FFF Friday: “I never wanted to breastfeed.”

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.

Hey everyone! Happy Friday. Two years, countless hours, and  $70 to UPS for next day air service later, I can officially say that the first draft of my book is in the hands of my editor. Which means, of course, that my schedule just got a whole lot clearer, and will let me revive this dying blog. Starting this weekend.


To kick off a new, rejuvenated Fearless Formula Feeder blog, I want to share a submission I received from FFF Angela P.  I always love hearing from people who have been able to defeat the guilt and begin saying piss off to the Judgy McJudgersons of the parenting world, and Angela’s in-your-face attitude is pretty darn refreshing…
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!!WARNING!! Unconventional, unpopular truth comin’ right at ya.  I NEVER wanted to breastfeed.
“Don’t you understand what you are denying yourself and your baby?”  “He will be dumb, sick, and fat.”  Okay no one really said this but they (and by “they” I mean everyone) kindly informed me of all the studies that basically did. 
So what’s my deal?
I never wanted kids.  I never longed to be a mom.  I married knowing full well it wasn’t part of our game plan.  Did I even like kids?  I loved them and relished in playing, laughing, and caring for all my friends children.  We were that couple that everyone said, “awww they should have kids; they would make great parents; it’s too bad.”  Low and behold after many years of wedded bliss my amazing husband dropped a bomb on me: he wanted a family.  I too saw in him what my friends did; he would make a great father, and how could I deny us the unconditional love of a child?  We had more than enough love to go around and 7 months later we said hello to our little 3 lb 10.5 oz bundle of joy who couldn’t wait the extra 2 months to meet us.  He was just perfect and miraculously we were a legitimate family (Oh, a topic for another time.)
The road to here was paved with lots of doctor visits, constant monitoring, scary tests with bleak results, and various types of bed-rest for 5 months.  So now that he was here why wouldn’t I give my child the magical elixir?  Come on, I was well informed about all the benefits.  Every mother, father, whether I knew them or not, and nurse saw to it that I was in-the-know.  Why is it that people feel that it is okay to ask you if you’re breastfeeding?  No pressure!  I loved attending the required NICU classes where right out of the gate you’re shamed by having to be the only person in the room who doesn’t raise their hand when asked, “OK, by a show of hands who’s BREASTFEEDING (with the undertone of, “Yay you, you are sooooo awesome”)!  Then you have to sit there for a good long while listening to “pump-talk” while the other parents and instructor look at you, nod, and tilt their heads in your direction when they talk about all the benefits.  Tears streaming down your face with guilt and anger.  I felt like I was watching an after school special on peer pressure.   
So now you’re asking, “What’s her deal with breastfeeding, is she one of those people who are offended, appalled, and disgusted by the display?”  On the contrary.  I would dress somebody down if they dared to scoff at a woman feeding her child.  It is the most natural nurturing gift a mother has to offer her baby and if you have a problem with it, look within, something ain’t right with you. 
 
So what’s my deal?  Why did I choose not to breastfeed?  Does it matter?  Would it be justified If I told you it was because I was sexually abused and I harbored those feelings in my breast?  Or what if I just didn’t want to “ruin” my breasts?  What if it was a cultural thing?  Let’s be honest, if I told you I didn’t want to ruin my breasts you’d be on me like a spider monkey.  Why do I need to justify my decision, and why is it any of your business anyway?  Isn’t it more important now that he is happy, thriving, well cared for, loved, and for the most part healthy.  ”Ah-ha! See he’s not healthy.”  My breast milk would not have “fixed” him.  He came into this world needing a little help.  He’ll grow out of it. Will you? 
CHOSE not to breastfeed and I reject your judgment.

FFF Friday: “They needed to know…that formula feeding was my choice.”

