FFF Friday: “I had come to believe that formula was poison…”

If I could nail down one thing to blame for the pain formula feeding parents feel, it would be the nature of infant feeding literature. The words they use, the images, the phrasing…. it’s not the “facts” that are given but the bastardization of those facts; not the purpose of the public health campaigns but the insidious ear-worms they become. Those words haunt us, and taunt us.

Changing the way we support and inform new parents could make all the difference. And it’s so freaking easy. It doesn’t need to be researched or number-crunched. You wouldn’t even need particularly smart copywriters. Just be honest, emotionally neutral, and understanding that people are people, not statistics. Done and done.

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

*** 

Emily’s Story

In December 2012 we decided we would come off the pill and try for a baby. Two years and two miscarriages later our son came into the world, on 9 December 2014.

I was always unsure about breastfeeding. I’d heard a few stories about it being hard and painful but I decided I would go for it and see what happened.

I was very casual about the whole thing. I knew that breast was best, I had been given countless leaflets and advice leading up to the birth to tell me so, but I wasn’t going to put any pressure on myself. Oh no, I was cool, calm and well in control of the notion.

Until my son arrived.

It was a tricky birth, natural, with an early dose of pethidine, more gas and air than you could shake a stick at and a helping hand from a ventouse cup, but he came out alive and screaming.

It was amazing. He was perfect. The most perfect little thing I had ever seen and I immediately fell into mother mode. I wanted him on my skin straight away and I never wanted to let him go.

When we were moved into our room the midwife came in and told me it was time to try feeding him with my breast. No one asked me if I wanted to use a bottle, I was just guided through what to do. He latched on perfectly and I was told I was a natural.

I sat there, with my son feeding away off me and I felt like this made up for all the hard work I had to get him here. The miscarriages and the traumatic pregnancy (I had severe SPD and was in a wheelchair for the last few months) were all worthwhile, as now I was giving my son the absolute best start in life.

Because the birth was a little tricky I was kept in for a few days and as such my son was more closely monitored. His sugar levels were low and he needed a lot of heel pricks, he became jaundiced and slept, a lot.

At no point did anyone suggest I try a bottle to top him up. I just kept being told that I was doing a great job. They even sent in their breastfeeding expert to sit with me, who confirmed this.

It was at this point I noticed he had tongue tie. I had heard about this from a friend so I knew what to look out for. I pointed it out to them and they arranged for him to have a snip that day, day two.

He came back having apparently not even noticed it was done and I clamped him to me to try it out. It felt different and yes, I nodded that this should be it. I had convinced myself it was better.

We were discharged on day four and I went home, carrying on feeding my son from my breast, believing that everything was OK. By this time I was becoming determined to breastfeed my baby. The message I was reading on all the sites I googled to help me was that if I didn’t breast feed him he would likely become obese, suffer allergies and even a higher risk of cancer! There was no way I was going to allow that to happen to my precious bundle.

The community midwife came to visit the day after and we were sent back to hospital on day 7 as he had lost 11% of his birth weight and he was severely jaundiced. It was absolutely horrific.

My son spent the whole night in a UV incubator by my bedside. I was only allowed to pick him up to feed him. I wasn’t even allowed to hold him if he cried.

I spent the 24 hours we were in hospital on a strict routine of hourly pumping and feeding. I was distressed, convinced I had starved my son by not being able to feed him properly. I felt like I had already failed him as a mother.quotescover-JPG-67

I wasn’t pumping enough milk. The staff told me that that was probably the issue and that I needed to calm down and wait for my milk to come in. It was probably delayed from the birth. In the meantime it was suggested that I top up with formula.

I point blank refused. I had been told by breastfeeding supporters that I mustn’t do this as it would affect my supply. I had read all of these messages from government campaigns. I had a close group of friends who had all had babies around the same time, who were breastfeeding advocates. I had come to believe that formula was poison and I was not going to give up without a fight.

The UV lamp did the trick and all the pumping and feeding meant that he gained a little weight. Enough for me to be allowed to go home, with the agreement that I would see the community midwife daily.

