FFF Friday: “What I desperately don’t want is for future mothers to feel like I did.”

Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.

Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They also are not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so. 

There are times when I question whether this blog does more harm than good; times when I think that no matter what anyone does or says, people will always find a way to make parenting an us vs. them team sport. 

And then I read a story like Cat’s, and I think, yes. Exactly. This is why. This is how. For people like her, who deserve better. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones, wherever you are, and however you feed. 

The FFF

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Cat’s Story

I thought I had prepared for just about everything as the due date for our first baby approached. My husband and I had talked about how we would feel and where we could find support if our child had special needs of one kind or another; I was prepared for my intended medication- and intervention-free birth to go awry and end in a C-section; I had thought a lot about how we would cope with the coming sleepless nights and the possibility of colic; we even had a plan for how our dog would keep getting walks. I am an avowed information junkie and I read piles of birthing and baby books. The only thing I hadn’t given a second of thought to was how our child would be fed.

I would breastfeed of course, exclusively and for as long as I could, but at least until a year. I had duly prepared for this through our prenatal classes, whose teachings supported my firmly held assumption that if we met any breastfeeding challenges, my baby and I would overcome them. “Virtually all mothers can breastfeed.” Sounded good to me.

The birth was smooth and natural, exactly as I had hoped, and our beautiful, tiny daughter Emily was handed to me immediately after she was born. No one thought anything of the fact that I didn’t produce any colostrum or that my breasts hadn’t changed at all over the course of my pregnancy. My midwife helped me plan a pumping regime and work on Emily’s suck. We were home the same day, but that night, we called our midwife. Emily was rooting around and screaming with hunger, and nursing wasn’t making any difference. Our midwife suggested we syringe some formula into her mouth. Formula? Why would we have formula in the house? We ransacked the house and found a free sample we’d gotten from somewhere, read the instructions, mixed some up, and gave it to Emily. She drank it down and fell into a satisfied sleep. I returned to my breast pump, determined to make nursing work.

Weeks later, after days spent seeing more of a breast pump than my newborn daughter, taking herbal supplements and galactogogues, and struggling with finicky supplemental nursing systems, it became clear that my breasts were hypoplastic; I had insufficient glandular tissue. My midwife finally had to say to me, “You need to think about what to do if you’re not able to produce a full milk supply.” That hadn’t occurred to me, even after a month and a half of my intense pumping regime. Everything — everything — I had read indicated that if I tried hard enough I could make this work. That night, my husband came in to find me weeping on the bed with a copy of Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding on my lap. “She’s going to be stupid, and diabetic, and obese, and have asthma and ear infections, and it’s all my fault.” The anguish and guilt I felt at not being able to exclusively breastfeed were consuming. When my daughter wound up in the hospital at six weeks with viral meningitis, nothing could persuade me that it wasn’t my fault that she was sick. My husband, a family doctor, showed me studies and explained that this had nothing to do with breastmilk, that Emily would be fine, that formula was a great way to feed our baby. I didn’t believe him.

I was still trying to make the SNS (supplemental nursing system) work one terrible night when my husband was out at a work function and Emily would not settle. I had nursed her and nursed her, though I could see she wasn’t getting anything, and had used the SNS and a syringe to give her formula, but I could tell she was starving. I ran around the house, wearing my hungry, screaming infant in a sling, crying along with her while I ransacked all of the baby gifts people had given us looking for a bottle. Finally, at the bottom of a closet full of baby gear, I found one, and was about to fill it with formula when I thought that maybe I needed to sterilize it first. Wasn’t that a thing people did? Still crying, still trying to bounce my starving newborn, I Googled “how to sterilize bottles” and was presented with piles of conflicting information that in my distress I just couldn’t understand. Then I remembered that friends had given us a sterilizer! I dug it out from under the pile and, after a few tries, I understood the tearstained instruction booklet in my shaking hands enough to make it work. My new baby daughter screamed and screamed while the sterilizer was in the microwave and I scalded my hand on the steam as I took the bottle out to fill it with formula. I screwed the lid on tight and put the nipple to Emily’s lips. She sucked hungrily and, finally, silence prevailed. My husband came home to find us sitting on the couch, Emily peacefully asleep with a full belly at last. I remember smiling tearfully when he came through the door. “I guess we’re using bottles now.”

