The Big Reveal

I’ve sat down to write this post about 50 times in the past week. I’ll start it, stare at what I’ve written, and hit delete, hating every word; nothing sounds right. It rings false. Defensive. Wrong.

I suppose I should start at the beginning. I went in for my induction in the wee hours of December 13th, at 39 weeks and one day. My doctor had wanted to forcibly evict the Fearlette a week earlier, due to my cord issues and her cessation of growth, but since I had ample fluid and reactive non-stress tests. I demured, hoping I could go into labor on my own and avoid another induction, or at least give her one more week of valuable womb-time. We compromised on the 13th, and since my daughter didn’t make any moves on her own, I found myself hooked up to a steady drip of Pitocin on a sunny, warm Monday morning.

About 8 hours later, the Fearlette was born. I only pushed through one contraction; the room was full of laughter and Florence and the Machine sang about the Dog Days in the background. Our only complication had been my cord wrapped tightly around her little neck, which provoked some worrisome heart decelerations during my labor, but other than the few scary seconds of blue-tinged silence, the Fearlette was perfect.

From the moment of delivery, my daughter’s birth was completely different than my son’s. I’m sure a large part of this was thanks to being on a good dose of medication which kept the postpartum depression demons at bay. With FC, the darkness descended the second I passed the placenta; this time, it was all wonder and sunshine and joy. As soon as she was checked out and deemed healthy, I asked for some skin-to-skin time. My new babe looked up at me matter of factly, opened her mouth, and latched on to my breast.

Easy as pie.

Yup, that’s me breastfeeding.

Okay, let’s rewind a bit. You all know I’ve been struggling with the decision on how to feed Fearlette for months. Some days I felt compelled to breastfeed, other days I was adamant about going straight to formula. Ultimately, I went into the hospital looking at the whole thing as an experiment. I would nurse in the hospital, so that she’d get colostrum; other than that, I would make decisions in the moment, and not go in with any dogmatic ideas about what I wanted to do. I brought my own formula, after a lengthy discussion with my pediatrician (who, knowing my history and field of study, not only respected my decision but looked at me with arched eyebrows when I said I was planning on nursing in the hospital and said, “You know you don’t have to do that.” She also told me that our hospital needed to meet a certain percentage of mothers nursing at least at time of discharge or they lose funding. Talk about coercion) on what the best choice would be (if any of you want to know what we chose and why, feel free to email me. I don’t want to endorse anything on here). Whatever we ended up doing, I wanted it to be on my terms, with my own supplies. What had inspired me to take this approach was, ironically, the writing of lactivist Gabrielle Palmer. While I find most of what she says alarmist, misguided and extremist, she does speak of how the modern approach to breastfeeding has taken the “natural” and women-empowering aspect out of the practice. I wondered what would happen if I just let instinct rule; if I – dare I say it – went with the flow.

So when Fearlette started nursing with a perfect latch, right away, with no help, no drama…I thought my little experiment might take a poetic turn. I turned to Fearless Husband and said “Huh. Well, maybe we’re breastfeeding after all.” To his credit, he seemed fine with that declaration. He had agreed to be supportive of whatever I wanted to do, but I think he was still suffering from a fair bit of post-traumatic stress from our first breastfeeding experience. In one of our many discussions on the subject, he had said something pretty resonant, which had been bouncing around my addled brain in the last few weeks of pregnancy. “Why would I want to give my second child a substance that essentially poisoned my first?” he asked, in a heated moment. And he had a point. Breastfeeding had caused our family nothing but misery and pain, whereas formula had been our salvation.

“Think of it this way,” he said. “Remember when your parents sent you to private school, and it was basically hell for you?” Indeed, I did. My two years at a prestigious New England academy had done irreparable damage to my psyche; my fellow students made the Lord of the Flies crew seem darling. “Let’s say we lived back east, and all our friends were sending their kids to that same school, because by doing so, the kids had a much better shot at getting into the Ivy League, of being more successful, etc. But we decide to send our kids to public school. Everyone thinks we’re crazy, but we both went to public, and loved it, and feel we are more successful because of it. One one side we have a place that you associate with misery, but is supposedly far superior; on the other, a place that we know – even if our friends don’t –  is safe and reliable and has done nothing but good for both of us. What do we chose?”

Sing it, Fearless Husband.

And still. There in the hospital, with my miraculous, easy, perfect little daughter, who seemed to be satiated and comforted by my breast rather than tortured like her brother was, I found myself wanting to nurse. This changed things. I hadn’t expected that. Deep down, I expected I’d hate it again, and that my emotions would make the decision for me. Let’s be honest: I wouldn’t have brought that formula with me unless I had a good feeling I’d end up using it. 

That whole first day, I nursed on demand, whenever she fussed. It was absolutely awesome. Sure, my nipple was a little sore, but nothing abnormal. Notice the use of the singular nipple, though. I was only nursing her on one breast. If you know my story, you’ll recall that I had some nebulous form of nerve damage in one of my breasts that made breastfeeding on that side excrutiatingly painful. I had tried once or twice to nurse Fearlette on that side, but it just hurt too damn much. Although I knew better, I decided to just nurse on the “good” side. So rather than 15 minutes on each side, I did 30 minutes on the one.