On one of these visits she pointed out that he was still tongue-tied. I hadn’t realised, but it was actually pretty bad still. He was booked back in for another snip at two weeks old and we all felt sure that this would be the end of it.

I spent the next few weeks desperately reaching out to everyone to get help to feed him. Friends, peer suport, midwives etc. Everyone praised me and encouraged me to keep going, even though Hugo’s weight gain was very slow.

My husband, normally a placid, gentle man was determined I keep going and during one conversation we had about possibly stopping he became quite cross and insisted I continue to breastfeed our son. He had also been made to feel as if breast was best.

On Hugo’s four week birthday I went into clinic to weigh him. I had previously been given another week to get some weight on him or my midwife was going to insist I switch to combi or formula. I was a wreck that morning. I knew that this journey was going to come to an end and I was right. He had hardly gained a thing that week and I broke down in hysterical tears.

I was led to a private room and she asked if I had a bottle and some formula. I had come prepared and she made the bottle up for me to feed to my son. As I held him in my arms and looked down at his face, I realised that this was the first time in weeks I had properly ”looked” at him. I watched his little lips work around the teat of the bottle and saw him gulping up this golden liquid that was going to make my son get fat and healthy and I felt euphoric.

I felt uncontrollable love for him and right then, as I fed him this wonderful stuff, I knew I was the best mother in the world because I was finally able to put my son before me and do what is best for my son. All the stresses and worries of the first few weeks just washed away and I felt amazing! Breast is not best, a well fed, happy, healthy baby is best!

I don’t disagree with promoting breast feeding. What I disagree with is the wording of these campaigns and the pressure they put on a mother to breastfeed. There is something very wrong with our world if we are not able to support a woman, no matter what her choice of feeding is, who just wants to feed her child!

***

Feel like sharing your story? Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

FFF Friday: “The best choice for us was actually formula.”

As Emily has observed, many of the FFF Friday submissions start with the words “I always wanted to breastfeed.” I know I’ve personally said those words too many times to count. 

But that’s not the only story out there. There are many women who feel as Emily did, and that is just as important and valid to talk about – perhaps more. There’s this idea out there that as long as a mom “tried to do her best”, she should be immune from judgment. This is, in many way, just as judgmental and limiting a script as any other uttered in the infant feeding discussion.

What is “doing your best”? Is it martyring yourself, like so many of us have, in the name of exclusive breastfeeding? Is it having a medical excuse? Being *this* depressed, *this* sick, *this* abused?

Or is doing your best really doing the best you can as a parent, in the best way you – as an individual – think you can?

I prefer the latter definition. By that logic, we’ve all “tried to do our best”. Sometimes our best does not mean breast.

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

*** 

Emily’s Story

I’ve heard a lot of formula feeders start off by saying “I always wanted to breastfeed.”   My story starts with “I never wanted to breastfeed.”  I remember not being comfortable with it when I was a child and never did feel comfortable about it, even when I considered it as a logical adult.  The thought of having a baby or machine sucking on my nipples just made me cringe.  Some have made assumptions that I was sexually molested or have daddy/mommy issues (I wasn’t and my parents are awesome, thankyouverymuch), but there really isn’t some reasonable answer to why I feel that way.  And no, I don’t consider boobs to be only sexual objects.  It just is what it is.

My son had been an unexpected surprise.  I was still waffling about if I wanted to have kids at all when I found out I was already pregnant, and up until he was a couple of days old I was unsure how I felt about him (and then, of course, I fell madly in love with him).  When I was reading about how freaking amazing breastfeeding is I was filled with dread.  I deeply feared that I’d have to endure it, but then as I was considering the bonding aspect of it, it occurred to me that with being already unsure about him the last thing I needed to be doing was giving myself more of a reason to experience negative feelings for him.  Whatever else I felt, I had determined that I was going to do right by him.  Nothing I read in true scientific studies suggested that he wouldn’t be perfectly fine on formula, and I was truly terrified that I’d end up hating him if I made myself breastfeed him.  That’s not doing right by a child, I don’t care if breastmilk really is all that and the cure for the common man-cold.  It made sense to me that the best choice for us was actually formula.