I had no idea that people would comment on how I fed my baby. I was already embarrassed to be seen in public giving my daughter a bottle; I had never wanted to cover up this badly while nursing in public. The first time it happened was our very first meal out with our new baby: I almost dissolved into tears when a waitress asked why I was giving Emily formula. My sadness turned to anger at these insensitive women — it was always women — and I later called a woman by the pool in Florida a sanctimonious bitch for asking me if I didn’t know that breast was best. I caught dirty looks and raised eyebrows at playgroups; I went to great lengths to work “medically unable to breastfeed” into conversation with people so that they wouldn’t judge me when I gave my daughter a bottle. I became scared to feed my daughter around people.

I can see now how woefully ill prepared I was for the trouble I had. All the information in my prenatal class and all the reading I had dutifully done hammered home the same messages: If you try hard enough, breastfeeding will work for you. And you will try hard enough, because it is the only healthy way to feed your baby. When I needed to give Emily formula, I didn’t know what to buy or how to mix it safely. When I needed to give a bottle, I wasn’t sure how to sterilize it or even if I needed to. I didn’t know anything about bottle feeding or even where to look for the information, because it wasn’t in my baby books. I didn’t know this blog existed. I wasn’t Googling “fearless formula feeding”; I was Googling “risks of formula feeding” and being terrified and lashed with guilt by the results. I was so scared that I wouldn’t bond enough with my daughter because I couldn’t nurse that I forgot to focus on just bonding with my daughter, and I was so obsessed with how she was fed that I was missing my daughter’s infancy. I didn’t know what to say when strangers asked me why I was bottle feeding. I felt like I must be the first person to fail to breastfeed a baby. Surrounded by supportive friends and family — not to mention an amazing husband who brought me Gatorade, ran out for more fenugreek supplements, made me sleep, and was the one to finally figure out how to make the SNS work reliably — I still felt utterly alone, completely lost, and like an utter failure as a mother. My daughter was eight weeks old and already I had screwed up this parenting thing, comprehensively and irrevocably.

Emily never got more than 30 percent of her nourishment from breastmilk, mostly far less. She is now 27 months old, a bright, beautiful, healthy little girl who rarely gets sick. Her language skills are very advanced for her age and I no longer fear that formula has damaged her in any way. I have since read more about the somewhat shaky science behind this formidable push to breastfeed and question why on earth we put so much pressure on moms to feed their babies this way at all costs.

Our second child is due in five weeks’ time. I know that I will not be able to nurse him or her exclusively — it seems unlikely that my breasts will have grown more glandular tissue between pregnancies. This time, we will be prepared: we will have sterilized bottles ready and a good formula in our house. And I’ll have some choice responses prepared to the people who will choose to judge me. I remember joking about writing “Don’t judge me — I tried!” on the side of our bottles with Sharpie last time around; I think this time I might do it.

What I desperately don’t want is for future mothers to feel like I did. The act of becoming a parent already comes pre-loaded with stress, challenges, and guilt enough. Let’s not heap more of all three onto mothers who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed. Time magazine asked, “Are you mom enough?” Yes, you are. We all are. There is a little girl who calls me “Mommy” and, for that reason alone, I am and always will be mom enough. And my answer to that question has exactly nothing to do with how I feed my baby.

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Want to share your story with the FFF audience? Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

Guest Post: I Am Not a Cow

I’m thrilled to share this post with you, from my friend Andrea Nord. Andrea is the chairperson for the non-profit organization “Bottle Feeding in Sweden” and is an admin for a Swedish Facebook group like the FFF private group, which can’t be an easy job, considering the infant feeding attitudes of that country. She’s one of the most astute, brave, and seriously awesome women I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know in this crazy sort of advocacy I’m in, and I’m glad I get to share her brilliance with you via this post (which she graciously translated into English for us). The post originally appeared on Petra Jankov Picha’s bottle feeding blog “Att Flaskmata”.

About twenty km east of Lund, in the southernmost part of Sweden, is a large natural area called Revingehed. The Swedish military uses this area for short periods for their exercises and sometimes you can hear the sounds of gunfire in the village of Veberöd where I live. But for the most part, the area is a quiet and peaceful place where hundreds of cows graze freely to keep the grass short and the grounds open. Sometimes we take a drive there for a near-cow-experience, as my kids call it. If you are lucky you may see cows on the road just when you are driving by. It’s a really lovely experience that I heartily recommend, especially now when the calves are small.