On the second day, a lactation consultant came in to my room, uninvited. Both FH and I were ready for combat, but for whatever reason, I had lost my edge. I was willing to listen to what she had to say, because I felt strong enough; there was no chance of my being persuaded into doing anything I didn’t want to do. She was actually pretty cool, and just told me that she’d get me a pump because if I didn’t empty the other breast I’d find myself in a world of pain once the milk came in.

When they wheeled in the pump an hour later, my stomach immediately knotted up. I attached the suction cups and listened to the familiar whir of the machine… it still said the same thing it did two years before: yousuckyousuckyousuck. Even though this time, I didn’t. Even though this time, my baby did, and very well at that.

We were discharged that afternoon. I didn’t want to spend one minute more than necessary in the maternity ward. I hated keeping a record of every feeding and having to explain why I was only feeding Fearlette on one side to every nurse we encountered; hated having to note when we supplemented, as if I was being policed. It was better than last time, when we were awoken every two hours to force FC on the breast despite his inability to latch, his inability to get the nourishment he needed to find the energy to suck. But still. I wanted to go home.

Once home though, I faced another challenge. Fearless Child was having a hard time adjusting to being a big brother. He wanted to be near me constantly, insisting on being held by no one but me, and crying hysterically every time Fearlette was in my arms. It broke my heart, not only for the obvious reasons, but because I felt he’d been cheated. My postpartum experience with Fearlette had been so sweet and perfect; he’d been shafted with the absentee mom, one who could barely brush her hair, let alone care for a newborn. What should have offered him comfort just gave him pain; my daughter had nursed happily and easily. It just wasn’t fair. So, while I knew that proper parenting etiquette would be to carefully explain the reality of the situation to him, and continue to revel in the beauty of my new daughter, I just couldn’t. Instead I wanted to hold him closer, drench him with love.

And because of this, I gave Fearlette a bottle rather than nursing her. I still hadn’t made a definitive decision, at least not consciously… but deep down, I knew where this was heading. I thought I could combo-feed, and continued putting her to the breast whenever possible. But as the days went on, she wanted bottles more, and my milk less- or rather, my lack of milk. My milk still hadn’t come in 5 days postpartum, like last time; who could blame her for preferring the instant gratification of the formula? I knew it was probably my fault – the few bottles here and there had screwed up my supply. Strangely, though, I didn’t feel guilty. It was what it was. I knew she’d thrive on formula like my son had. This time, I’d done my homework; I didn’t fear formula; I had made an informed decision, and that decision had been mine, not fate’s or the formula company’s or the breastfeeding police’s.

What I hadn’t expected though, is that this time, I enjoyed nursing. It was pretty great, actually. I can’t say for sure, but I do think that if Fearlette had been the first child, she would have been nursed- at least for a few months – and the Fearless Formula Feeder never would’ve existed.

We’re three weeks out now, and exclusively formula feeding. Which means that I now fall into another category of Fearless Formula Feeder – one who chose to formula feed, for non-medical reasons. I could justify it by saying I was nervous about my antidepressants passing through my milk (and quite honestly, that did factor into my decision. I do think it’s probably safe to nurse while on certain medications, but I am not 100% comfortable with the lack of long-term, quality research on the subject – especially when formula is a viable option, and the mom doesn’t have a strong desire to nurse) but that wouldn’t be the whole truth. The whole truth is that it was a myriad of things that drove me to this choice. My own personal issues with my body image and need for autonomy, my history of PPD that was strongly linked to breastfeeding (and interestingly, the day my milk came in this time around, I immediately started feeling the darkness creeping in. It didn’t abate until 3 days later when I had completely dried up. Could have been a coincidence, but I suspect that the hormones involved in that second stage of lactogenesis  provoke my depression. This may or may not be the case for other women; I just know that there’s a correlation in my case); the reality of my work situation; the needs of my entire family, not just mine or my daughter’s… all these things mattered, and added together, they meant that formula feeding was the choice I felt most comfortable with.

Notice I didn’t say the better choice. I don’t think I can qualify this choice one way or another. There would have been a thousand awesome aspects to breastfeeding. There may only be a few awesome things about formula feeding. I have second guessed my decision hundreds of times. But in the end, it doesn’t matter. My daughter is well fed, I am happy, my son is adjusting, and my husband is comfortable with our decision. We’ve already moved on to obsessing about other parenting issues. Case closed.

But as I sat down to write this post, I realized that I still had some unresolved feelings about my choice. While I feel 100% confident that it was a good move for my family, I worry that I’m going to be letting you guys down. I’ve always been able to identify myself as one of those women who tried desperately to nurse and couldn’t; I know there are so many of you who fit this description who would give your left toe to have the gift I was given: a baby who latched well, milk that came in. How will reading this make you feel?

