FFF Friday: “I clearly remember feeling ashamed, and afraid…of being reprimanded…”

It’s been a long time since I felt hopeful about the state of breastfeeding promotion, but tonight, I do. That’s because for once, women spoke up and were actually heard. We had the strength to say, enough. And I hope – oh god, do I hope – that this is the beginning of the end. The end of inexcusable abuse in the name of public health, the end of ignoring the lived realities of women, the end of treating formula feeding parents as second-rate, the end of misleading rhetoric and misrepresented research. The end of sitting back and letting women go through what Lo went through. This is not okay. 

Say it with me: THIS IS NOT OKAY. Say it in the pediatrician’s office, the OB’s office, the WIC office, the maternity ward. Say it online, and to the media, and to your local mother’s group.

Say it louder. Keep saying it. Because people are starting to listen.

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

***

Lo’s Story 

 

I gave birth to my first child on December 1, 2013. He was born via c-section at 41 weeks after a failed NST, subsequent induction, and 24 hours of grueling labor. The labor took everything out of me physically and emotionally. I was a mess, experiencing terrible side effects from the epidural, delirious, thirsty, swollen with fluids from the IV, flushed, my cervix was swelling and my blood pressure was rising. I have a complex anxiety disorder and suffer from panic attacks and medical environments are a major trigger for me, so on top of all of this I was basically shaking and petrified for the duration of the experience. It was pretty much the opposite of the kind of birth I’d hoped for. Thanks to my exhaustion, the side effects from all the drugs, and my own anxiety, I was totally out of it when Arthur was born, weighing in at 9lbs and 13oz (no wonder he wouldn’t come out!). I was able to look at him, to touch his cheek briefly as I lay flat on my back in the OR, but mostly I was drifting in and out of consciousness in a morphine and fentanyl-induced haze.

 

After we were transferred to the postpartum unit and set up in our recovery room, the pressure to breastfeed was on. I had not even fully regained consciousness when the nurses descended upon me, roughly pinching and squeezing my breasts, forcing colostrum out my nipple as I slumped over repeatedly, unable to keep my head up or my eyes open. They told me it was the hormones, the oxytocin from expressing the milk making me sleepy. It wasn’t — it was the morphine and the extreme physical exhaustion.  I remember that it hurt tremendously, and I remember that I just wished someone would give him a bottle of formula so that I could know that he was full and comfortable, and so that I could rest. I clearly remember feeling ashamed that I felt this way, and afraid to express it for fear of being reprimanded.

 

After learning that Arthur was jaundiced and that his blood sugar was a little low, we did decide to offer a bottle which the nurses reluctantly provided. Despite the fact that my baby was comfortable and eating well, and despite my own exhaustion and an extreme amount of pain thanks to the surgery, the staff continued to “encourage” me to breastfeed, bursting into the room and shoving him onto my breast every 1-2 hours, allowing me no sleep.

 

By the following morning I was truly at my wit’s end. My emotional and physical reserves were completely obliterated — I cannot overstate the extent of my exhaustion and pain. My sweet husband was finally passed out in a deep sleep on the small sofa beside my bed, and Arthur was sleeping in the bassinet when the Lactation Consultant arrived. As soon as she entered the room, I told her that all three of us were trying to get some much needed sleep and that it wasn’t a good time. Instead of leaving, she came around to the bed and sat down. Noticing the half empty bottles of Similac scattered around the room, she began preaching to me about the importance of breastfeeding and the inferiority of formula. I was too tired and too vulnerable to fend her off. Her ranting woke the baby, who began to cry. She continued to talk over his screams as I sat helpless in the bed, sick and swollen and unable to get up to tend to him without assistance. My exhausted husband, bless his heart, remained asleep through all of this, so I was on my own. Finally as I began to attempt to scoot myself over to the edge of the bed to try to get to my screaming child and/or my sleeping husband, feeling as if I were being stabbed repeatedly in the gut, she looked at me and snidely remarked, “You know, giving him a bottle won’t make him stop crying.” This was honestly the lowest point in my entire postpartum experience. I don’t even remember what I said to her, but I do know that she left the room and that I broke down sobbing and hobbled over to my husband — the most excruciatingly painful three steps I’ve ever taken. I was crying hysterically and I had to shake him repeatedly to wake him from his deep sleep so that he could tend to Arthur. I have rarely felt so helpless or so belittled as I did in those moments when this stranger invaded my space and began criticizing the choices I was making as a new mother, when I was literally the most physically and emotionally vulnerable I’ve ever been in my entire life. Her comment to me implied the assumption that I was only interested in shutting my baby up so I wouldn’t have to deal with him. Judgmental and rude at best.