When you think of cows you might think of beautiful black and white Holsteins wandering back to the barn after a long day of grazing in the meadows. All the cows are the same, it’s just the patterns on their coats that are different. Otherwise, they all have the same needs, they all want the same things and they all do the same things all day long. There are no cows with any special needs or aspirations, except of course the famous fictional cow Mamma Moo from the Swedish children’s books with the same name, the cow who was not satisfied with just grazing and chewing. She wanted to do everything that people did, she wanted to swing and go down a slide, despite her good friend the crow’s desperate attempts to point out to her that she is in fact just a cow, and cows do not behave like humans. Period.

Source: http://9teen87spostcards.blogspot.com/2011/07/mamma-moo-cow-riding-bicycle.html

Source: http://9teen87spostcards.blogspot.com/2011/07/mamma-moo-cow-riding-bicycle.html

 

Part of what makes Mamma Moo so funny is her inability to comply with expected and “natural” cow behaviour. Mamma Moo is a.. feminist! Imagine that! And then the idea hit me – why does the WHO and our Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare assume that all women in the world are the same, that we all do the same things and want the same things? Why do people think that women don’t have different needs, wants or conditions? Why this astonishment whenever we want to do something different from the expected and “natural”?

Does the world see us women as.. cows? Because if you do not see women as unique individuals but as cows, then it is close at hand to recommend that we should all do things exactly the same way. What is “best” is then best for everyone. The word recommend is perhaps the wrong word, require is probably closer to reality. And there are many “truths” that we women are expected abide by and now we come to The Mommy Wars, which I see as the social pressure to get all women to comply to a perceived truth. You see, all of us women are supposed to do things exactly the same way!

If there was tolerance for women doing things in different ways, then there would be no reason to get all upset about it. But women do in fact want different things – some want to work, others want to be at home. Some breastfeed, others bottle feed. The nerve of them!

It’s interesting that I find it hard to find similar examples where one would try to get all men to do the exact same things or get upset if they didn’t. The mere idea is completely ridiculous, for men are seen as individuals, they are all different and they are allowed to do what they think is best. The only example I can think of, when trying to get all men to do the same thing, is when you recruit them into the army and send them out to war. Then and only then are men oppressed to all do the same thing. But in peacetime, they are all free to do whatever they want and however they wish to do it. Now I would like to end this rant with an appeal to the WHO, the National Board of Health and Welfare and all the health authorities: stop seeing us women as cows! See us instead as unique individuals capable of thinking and making decisions about what is best for ourselves and our families!

Let us be free to decide how we want to feed our babies and stop trying to round us up and herd us all into a corral. We are women, not cows.

FFF Friday: “I wish everyone could feel confidence in their feeding choice from the get-go…”

I’m off to MommyCon tomorrow to speak about #ISupportYou with my co-founders, Kim Simon and Jamie Lynne Grumet. I’ve been thinking about what I want to say; what I want to impart about my goals with this project, and why I wanted to do it in the first place. Reading through Mandy’s story, I feel like she expressed my answer better than I could have. I want every parent to have confidence and support, no matter how s/he ends up feeding her/his baby. That’s it. Simple. Yet apparently so complicated, that we are still seeing articles, blogs, and chat rooms explode with anger over this topic. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones…

The FFF

***

 Mandy’s Story

I’m a mom who tried to breastfeed but had to switch to formula.  It isn’t an unusual story but when it is your own story, it feels anything but ordinary. It’s painful and heartbreaking and exhausting and lonely.  Your friends and family have so many words and tips to offer but so little helps. Your modern female mind betrays you and tells you that you are less of a woman—less of a mother—because you cannot breastfeed, though you know that thought is irrational and untrue. For me, it is a thought I struggled with long after the last drop of breast milk fought its way out.

I had my first baby in 2011 and when the stick turned blue I immediately enrolled in the University of Google and learned everything I could about pregnancy, labor, delivery and, of course, breastfeeding. Breastfeeding was the obvious choice and I had no question about whether or not I would. I even got annoyed with people who asked whether I would breast or bottle feed. Aside from being annoyed simply because that is a rude question, why would I even consider formula when “breast is best,” right? And how much easier could it be? You have a baby, they latch on, the milk comes in and that’s that.  I even remember the lactation consultant reassuring an expectant mom in my breastfeeding class who asked, “What do I do if I don’t make enough milk?” that “you WILL make enough milk. Your body will ABSOLUTELY make enough milk for your baby.” Supply and demand. Very simple.

