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.
You what I love most about FFF Friday submissions? You guys are so freaking brave, and you write eloquently and honestly about truths that most people are afraid to admit. These stories define the “fearless” part of Fearless Formula Feeder. I think many folks misunderstand what a “fearless formula feeder” really is – it’s not always about being 100% happy with our feeding circumstances, or turning a deaf ear to the risks inherent in feeding your child a man-made product, or wearing a cape with a big F on the back (although sometimes, it is – except for the cape thing. But that could happen, I guess). What it IS always about is being fearlessly honest, fearlessly open, and fearlessly supportive.
Sheryl has got to be one of the most fearless FFFs I’ve encountered, because she is willing to admit something that most of us won’t: sometimes, the sting of “failing” at breastfeeding doesn’t have as much to do with a fear or distaste of formula as it does with the concept of “failure”. From one Type A perfectionist to another, I salute you, Sheryl. Because I identify with what you’re saying – probably more than I want to admit to myself.
Happy Friday, fearless ones.
I just want to be at peace with not breastfeeding.
Most days, I am. But sometimes, the feelings of guilt, anger, disappointment, failure, cynicism – they can creep up unexpectedly, and then I launch into an obsessive google search using keywords such as: “is breast really best”; “breastfeeding myths”; and “how to deal with smug breastfeeding moms”. This is how I stumbled upon the FFF website, by the way.
One of the earlier articles quoted in this blog mentioned that most women who are from the middle to upper class, educated, and have careers tend to see breastfeeding as a project – something to be studied and obsessively prepared for. These women read all the literature, attend breastfeeding classes, hire lactation consultants, buy expensive double pumps. While it is true that the main intent of breastfeeding is, of course, the nourishment of one’s baby, few women would admit to the almost selfish fact that, for them, breastfeeding is also a personal accomplishment. Something to be proud of, a badge to wave around in playgroups, the number of months or years of EBF being a clear numerical trophy of one’s sense of accomplishment. For women like this, failing at a project despite all the preparations is a crushing blow.
I should know, I was one of these women. I did all of these things while I was pregnant – set a goal that I would breastfeed for at least a year and did all I could to prepare myself. I will not get into the details of the how and the why, but suffice it to say that I tried to breastfeed (and to give an idea of the extent of the efforts, I know what the terms ICBLC, galactagogue, and SNS stand for), had some measure of success for four months (success being a relative term, this means mixed feeding), but due mostly to low milk supply, I eventually decided the day I celebrated my 33rd birthday, that I owed it to myself, to my marriage, and yes, to my baby, to regain my sanity and stop breastfeeding.
My baby is now six months and has been exclusively fed with organic formula for the last two months. She has not gotten sick, thank god, and is in the 90th percentile of height and is just a smidge overweight. We are working on that. She is generally a spirited and happy baby who started sleeping through the night at four months and is developmentally advanced in some aspects and is on track in others. I am happy.
But there is still sometimes a nagging feeling that I failed at my project. With it comes the occasional shame, the defensiveness, the bitterness. I pass by the lactation room in our office, and I avoid making eye-contact with my officemate who has just finished a pumping session. I try to avoid going to the water cooler when my other officemate who is a LLL volunteer is there. I quickly click “Hide” when I see preachy breastfeeding articles posted by Facebook friends. This is my hangup. It is something that I have to continue coming to terms with everyday – just like other things that I’ve failed at in the past. I am a work in progress, but ultimately, my goal (my new project, really) is to finally, be well and truly at peace with my decision to stop breastfeeding. To see it not as a failure, but just one of those things that did not work out. And then move on.
Share your FFF Friday story: email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.