Being a new mom is so hard. Not only do you feel clueless and overwhelmed, but because of the way so many moms treat each other, you often feel like you're totally screwing up. It takes a long time to figure out that, yes, you are going to be OK, and even longer to figure out that successful parenting is not "one-size-fits-all" and looks different for every family and every kid. I honestly wouldn't have gotten here without the mom who stood up for me after I had a baby. And, sadly, she will probably never know how she made a difference in my life, because I didn't tell her.
Ironically, the mom who stood up for me postpartum — a coworker and friend — was someone I, myself, had seriously judged. I was such a perfect parent before I actually became a parent (aren't we all?). We were pregnant at the same time — me with my first baby, and her with her second. She planned to formula-feed her baby from the start. She wasn't even going to try to breastfeed. And I? Well, I couldn't believe it. I was such a b*tch, and to this day I have no clue why she didn't tell me off.
Then we both had our babies, and nothing worked out the way I expected. Despite wanting desperately to breastfeed my daughter, and nearly killing myself trying, my body had other plans. I experienced all kinds of shaming for supplementing with formula, and ultimately switching entirely when I went back to work. She was literally my only friend who helped me navigate how to choose and use formula. She was also my only friend who didn't judge me, make nasty comments, or try to change my mind. Everyone else made me feel terrible to the point I started thinking that I had failed as a mother. When we returned to work and another co-worker shamed me publicly for "failing at breastfeeding," she stood up for me. She told the person shaming me to, "leave her alone and mind your own boobs." It was awesome. It was one of those moments I will never forget, but I couldn't even muster a "thank you" because I was so ashamed at the time. There are so many things I wish I had said.
So, since I can't go back in time, I'm saying them now. Consider this a love letter to her and all the other rock star moms who stand up for new moms when they need a friend and ally in the so-called "mommy wars." I am trying my hardest to be like you, and you deserve some serious thanks.