I’d like to smack that lady.

My daughter was born and she latched on but I waited and waited and no milk ever came. Well, no more than an ounce every three hours. I was an overwhelmed first time mom and nursed less and less until eventually I stopped trying altogether and switched to formula exclusively after three weeks. Boom…formula baby.

When my daughter was 3 months old I became pregnant with my second baby and I was hell-bent on breastfeeding!  I had been recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I was certain that had to be the reason for my previous struggle and now that I was controlling it with medication, I’d have no problems with milk supply. I even had dreams about freely flowing breast milk and hoped it was a sign that buckets of liquid gold were in my future. Although I also knew that I fit the profile of someone with insufficient glandular tissue but tried to put that possibility out of my mind since there is really nothing you can do to overcome that. I was going to remain determined and hopeful.

When baby girl number two arrived, she was nine pounds of cuteness and latched on to the breast with the expertise of a baby weeks her senior. I was more than proud; I was teeming with hope! This time I was careful to nurse on demand and pump right after nursing to increase my supply but to no avail. I still only produced a maximum of one ounce every three hours. As my big girl got bigger she just began to get frustrated at my out-of-order breast but I just couldn’t give up on it, so I pumped. To complicate things further, her stomach and palette seemed to not tolerate any of the five different formulas we gave her. She seemed to only tolerate breast milk and I couldn’t make any. For about five months I received pumped breast milk from dear friends and trusted donors while I continued to pump around the clock to get my measly ten ounces per day and, of course I supplemented with formula.

Through thousands of tears over five months I told my husband I would stop when she and I were both ready because the around the clock pumping was killing me. Eventually my supply of frozen donations began to wane and she was getting more and more formula. She was doing better with her soy formula and doing well with solids. And I was emotionally ready. I clearly remember sitting in my “pumping chair,” one day and just deciding that I was spending more time pumping than it was worth for eight to ten ounces a day. I cut back slowly on my pumping sessions until I was not pumping at all and she was on formula exclusively. Boom…formula baby number two.

But this time I felt a freedom in the change. For one, I knew I’d done and tried everything possible: power pumping, fenugreek, Reglan, Domperidone, lactation cookies, oatmeal, water, visits to the lactation consultant, (side note: you know it’s pretty hopeless when the lactation consultant says, “you know, formula isn’t that bad,”). I did everything and I felt good switching to formula. I didn’t have the shame I had before. I still have moments of regret or sadness that it didn’t work but I do not feel like a failure as a mother. When I see my friends nursing their babies or pumping an abundance of milk I am a little sad and jealous but overwhelmingly, I feel happy for them because I know the struggle.  And when I see a friend choose formula with less internal struggle than I had I am happy for her as well.

I go back and forth on whether or not our family is complete with only our two children, but when I contemplate a third or fourth child, I cannot help but think of what my feeding choice would be. I say with absolute freedom and confidence that I would start right out of the gate with formula. My body does not make a full supply and the struggle to get what I can is too emotionally gut-wrenching to go through it one more time. I actually fantasize about being in the hospital room and requesting the formula for my imaginary baby with pride and confidence instead of timidly.  I imagine getting to know my newborn without the stress of trying to force my body to make milk that it just cannot make. I am sure that little daydream is not reason enough to have another child but it makes my heart happy. I wish everyone could feel that confidence in their feeding choice from the get-go whether they are a fearless formula feeder or a courageous nursing mommy.

***

Want to share your story? Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com

FFF Friday: “I don’t think I have ever felt quite so judged about any other parenting choice.”

So much of the conversation on infant feeding focuses on first-time mothers and their breastfeeding experiences, for understandable reasons. But that also makes it easy for some to dismiss these experiences as simply “misconceptions”, “nervousness” or “inexperience with breastfeeding”.

But what happens when a third-time mom has twins, and despite the fact that she breastfed successfully twice before, she finds herself dealing with unexpected complications? Turns out, in Michelle’s case, that mother ends up dealing with the same emotional turmoil, conflict, and confusion as the first-timers. Because breastfeeding problems are not the sole property of any “type” of mother, of any age, socioeconomic group or ethnicity, or parity. These problems can strike any mother – and when they do, each and every one of us deserves support, respect, and the opportunity to make the best decision for our families. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

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Michelle’s Story

When I found out that baby #3 was going to be baby #3 and #4 I was understandably excited and nervous. One one the first things people commented/questioned me about was whether i was going to try to breastfeed them. My answer was always that I would play it by ear and see how it went.