And how about the lactivists I’ve befriended, the ones I like and admire, who will see my choice as a blatant slap in the face to their cause? How can I say I support breastfeeding for those who are willing and able when I had the opportunity to do so and didn’t?

Still, this blog has always been based on the premise that how we feed our babies should be our personal choice, free from exhortations or moral indictments. What was so fearless about feeding formula when I had no other choice? Couldn’t this be a happy ending, in it’s own weird way?

I’m still nervous about how this decision will affect all of you. I hope you will still see me as the FFF you know and love. I made a choice that worked for me; it in no way is meant as a judgment or endorsement in either direction. I can share with you a few things I’ve learned from this process, which I hope will be of some value to those of you thinking about future kids:

For those who want to breastfeed…

Just because you have a crappy experience with breastfeeding the first time, does NOT mean that you will the next. I had learned a lot from my time with FC; because of this, I was able to latch Fearlette correctly with no help. But I also think I was able to do this because I put no pressure on myself. There were no stakes, you know? I was relaxed because I knew we’d be okay, no matter what. Going through a bad nursing experience gives you this advantage – the “worst” has already happened once, and you’re prepared for anything.

That said, I think it’s really important to assess your deepest emotions surrounding nursing. As I mentioned earlier, my husband had a bit of PTSD about it all, and I think I did as well. I still associated breastfeeding with misery; even though the act of it was enjoyable with Fearlette, I had all these loaded feelings which were weighing on me. You may want to explore your psyche beforehand and ensure that you are in a calm, positive space. Just a thought.

For those who are thinking of formula feeding…

It’s a very different thing to make an informed, unencumbered decision to formula feed than to “resort” to it after exhausting your breastfeeding options. I think there is a reason that we don’t have many women visiting this site who just “chose” to formula feed from the get-go: there’s a certain strength in that  A few days after my milk dried up I read a message board thread which said some really disparaging (and wrong) things about formula. A month ago, reading these comments would have hurt me. Now, I can look at them a bit more dispassionately. There’s power in making a CHOICE. I can’t really explain this in words, but it goes back to that insidious Jack Newman quote I often cite about the only women feeling guilty about formula feeding being the ones who wanted to nurse, and couldn’t. While this isn’t entirely true – it was recently brought to my attention that there can still be a hefty dose of guilt and fear inherent in this choice as well, depending on the circumstances – this is a telling statement (even though Newman brings it up in an entirely wrong context). And it’s exactly why this blog needs to exist, to defend and support those women. It’s bad enough to feel like you “failed” at something you really wanted to do; we don’t need people rubbing salt in the wound, especially when that salt is milled from defensiveness, misinterpreted statistics, and poor science.

So, here I am, guys. Laid bare. I’m evolving from the FFF born out of fear, anger and isolation, to one with an unbelievably inspiring and strong community behind her (at least I hope, after this confession, that they are still behind her…) who has chosen to formula feed for reasons that may not be dramatic or understandable to all, but are legitimate reasons all the same. And FFF has always been, and always will be, about choice. I love hearing all your stories about how you ended up formula feeding, but ultimately, I want everyone to know that none of us should care why you feed your child the way you do. It is a personal decision, end of story. I want us all to get to a place where we don’t feel the need to defend or explain ourselves. Myself included.

Phew. Okay, let the public flogging begin. I’m ready. At least I still have about 12 extra pounds of postpartum fluff to protect me from the blows….

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.

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59 thoughts on “The Big Reveal

  1. THANK YOU SO MUCH for writing this. As I'm looking into the future and a baby2, I have a lot of anxiety about the things that went “wrong” with baby1, namely a c-section and never quite getting the hang of bf-ing for more than a week at a time, and my feelings surrounding both. You give me hope that the next time can be better, both in results and in my feelings!

  2. 🙂 First of all CONGRATS!! 🙂 Welcome to the world Fearlette!

    Second, you made a choice that was best for your family and no one has the right to judge you for that.

    Kudos on posting this. What a wonderful post with a great message.

  3. Well, of course you're still the FFF we know and love! There are, as we all know (or should know by now), countless and unique reasons that breastfeeding does or doesn't work for each of us as individuals.

    And as for making a choice that's best for FC, quick story: when my mom had me, my brother was supposed to go to kindergarten (we're both September babies). She made the choice to hold him back a year, convinced that if she sent him off to school the minute I was born, he'd resent her and feel he had been “replaced” by me. EVERYONE told her it was the wrong choice, but she knew it was right, and it ended up being best and healthiest for the entire family. So. We have to go with the gut, which is usually right.

    And congrats again on the birth of Fearlette! Mazel tov!