 

It is astounding to me that these “professionals” do not realize that a woman who has just given birth — especially in the case of a traumatic birth or unplanned c-section — absolutely NEEDS just as much compassion and gentle care as her new child does. I felt like I was an afterthought — my wellbeing was an afterthought. The message I received was that the only thing that mattered was that breastfeeding was established. Nothing about making sure mom gets some sleep. Nothing about making sure baby isn’t hungry. Nothing about making sure mom is okay emotionally after her ordeal. Only the colostrum, the all-important colostrum. Nothing about whether mom is comfortable having strangers hovering over her, breathing into her face, leaning on her as they squeeze her breasts and squash her nipples despite her cringing and timidly expressing that yes, it hurts (right at that moment, everything hurt).

 

Fast forward two months. Arthur is a giant, gorgeous, happy, formula-fed baby. We did combo feed for the first eight weeks, and it was really nice and went relatively smoothly. But I’m ready to do formula full-time now. With my history of anxiety, I need to take care of my mental and emotional health, and for me that means being able to get back on various herbs and supplements and regaining my physical autonomy, especially after the difficult recovery from the surgery. When I give my baby a bottle I hold him close to my body and he looks into my eyes and often smiles. He makes the same sweet, contented noises and pushes his little feet against me the same way he did when he was at the breast — exactly the same way. I’m recovering well and love being a parent. My anxiety is well under control. My husband enjoys participating in the act of feeding our beautiful son. We are a happy, loving family and we have chosen formula because it works for us.

FFF Friday: “The end goal is not how you feed your child.”

FC started kindergarten a few weeks ago, and it’s been an emotional time for the Fearless household. Suddenly, I’m back in that awful, confusing state of “what ifs”: What if this isn’t the right school for him? Did I make the wrong decision? Will he be okay? Is he having a hard time making friends? Should I switch him to a different teacher? Should I, could I, would I….?

But the hard, true answer is this: I don’t have all that much power. He’s out in the world, now. This isn’t nursery school, or mommy and me class. This is the beginning of childhood. No more coddling, or nurturing. Kids can be mean, there’s bullying, there will be times when he will be teased, or will do the teasing. Now is when his character will begin to truly reveal itself. The tough parenting starts now, and it will only get harder as he gets older.

I tell you this, because I think it’s so important to realize that you will have a million other opportunities to second guess yourself, to regret, to overanalyze, to wonder. You will have a million other doubts and triumphs and questions.

And thank god for that, you know? Seriously. Thank god for that.

 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

Samantha’s Story

I’ve wanted to write one of these forever and share my story, but I wanted to wait until I was fearless about my decision to formula feed or at least sort of happy. Well, today I became fearless.

I had a pretty normal pregnancy (in my family.) Preterm labor at 20 weeks that put me on lift and exercise restrictions. High blood pressure at 26 weeks that landed me extra appointments. A minor car accident at 28 weeks that put me in the hospital for monitoring. From 36-40 weeks, there was constant debate about inducing me, but my blood pressure always stabilized and my protein levels were always borderline. I know this after multiple 24 urine tests and an overnight stay in the hospital where I didn’t come home with a baby. Through all of the extra appointments, I always responded “yes” when asked if I would breastfeed. I figured I should do one thing really right.

I was induced at 40 weeks and 3 days when my blood pressure finally became enough of an issue to do something about. I had a perfect labor. When the OB came to break my water after my epidural, I was ready to push. My daughter was out in 15 minutes while 12 student nurses that I unwittingly agreed to let watch me give birth stood amazed since it was the first they had witnessed. Then came the problems. My daughter swallowed too much amniotic fluid and kept throwing it up. She couldn’t latch without gagging and vomiting. They say their stomachs are tiny, so I don’t know where she stored all that fluid, but it just kept coming.

The nurses decided since she wouldn’t latch that I needed to try to get something out right away. They tried to manually express and nothing. They went and got a pump. Nothing. I pumped every hour for 20 minutes. Three friggin drops the entire first 24 hours. Well, my daughter finally stopped puking up amniotic fluid and was actually hungry. I pulled out the trusty double pump and finally got something. Blood. It was that moment that made me a formula feeder. I demanded formula. I hit that nurse call button over and over until someone brought me something, anything to feed the tiny starving thing I was holding. The lactation consultant decided that hour was the best time to show up to my room. She poked and groped until my sister threw her out. I cried not just because it hurt but my feelings were hurt. My expectation of doing one thing right was shattered.