The twins developed something called TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome, which can happen when identical twins share a placenta) and I was hospitalized for 6weeks with daily ultrasounds and monitoring, to make sure the babies were still okay. Every day I worried that one or both babies had died. It was not a relaxing pregnancy.

My babies were born at 31 weeks….tiny but perfect. They spent 6weeks in the NICU and I spent those six weeks pumping every 3-4 hours and making trips back and forth to the hospital while also trying to care for my other two kids who were not quite 2 and 6. I was generally NOT at the hospital for feedings, but the girls were getting my milk, first through an NG tube and then when they got better at suck/swallow/breathe, through a bottle. When they were getting close to discharge, the nurses told me to buy bottles and I was clueless and overwhelmed because I had always breastfed my others and had never used a bottle. I had requested a lactation consultant to help me transition them from bottle to breast, but she told me to nurse them and give them bottles afterward if they still seemed hungry. Prior to their discharge, I had attempted putting them on the breast exactly one time and it was not what in would call a rousing success.

They were discharged at 37 weeks and they were still incredibly sleepy and not interested in working for their food. I continued with nursing, bottle feeding, pumping every 3-4 hours. I was attached to the pump. I was miserable . I got in touch with a different LC who was more helpful and over the course of a week or so, I got the girls to latch and eat and finally I could be rid of the infernal pump.

Around 40 weeks the girls woke up. And they screamed. They screamed and they screamed and they screamed. They were miserable. I contacted the same LC again and she thought maybe I had oversupply. I worked on that. The babies continued to be miserable. I took them to the pediatrician who said some babies are just miserable and despite the fact that I had experience with two other babies, I had not had experience with twins. The girls still screamed. Finally when they were around three months old I read about milk protein intolerance and decided to eliminate dairy from my diet. There was much less screaming. There was still some though, and their stools were still showing signs of further intolerance, so I stopped eating soy also. That seemed to be the magic thing. Finally, I had happy babies (their bowel movements still seemed weird, but they were happy, I was happy…everything was finally good in our world). They were five months old at that point and I was finally enjoying them.

Fast forward to their weight checks. The older they got, the less they were gaining. They started out at three pounds, were almost five pounds when they came home at 6weeks old, and at five months were eight pounds. At six months they were up a couple more ounces each. We were going to the pediatrician for weight checks weekly and they were gaining, but slowly. Nobody suggested formula (I had on occasion used nutramigen when I got too touched out and needed a break. They also suffered from pretty severe reflux and wanted to nurse ALL THE TIME. I had tried a “gentle” formula once and it had resulted in immediate screaming that lasted two days, so that solidified my belief that these babies could not tolerate any dairy).

At their NICU developmental follow up appointment at almost 8months, the neonatologist was very concerned about their weights. At first they were recommending physical therapy, but he thought that if they started growing that it would not be necessary. They were 8 and 9 pounds and had been within 6 ounces of that same weight for at least 10 weeks. He suggested me doing an elimination diet and also supplementing with puramino formula 2x a day to see if that would help. I was already struggling without dairy/soy and feeding the rest of my family, so I was not thrilled about an elimination diet. I was not thrilled about the prospect of formula either. I thought long and hard about it, and decided to give them the formula and go back to eating what I wanted. I continued to pump just in case, for about three weeks. I watched my supply dwindle. I initially struggled with guilt, despite the fact that in the month they have been on the formula, they have each gained THREE pounds. There are rolls of chub on their legs! They are finally thriving and I love seeing them grow (they are almost 9months old now).

Nobody says “Good for you for feeding your babies!”. People insinuate that I didn’t try hard enough, that if I were a really good mother I would have gone on the elimination diet. One lady told me that I finally gave in to the evil medical establishment and that I should go back to breastfeeding. I don’t think I have ever felt quite so judged about any other parenting choice. I hate that I feel like I have to explain how we got to this point and despite me resolving NOT to explain, I feel oddly compelled to anytime anyone comments (which they all do immediately upon seeing a bottle).

One thing these babies have taught me is empathy. I never really understood empathy like I do now. I am much better able to put myself in someone else’s shoes and not be judgmental (secretly or otherwise).

I am so incredibly grateful that i found FFF when I did. My healthy thriving babies are glad also!