  4. Wow. Bravo. I can't imagine how hard this was to write and how scary it must have been to push that publish button. However, your writing is beautiful and so very honest. I'm so glad you got to have peaceful, positive experience. I'm so glad you could evolve and adapt to the needs of your family in the moment. I'm so glad that you had an opportunity to work on recognizing and healing old wounds. I'm so glad that this time it was about choice. I am grateful that you and FC had the strength to go through what you did, because (perhaps selfishly) I need this community to exist. I am grateful that you continue to put yourself out there. I am grateful that the Fearlette is safely here and thriving and for the new insights you shared with this new experience. I will happily add my 10 lbs of PP fluff to yours to block any blows. Take care and enjoy your FC and Fearlette baby snuggles. hannah

  5. Awesome. Truly powerful and inspiring. At least for me. I'm glad you had a positive breastfeeding experience. Experience is good! Choice is also really good. So despite your choice to go to formula for the benefit of yourself and your *whole* family, it's still nice that you got to have a positive BF experience at the same time.

    Congrats again on a beautiful little girl 🙂

  6. Congrats!!!!

    We made some very similar decisions….DD2 would. NOT. nurse, so we “resorted” to FFing….and loved it. I still felt guilted into BFing DS1 for about 6 months (until teeth came in!) When DS2 came a long and had a stay in the NICU, I pumped while he was there, but when I got him home and tried to BF…it felt so wrong. It wasn't the best fit for us as a family, for me as a mom, or for my other kids who are still very young. Good for you for doing what is best for your family!!! THAT is the job you are called to do!

  7. Congratulations! And quite frankly we mothers shouldn't be putting ideology before what is best for our babies and our family and ourselves. Whether it is formula/breast, childcare/SAHM etc, these sort of debates exist online and amongst the media and unfortunately amongst friends and families sometimes. But once you have a bub in your arms, they're part of a family and want to be loved and accepted and cared for and we all do that as best we can with what we've got.

    That said I'm having the same conflict over number 2. I worked so hard to breastfeed number one, but I don't have the energy or patience or time to do all that pumping etc the second time around. I too hope I can just 'go with the flow' next time around (I have three months to go).

  8. Oh wow. This was an amazing post. Honest and sensible, yet still with so much heart. I have no idea what I would do with a second child… if I'd even try. (Heck, right now just the thought of having another scares the crap out of me, preemie issues and all – nursing is pretty far down on the “what if” list) But there's so much food for thought in this post, I'm bookmarking it for (possible!) future reflection.

    And your Fearless Husband had some incredibly wise words, as well.


  9. This is a wonderful post. I'm so glad you hit “publish”! Honestly, I feel like you are even MORE fearless now, because, as you said, you formula fed out of necessity last time (there's no real bravery there, just necessity, right?). This time, it is out of choice, and that takes courage. You write yourself that you were coming from a place of fear last time, but this time, you made a choice, with eyes wide open. Hurrah for making choices, as hard as they may be to make. I hope you can eventually feel proud that you made the best decision for your family.

    I have a feeling I may end up on a very similar path to you, when we eventually decide to have another child. I can't really say I'm a fearless formula feeder now, because I was very afraid to formula feed. I eventually made the choice to stop pumping and switch to formula after my son reached six months, but I did it with all sorts of anxiety and fear. Next time around, I imagine I'll go into labor open-minded to any feeding outcome, but fully prepared at the same time, as you did. But if we do end up formula feeding a second child, as we probably will, I truly hope I can do so fearlessly on my second chance.

    Your courage and honesty are inspiring. We're still here. We still love you and your blog. Congratulations on the birth of Fearlette, and thank you for this post.

  10. Congratulations! And thank you again for being here and saying these things. I am working on a post right now that will probably publish on Wednesday about how I feel more confident in attempting breastfeeding the second time because of my experience with formula feeding. I will send you the link when it's live. However, I just want to say that I agree about formula – it gives you the choice. I am thankful for the choice as well!

  11. Welcome to the world little Fearlette! Congratulations Momma FF!

    You deserve support, congratulations, and big hugs & smiles! You just had a baby girl!

    How you feed your baby should be the least of anyone's worries! :o)

    Yay Baby!!!!!

  12. I have to say I have no idea why I am crying after reading this, but I dont think I have ever been so moved by a blog post. I dont really have words, but I applaud you courage.

  13. I am proud of you for keeping an open mind, not letting your fears get the best of you and making a decision that you can feel confident about. Your experience is exactly what FFF is all about – making an educated decision that is best for YOUR family and not falling prey to anyone’s ulterior motives. I am also so happy that you were able to see the positive side of breastfeeding.
    Congratulations on the new family addition and enjoy her!

  14. Beautiful. Honest. True to yourself. Great post!

    Btw, my breast pump spoke to me too! It alternated, “yousuckyousuckyousuck” with “gottapumpgottapumpgottapump.” When I told my family, they thought I was crazy. Maybe I was; on the same day I referred to my son as “she” five different times. More accurately, I think I was sleep deprived and frustrated with my failing breasts. When I gave away my pump (while it was used a lot, very little liquid had passed through it), I warned my friend that it might speak to her too.

