FFF Friday: “Things were working fine, but I hated it…”

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

A recent article on TIME.com asked if our medical community was failing breastfeeding women. I think the answer is a pretty obvious yes, and I’m thrilled the discussion about infant feeding is starting to widen its scope. However, I hope that one significant truth doesn’t get lost in our (worthy) battle to improve breastfeeding “medicine” – even if everything is going fine on a physical level, there are going to be women who still make an educated choice not to breastfeed. Nancy, whose story is below, is one of these women: and her reasons for making the decision to formula feed her second child are complex and highly personal. She tells the following story in such an honest and stark manner that it might be easy to overlook what’s between the lines… but I hope the lesson here is clear. You. Just. Never. Know. Why. And you shouldn’t need to know. It’s a parent’s decision, and we need to respect and trust that given good information, loving parents will make the choice that is best. It might just be that “best” means different things to different people. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

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Nancy’s Story

My first son Alexander was born a very healthy boy at 8lbs 14oz.  I heard all about how “breast was best” so I figured I would give it a try.  My husband also wanted me to do it because of what “They” say about it.   He was breastfed, I was not.

I had the usual problems at the start.  We did meet once with a lactation consultant.  It ended up being covered 100% by my insurance (no co-pay even). The lactation consultant also ran a (free) support group once a week, so I started to go to that.  It was a nice way to meet some other moms, too.

Things were “working” fine, but I HATED it!!  I actually resented my beautiful boy.  I was the one that had to get up all the time with him in the middle of the night, and I was lacking a lot of sleep. I kept saying that I was going to quit.  But since I hadn’t gone back to work yet, it just didn’t seem “right” to quit – so I kept going despite hating it.

I did go eventually go back to work on a per diem basies (I am a nurse) and he seemed to be okay with the bottle.  I pumped at my jobs – often in a bathroom, as that was the only “private” place!

When Alexander was 8 months old we found out that he had Neuroblastoma – a kind of pediatric (STUPID!) cancer.  After his first surgery, they noticed that breast milk was flowing into one of his drains. He had a “leak” in his abdomen.  I had to stop right away.  I pumped for a little bit, but as you can imagine, pumping while dealing with your baby having cancer is not a good mix.  I froze the milk that I did pump.  However, because of the cancer and the “leak” they put him on special formal, we ended up having to throw all the pumped milk away.  He eventually had to be on only IV nutrition.

Alexander died on April 1 2011 – 13 month after he was diagnosed.  He was only 21 months old.

On June 22, 2012, I gave birth to a beautiful girl named Julia.  She was a bit smaller than her brother 7lbs, 4oz.  She was born a week before what would have been Alexander’s 3rd Birthday.  I was filled with so many emotions. Because I had hated breastfeeding so much with Alexander, I had already decided that I would NOT breastfeed this new baby (Although my husband had made indications early on that he thought I SHOULD do it because “they” say it is better!)

Prior to the baby being born I had asked on Facebook for advice about what kinds of bottles to use, and to please NOT give me any breastfeeding advice. Of course, I did still get some “advice”.  However, thankfully I have not had any issues with people giving me dirty looks for not breastfeeding.  The two main nurses I had in the hospital were very supportive of me and my decision.

Sure, breastfeeding is “easier” and there are no bottles to clean – but I am so much HAPPIER.  My husband seems to be okay with it now, and loves being able to help feed the baby!

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Share your story – email your FFF Friday submission to formulafeeders@gmail.com.

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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3 thoughts on “FFF Friday: “Things were working fine, but I hated it…”

  1. Oh honey, my heart aches for you. You are a strong woman: you breastfed for MONTHS, nursed a child ( in every sense of the word) through cancer, had your own post partum adjustment and had the strength to let him pass on. Julia is a lucky little girl. On another note, you put it perfectly: my dislike for breastfeeding bothered me more than any of the physical problems I endured. I’m glad that you were strong enough to go for what was best for You and give your daughter formula.

    Wishing you health and happiness in the new year!

  2. We formula feed. I am practicing saying “we” because its true, my husband does also feed the baby! I chose to formula feed before I conceived and never changed my mind. I’m glad you chose the happy mommy route! And so sorry to hear about your baby boy.

  3. Nancy, this is a powerful and wonderful piece. I also love that this blog exists – bravo to all. And this is coming from a mom who did love breast feeding and nursed my 3 kids for a total of 7 years.

    Although I nursed for a long time, I dislike the mean, anti woman, judgmental culture that surrounds breast feeding.

    I am glad this blog exists because I believe there are many, many ways to be a great mother. Perfectionism has no place in parenting. There is no such thing as perfect feeding when it comes to children. Having a preteen and teen means that I am experienced enough to say this unequivocally.

    I am really pleased that this blog and other resources are popping up to support the loving feeding of babies by bottles.

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