Fast forward 6 weeks, and we find out my beautiful girl has a milk protein allergy and reflux. She needs special formula, and breast feeding would have been a struggle. I am, however, still upset about it. Fast forward to three months, and whenever someone on the forum of ladies with babies born the same month as my daughter mentions breast feeding, I still get upset or sad or depressed or angry at myself. I didn’t try hard enough. Maybe my milk would have come in if I pumped enough blood first.

Now fast forward to today. A friend of mine from high school and his wife are expecting their first child, a baby girl. They found out at 28 weeks that the baby they have longed for and spent two trimesters falling in love with has trisomy 13. For those who don’t know, this diagnosis is fatal. Don’t google it, but this baby girl probably won’t survive to term and if she does will, more than likely, die during birth or shortly after. They aren’t deciding whether to formula feed or breast feed. They are deciding whether or not to set up the crib they ordered months ago that arrived a few days after they got the news. They are not deciding about cloth or disposable diapers but where to bury their child who they can still feel kick and wiggle in her belly. Her blog posts are heart wrenching. All about loving a baby who has no real chance at life… And I cry over not breast feeding.

This sort of forced everything into perspective for me. The end goal is not how you feed your child. The end goal is the child. That’s why we do all of this. That’s why we cuddle and soothe instead of sleep. That’s why we worry about making the best decisions and why that looks different for every family.  I’m not saying losing a breast feeding relationship when it is something you had your heart set on is not something to mourn, but it isn’t the most important part of being a parent. Being a parent is.

I lost site of the end goal for a few months, but now that I’ve found it again, I am fearless.

***

Share your story – email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com

 

FFF Friday: “If you love your baby then you are giving her all the food she needs for her soul…”