  15. I totally agree that you are even more Fearless now! You made the choice that was the best one for your family and that is a beautiful thing. Even IF I somehow magically have milk for baby #2, my past experience has led me to believe that for me and my family, formula feeding is really the best choice, and I know I would have done the same thing in your situation. HUGE congrats on the birth of your daughter! 🙂

  16. ♥ i am so glad you were able to experience a positive and peaceful breastfeeding relationship – for any amount of time. Im also happy that you were able to come to a decision (ANY decision) because you CHOSE to & not because you felt you were forced (either way) Congrats on a healthy (& BEAUTIFUL) babe & sending you many HUGS.

  17. Thank you for sharing; it's a great story! For one, it shows insurmountable courage to try something that was so hard on you before. I'm really glad that it went better for you this time, that you both enjoyed it and were able to see it for what it was; an option, rather than an absolute. ♥

    And I love your discussion of choice. I think that's an important distinction, the great empowerment of choice rather than coercion. (In all things, not just parenting/feeding.)

    And congrats on the new baby! It sounds like the first couple weeks have been pretty mellow.

  18. Congratulations on your new baby and for choosing to feed her fearlessly!

    I only wish this blog was around back when my boys were babies. I formula fed exclusively due to a family history of inability to nurse. I wasn't ready to set myself up for failure knowing that I would be stressed enough with a newborn to take care of.

    BUT I did experience the guilt of choosing not to BF thanks to a mother in law who thought we all needed to raise our kids the way she did. I also had a teenage sister in law who felt the need to make comments every time a bottle was fixed to feed the baby. Her comments of “When I have a baby, they WILL be nursed.”, “Bottles are gross! And so much work!” and my favorite “If God wanted us to formula feed, He would not have given us boobs.” made those of us FFing cringe and her mother smile and pat her on the head.

    The mother in law pressured another sister in law to BF. SHe struggled with it for a month. Finally, after spending a day with her, watching the tears run down her face EVERY time my neice was put the breast, I had had enough. I found one of her bottles, opend a can of formula and fixed her a bottle. I took my neice and sent my sister in law upstairs for a shower and some alone time and defianly fed that baby a bottle in front of my mother in law. If you have only seen the shades of red she turned! By now she had figured out she couldn't do anything with me so she just bit her tounge. I looked her in the eye and informed her that if her bullying didn't stop, she and I would have a run in and she would would be the recipient of an unplanned attitude adjustment.

    SO all this to say that even though I chose to fearlessly formula feed my two boys, outside factors did their best to heap on the guilt. I was just lucky enough to have been raised to have my beliefs and stand up for them in the face of bullys.

  19. Congrats! I'm glad that you are happy, that you had a good birth experience, and that you got to make the choice for you (and your family)! I can imagine that is incredibly empowering.

    I love that you mentioned antidepressants. My OB was adamant that I only take Zoloft while BFing, and I trust her judgment. It makes me very nervous to see websites saying the medications that should not be used while breastfeeding are “far fewer than we are being led to believe.”

  20. Lovely 🙂
    I've been thinking about jealousy lately, and realized I'm not jealous of those with working boobs, and never in a million years would I resent anyone who had what I don't and chose not to use it as I would. What I find myself most jealous of is those who never had to make an unwilling choice born out of desperation, pain or circumstance. That said, I'm very pleased to see you (or anyone!) making a choice and being at peace with it after not having the option before.

  21. I've been reading your site for quite a while but this is the first time leaving a comment.

    First, congratulations on the birth of Fearlette! Your post had me smiling in parts and nodding in agreement in others.

    I live overseas where breastfeeing is the norm and formula feeding is looked upon as somewhat exotic. Having people watch me in fascination as I feed both my DD (a few years ago) and now my 3-month-old DS can sometimes be daunting, and being unable to get advice from pediatricians about FF because they are uninformed on the topic (due to the prevelance of BFing), has been difficult at times.

    I also chose to FF for “non-medical reasons”, as you put it so eloquently. I combo-fed both babies while in the hospital (one week stays are common here), and while DD was unable to latch well and had a weak suck due to being 4 weeks premature (2.6kg) and having severe jaundice which made her sleep all the time, DS was a big, full-term baby (3.5kg) and was a champion eater. However, I had already decided with both that I was going to FF eventually so after that first one week, I went to the bottle and never went back.

    With DD, I felt justified in changing over to FF so quickly because she had to be fed with a dropper in the hospital during our stay, however, with DS, he had a great latch, was BF with a vengence and it was more enjoyable than I expected.

    However, when DS decided that he didn't want the breast anymore and wanted the bottle, I immediately went to FF, but sometimes (still do) feel some guilt that I didn't “persevere” and somehow force him to continue breastfeeding.

    I enjoy your site so very much and am looking forward to reading more. Thank you for your honesty with your own choices and for allowing other women to write about their own experiences and choices.