FFF Kristin tells us about walking into the formula feeding lion’s den – AKA a LLL meeting – and how she turned what could have been an intimidating experience into a positive, productive one. I think her story is a great example of how if we can just talk to each other as individuals rather than stereotypes (militant breastfeeder, lazy formula feeder, etc.) then we could start breaking down these ridiculous walls the remain between mothers.
Happy Passover/Easter/Spring Solstice, everyone! 

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I wander into the local library, excited about my first MOMS Club meeting.  Peeking through the glass door of a meeting room, I see kids running around and a bunch of moms sitting in a circle in the center of the room.  I’m about 15 minutes late as baby took his time this morning with his bottle.  I sneak in quietly, as to not disturb the current discussion.  I listen as I begin to unpack and peel the winter layers away from my 4 month old son.  The only elderly woman in the room confides that she used to spank her children because she didn’t know better.  Taking a seat, I listen to the other women in the room, thankful to have local moms to share experiences with.  That was, until the sign in sheet got to me.
For an instant, my blood ran cold.  I was at a La Leche League meeting.  A horrible mixture of fate and coincidence; both meetings were at the same library, same time.  The meeting rooms were not labeled. Each mother began to introduce themselves to the group of about 6 moms.  There’s no way I could slip out casually.  I’m going to have to face this.
Ever since my son was born I have struggled with guilt, frustration and a general feeling of defectiveness when it comes to nourishing him.  While pregnant, I never gave too much thought to it. I was formula fed 35 years ago and I’m just fine.  I was blissfully unaware of the raging emotions spewing between the breastfeeding and formula feeding camps. 

I had no pressure from outside influences while I made my decision.  I choose to breast feed.  I had seen information on the health benefits and plus…it was cheaper and seemingly easier.  My mother in law had asked me numerous times about what I was going to do.  I finally informed her on my decision and she let out an audible sigh of relief.  She is adamantly pro breast feeding, had done it with her 3 children and she was breast fed herself.  
I educated myself as best I could.  I read up and watched videos.  I learned about colostrum and how babies lose weight immediately after birth.  I learned the holds.  I thought I was ready.  Besides, there would be a lactation consultant there.
My son arrived on a Friday morning by way of a scheduled c-section, as so many are these days.  I had wanted a natural birth but was told that he was too large and a natural birth would risk physical harm to him.  What mother could fight that?  As soon as he was pulled out of my belly he was cleaned up and swaddled.  He was only 7 lbs, 15 oz. and 21 inches long.  They handed him to my husband and two pictures were snapped.  I did not see him for another hour and a half to two hours as I was placed in recovery and he was sent to the nursery.
They bottle fed him a small amount of formula during that time.  They were aware of my breast feeding request.  I wasn’t upset about the formula.  This was my first.  Plus, I couldn’t be with him and he needed nourishment.   The lactation consultant arrived in my room shortly after I had held my son for the first time.  She immediately noticed that he still had a lot of fluid in his lungs as evident by the liquid bubbling at his lips.  I was told that this is normal with c-sections. Within seconds, she had called for the nursery staff.  He was ordered to stay with them for a little while longer.  She then informed me that she doesn’t work over the weekend.  I didn’t really understand the huge impact this would have on me until the next day when I really needed her assistance.  The nurses did the best they could, but they are not lactation consultants.  My son was screeching when put to the breast.  He was not latching and my nipples required the shield.  Even with the shield things barely improved.  Not to mention the fact that for the first 24 hours I was catheterized and bed bound so I couldn’t change by baby’s diapers or walk him around to soothe him.  With him screaming for nourishment, I began to shred.  I couldn’t even do the most basic thing a mother should do for her child?
By Sunday night, I had broken down and turned to formula.  He had lost over a pound by then.  I knew babies lose weight after birth but that and the combination of me not being able to provide him with his most basic needs…well.  Watching him feed to satisfaction and a peaceful sleep was the most amazing feeling I had experienced.  I was finally able to relax and enjoy him.  
Monday brought it’s own problems and stresses.  I had quickly developed post partum preeclampsia and ended up spending a total of 5 days in the hospital.  I hadn’t completely given up on breast feeding.  I tried to give him what I could.  My milk came in relatively quick.  My mother in law tried to help me.  She really wanted to see him breast fed.  Nothing worked.  When the LC came to see me on Tuesday (yes from Friday to Tuesday), she suggested I go straight to pumping.  What hell that was.  I felt like a cow.  I was bed bound again with the preeclampsia and a catheter again. What my instincts had called for, I was told I couldn’t do.  I had to be milked.  I had to be confined to the bed. 
By Wednesday, my BP was still quite high but they allowed me to go home.  I was on a medicine for BP that is approved for nursing and pregnancy- an older, less effective medicine.  I had follow ups scheduled with the GYN to monitor my BP.  My mother in law purchased a breast pump for us while we made the trip home from the hospital.  
Those first days home were hell.  As any new mother is, I found myself exhausted.  I was dealing with healing from major abdominal surgery. There were the pounding headaches from preeclampsia.  Yet that was the least of my concerns.  I just wanted to make sure that by son was ok.  My first priority was nourishing him so that he would thrive.  We had taken home some 2 oz bottles from the hospital.  I pumped what I could and we supplemented with the formula.  It was a struggle to get my husband to accept the formula.  My husband was worried about the financial impact of formula.  We’re a one income family and he want to provide for his son, too.  My mother in law and her mother wanted to see me breast feed, period.  Both constantly offered their help.  I took it at first.  It didn’t help.  Subsequent offers were swiftly denied.  
I learned quickly that if I wanted to pump, I had to pump every 2 to 3 hours.  It took 30 to 45 minutes for each breast.  Basically, I would have a 40 minute break between pumping sessions.  My BP was still too high.  If I was put on serious meds to fight my BP, I could no longer nurse. I was given the choice: allow my BP to remain high and yet nurse or take the meds and discontinue the breast.  I decided to use formula and give up the ghost.

