FFF Friday: “We decided to stop and just love our child.”

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 are also not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so.

FFF Karie’s first paragraph made me grin, because we are so darn alike. I never imagined breastfeeding on a balcony because our balcony has a depressing view of our neighbor’s dilapidated garage, but I definitely had fantasies of nursing FC in the gorgeous, plush rocker we’d purchased when I was 6 months pregnant. Ah, ignorance… you are blissful. Luckily, as I’m sure Karie has realized, bottle feeding in an overpriced rocker or pretty balcony can be pretty blissful, too.

Happy Friday,

The FFF

***

My daughter was born in May and the plan was to spend many sunny summer days on the balcony off her nursery breastfeeding. Of course I would breastfeed. Why wouldn’t I breastfeed? I wasn’t against formula; the thought of using it simply never crossed my mind. Both my partner and I were breastfed, we’re vegetarians, we use cloth diapers and we make our own yogurt. Breastfeeding just seemed like the natural thing for our family to do. It was going to be lovely and we would end up with a happy, smart and healthy child.



Fourteen months later my daughter is extremely happy, smart and healthy. She’s very social, she’s not fat and she has never experienced the allergies and ear infections that plagued my partner and I as babies. In fact, she’s been sick only twice and both times it lasted a day. She was also exclusively formula fed from the age of eight weeks.



I breastfed on the balcony once and it sucked.



I guess there were lots of issues: low production, a shallow latch, bad advice, raging hormones. We ended up in a horrible cycle. She wasn’t gaining weight, which made me stressed. The stress didn’t help the process or my production and so she continued to not gain weight.



I took blessed thistle and fenugreek. We hired a lactation consultant, fed our daughter with a tube at my breast, pumped and filled out pages of charts tracking every ounce and output. It took her almost four weeks to get back to her 6 lb 3 oz birth weight. At one point, the LC weighed her after an hour-long nursing session and found she had only taken in 10 ml. I dreaded breastfeeding and all three of us were miserable.



The LC and my midwife said the next step was for me to go on Domperidone.



I didn’t.



At six weeks we decided to stop and just enjoy and love our child. We gave back the rented fancy pump, supplemented with a bottle and decided to just let whatever was going to happen, happen. I still nursed her a couple times a day and pumped when I had the chance, but within two weeks there wasn’t much there and she was soon exclusively on formula.



Breastfeeding my daughter during those two weeks was nice. I remember feeding her in a nursing room at a shopping mall and when she was done being overcome with this extreme feeling of relaxation and connectedness. The pressure was gone. She was getting enough to eat so it was just about us bonding and getting to know each other – something that had been hard to do. When we did bottle feed her we did it skin-to-skin and made sure it was in a quiet place and that she had our full attention. Dad and I loved it and so did she. I will never forget the first time I gave her a four ounce bottle of formula instead of the usual one ounce supplement. She gulped it all down, sighed, smiled and we both fell asleep together for three hours.



I think there will always be moments when I feel like I should have tried harder, but I don’t regret giving up on breastfeeding. In fact, I truly credit formula feeding, at least partly, for the great relationship my daughter has with her father. She is pretty much equally comfortable with him as she is with me. Having him able to really take on 50 percent of the parenting duties has been huge in helping him become a confident and capable dad and me a happy and relaxed new mom. It’s so true that happy and healthy parents make for happy and healthy kids.



People always talk about the health benefits of breast milk, but what about the benefits of having a strong bond with your father and a mom that’s not always about to snap? Is it healthy for a kid to not be getting enough to eat? Is it healthy that the only way to make this natural process work is by medicating myself for several months with a drug that’s not even approved for this particular use?



I see everyday, what formula has done for our daughter and our family and I know I made the right decision. We spent many sunny summer days sitting on the balcony feeding her a bottle and I wouldn’t trade those moments in for anything.

***

Come on and join the FFF revolution – our strength is in our stories. Send yours to formulafeeders@gmail.com and I will feature it on an upcoming FFF Friday.

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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9 thoughts on “FFF Friday: “We decided to stop and just love our child.”

  1. Thank you for this post! 🙂 It almost made me cry.

    My daughter just turned 4 months old a few days ago and we've been supplementing with formula since day one, but it's gotten more and more reliant on formula in the past few weeks. The “breast or bust” mentality makes moms like me feel like a failure. I'm working full-time and had to schedule pumping times around meetings, and then would get home and have to take the few precious hours I have with my daughter to pump just to feed her the tiniest bit of breastmilk.