Jessica, whose story is below, brings up a point I’d never thought of: we hear so much talk about “normalizing breastfeeding” (something I agree is important), but also much criticism of sites like this that share “negative” experiences of breastfeeding. “Mommy guilt is a powerful poison, and it took reading other women’s stories to help normalize my own,” Jessica writes. She’s right, of course, and I don’t know why I never looked at it like this – sharing our feelings normalizes them, which makes us feel less alone, less flawed, less confused. So keep these stories coming – because you never know who might be reading yours and thinking, “Finally. Finally, someone gets it.” And that’s powerful stuff.
Happy Friday, fearless ones,
The FFF 
***
Jessica’s Story
It wasn’t until I first stumbled upon “Fearless Formula Feeders” that I finally felt like my breastfeeding experience was “acceptable.” Mommy guilt is a powerful poison it took reading other women’s stories to help normalize my own. I read the personal story of a public health nurse who promoted breastfeeding herself but then wasn’t able to nurse her son. Like her, I was a family physician in my third year of residency and I championed breastfeeding among all my pregnant patients. If they were planning on bottle feeding I chided them gently, relaying how “breast was best” and it was free, natural and had benefits ranging from raising IQ to preventing obesity, diabetes and asthma. So I think the universe was trying to teach me a lesson in irony and empathy when I had my son, Silas, one cold November morning.
I’d had a pleasant and uncomplicated pregnancy despite working many 30 hour call shifts in the hospital, so I assumed that mothering, especially with my medical background, would be similarly manageable. But within two days of delivering, I felt a cloud of anxiety, guilt and dark depression sweeping over me. Over the next several weeks my husband and I pushed through the fog of sleep deprivation and adjusting to our new life as parents. Breastfeeding was not going well either. My nipples were cracked and bleeding, Silas never seemed satisfied after a feeding, and despite several appointments with lactation consultants, many phone calls to La Leche League and help from my mom (who breastfed all three of her kids), it still felt hard. I tried reading books ranging from “Baby Wise” to “The No Cry Sleep Solution” but it just felt like a cacophony of contradictory advice – “get your baby on a schedule,” “wear your baby,” “never let your baby cry,” “sleep when you baby sleeps.” Many tears were shed — in fact I cried every day for the first 13 days and on the 14th day I cried because I hadn’t cried yet!
My feelings were so discordant — on the one hand I knew I had to love and protect this little creature we brought into the world, but at the same time I mourned our loss of our independence - sleeping in, going on long runs, eating out, hiking.  Now we had a baby who was constantly needy, constantly demanding my physical and emotional energy. It was also difficult going from an intellectually and emotionally stimulating job as a medical resident to a 6 week maternity leave feeling like a glorified diaper changer. What was my identity? Why did I have such cabin fever? Why wasn’t I overcome with love for my “bundle of joy?” I remember getting a card from a friend that said “A new baby – how fun!” – and just wanting to rip it into shreds and scream! I walked around in a daze looking at other moms and feeling incredulous that people procreated, not just once, but twice, or three times! I was angry and envious of these women because it meant that they got through it, even enjoyed it, and did it again—and what kind of a defective mom did that make me?
Looking back, one moment stands out to me as the moment I knew I couldn’t go on breastfeeding. It was around 5 AM after a rough night and I had just fed Silas an hour prior. Silas was now crying as my husband tried to comfort him in the next room and I lay in bed wishing myself back to sleep. Finally my husband knocked, came in the bedroom and said, “I’m sorry honey, but he’s hungry again.” So I put my baby up to my breast and the tears just started flowing – it felt like he was sucking the life out of me. And at the risk of sounding extreme, at that moment nursing him truly felt like an abusive relationship. Silas may have been getting my “liquid gold” breast milk but there was no love in my milk and the actions were perfunctory and even resentful.
And yet despite this, I felt so much pressure to keep nursing – as a professional, as an educated woman who wanted the best for her baby. It was hard to see Facebook pictures of women from my Hypnobirthing class breastfeeding their babies in a sling while hiking the Rocky Mountains, or to hear comments from my medical school friends about how their child “never drank a drop of formula until he turned 1.” And yet while I felt some judgment from these women, no one could be a harsher judge than me. I was my worst enemy, internally beating myself up for being an inadequate mother who didn’t relish breastfeeding her own child.
It wasn’t until I had a 3 week follow up appointment with my midwife that I allowed myself to entertain the thought of really stopping. After spilling my heart to my midwife she said, “Jessica, breastfeeding is not always right for every mom and baby.” And that completely logical comment just blew me out of the water. I had so internalized the mantra that “Every baby was born to breastfeed” that the idea that there may be an exception to this (outside of ignorance, maternal death, extreme prematurity or a major anatomical defect like cleft palate) had not once entered my mind.
A few days later, I developed a bad case of mastitis. I exclusively pumped for a few days and then finally I just saw the insanity of it all – the depression, the deep fissures in my nipples, the sleepless delirium, the obvious fact that Silas was happier drinking from a bottle – and I gave myself permission to stop breastfeeding. For two days I let my breasts expand and engorge as I let go of all the preconceived notions I’d been clutching so dearly. I knew that I would be a happier, healthier mom with more love and energy for Silas if I gave up breastfeeding. Oh the blasphemy! But this revelation felt so freeing. Breastfeeding was not right for me and Silas, and I was finally able to say this out loud.
And then a funny thing happened. My parents and sisters arrived for Thanksgiving. And suddenly there were many hands to help cook, clean, hold a crying baby at midnight, speak words of encouragement, and make this desperate new mom laugh at her overblown emotions. And suddenly I had renewed energy and motivation. If I couldn’t breastfeed then I was at least going to pump milk for my baby. And so I became an exclusive pumper for 2 more months. But after weaning for a couple days my milk supply was never back to normal, and pumping in random corners of the hospital, parked cars and various doctor’s offices during my residency rotations was not conducive to continuing. So when I finally put the pump away for the last time, I felt more relief than guilt.
If you’d told me I’d have another baby after Silas was born, I would have raised my eyebrows. Those first couple years were hard, and I struggled with a lot of “mommy guilt” being a busy working mom and comparing myself to other moms who stayed home with their kids, or wrote poems about how their true selves weren’t born until their kids were born, or had 6 kids because they just loved babies so much. But with time I realized that Silas truly was an amazing person, and he adored me just for being his mom, and I was the best possible mom for Silas. You see, the mind tricks you into thinking that guilt is a motivator when it actually just makes you feel like a pile of cow dung. And so I let go of false expectations, I let go of comparing, I let go of trying to be the kind of mom I should be and just started being the mom I was.
So we took the plunge and got pregnant again when Silas was 3. Of course I had some concerns about the postpartum period, and being a type A personality I got organized right away – I increased my dose of antidepressant, took fish oil and probiotic supplements, hired a postpartum doula, planned on placental encapsulation, tracked down nearby breastfeeding support groups, and scheduled my parents to arrive right after we came home from the hospital. When my daughter first latched after she was born I thought I would cry and be overcome with mixed emotions. I wasn’t. She nursed for 45 minutes straight and because I had the perspective of having been through it once before, I knew that whether breastfeeding worked out or not, I was a good mommy.
My postpartum experience was completely different the second time. I almost felt “blissed out” despite still dealing with issues like bleeding nipples, my daughter’s tongue tie, and lack of sleep. Maybe it was all the preparation and emotional support I’d lined up. Maybe it was because I wasn’t a shell shocked new mom giving up her autonomy and identity for the first time. But between Netflix episodes of “Homeland,” warm meals prepared by our doula, and snuggling with our beautiful daughter, I felt normal.
We are now 10 months into breastfeeding and going strong. I pump at the office, I nurse at home. It’s a special relationship, but the most special part is not putting boob to mouth, but that I’m able to enjoy our relationship without the fog of depression. Breastfeeding happened to work out this time, but I do not judge anymore. If you love your baby then you are giving her all the food she needs for her soul, regardless of the type of food you put in her mouth. Looking back on my experience with Silas, I don’t think it could have been different. I don’t think that breastfeeding was right for us, and I love and accept my relationship with both of my children. My experience has also deepened my compassion and understanding with my patients, and I’m a better mom and doctor for it.
***
Share your story – email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com