recite-mk563q

People I know and encountered in real life didn’t give me any grief about it- in fact the nurses at the hospital asked me which way I was going just so they’d know to send me either a lactation consultant or some of those spiffy 2 oz. premade nurser bottles.  They even gave me a few extra packs of those to take home.  It was only when I got online that I was immersed into the dreaded mommy wars.  You go on to these mommy communities because, let’s face it, it is possible to get a lot of really good advice about everything from getting those darned teeny socks to stay on a baby’s feet to a plethora of breastfeeding info.  It is my habit to research the heck out of things, especially when it comes to my children.  Seriously, it took me two weeks to decide on a convertible carseat when my son was outgrowing his infant carrier.  I’d already researched breastfeeding on my own for well over a month during my pregnancy, but with these communities I know way more about it than I really ever needed to.  The most insulting assumption was people saying I must be one of those moms who doesn’t give enough of a damn to educate herself, if I chose formula from the get-go.  The very idea was just unfathomable to them.  2 and 2 do not go together, you can’t love your baby if you never even tried.  The only time I ever felt regret for not breastfeeding was from these women.  It was not all of the moms there, but just a handful were more vocal about how strongly they believe in the importance of breastfeeding.

Sometimes, for an hour or two, I’d fall into their trap about not loving my son enough to sacrifice my feelings on the altar of motherhood and do it for his sake.  Then my son would low-crawl over to my stack of magazines and giggle as he happily shredded them, and I’d move on to the next topic.  Something like, “What solids have you done so far?”  Every once in a great while I’d read how a mom who felt as I did succumbed to the pressure to do it, and what she’d describe is exactly what I knew my experience would have been.  Resentment of her child every time she had to lift her shirt up, the cringing, discomfort, distaste, and dread in between feedings- in other words, she was almost completely devoid of the joy of having a baby.  The joy that that was always there in my own breastfeedingless experience.  It makes me immeasurably sad that there are those who would say that breastfeeding is more important than that, and if you really love your baby those terrible feelings are just something you’ll live with.  Why the hell do we lend any credence to people like that, anyway?

These days both of my kids are too old for me to care about what people think of my choice.  I do still get to enjoy the occasional shock and outrage when I answer The Question simply with “I didn’t want to.”  No remorse.  No trying to explain it away.  I really don’t give a crap anymore about what my kids ate the first six to twelve months of their lives.  They are alive and vibrant, and they know that they are fiercely loved.  My son just started tae-kwon-do and my daughter is trying out preschool ballet and her first fall soccer this year.  He is sweet as can be and she is my diva.  He loves video games and is fascinated by his father’s military career, and she will throw on cowboy boots with her princess dress and go ride their Powerwheels 4-wheeler.  We are taking him to an air show two states over just to nurture his dream of becoming a jet fighter pilot.  To bystanders they are the same every day kids as every other kid, and everything, all that truly matters in my world, to me.   I am not usually one to be able to not care what people think of me, but the happiness my kids bring me enables me, in this case, to rise above it.

 ***

Want to share your story? Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

 

FFF Friday: “How breastfeeding nearly killed me”

All I can say about Maria’s story is that it is not the first I’ve read that nearly ended in tragedy. And I know it won’t be the last, until we start prioritizing maternal mental health over meeting breastfeeding recommendations. There is a perfectly acceptable alternative when a mother does not breastfeed. There is not a perfectly acceptable alternative when a mother does not receive help for severe postpartum depression or anxiety. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

***

Maria’s Story

My name is Maria. I have two gorgeous children, who were both, ultimately, formula-fed. My youngest is nearing his second birthday, and I have found I still get bothered by the whole “breast is best” campaign. A part of me assumes I always will be. Since healing can be done through sharing stories, I thought I would share mine.