***

Share your story. Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

FFF Friday: “What matters to me is not my ‘breastfeeding relationship’ but my ‘relationship relationship’.”

My feelings about Toni’s story can be summed up in two words: Absolute Awesomesauce. 

Hope this gets your weekend off to a good start. I know it did for me. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

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Toni’s Story

I never wanted to breastfeed.  I understand that it’s supposed to be good for babies and I don’t doubt that it is but I also don’t believe that formula is poison or even less good than breastmilk.  I don’t think comparing formula to fast food is at all fair and if anything the culture of mom-shaming that surrounds the breastfeeding debate only deepened my ambivalence towards breastfeeding.

I recently reread Hannah Rosin’s article, “The Case Against Breastfeeding” and her words ring so true to me still today while I mother a toddler and the whole feeding debate isn’t nearly as central for me.  In fact, I think because the emotional investment has dissipated for me, I can finally look at feeding in a clear light.  Rosin writes, “[W]hen people say that breast-feeding is “free,” I want to hit them with a two-by-four. It’s only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing.”

Yes. Yes. Yes. I always understood that having a baby would be a huge time commitment but that didn’t mean I was willing to sacrifice all my time and comfort.  And I didn’t want to pump.  I think the best thing about breastfeeding was the closeness and getting close to a pump…eh.

So, I did breastfeed a little, three or four months, always supplementing with formula, more and more as time went on.  Before and after my baby’s birth, I kept telling the hospital people I intended to supplement and they gave me no support on that front whatsoever—even acting as if what I, a 34 year old grown woman with a master’s degree, had decided for my family was wrong.  So, I felt combative pretty much my entire hospital stay.  I did not ask for any help on anything and even when I worried that maybe I wasn’t holding my baby right or that he was maybe not getting enough milk, I kept quiet.  My one and only goal was to get the heck out of that hospital as soon as possible so I could try supplementing with formula in the privacy and comfort of my own home with no one around to judge me.

Even my child’s pediatrician did not seem to understand anything about supplementing.  When he developed reflux, she was sure I just wasn’t holding him right—because how could breastmilk—liquid gold– possibly upset his stomach.  It must’ve been the formula, she thought, even after I explained that he spit up more when I breastfed him.

There was no special reason for me stopping except I realized that the soothing my baby got from me breastfeeding him could just as easily be gotten from me just holding him.  And there was no special reason why I wasn’t into breastfeeding. A friend had told me that while in the hospital after her baby’s birth a nurse actually grabbed her boob without permission to aid in the breastfeeding process.  This image haunted me—a shocking violation of personal space.  I don’t care if someone just assisted in delivering my baby—no one touched me without permission like that.  I see breastfeeding advocates claim that this reserve I maintain is residue of a culture obsessed with breasts as sexual objects to which I reply: Yep, that’s right.  My breasts are sexy and private and not just anyone can touch them.  I understand that they are also at times for feeding my young but I’d smack your hand if you touched my baby’s food without asking first, so what’s the difference?  I informed the nurses at the hospital that while I agreed to try breastfeeding no one was allowed to just come up and grab my boobs.  I thought maybe I was being a bit overcautious until they actually expressed surprise that I’d be uncomfortable with this and suggested that maybe I have a history of sexual abuse.  I let them think it.  If that was what it was going to take to maintain some personal space, so be it.

Anyway, while I strongly feel like I made the right decisions, I know that next time around, I will be more forceful with doctors and nurses.  While recovering from labor, I will request the nurses give a bottle to the baby so I can rest up for the rough sleepless nights ahead and if that one bottle “ruins our breastfeeding relationship” then that’s fine—not all relationships were meant to be.  What matters to me is not my breastfeeding relationship with my baby but my relationship relationship—that is enough of a struggle on its own with a mother as used to her privacy and independence as I am.  Breastfeeding wasn’t bad but I do know that nights when I stayed up breastfeeding as my husband slept soundly in the other room, a dark resentment crept into my already exhausted, hormonal brain.  Maybe I’m just not, as the now infamous Time magazine cover harangues, “mom enough” for breastfeeding.  But I’m completely fine with that.  It’s not a competition, at least not on my end.  While the super moms fight it out to see who can be best, I’ll be at home, telling my husband to fix the baby a bottle while I take a much-needed nap.

 ***

Feel like sharing your story? Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com. 

 

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