    I've directly breastfed her about 10 times in her whole life and we both hated it every time. I didn't feel that “special bond” that they always talk about. Against the “professional” opinion I started pumping. And yes, as they said would happen, my supply slowly dried up. Did I feel like a failure? Yes, of course I did.

    But since I've stopped worrying about my supply I feel like I can be a better mom. My husband stays home during the day and he no longer has to worry about out the “2 ounces of formula, 2 ounces of breastmilk. If she's still hungry give her 1 ounce of formula at a time…”. No, now he just makes a bottle of formula and doesn't have to worry about anything.

    I wouldn't trade the peace of mind that formula feeding has brought for anything. The “breast is best” crowd is simply dead wrong. When my pediatrician said that I'd even have to give my daughter supplement drops to ensure she got all the vitamins because there's simply some vitamins that AREN'T in breastmilk, I knew I had made the right choice.

    My husband is a stay-at-home dad (by day), she wears disposable diapers, eats formula and plays with musical toys. Yes, we're everything that they say we should feel guilty about. And surprisingly… I don't.

  2. I have 2 kids and tried to BF them both. The first lasted 4 week, I hated it, he hated it, we just couldn't work together to figure it out. I struggled with the decision to stop or force it to work. I decided to stop & then I could enjoy my baby boy. My mom said she thought I was a really laid back mom & then I stopped trying so hard & she said the difference was amazing & she didn't even know I was struggling.

    With my second little guy we made it 3.5 months. I then got mastitis so bad that everytime he latched I wanted to throw him across the room, so I pumped on that side, supplemented for a few days and got past it. Then the PAIN started. He'd nurse great, wonderful & then it felt like some was jabbing an ice pick into me for 2 to 3 hours afterwards. Then it would be time to nurse again and it would start ALL over. So NO sleep for me, nothing helped the pain. I'd rather give birth again each time. So onto the formula we went.

    We all have stories, we all have our own reasons. With the first I found peace when I made the switch, with the second I found relief from extreme pain. My oldest is 3.5 years old and my little guy 1.5 years old. I still once & a while mourn the loss, but not often. The older one was plagued by ear infections but because he tubes were not developed enough, not because of formula, the little one has had no issues.

    Thanks for this blog. I found you on PhD in Parenting's blog.

    Nice to have a place to come and know I'm know the only one.

  3. You make awesome points about the fact that breastfeeding isn't a decision to be made in a vacuum, and that everything affects a baby's health: not getting enough to eat, a mom ready to snap, a drug that may not be safe for either mom or baby. It's shocking to me to see people who rail against the formula companies (which are basically Big Pharma) and such self-proclaimed evidence-based naturalists jump to a prescription drug made by Big Pharma, untested for lactation or in newborns, as if it's no big deal, or that you're a lazy mother who didn't try hard enough unless you take it.

    I, too, love the sense of peace in this story and hope that no one gives you a hard time for doing what it takes to achieve that peace.

  4. I also went so far as to order the Domperidone, which was recommended by my first LC who was a total “breast or bust” masochist. It sat on my counter and then in my cabinet for a long time, but I never took it. I agree that when you start taking pharmaceuticals that you ordered from some random ass Pacific island, you've gone too far. That and the horrid SNS. Can't believe that idiot recommended it as a solution to my problems. Luckily I found a sane LC who actually listened to ME and found a solution that, although not ideal, worked. Unlike the first who tried to fit me into her lactivist agenda.
    This story really was mine, only I didn't quit with the pumping and amazingly my milk came in in full force not long after I felt I was “done.” I always wondered what it would have been like had I stopped, and if your story is any indication, we would have been just fine. It's comforting to know that other women went through the same thing and no matter where the paths differed, we still came out happy and loving our children. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Thanks a lot for your story. I also couldn't bring myself to take Domperidone either. It was just the “too much” point. If I needed to take unapproved drugs in order to lactate, I felt that maybe I wasn't meant to.

  6. I love the peacefulness you describe when you decided to bottle-feed. I felt the same way! Finally I could stop “fighting” my baby to nurse and simply enjoy her. Wonderful story, thanks for sharing!

  7. With my now 10 month (and 1 day 😉 old) daughter, I totally agree. I often wonder what our BF relationship would look like if it had worked because she won't let me hold her to feed her a bottle and hasn't for months. She loves to hold it and feed herself… I think it's cute 🙂

  8. Thank you.

    As a mom of a 6 month old who has struggled with BFing more than I ever thought I would and supplement (heavily) with formula, this was a needed read. I'm helping my kid be happy. That's all that matters.

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