My first child was a girl. She was perfect, hairy, chubby, and amazing. I was a new mom of 22 with zero information on this whole parenting thing. Facebook was still new, and not every detail of life was out there. My choice to feed formula after a week of bleeding nipples was a quiet one, one met with little to no issue. My mother formula fed me, after all, and I was a single mom so it was no problem. Fast forward to my son. My husband and I anticipated the arrival of this boy like no other. We did not, however, anticipate preterm labor at 25 weeks, or preterm birth at 36 weeks. But he was perfect. 7 pounds, 12 ounces of perfection. His first cries were met with audible relief, as it meant his lungs worked. My first words were “He’s not small!”. He immediately latched to the breast, it was bliss.

He had mild jaundice at discharge two days later, and had lost 12 ounces. My first regained her birth weight in under a week, so I wasn’t concerned. I was determined to successfully breastfeed this time, but I did buy a pump and accessories in case the need arose. We went home a happy family. My milk came in some days later, and I knew something was wrong immediately. I wandering my son in bed, and when I pulled him away, I noticed my shirt was wet. Most of what my son pulled from me never made it into his mouth. Well, I figured my milk came in, so I will be more careful with latching after that.

Impossible. It was discovered at his 2 week appointment that he could not latch, due to a lip tie. I had already started pumping by then, and using bottles he could get his lips around. The downward spiral began.

He was barely gaining weight. 2-3 ounces were all he gained after coming home. His jaundice was technically in the zone of hospitalization, but the doctor said to try putting him in sunlight at home first. I was failing him. Then my milk started drying. I had a freezer stash. Excess coming out of my ears… and I was already dipping into reserves. His appetite grew, my supply shrank. I bought supplements, I pumped hourly, I drank dark beer, ate enough oatmeal to kill a horse, pumped less often, more often, for thirty minutes after nothing came out…. it was useless. He was insatiable, and drinking twice as much as I could produce.

I started to hate him. Every time he woke up at night I wanted to scream and run away. I would feed him and change him, then attach myself to the pump for an hour. Go back to bed and repeat. I got no sleep. Not “Oh I slept terrible last night” I am talking hallucinations. I hated my husband, he couldn’t help. He was on night shift and didn’t have boobs. I hated him. I hated this baby we made, I hated my family and myself.

One night, while the baby screamed in his pack n play, literally starving, I got the gun. I sat and listened to him scream for an hour, gun on my lap, weighing my options. Hearing over and over, “breast is best” “formula gives you cancer” “you don’t love your baby unless you breastfeed”, etc. Somehow I had the stamina for one more feeding.

The next day I went to the doctor. I was fine and then started bawling. After I became coherent I was scolded, lightly, for taking it this far. I should have switched as soon as I started having bad feelings towards my baby. He said breastfeeding is not at all a requirement of motherhood. He was formula fed and a doctor! I started antidepressants that day.

I switched my son to formula. He was 14 pounds by 2 months. By a year he had grown an entire foot! His jaundice was gone almost immediately, and he became a very happy baby. He is now nearly 2. One slight ear infection a month ago, a tummy bug last week are the only illnesses he can claim. He is happy, he is healthy, he is smart. All the things they say formula-fed babies can’t be.

So when I hear “breast is best”, I scoff. The breast nearly killed me, and was starving him. Tell me how that is best for anyone?!

Bottle or breast… FED is best!

***

Feel like sharing your story for an upcoming FFF Friday? Simply email it to me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

FFF Friday: “She assured me that all I had to do was try hard enough.”

I may be biased, but I really think FFF Friday stories should be a mandatory part of any IBCLC, CLC, or maternity RN training. This one, in particular, sums up everything that is wrong with how breastfeeding is handled in our society. It’s not about whether breastfeeding should be promoted or not, because right now, it’s going to be. That won’t change. But what needs to change – like, yesterday – is the completely asinine approach that we use to do so. We should be helping mothers, individual mothers, and not adhering to rigid “rules” about what breastfeeding is “supposed” to be, “supposed” to do, or “supposed” to feel like. If you don’t agree. please read Lisa’s story. Then let’s talk. For real – let’s talk, in an honest, open, intelligent way – and tell me how this is okay. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