    (Sorry for the uber-long post! 🙂

  22. Congratulations to you and your family! And I echo the sentiment of some of the other commenters. Your decision to formula feed for non-medical reasons is the epitome of what this site is about: choice, empowerment, and self-awareness. You're truly practicing what you preach! =)

  23. Congratulations on your new baby!
    I've also come to realize how tense it can be to out yourself as one of those mothers who choses to use formula when breastfeeding comes easy and naturally. Amongst haggered mothers who tried everything, spent every penny, and every ounce of their emotional well being and sanity trying to breastfeed, and here you come, the mother who did it effortlessly, holding a bottle full of formula instead. I was in the same boat. My 2nd son was easy. He latched right away. But like you, I had a family, not just a baby. My other two sons had needs of their own, and I decided all of my children's needs were important, not just the nutritional needs of my newborn. But when I logged in to the formulka feeding chat rooms, my conflict-free experience was resented. Why would I take advantage of such a perfect situation? Sometimes it seems there's no one to turn to when you don't fall in with the breastfeeding mothers or the I-tried-everything-and-formula-was-my-last-resort mothers.

    I am really glad a voice as strong as yours will now be able to relate to those of us who CHOSE to formula feed.

  24. I am so glad I found this site. I have been struggling with the fact that I have had to supplement with formula. My baby gets so little breastmilk and takes so much formula at each feeding that I am definitely trying to decide whether to even continue bfing. My supply just isn't there, but because there is “something” there and we don't have any latch issues, I've been feeling guilty about giving it up altogether. I'm so glad that I found your website – I have a feeling it will help me with my decision and help me feel less guilt.

  25. Will try, probably fail to post.

    Just wanted to say that this is a great post–congrats ont he birth of Fearlette! And I agree with everyone else: you made a choice, on your terms, not bowing to anyone else's opinions. Your son is fine, your daughter will be fine and that's that.

  26. What a beautifully written piece. It sounds like you have really come full circle. I am so grateful for you and the FFF community, you have made a huge difference in my life as a mother. I hope my next “baby-feeding” experience will be as rational, calm, and enjoyable as yours! Congratulations on your new little one!

  27. I've said it before, and I will say it again – you are amazing. Thanks for helping me out thru my decisions with Ryan and choosing to FF. I dont know that you will ever truly realize what a difference you make in so many lives. (((hugs)))

  28. I wanted to comment on the part where your pediatrician said that the hospital had to have a certain percentage of mothers breastfeeding at time of discharge or they'd lose funding.

    When I was reading the admissions brochure for my hospital, it said that 87.11% of women were breastfeeding at discharge in 2007. I was astounded at that figure, because I just can't wrap my head around there only being 13% of mothers out there that formula feed their babies. From reading your post here, I can understand this percentage. I am certain the lactation consultants at the hospital and the nurses push moms to try breastfeeding so they have high percentages.

    Well, I refuse to buy into this. I plan to formula feed, for non medical reasons, and I'm not letting anyone pressure me into trying to breastfeed just to ensure funding.

  29. Congrats on the arrival of the little Fearlette! I for one am inspired by this post — as I have been by everything I've read in this blog. I can only hope that when I try to nurse the next child I have (because I'm stubborn like that) I will be able to “go with the flow” like you did instead of getting obsessed with breastfeeding. And I think your experience this time validates your entire philosophy that how you feed your child should be your choice and no one should feel guilty or pressured about that choice.

    P.S. I found it interesting that you were listening Dog Days are Over while your daughter was born, as that has pretty much been my theme song for the whole formula-feeding experience.

    P.P.S. My pump talked to me too. It said different things, but mostly it was “wepumpwepumpwepumpwepump.” It could have been a good thing (better than “yousuckyousuckyousuck” at least). It could have sounded like a cheer — “we pump! we pump! we pump!”. But instead it was like a chant that workers use to keep their pace when performing a repetitive task.

  30. First of all, congratulations on your little girl. I have two myself – they're amazing! And what a great post. It sounds so similar to my experience with my second. With my first, I had a difficult and painful breastfeeding experience because my daughter was, frankly, a monster – her latch was evil. And they kept telling me it was perfect, but I kept bleeding, and getting infections. By 6 weeks, I started supplementing and by 4 months, she was completely formula fed.

    This time, however, like you, my youngest latched on perfectly. She never ever hurt me. I got the cliche “sore nipples” for a “few weeks” but never anything I could describe as painful. And this was with a baby who ate every hour and a half. Which of course, partially created the issue – nothing I did – NOTHING – ever made her want to eat for more than 5-10 minutes. So I was constantly feeding her. And my older one was utterly miserable. Jealous, upset, acting out, you name it. And it was because the baby required almost constant attention. This continued for 4 months, when I eventually introduced a bottle of formula consistently every night. And it just went from there, as I knew it would, to full on formula feeding. In the process, I realized the baby was probably starving that whole time (and I should have been supplementing the whole time, but didn't think it was necessary because she gained weight well). And it changed my older daughter's attitude. Things became much easier and I was less stressed.

    I enjoyed nursing the baby most of the time. I would do it again with a third, or at least, I'd try. But I felt terrible for my older daughter, and I decided that our sanity and the family dynamic would be better served if I switched feeding methods. So I did. And we're all happy. I hope things continue as well for you, and enjoy that little munchkin!

