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.
One of my freelance jobs involves writing 300-word articles for a physical therapy consumer publication. I can churn these puppies out in about 45 minutes, and promptly forget everything I’ve learned from several hours of research on the given subject. Because – let’s be honest – who really cares about cortisone shots and tendonitis?
Cut to this week, when after a month of embarrassingly severe pain in my hand, I get a diagnosis for a condition that I’m sure I’ve written about, and a prescription for cortisone shots and PT. Ah, the irony. Suddenly, I’m far more interested in these articles; I’m going back and pouring over my notes, consulting my research. Because you know who cares about cortisone shots and tendonitis? Someone with tendonitis, being treated with cortisone shots.
Our own experiences color everything. Anyone who claims otherwise is either lying or an automaton (hey, we all knew computers were going to take over the world someday).
This week’s post comes from FFF Nichole, whose experiences with infant feeding have truly run the gamut. And she readily admits that her three different experiences have taught her valuable lessons about why we shouldn’t judge another person’s decisions until we’ve walked in her shoes.
Or worn her arm brace, as the case may be….
Happy Friday, fearless ones,
I have had different feeding experiences with all my kids…. looking back I now know that they all were presented to me to teach me something and get me where I am now as a mother. My story seems to be less about the way I feed each of my children but about what I learned at the end.
The minute I found out I was pregnant I knew I would breastfeed, cloth diaper, and the list goes on. Funny thing is I prepared for all those other things…I researched cloth diapers for hours, read safe co-sleeping guidelines, and read every book out there about attachment parenting during those 9 months. I didn’t think I needed to prepare to nurse…I just thought it would happen. The reality was a cold slap in the face after my first son was born. I had no clue and no one around me seemed to either. One nurse had me in tears thinking I was the worst mom in the world.
My son was breastfed with supplementation the first few weeks…then I tried to pump, but I couldn’t keep up…then we tried a few kinds of formula and he had tummy issues…. so we used donor milk and Nutramigen. I had a LOT of guilt and promised myself I would breastfeed my next little one… which was only 13 months later. I got pregnant when he was 3 months. I know formula feeding actually was a blessing since we wanted our kids close together, but emotionally it was a hard pill to swallow. So many things got in the way of breastfeeding him…a tongue tie that even after clipped left his tongue forked, my husband having emergency surgery when our son was 5 weeks old. Most extreme breastfeeders would say I just didn’t try hard enough…heck, I told myself that over and over, and it is probably not far from the truth. Now I know it doesn’t really make a difference.
Fast forward to when my daughter was born. She was not tongue tied…my husband was healthy…my milk came in 12 hours after delivery…I had a good nurse this time around who gave me a nipple shield right away…yada, yada… I exclusively breastfed her until 18 months, 3 weeks and 6 days…with not one single bottle…am I proud of that, of course, but I have NO more right to be proud as someone who has formula fed and also has beautiful, healthy kids. I will admit I had my head in the clouds and was negative towards formula feeders. I even posted a couple negative comments here on this blog…but I was wrong and I have NO shame in saying so. I will happily eat my words.
My next pregnancy was planned but boy we were not expecting TWINS…3 kids in 3 years seemed doable, but 4!!! I was still breastfeeding my daughter (I weaned her at 13 weeks or there abouts). I read a book about tandem nursing; I read multiple books geared towards nursing…I never considered anything else the first few months of the pregnancy. Then the reality of having 4 kids 3 and under came into focus. Having 4 kids in 3 years, for one thing, is HARD on your body… add in a multiples pregnancy and my body was spent. I made the choice around 25 weeks that I would formula feed from day one and I wouldn’t cloth diaper anymore. At that point I felt guilt…for about a week. Then I had to let it go…let it fly somewhere else. I had to be there 100% mentally to get through the pregnancy; I had to be there 100% to care for all my kids, not just the twins. I knew how much it would take out of me to breastfeed my twins. I knew I wouldn’t have anything left for my other two kids who were/are so young they would not understand.
My boys are almost 6 months, happy and healthy, thriving – and more importantly our WHOLE family is thriving. Do I feel an ounce of guilt giving my boys their formula? NO. I don’t feel guilt when my DH can do night duty once a week so I can get a solid 12 hours of sleep after 6 nights of 2 or 3 hours of sleep, all day alone with a 3 year old, a 2 year old and 2 teething 5-month-olds (which I might add are all still in diapers full-time)…ummmm, HELL NO!! Yes, I know some people will say, “See there? She is just a lazy formula feeding mom…but I challenge anyone to walk a day in my shoes and call me lazy.
Feel like sharing your story? Impulsive decisions are always awesome, so I say go for it. Shoot me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.