I finally could enjoy my son.  I had more time with him.  I had mobility.  I began to heal from the surgery.  My son was beginning to thrive and I no longer had the fear and anxiety of being faced with helplessness through his hunger.  My mother was there and supported me thoroughly.  She had done it, after all. She didn’t understand my mother in law’s enthusiasm for breast feeding.  I didn’t want to tell my mother in law.  She has a very strong personality and I often find myself a little intimidated around her.  She’s very kind and respectful but I didn’t want to feel intimidated around her about this emotionally charged decision. I didn’t want to face that shame.

My husband told my mother in law.  I could feel her disapproval around the bottle for weeks afterward however to her credit, she never did say anything.  My husband’s grandmother once said to my fussy son, “I wish I could give you the real stuff”.  My husband wrote it off as her being older and unaware of the consequences of her words.  I was super sensitive though, and little faces and comments really bothered me. Through the internet, I became aware of the controversy between EBF and FF moms.  My shame, guilt and general feeling of worthlessness began to snowball (I had a touch of post partum depression as well).  I found the Fearless Formula Feeder site and that has started me on a path of forgiveness and release.  
Then one Monday morning in January I found myself in the inner circle of hard core breast feeding advocates.  I had felt inferior to these people and I was highly sensitive to the fact that their organization does not recommend the path I chose.  I tend to be timid.  I’m often told that I’m quite sensitive. It surprised me when I spoke.
“Hi.  I’m Kristin and I’m in the wrong room.  I was looking for the MOM’S club,“ I say. Heat burns on my face.  People chuckle and someone commented that this wasn’t the first time that’s happened. Still red, I smile and my firm voice continues. “I’m glad I’m here, though. I bottle feed.  I had a c-section.  I also had post partum preeclampsia which is no walk in the park.  I was put on 4 different kind of blood pressure medicines. “
I explained how I couldn’t nurse with the medicines I was prescribed.  I also describe what it is like to give birth but not be able to hold your child for an hour and a half afterward.
I did not explain the alienation of pumping or that putting myself on the stronger BP medicine was a choice given to me by my Dr.  I didn’t tell them about the lack of Lactation Consultants at the hospital for two whole days immediately following my son’s birth.  They needed to know and I needed to say that formula feeding was my choice, my son is thriving and our family is happy and healthy.  I received a few tight smiles after my admission however on a whole they received me with warmth.  I stayed for a little while longer to discuss the experience of c-section with some other mothers.   We respected each other and it was lovely to get those feelings out with them.  After a little while longer, I excused myself so I could make it to what was left of the MOM’S Club meeting. 
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Share your story with the FFF audience. Send me an email at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