  31. Congrats and welcome to the world, Fearlette! 😀

    This is an amazing post. Thank you for putting it out there! I can really relate to going with the flow for #2. I didn't know what I was going to do, and having an open mind and not worrying about “resorting” to formula has made all the difference, even though my choice in the end was different. I was guilted into BF the first time. This time, I'm doing it because *I* want to. And I'm also FF instead of pumping on the nights I have class, because I want to do that. My choice. And even though I have a toddler to care for as well as a 2.5-month-old, I feel like I have more time to enjoy my baby, because I'm not spending so much time stressing and obsessing over how to feed her!

    You're an awesome mom and an awesome blogger and you have much to be proud of. 🙂

  32. Sorry for taking so long to read this, but congratulations!

    My decision with my second child was very similar to yours. I gave it a bit of a go in the hospital, but decided to switch to formula before the real problems hit. Even in the hospital I could tell that breastfeeding would probably lead to depression, and I didn't want to put myself through it, so I just switched to formula as soon as we were home. (I suppose it was a bit cowardly, since I waited until there were no nurses or doctors around to be all judgy about it.) But the guilt this time? Hardly there at all.

  33. Congrats! and Good. For. You. I am so glad you had the opportunity to make a choice that worked best for you and your family versus the “having to resort” option. I had a very similar experience w/ my first two. Enjoy your new family of 4! 🙂

  34. You're feeding your baby! As Darlena put it on Dec. 3, you shouldn't have to excuse your decisions–to anyone. Not even us.

    I'm going to be in the same boat whenever kid #2 comes along. Even with the breast-reduction surgery I've had, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to eke out some milk, at least for a little while. But I don't think I'll continue past colostrum because of the potential risks of my strange nerves acting up on me again, like they did the first time around.

    So really, I can't thank you enough for posting what you have; I'm filing it away for the future, when I'm sure I'll be facing a lot of the same demons all over again but will hopefully have the poise that you have shown. I'd like to be where you are now in a few years; it's something to aspire to.

    Congrats again (and belatedly) and thanks for being so open to all of us.

  35. “Let the flogging begin”? Seriously?!? That is just such a blatantly disingenuous invitation to have praise heaped upon you, it's embarrassing to read. Have some respect for the intelligence of your readers–how was that the capper of your post that escaped the “delete” button you said you hit so many times? You knew perfectly well that “flogging” is not what you'd be getting, and that if you did you wouldn't approve the comment anyway.

    Stopping breastfeeding largely because your older child was jealous? Just…wow. What happens if, when they get older, one child excels at a sport or an academic area but the other does not? Will you then forbid the exceptional child from continuing to participate in that activity, or ask them to please be more mediocre in doing so out of consideration for their sibling? Sheesh.

    • I agree, this website is absurd like a smokers support group where people write about how they tried to stop smoking but chose not to, or never tried quitting in the first place and are looking for praise about it.

      Smoking and artificial milk,( not “formula”, My God, it is NOT a formula, it´s artificial milk) are both CHOICES, but it does not make them any better, no one will put you in jail for choosing to smoke, but it doesn´t change how wrong it is.

      I artificially fed my first child out of ignorance and regret it deeply, now, at almost 9 months I´m still succesfully breastfeeding my baby and planning of continuing on doing do as far as she wants to go.

      And I would never give my second child something as nasty as artificial milk because of sibling jealousy. It´s as if I spanked my first child, and then realized how wrong it is, but chose to spank my second because “it´s unfair to have only spanked the eldest”.

      Artificial milk has no reason to be used unless there IS a medical reason.

      The only choice I am making is between natural, complete nutrition and nurturing, and well, artificial feeding.

  36. Anon,
    If you read FFF story without such a biased viewpoint you will see that her decision was made for a myriad of reasons. ONE of which was the fact that the time it took to nurse her daughter took away her ability to provide what SHE felt was the necessary attention to her son. BTW, have you ever met her son? Know what his personality is like? Know what his needs are? Oh, no? Then what makes you think you know what her family dynamics are like? What demands she has to deal with? Whether you want to admit it or not BF is a huge time commitment, especially in the beginning. Perhaps it was more than she could handle? Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. It is her right to feed her child the way she sees fit. She is not harming her daughter. Breastfeeding is not the be- all and end- all of motherhood or raising happy, healthy children.

  37. Anon-
    If you've been reading this blog for any time, you would know that public flogging does, in fact, happen on this site, particularly toward women who would dare CHOOSE formula over breastmilk (as opposed to having to resort to it). I know it was not the FFF intention to get praise, partly because I know her and can assure you that's not her personality at all.

    I also think you missed the point of the sibling issue.