FFF Friday: “Maybe My Better Isn’t Your Better”

Today, World Breastfeeding Week begins. There’s a lot of good that comes out of this week, but it can also be a painful, triggering seven days for those who have struggled with their infant feeding decisions. 

That’s why I was excited when this FFF Friday landed in my inbox a few months ago, because I knew it would be the perfect entry for this week.  Carly’s piece isn’t about breastfeeding or formula feeding. It’s about the terminology we use to discuss parenting choices; our inability to look outside of ourselves and our experiences, our beliefs. 

I hope people take this one to heart. I honestly believe if they did, we could stop discussing the same, old, tired issues and move on to the real work of supporting parents in concrete ways. 

It’s something to dream about, at least, on this late World Breastfeeding Week eve…

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

***

Maybe My “Better” Isn’t Your “Better”

by Carly Ceccarelli

“When you know better, you do better.” Maya Angelou

I tried to dig to the bottom of the context of this quote and was instead bombarded with legions of posts from various blogs, online groups, and message boards regarding choices in parenting and how many use this quote as not only their parenting compass, but a ‘gentle’ way of recommending that what you are doing with your child is hopelessly, utterly wrong.

Have you ever considered…..maybe my “better” isn’t your “better”?

I have been through so many seasons in life. Haven’t we all? Fortunately, I have gained some perspective from those. I have been broke and living off of fish sticks and canned ravioli.  I have been a working, single mom with not exactly a load of free time or patience. I have been a stay at home mom to an intense baby that taught me more about lacking free time and patience than being a working, single mom ever did.

As a result of seasons, we make choices. My current season is being at home full time with two children under two years old. That intense baby is now a very mobile, intense toddler.  My experience with him greatly impacted my choices with his younger sister.  Having to be a present and attentive parent to two children simultaneously impacted my choices with both children. Only having two arms and two legs impacts the choices I make every day.  Yet I am bombarded with what I “should” choose because this person or that person knows that I “know better”.

I do know better.

I know better that, for me, these are the choices that are in line with the goals my family has, all people and categories of impact considered.  I have a diverse group of friends who are all over the spectrum regarding their choices, based on the goals THEY have within their familial units.

I had all of the answers, too. I understand the need to spread the gospel of my amazing experiences and informational finds, because, heaven forbid, that person doesn’t have access to Google and would “miss out”.  I realize how very wrong I was. I realize now that there isn’t one answer for everyone in any category, and that I am showing more wisdom when I am silent because I don’t know everything, as opposed to saying something because I believe I do.

FFF Friday: “I imagine getting to know my newborn without the stress of trying to force my body to make milk…”

“I’m a mom who tried to breastfeed but had to switch to formula.  It isn’t an unusual story but when it is your own story, it feels anything but ordinary. It’s painful and heartbreaking and exhausting and lonely.” This is how Mandy’s story begins, and I wish I could fit these sentences on a t-shirt. It pretty much sums up why I keep FFF going – even as I blog less and less, and focus more on advocacy, practical and policy work, I think it’s vital that this space exists to publish your stories. Because every one, no matter how similar it is to the last, matters. It’s yours. Yours alone. But in telling it, maybe you- and those reading it – will feel a little less lonely. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

***

Mandy’s Story

I’m a mom who tried to breastfeed but had to switch to formula.  It isn’t an unusual story but when it is your own story, it feels anything but ordinary. It’s painful and heartbreaking and exhausting and lonely.  Your friends and family have so many words and tips to offer but so little helps. Your modern female mind betrays you and tells you that you are less of a woman—less of a mother—because you cannot breastfeed, though you know that thought is irrational and untrue. For me, it is a thought I struggled with long after the last drop of breast milk fought its way out.