FFF Friday: “I have nothing to be ashamed of.”

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.
Guess what guys? Book manuscript is DONE. Well, maybe not done done, but nearly ready to go to the publishing house, and until they come back at me with edits…. I’m yours. And I have a zillion thoughts a-brewing, all fodder for upcoming posts. Thanks so much for hanging in there with me, and as of May 1st, I’ll be back with new, frequent posts.
Until then, I’m grateful you all are allowing me to keep up the awesome FFF Friday streak. FFF Branson writes about wishing she had a thicker skin; on one level, I get what she’s saying, but on another, I feel pissed that she has to have a thick skin to put up with the crap women heap on each other. People don’t have to agree with your decisions, but they could have the sensitivity to keep their mouths shut about it, you know?
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I am going to let you in on a little secret… even though I subscribe to the blog, I am not always a Fearless Formula Feeder. In fact I border on being the opposite. Fearful. But I don’t fear the outcome of Aiden being a formula-fed baby. I fear the opinions of others. I have been told by several people that motherhood requires a tough skin. They warn me that “people are not always going to agree with your decisions, but you have to do what is best for you and your family.” I so want to be that woman. I want to be the mama who can ignore the hurtful statements and ignorant assumptions. Unfortunately, I am not. Yet.

When I found out I was pregnant, I automatically assumed I would breastfeed. In fact after my Nebraska shower I made a comment to my mom about how many bottles I got that I would “never use”. I remember being shocked that she didn’t know I planned to breastfeed. I just assumed she expected me to. After all we had all been breastfed. During that time before Aiden was born I was surrounded by literature enforcing the importance of breastfeeding. I had been signed up for just about every baby list out there, and so I would get the information from the formula companies, but even THAT said “Breastfeeding is best” before going into the details of formula feeding. My mother-in-law was a group leader for the Le Leche League. I honestly never even considered any other feeding option.


Aiden was born 3 weeks early by csection. In the hospital, I was visited daily by a lactation consultant. We never had much success, but they all assured me that it was just because he was early. They told me it would be a matter of days before my milk came in and he started to nurse. I pumped faithfully, feeding him green colostrum with a syringe and googling on my phone to make sure it was ok it was green! The nurse told me it was fine, but she had been surprised herself. I determined it was okay based on the oh-so-reliable online world, and continued the process while we were in the hospital. We refused the little bottles of formula they kept offering us, because we had been told over and over that they would ruin all of my breastfeeding efforts.


Aiden was a hungry baby. The tiny dribbles of colostrum were ok the first couple of days, but we were in the hospital 4 days after he was born, and by the last night he absolutely would not stop crying. The nurse came in and basically said I was abusing my baby by not feeding him, and so I cried while I fed him one of the tiny bottles. He finally stopped crying, and slept after that. I, however, felt like a total failure. Basically the pediatrician told me that if I didn’t either start producing milk right away or continue feeding him formula we would not be able to go home because he was losing too much weight. I looked at my tiny, jaundiced, shrinking baby and it was all too much.


I continued feeding him the formula in addition to trying to nurse and pump. I was in soooo much pain from the csection, and could not get up and down or get any privacy. I got used to the fact that everyone in that hospital had seen me topless as they wandered in and out as I tried to pump in bed. We were able to leave the hospital after promising to check in at our local doctor for a weight and bilirubin test the following day. They gave me a prescription for a hospital grade breast pump, and directions to the rental place, along with a good supply of those guilt-inducing little bottles and a can of formula. Of course my insurance did not cover the breast pump. So I put down the deposit and paid the $20 fee for the week and headed home.