***

Lisa’s Story

I always wanted to be a mother from the time I was a young teen and held my infant baby sister in my arms as I rocked her to sleep. My mother raised and breastfed all seven of us. It always seemed perfectly natural, and this is how I pictured life… a sweet baby in my arms and latched to my breast. When I had my first child, he was totally perfect, and I was shown awkwardly how to latch him and get that working right. I proudly nursed him and continued after I left the hospital. It never entered my mind to even buy a bottle ahead of time because I didn’t plan to need one. I hadn’t even heard of the option of pumping, I just wanted to breastfeed. It went without my notice that my breasts never changed in pregnancy, that I never had let down, and that I never felt engorged or that supposed tingle feeling of milk coming in (because no one had ever told me while pregnant or even after what I should expect in the least even if it was working right). When we left my son had jaundice so we kept checking his levels, and within two days of coming home, we had the bili light suitcase. That’s just miserable, but I had no idea that his increasing lethargy, and jaundice was due to not enough to eat. I thought he wasn’t eating because he was lethargic from the jaundice. That’s what they told me would happen. I started to worry when I saw that he was always so tired, too tired to cry much, and he was looking thinner and more frail… bird like really. I hated not being able to hold him while he was under those lights, and could only do so to feed him. Finally, I listened to the voice I heard in my heart telling me he needed more… and I gave him some ready to feed formula I had gotten at the hospital. (thankfully before they banned such practices!) He eventually recovered, but my milk didn’t come in. Everyone assured me it would and I asked every known relative for help. I was doing it all right.. but a week went by, and nothing changed. I talked to the LC from the hospital who told me that it could be “normal” with a first baby and to keep letting him eat. She set me up with a pump. I spent so much time pumping and feeding, and desperately trying to sleep that I could hardly cope with the times my son was awake because I was so exhausted. At three weeks, I plain gave up and bought bottles. The doctor recommended formula because he was continuing to lose weight. To this day he’s quite healthy.. no allergies, asthma, or lower IQ that formula supposedly causes.

While I was pregnant with my second baby the “Every woman can breastfeed” campaign started. I had lost a few friends in new mommy groups online because of my experience, but I was redeemed in their eyes because I was DETERMINED that I would breastfeed this time around. I hired an LC before I was due. She assured me it was all possible and all I had to do was try hard enough. I told her of my previous experience, and she reassured me with all the common platitudes of “every woman can breast feed”, and “breast size doesn’t matter”. I even told her my breasts don’t get bigger in pregnancy, and this didn’t even faze her. I joined an online mentor group where they assign an experienced breastfeeder as your mentor to talk to about it and keep encouraged. I had my supply of oatmeal, bottled water, goats rue, domperidone, reglan, fenugreek, all the galactagogues, the books on correct latching, nipple shields, a hospital grade pump, an SNS kit, boppy, nursing bras, nursing pads, lansinoh cream, nursing cover, and even meditation tracks to relax me while I breastfed and walked me through breastfeeding hypnosis. I was SET!

 

My second son arrived just barely after Christmas day via induction for pre-eclampsia. He was also a little bit jaundiced when we took him home, but I figured that was normal. Two days later, again we had the bili lights, but this time not only the suitcase, but the bili blanket as well. They worried more about his levels, and he struggled more than his brother. He lost more weight, resembled a sickly struggling baby bird even more. Looking back, I should have seen these as warning signs. I hardly changed diapers.. another warning sign I should have seen, but I was FAR too focused on breastfeeding. I was latching him and feeding him every 2 hours if not every 90 minutes… feeding him till he wouldn’t suck any longer (about 30-40 minutes total), and then pumping for another half an hour to 45 minutes before grabbing about 20 minutes of sleep and starting all over again. I did this night and day.. could hardly stay awake, and my poor toddler suffered for it. I had to have people come in and help care for him because I literally did nothing but breastfeed. I still had no changes in breast tissue. I had no let down, no tingle, no engorgement, no leaking… nothing… but! When I squeezed, there was a drop there. My LC assured me that all was well despite his weight loss and my milk WOULD come in. I kept going.. popping the pills.. and the whole regimen until the 2 week appointment.

