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.
This is only the second father-written FFF Friday post I’ve ever received, which is a real shame. Obviously, mothers are the ones who deal with most of the breastfeeding-related emotional and physical trauma, but dads are affected as well. It’s the fathers (and non-birthing, female partners, of course – as a side note, I wish we’d hear from more same-sex couples as well as heterosexual fathers) who have to sit on the sidelines feeling conflicted about how best to offer support. Except for the male breastfeeding advocates and physicians, there is a real lack of testosterone in this discourse…and wouldn’t it be interesting to hear what fathers really think, when they aren’t being lumped into categories like “breastfeeding friendly” and “pushing bottle-feeding”? I have a feeling that for most of our partners, these decisions and actions are based less on parenting theories and societal expectations of perfection, and more on ensuring the immediate happiness and survival of the people they love the most.
So, to FFF Brian – thank you for being an incredible father, incredible writer, and incredible resource for the readers of this blog. I hope this great post will inspire other men to contribute…because I, for one, want to hear what you have to say.
Happy Friday, fearless ones.
My wife has been the recipient of more unsolicited advice than anyone I know. When she was pregnant, she had a violent case of hyperemesis gravidarum. Friends, family and strangers would tell her that she should try ginger, lemons, and other natural remedies to cure an illness that hospitalized her for dehydration multiple times. She explored every possible holistic avenue to avoid having to take Zofran and other drugs to help her manage her symptoms. When given the choice between letting our son die or trying some modern medicine, the choice was a no-brainer. Had we lived just a few decades ago, she would have been written off as not just a physical failure but an emotional failure because doctors believed that hyperemesis was caused by a mother’s unwillingness to have a child.
As we prepared for childbirth, my wife and I did private HypnoBirthing classes, breastfeeding workshops, and hired a Doula. We ended up changing our hospital to one that was more receptive to natural childbirth methods. We had high hopes that the birth would be a totally natural process – just like the many HypnoBirths we saw during our classes. Once again, our plans were thrown out the window. My wife’s water broke before contractions had begun. Because the water had broken, the nurses and midwife were concerned about infection if labor didn’t progress adequately. So, my wife went on Pitocin while using only hypnosis as a pain-reliever. My wife endured over 10 hours of Pitocin-enhanced contractions before the staff recommended that she have an epidural so they could avoid a C-section. I don’t know how she made it for 10 hours on Pitocin without any pain medicine – I have never seen anyone in so much pain.
Somehow she did it, without having to do a C-section. Our son was born healthy and happy; his weight gain of almost eight pounds was not coincidentally more than my wife had gained during her pregnancy. When our son was born, we both hoped that we could finally have the natural experience that everyone told us was, without a doubt, the best thing for a baby – breastfeeding. Once again, conventional wisdom failed us. Our son was not keeping his food down at all – we kept him upright for an hour after feedings to avoid acid reflux, which basically meant that we did not sleep for the first month of his life. Our pediatrician suggested we see an allergist to have our son tested for food allergies.
It turned out that our son was allergic to peanuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, cow milk, gluten, oats, soybeans, mangos, strawberries, tomatoes, paprika, eggplant, peppers, mustard, ginger, dill, cinnamon, and corn. Having been told from everyone that “breast is best”, my wife resolved to do an elimination diet. We went to the store and my wife prepared herself for several months of eating nothing but lamb and brown rice. One problem though – she was only producing a couple of ounces of milk a day, not anywhere close to nourish our son.
Having exhausted all other options, we gave our son an exclusive diet of Simliac Alimentum Ready-To-Feed. It was the only formula that did not have anything to which he was allergic. It has cost a small fortune, but it was worth it. Our son ate well, and his mood improved tremendously. Today, he is a thriving, delightful eight month old. Had we lived fifty years ago, he would likely have died from malnutrition. I am glad that my wife had the courage to put her son’s welfare above ideological stubbornness.
Our experience reminds me of a joke I heard the other day. There was a man stuck on an island as the river rose. A rescue team threw him a rope and he refused to grab it because “God Saves”. The river rose and the rescue team sent a boat to him and he refused to get in because “God Saves”. The river rose and he climbed the flag pole and a helicopter came by to pick him up and he refused to get in because “God Saves”. He finally drowned and when he stood before God, he was miffed. “Why didn’t you save me?” he screamed out. God looked down and said “I sent you a rope, a boat and a helicopter. What more do you want?”
When my wife was pregnant, God sent us Zofran. When she gave birth, He sent us Pitocin and an epidural. When our son couldn’t feed, He sent us Alimentum.
Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today? Send your FFF Friday submission over ASAP to email@example.com. (This is coming from the queen of procrastination, but whatever…)