Once I got home, I continued pumping every 2-3 hours. Eventually, the green went away, and what I was pumping looked more like milk but there was never much of it. It was thick like the fatty milk that comes first, but there was never any of the thinner blueish milk I was told would come after that. I continued to try to nurse Aiden before feeding him the formula and then I wuld pump after that. By the time I was done pupming I could sleep for about 20 minutes before we started all over again. The next day we had to go back to the hospital, this time our local hospital, because Aiden needed jaundice treatments. I packed up my pump, and stood in the bathroom (which was still pretty painful) to pump during our hospital stay. I would give the results of the pumping to the nurse, and she would store it for me. She would encourage me each time, and tell me how good I was doing. She is the only person I remember hearing that from.


We were once again cleared to go home. Basically my routine remained the same for the first 5 weeks of Aiden’s life. I never pumped more than 6 ounces in a full day. I cried at every doctor’s appointment when asked about it. I took so much fenugreek I thought I would smell like maple syrup forever. I hated myself for being out of work so long before Aiden was born, because money was tight and I could not afford to see a lactation specialist. All of this was going on amidst a serious bout of post-partum depression to boot. I cried in the shower every day, and every time my little sister complained about leaking or painful boobs it made me angry. She didn’t even want to breastfeed, and her body worked just fine. I was going crazy trying, and I got (almost) nothing. I never had any discomfort. When I finally stopped pumping it was like I never had. No leaking, no soreness… nothing.


The decision to stop was the hardest one I have ever made. Matt and I struggled for weeks. Well, actually I struggled. Matt was okay with formula from early on. I was all alone in those first weeks because he had to work, and I think he probably would have done anything to make life easier for me. Honestly, I never worried that feeding Aiden formula would make him any less healthy or smart. As someone who is very interested in sociology, I believe there is more to those studies than breastmilk vs. formula. I am very much on the side of nurture over nature, and I think the kind of mother who is likely to breastfeed has more of an impact than the actual milk. I absolutely believe breastmilk is best when it works, but I don’t worry about Aiden having any kind of disadvantage. In the end, I knew that if I was not producing more than 6 ounces a
day after five weeks and tons of supplements something was wrong. I could not afford to keep paying $20/week for a pump that wasn’t able to produce enough milk to feed my son.

I couldn’t even return the pump myself. I felt like the women would look at me and know I was a failure. I cried as I packed away the pieces of the kit that didn’t have to go back. I couldn’t throw them away for some reason. They are still in a drawer in my kitchen. Feeding Aiden formula continued to make me sad for quite a while. I felt like a total failure.


Now, I can feed Aiden with no bad feelings. He is a happy, healthy, smart little boy. Meal times are just about feeding the baby. They are not a reflection of whether or not I am a good mom. His cousins all take the same formula he does, no one in our family makes me feel bad about that. I can even hear about my sister-in-law nursing her daughter without and bad feelings. I really have made good progress. There are still those occassional bad days though. I follow a lot of mom blogs, and read a lot of natural parenting websites, and every once in a while the guilt and fear creep back in. I feel like I should have tried harder. Like I somehow failed, even though it was my body that would not cooperate. Like I said, I don’t fear Aiden will be any less healthy or smart, but I fear what other people think of me. I feel like I have to hide from the natural parenting communities, because even though I value a great deal of the same things they do, I use formula and therefore am inferior.