He had lost too much weight. He was classified as “failure to thrive” and I was sent immediately to the hospital. I was so exhausted, and confused! I was doing the right thing! I was breastfeeding more than ever before.. how could this be happening to me??? To my baby??? I bawled and sobbed all the way to the hospital. It was a grueling three days that we were there. I stayed the whole time feeling utterly horrified that I hadn’t realized something was wrong. They ran test after test after test on him, and filled him with IV fluids. That was the best I’d seen him look! Then one day they came in just after I visited the pumping room and brought back my container of milk. I proudly proceeded to put a nipple on the bottle feeling very happy that I’d gotten more than ever before! I had just produced 1/3 an ounce… from both breasts combined! The nurse and the doctor exchanged looks and looked a bit horrified. They asked me if that was common, and I explained no.. ¼ an ounce was common, but I nursed him very frequently. They asked to do an exam on my breasts, asked a lot of questions. They wanted to know what the LC had told me, what I was taking, how many wet diapers, and so on. At the end of this exam the conclusion was laid on me… there was nothing wrong with my son. The problem was with me. They talked about Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT). I was confused. I regurgitated “every woman can breastfeed!” and the doctor explained that just wasn’t true in my case, nor would it ever be. He said that no amount of supplements and trying and pumping would ever help me produce more than I was, and that exclusive breastfeeding was not possible for me. My world went spinning. I had done everything right!! Why was this happening to me? I took my son home, and began to feed him formula feeling like a complete failure. Very obviously I could not breastfeed him, and he needed all the calories he could get at that point.

And then came the rejection. Almost every mommy in those new mommy groups online rejected me. I was lazy they said. I just didn’t try hard enough. They listed all the things I should have done or should continue to try. I had done them all. There was no tongue tie, or latch issues… they utterly rejected the notion that I was a woman who couldn’t breastfeed… and I was called names, ostracized, and ridiculed. Even WIC laughed at me and said that I had given up. I bawled. I spent HOURS bawling and sobbing. I developed post partum depression, and no one cared. Not my doctor’s office, not the LC’s who were long since done with the failure that I was…. Not the mentor because I was beyond her advice or care. No one. I sobbed and bawled and was miserable. I remember very little of that son’s infancy because I was so alone other than my husband who tried to console me. I had done the best I could he said… I had given everything I had to give… but every woman can breast feed… I would reply. No joke… I had believed that lie, and it broke my heart.

It was years before I stopped crying and grieving over the breasts that I have apparently only for display. I was broken. My son was my consolation. Son #2 is still very healthy… despite all the evil wicked formula. He has no asthma, no allergies, and no medical problems at all. He is also ahead of his class in school and does not lack for IQ.

I experienced a miscarriage, and then fell pregnant with my third son. I knew from the start that I could not breastfeed. I didn’t even bother to try… not at all. What was the point really? I told the hospital up front that I would be formula feeding. They asked why, and did I know about the benefits of breastmilk? Yes of course I knew, but I had IGT… “you have what?” How can a hospital not have ANY CLUE what that is? Well…. Because ‘breast is best’ and ‘every woman can breastfeed’. They repeated these things so often I think they honestly believed them. Miracle of miracles though – this son passed all his meconium MUCH faster, and did not need bili lights at all! His Jaundice was very mild, and I found that I enjoyed him as a newborn so very much! I would hold him and feed him his bottle and sing to him. I found that the bonding thing wasn’t about the source of the food at all, but about love, and about caring for my sweet baby. Oh how I enjoyed that little boy! I was not exhausted, and I was fully capable of being the mother he deserved. I wished I had been properly diagnosed years ago! I could have enjoyed two previous babies so much more, skipped all the hospital bills and misery and worry!

WIC still didn’t believe that IGT was a thing. They told me I had to have x-rays to confirm it… that I didn’t have proof. If you ask me, I think they didn’t like that I had a legit medical reason they couldn’t “educate” me out of. The heavily leaning towards breastfeeding was evident… if you breastfeed, they give you twice to three times as much babyfood at that stage. I tried not to let the jabs from other mothers and the dirty looks when I pulled out a bottle get to me. It still stung some.