I had my first baby in 2011 and when the stick turned blue I immediately enrolled in the University of Google and learned everything I could about pregnancy, labor, delivery and, of course, breastfeeding. Breastfeeding was the obvious choice and I had no question about whether or not I would. I even got annoyed with people who asked which I would do, (aside from being annoyed simply because that is a rude question). Why would I even consider formula when “breast is best,” right? And how much easier could it be? You have a baby, they latch on, the milk comes in and that’s that.  I even remember the lactation consultant reassuring an expectant mom in my breastfeeding class who asked, “What do I do if I don’t make enough milk?” that you WILL make enough milk. Your body will ABSOLUTELY make enough milk for your baby. Supply and demand. Very simple.

I’d like to smack that lady.

My daughter was born and she latched on but I waited and waited and no milk ever came. Well, no more than an ounce every three hours. I was an overwhelmed first time mom and nursed less and less until eventually I stopped trying altogether and I switched to formula exclusively after three weeks Boom…formula baby.

When my daughter was 3 months old I became pregnant with my second baby and I was hell bent on breastfeeding!  I had been recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I was certain that had to be the reason for my previous struggle and now that I was controlling it with medication, I’d have no problems with milk supply. I even had dreams about freely flowing breast milk and hoped it was a sign that buckets of liquid gold were in my future. I knew that I sort of fit the profile of someone with insufficient glandular tissue but tried to put that possibility out of my mind since there is really nothing you can do to overcome that. I was going to remain determined and hopeful.

When baby girl number two arrived, she was nine pounds of cuteness and latched on to the breast with the expertise of a baby twice her age. I was more than proud; I was teeming with hope! This time I was careful to nurse on demand and pump right after nursing to increase my supply to no avail. I still only produced a maximum of one ounce every three hours. As my big girl got bigger she just began to get frustrated at my out-of-order breast but I just couldn’t give up on it. To complicate things further, her stomach and palette seemed to not tolerate any of the five different formulas we gave her. She seemed to only tolerate breast milk and I couldn’t make any. For about five months I received pumped breast milk from dear friends and trusted donors while I continued to pump around the clock to get my measly ten ounces per day and, of course I supplemented with formula.

Through thousands of tears over six months I told my husband I would stop when she and I were both ready because the round the clock pumping was killing me. Eventually my supply of frozen donations began to wane and she was getting more and more formula. She was doing better with her soy formula and starting to try solids and doing well with that too. And I was emotionally ready. I clearly remember sitting in my “pumping chair,” one day and just deciding that I was spending more time than it was worth for eight to ten ounces a day, pumping. I cut back slowly on my pumping sessions until I was not pumping at all and she was on formula exclusively. Boom…formula baby number two.

But this time I felt a freedom in the change. For one, I knew I’d done and tried everything possible: power pumping, fenugreek, Reglan, Domperidone, lactation cookies, oatmeal, water, visits to the lactation consultant, (side note: you know it’s pretty hopeless when the lactation consultant says, “you know, formula isn’t that bad”). I did everything and I felt good switching to formula. I didn’t have the shame I had before. I still have moments of regret or sadness that it didn’t work but I do not feel like a failure as a mother. When I see my friends nursing their babies or pumping an abundance of milk I am a little sad and jealous but overwhelmingly, I feel happy for them because I know the struggle.  And when I see a friend choose formula with less internal struggle than I had I am happy for them as well.

I go back and forth on whether or not our family is complete with only our two children, but when I contemplate a third or fourth child, I cannot help but think of what my feeding choice would be. I say with absolute freedom and confidence that I would start out of the gate with formula. My body does not make a full supply and the struggle to get what I can is too gut-wrenching to go through it one more time. I actually fantasize about being in the hospital room and requesting the formula for my imaginary baby with pride and confidence.  I imagine getting to know my newborn without the stress of trying to force my body to make milk that it just cannot make. I am not sure if that little daydream is enough to have another child but it makes my heart happy. I wish everyone could feel that confidence in their feeding choice from the get-go whether they are a fearless formula feeder or a courageous nursing mommy.

***

Have a story you’d like to share? Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com

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