I don’t deny that some of this might be all in my head, but the truth of the matter is that most of it is not. The fact is that there is a huge divide in the world of feeding choices, and just like the formula companies feel the need to print that breastmilk is best on their feeding guides, there aren’t many people willing to admit (out loud) that formula is just fine too. I am constantly surrounded by insensitive and vocal people willing to point out studies saying that babies who are fed formula will be less intelligent, obese, unhealthy adults. You might think I am exaggerating, but join some parenting forums and then we can talk. So I have two choices… I can stop reading those forums and blogs, or I can find that thick skin that I have been looking for.


I don’t want to take the first option. I may not breastfeed, but I still want to learn about all kind of parenting and I actually have a fair amount in common with some of those moms. I make my own baby food, believe in many attachment parenting practices, and would love to be more organic and earth friendly. I love the fact that they tend to be fairly anti-consumerism, and focus on helping stay-at-home moms live on a budget. So, I have no choice but to work on letting the little digs (and the not so little insults) slide by. After all, the people who are closed-minded (my doctor actually called them lactation nazis once, trying to make me feel better) are by no means the majority! They are just able to get to me because I am overly sensitive. So, my goal? To stop hiding. I did what was right for me an my family, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.

FFF Friday: “There is no failure if I am feeding my baby”

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.
FFF Jenny, a great blogger over at ConscientiousConfusion, is the author of this week’s FFF Friday feature. It’s a good reminder that not only is the “all or nothing” mentality isn’t necessary in breastfeeding, it also isn’t necessary in order to be dubbed “pro-breastfeeding”.
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Breastfeeding is a hot topic among mommy bloggers, especially natural birth/attachment parenting advocates, who are the majority of the mommy bloggers that I follow. I completely agree with the whole “breast is best” philosophy, and had originally planned on breastfeeding for at least a year with my first child, Little Sir.
Since Little Sir did experience a natural birth, he was able to breastfeed immediately and really didn’t have any issues with latch or gaining weight or anything – we were very blessed in that way. However, when I went back to work and had to pump for the majority of his day, he became less and less interested in breastfeeding. It’s not that he preferred the bottle per se, but just that he was (and is) a very active baby and wasn’t able to pay attention to the boob for more than 5 minutes unless he was feeding in his sleep.
We had to add formula at about 4 months of age because my production just could not keep up with his hunger. He never seemed to distinguish between formula and breastmilk, so that was easy to do. I didn’t feel guilty at that point because it was only supplementing.
As we neared 6 months, I was still pumping, but we had to add 2 oz of formula to every bottle in order to get the 5-6 oz he needed. Before bed he needed at least 8 oz in order to sleep through the night. We had to do straight formula for that one – there’s no way I had ever produced that much pumping.
I learned about breast massage, I ate oatmeal, I took herbs, I drank tea. I was working 10 hour shifts. I had to hook this machine up to my boobs and let it mangle me for a minimum of 3 or 4 times a day. And for what? So I could get a very minimal amount of milk, sometimes only 3 oz total. I started to hate that breast pump. I had fantasies about throwing it onto the highway and watching it be hit by cars.
When I try to get the little guy to breastfeed on weekends and on my days off, it was like wrestling a cat. He popped on and off for a minimum of 25 minutes each time, and didn’t get much, so we were back doing it again in 2 hours. Every 2 hours, 25 minutes of wrestling and hair pulling and squirming. Aaaggh.
There had to be better ways to spend my days and his.
“I was torn, as a blogger, because I knew that the API and natural parenting community
expected me, as a green blogger, to breastfeed until Little Sir was at least a year old.
Honestly, they’d prefer he be walking up to me at 2 years old and pulling up my shirt. (This idea creeps me out personally, but I understand the heart behind it and I respect that some people do this.)”
I wrote the above narrative in a blog post and got a lot of supportive comments from local friends (not a peep from the natural parenting/green blogging community), giving me the mental permission I needed to allow Little Sir to wean himself off the breast at 6 months.
I can honestly tell you that it was not traumatic for us to end our breastfeeding relationship. In fact, it was a huge relief. Now we could sit together comfortably on the couch with a bottle and I could look into his eyes and cuddle him, instead of twisting and fighting and forcing him to drink and ending with both of us frustrated. I never once felt we were less close after we ended breastfeeding. I feel blessed that I found The Fearless Formula Feeder blog during this time. Every Friday I would read other mother’s stories and feel less and less guilty.
However, because I did stop breastfeeding at 6 months, I ovulated unexpectedly soon and conceived our second child when Little Sir was only 8 months old.
As I approached our second natural childbirth, my experience with formula actually strengthened my confidence in breastfeeding. I wrote on my blog shortly before my daughter’s birth:
“I am actually thankful for my experience with formula because I think it will help me breastfeed longer this time. Hopefully this time I will not be so connected to the breast pump,  which I still believe sabotaged my supply last time. I should be more available, time-wise, to nurse on a regular schedule. I am not so optimistic that I anticipate my milk production to be able to keep up with the growing baby at 4-5 months old – I wasn’t able to with Little Sir.
My boobs just don’t make much milk, even with massage, supplements, eating superfoods, drinking gallons of water, etc., etc. But, unlike last time, this time I know that I can start adding formula into the mix at any point and that doesn’t mean I have to stop breastfeeding. This time I can breastfeed as long as my baby is willing to keep breastfeeding, even though my production can’t keep up with him/her because I have the option of adding formula into the mix. I am actually very excited about trying this, and I feel a lot of freedom from the knowledge that it is not ‘all or nothing’.”
I’d like to encourage other moms having trouble breastfeeding and thinking about supplementing with formula. I know that formula is demonized by the green and natural parenting movement as a “booby trap”, but for me it has been the opposite. I wish I could apologize to moms on behalf of the green and natural parenting bloggers. I hope it is enough for someone to read from me that, as one of my fellow bloggers has said, we are not for breastfeeding – “we are for feeding babies”… however that might happen!
Update: We had a great natural childbirth experience with Little Lady, and although she did experience issues from having no root reflex after birth, she is so far breastfeeding successfully. I have clipped some coupons for formula already and I’m not worried about “failing” because there is no failure if I am feeding my baby – whether it comes from my breasts or from a can!
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Feel like contributing to FFF Fridays? Shoot me an email at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