Then came five more miscarriages and immense heartbreak. I wanted desperately to have another child… and I wanted the feeling of breastfeeding again. I knew that wasn’t possible exclusively, but I could give what I do make right? As tiny as it is…. FINALLY! I conceived and though the pregnancy was rough, I made plans to combo feed, and to not give a flying flip what anyone else thought. I had been through enough grief and heartache, and I more than deserved to enjoy my daughter! I told the hospital staff when they asked that I intended to combo feed and that I could not exclusively breastfeed.. I had IGT. They smiled and said “Ok. Do you want the LC or would you like some formula brought?” There was no prejudice in the nurse’s voice. I asked for both. The LC came in, and saw that I was using an SNS system to feed formula. I explained that I had IGT, and don’t produce much, but I wanted to enjoy breastfeeding because I liked the feeling of it. She smiled, and asked if she could look at me kindly. She nodded and said she confirmed that diagnosis, and that she thought I was impressive by knowing what I wanted and finding the means to do what I could. She was very kind, and not pushy. I appreciated this. My daughter is now almost 3 months. My tiny bit of milk dried up at 2 months, but oh how I cherished the longest breastfeeding relationship I have ever have even if it wasn’t exclusive! How I wish that more nurses and LC’s had treated me this way!

If there is one thing I found lacking in this last experience, it is that I was never given instructions about how to safely prepare formula, or for that matter… how to prepare it at all. I was handed nursettes, or cans of formula and waved away. I am still learning all the better ways to feed formula despite this being my fourth baby. I find myself feeling angry when other women are bullied and mistreated as I was by WIC and all the people who lied to me, or weren’t educated on biology to know that not every woman can breastfeed. I would have loved to breastfeed more, but that was never a choice I could make no matter how hard I tried. Some women do have that choice to breastfeed… and some prefer to formula feed. I now respect all mothers. You never know what she has been through.

***

Want to share your story? Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

FFF Friday: “I can’t bring myself to say it out loud…”

This is a different sort of FFF Friday submission. Lynn wrote to me last spring, saying that she couldn’t bring herself to write out the entire tale of her infant feeding journey, but that she still wanted to share her story.

She felt the best way to do this was to submit the email she sent her husband, approximately three months after her son was born, three weeks after returning to full time work.

 

And you know what? This email told enough of the story. It told it all. Everything so many of us have felt, experienced, thought… all of it, laid bare, stripped down. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

***
Lynn’s Story

I suffer from depression and anxiety.  The thought of postpartum depression scared the CRAP out of me, so much so that I wasn’t sure I wanted to bear a child (rather, adopt).  I was advised early on in my pregnancy that I’d need to get at least six hours of sleep a night during those first six weeks.  Little did I know, not only would that be nearly impossible, it would be absolutely crucial.  Between a lactation consultant at the hospital thinking she observed my son having a seizure (which put us unnecessarily in NICU), and my son having a tough time staying latched, pumping ultimately became the most reasonable thing to do.  

Two bouts of mastitis later…. this is the email I sent to my husband:

I can’t bring myself to say it out loud…

I can’t pump anymore.

I’m typing this in tears, shivering, with a 100.3 fever and an incredibly sore and tender boob.  It’s nothing short of self-torture to keep doing this and maintaining a milk supply requires a shift in lifestyle that I obviously can’t maintain.

My therapist asked me to complete this sentence:

If I stopped pumping I would…

…go shout in the streets hallelujah.

This was not the response she expected.

She also asked, what would you tell yourself if you saw what you’re going through…

…stop.

I wish I weren’t the one pulling the plug (or, putting in the plug?).  It is a smack-in-the-face reminder that I have to mother myself… which is just a Freudian nightmare in and of itself.

It’s fucked up, honey and not only can I not voice, I cannot type what I am truly, truly afraid of if I keep doing this to myself.

<deep breath>
I love you.  I love William.

I love me, too.

***
Feel like sharing your story? Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...