Equally Shared Breast-Feeding
Since there are so many ways to be equal partners, we don't often dive into the specifics of any one detail of parenting. We prefer to focus on the building blocks and philosophies behind creating an ESP lifestyle. However, in the recent flurry of news around breast-feeding we were honored to weigh in on the NY Times online column, Motherlode, as to how an ESP-minded couple might deal with the early days of feeding their children. You can check out our comments here.
Personally, we decided to feed both our children breast milk up until they were about 8 months old. Most of this was delivered via the breast while a consistent bottle per day allowed me to be involved as well. This was by no means a requirement, or even a substantial aid to creating our ESP lives, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I didn't love getting up in the middle of the night, as I'm sure very few people do, but I saw it as a small sacrifice to have access to the fundamental nurturing of our children.
I have no idea if spending that time in the early morning hours with my children paved the way for a closer relationship with them. I'd like to believe that all the moments in the last many years are more important than a few months of once-a-day feedings. However, I'm quite certain that my participation in those early days was beneficial for me. Nurturing was never my strong suit being a typical, logical male, but feeding an infant at 2:00 in the morning did wonders for getting me out of my head and into the game. Logic told me that I was providing nourishment to my child but I couldn't escape the fact that more was happening in those moments.
Owning my participation in those early days of childcare felt like the only way to honor my promise of partnership with Amy. I didn't marry her to solve the problem of "who would raise the kids" but rather to share an enjoyable life. For me, that meant embracing the challenges of sleep deprivation, gender expectations, and the resulting uncomfortable scenarios.
Yes, I wanted to participate.
No, I did not love it all the time.
Yes, I would do it all again.