FFF Friday: ” I had to make a choice – comfort him, or make his next meal?”

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.
Meghan B.’s story makes me cry. That’s all I can say about it right now. I feel so much anger for her. I’m sitting here at Starbucks rereading it, and I’ve totally lost my appetite for my sacred maple scone. 

Meghan, if you’re out there….you are an AMAZING mom. It will get better, I swear. Hang in there, lady.

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I had every intention of breastfeeding, believe me.  I defiantly threw away all of the formula coupons that I received, registered for the fancy Breastflow bottles for when I had to go back to work, and read and watched every single thing that I could find about breastfeeding.  I never bothered to listen to anyone talk about formula because I didn’t think that it would ever apply to me and my perfect little life.
Well, I also had every intention of having a natural homebirth, mostly so that I could get a good start with breastfeeding.  My water broke a few days after I hit 37 weeks and after over 24 hours of laboring at my midwife’s house and 4 hours of pushing with no progress I threw in the towel and we went to the hospital.  I totally became the lady screaming for an epidural as she walks through the door, by the way.  I pushed for a few more hours, and I could see in the mirror that I requested that he wasn’t moving down the birth canal at all.  The doctor tried the vacuum a few times, but it wouldn’t stick to his head.  I felt all of this, and it was so painful.  I got an episiotomy and they could finally get the vacuum attached and he came out a few minutes later.  He had been in such a hurry to get out of there that he was trying to come out with his head sideways.  So I didn’t get my natural birth- at least I could breastfeed!  That would ease the trauma, or so I thought.
           