  38. Anon,
    First off, I think if you're going to post an inflammatory comment like that have some guts and stand behind it and put your real name. FFF didn't delete your comment, so obviously she's not editing comments to include only praise.
    Your comparison of stopping BF to making a child stop an activity they love later in life is way off base. If one child does an activity they love it doesn't mean that their parents won't be able to pay attention to the other child (and if that is the case, then yes, I think that makes them rather crappy parents.)An older child vying for a parents attention is not the same as a toddler, who still needs lots of in-arms time.

  39. Congratulations! I'm so happy for you. I find it WONDERFUL that you can be truly at peace with your decision to FF this time around and do it because you want to and not because you have to.

  40. Wow-thanks for posting this. I am expecting #2 and was a FFF with #1 from the get-go never even attempting BF as my Twin sister had a HORRIBLE experience and suffered PPD and I figured why even try? Now with #2 I feel like I may want to at least try BF-but go back and forth like you on a daily basis. I am leaning towards trying and seeing what happens as you did but not killing myself to make it work. I just feel like it is adding so much added stress to having the baby….ugh

  41. I have to say as a nursing mom that I never even considered not nursing #2 since I had for #1 & even though it had a LOT more challenges than it did the 1st time around (for various reasons including bad latch, newborn clamp down reflex & others). And despite some issues over lap time, I felt like I would be sacrificing something for #2 that he shouldn't have to give up simply due to birth order. I think that is an easier call to make when you already nursed #1 & you say things to #1 like “when you were tiny like this I nursed you alll dayyy long just like this”…rather than in your head saying “#1 is fine, so why I am make an issue out of this when I could just FF again?” I also made nursing time special time for everyone – so I had special games #1 & I played or books we read together while baby camped out on the boob. I had thought I would be able to put #2 in a sling & nurse on the go. Well that never panned out as #2 hated slings/carriers, etc. So it certainly slowed me down. Laundry piled up, etc. But they are only that demanding for a short time in the overall span of life – so I rolled with it. I also recognize for me that it works in part because my Dh cares that I nurse, I know many men don't. He knows better than to expect much of anything those first 6 months regarding laundry, cleaning & meals prepared, etc. THOSE are mostly his job. He has seen first hand how hard it can be to get things done when baby growth spurts & is smart enough to realize that he cannot always come first, nor should he. Feeding our baby is OUR job & if I have the boobs, then he has to fill in the other gaps. (Also why I married him <3). There are lots of reasons nursing doesn't work out. I had plenty of those reasons myself. I think a big difference too is what priority you place it in your life Many do not think it is a priority & therefore don't have the push to get through the harder earlier parts to enjoy the benefits of how easy it gets later. That to me is the biggest bummer. I think for many (including myself) that FF early on is likely easier on a physical level - but hands down BFing has to be the easier method in later months for a multitude of reasons & of course you can't beat always on hand & totally free. If I had only known early on how easy it would be later it would have been much easier to muddle through those earlier months. That is why I think I was able to get through it with #2. Had he been first I would likely be telling a much different story & who knows what the ending would have been.

    I say much love to all mommas doing the best they can & feeding with love. I have been through so much myself & seen so much that I do not wonder why more women don't BFd – I actually wonder how so many manage to do ti at all despite no support, bad info, Dh's that are selfish babies that expect meals on the table 2 weeks postpartum & expect mom to remain a vixen when she is covered in baby spit up, has nursed all day & he has sat on his bum, too short maternity leaves, etc, etc, etc. It allllllll stacks up to make nursing seem like one more sacrifice & harder work than it needs to be – that is IF we had our needs met too. But at the end of the day most women are the ones meeting the emotional needs of the family & few have anyone doing that in return for them. Like I said – I think it is a wonder in this country why anyone even tries when there is so much standing in the way of making it an enjoyable experience. Looking back I am not even sure some days how I made it through the first time or why I pushed so hard. I am glad I did – but I do recognize why so many moms don't for many many reasons.

  42. I breastfed the first child for nine months, give or take. It was great, except for the fact that he was allergic to pretty much everything I ate. Nevertheless, I didn’t mind. It was a pretty easy experience and I loved being able to feed him. With the second child, I tried breastfeeding her, but she never latched on well. She was a lazy eater and she gulped, which meant that she ended up screaming for hours after every feeding. Needless to say that didn’t last long. I did feel guilty for SO many reasons but I had to make the decision that saved my sanity. In the end, it didn’t really make a difference, she gulped with the bottle too, but at least I could tell how much she was getting to eat and not have to worry that she was screaming in hunger.

    I’m a huge believer in supporting each other. I don’t think anyone looks at their child and makes a decision based on selfishness. Mommy wars are stupid. BTW, the formula fed child is a brilliant beautiful sixteen year old now.

  43. Pingback: FFF Friday: "I'm a better mother now that I bottle feed." - Fearless Formula Feeder

  44. My bub now is almost 6 months old, and he stopped liking my breastmilk…he just didn’t want to feed at all. I switched to formula, and now combining them. He’s feeding fine now, i guess he was just bored..

  45. Pingback: Infant Feeding Today Pt. 4: Help With Mixed Feedings | Mama's Milk, No Chaser

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