you just hafta figure it out!"  She's awesome!

Charlie Brown? That's my baby, Jacob. He turned 2 in October. Fairly uneventful birth, about 15 hours. Gave birth kneeling on the hospital bed. 4lbs, but completely healthy. Had some trouble nursing and left the hospital EP'ing. After working with an LC for 4 weeks was able to get him to the breast full time and he's still happily going, with no signs of being ready to stop. These days he has me feeling like a first-time mom. He's so much different than my older three. He climbs....EVERYTHING. His 3 year old cousin taught him to climb the door frames. My older kids taught him to climb the walls. He's rough, tough, loud. Loves his "dadeet" (daddy) more than any of the other kids has at this age. Incredibly emotionally intelligent. I was talking with him as he nursed last week and said, "you really love your daddy time don't you? That's really nice! Since you're getting bigger now you'll want to spend lots of time with daddy. But that's okay, because mommy will still be here when you need her." He stopped nursing, put his hand on my face and looked me in the eye and very softly asked, "sad?"  "Yes," I said, "but happy sad."  He's awesome!

They're all generally very healthy. Sarah, who never got a drop of formula, has a severe animal dander allergy that's going to require she carry an epi pen. Anna, who never took a bottle and nursed forever and ever, has the worst mouth as far as jaw formation and will need braces very early. Caleb, who is my only child who had formula, doesn't have any allergies, likely won't need braces and is every bit as smart as Sarah. And Jakey baby is just....craaaaazy, and no amount of formula or breastmilk is gonna change that. Ha!

So, I wish we could all relax a little, or a lot, more. I firmly believe my children are who they are because they're LOVED. Yes, my love has dictated birth/feeding choices, but it didn't always work out they way I planned and they're still all exactly who they're supposed to be."

-Becky Taylor