We left the hospital without getting established.  There was only one lactation nurse on staff each day, she was only there until 4 pm, and every single room in the maternity ward was full.  I didn’t get much help.  He would latch ok if someone was helping, but I couldn’t get him to do it on my own.  He would mostly just sleep.  The general attitude that I got from the staff was “You’re doing it WRONG, but I’m not going to help you.”  I was told to pump a little and give it to him with a syringe, that would take the edge off of his hunger and help him latch.  I thought that once I got home and away from the hospital, things would straighten themselves out and I could talk to my doctor about seeing some different lactation consultants.  I was released Thursday night and on Friday morning I brought my under 6 pound, yellow newborn in to my FP doctor and cried and cried and asked her for help.  She hooked me up with a visiting nurse, but she couldn’t come until Monday morning.  She gave me some tips and her phone number and said to call if I needed more before then.
           
Then, he started to be awake more.  And he was HUNGRY.  Every time he cried I got this feeling of dread because I knew what was coming- me trying to get him to latch, him crying because he was hungry and getting hungrier and not latching.  Me SCREAMING at him “JUST LATCH YOU STUPID BABY.  YOU CAN’T EAT IF YOU WON’T LATCH.  I’M TRYING TO FEED YOU!” maybe he would latch, but just for a few seconds before he fell asleep.  I had no idea what I was doing.  No friggin clue.   The nurse weighed him on Monday and he was down to 5 pounds 5 ounces (down from 6 pounds 9 ounces).  She came by every day and tried to help me, meanwhile he kept losing and getting yellower and getting sleepier.  When he was 8 days old, it got bad.
           
We were having a 2 am “nursing” session, with both of us crying.  I looked away for a minute and when I looked back he was laying in my arms completely limp and colorless and not breathing.  My husband somehow got him breathing again before the ambulance came.  We were brought to a small hospital near us where he was pumped with fluids until the ambulance from the bigger hospital (where I had birthed at) showed up.  He was severely dehydrated and his sodium levels were through the roof.  We were in the hospital for a week, and I started hardcore pumping with the hospital grade Medela.  I was barely getting an ounce per session, but that didn’t matter much when he would only drink 13 milliliters at a time. He was hooked up to so many machines that it was hard to hold him, and the nurses had to remind me and say “hey, how about you hold your baby?”  I didn’t want to hold him.  I was a terrible mother and I wanted nothing to do with him anymore.  Not only was I still in massive amounts of pain from my traumatic birth, I wasn’t breastfeeding, AND I had almost starved my baby to death.  I kept trying to get him to latch at the hospital, but no dice.  We left and I decided to just pump.  I accepted the can of formula and decided to use it for emergencies, since I wasn’t pumping enough for him anymore.  Once we got home I was able to pump about an ounce every time, but usually closer to 45 milliliters.  No matter how often I pumped, it never amounted to any more than that.  So basically, I had to pump two-three times for every one of his feeds.  I was extremely depressed.  I spent more time pumping than I did holding and loving my baby.  If he cried while I was pumping, I had to make a choice- hold and comfort him, or make the food for his next meal?  Luckily my husband was home to pick up my slack.  Eventually at 3 or 4 weeks, I had had enough.  I cut down my pumping sessions until my milk dried up. 
           
So, formula feeding moms are lazy and just didn’t try hard enough to breastfeed?  That is how I used to feel.  Until I tried EVERYTHING- nipple shields, hospital grade pumps, SNS systems, ungodly amounts of oatmeal, you name it.  I still cry often, but I start my treatment for PPD tomorrow.  My baby is on 100% formula, and he is fine.  At 3 months old he is a great big healthy boy who gets to eat all he wants, which is a lot!  It kills me to think about how hungry he must have been, and if he wondered why his mommy wouldn’t feed him.  He’s happy now, because I’m happy.  I no longer feel guilt for formula feeding, I feel guilt for being so thickheaded about breastfeeding that it almost cost my son his life.  In time, I’m sure that that guilt will fade as well.
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It’s that time again – getting low on the backlog of FFF submissions. Come on, peeps…share with the rest of the class, will you? formulafeeders@gmail.com

 

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