FFF Friday: “The goal I’m working on”

There’s so much talk of “goals” in the breastfeeding world. Reaching this goal, not giving up on that goal. So when I received Elise’s submission, I thought it was really interesting that her “goal” was to formula feed. It’s like the reverse of so many FFF stories: she can breastfeed, but she can’t seem to make formula feeding work. It would be funny, if I wasn’t so frustrated on her behalf. Because she’s right: why should she feel guilty? Why isn’t “I hate breastfeeding” reason enough to switch? 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

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Elise’s Story

“The Goal I’m Working Towards”

I hate breastfeeding.

I can do it; I am one of those “lucky” women whose milk flows like honey. I’m on my third baby and struggling with the desire to formula feed.

With baby #1, my birth went terribly awry. I saw midwives my entire pregnancy and was supposed to have a water birth at a free standing birth center. Instead my son went post term and was delivered via c-section after a failed 30 hour induction. I never saw my midwives after they dumped me because I became high risk (baby being 2 weeks late). My cervix failed me but my breasts did not. I couldn’t give birth but I could breastfeed! Cracked and bleeding nipples did not stop me. I got my nipple shield training wheels and within a month my firstborn was EBF. This went on F.O.R.E.V.E.R. After his weight went to the 65th percentile from his consistent 90-95th percentile between his 12 and 15 month well-baby appointments, his pediatrician asked me how much milk he was drinking. “Eight to nine times a day,” I replied. He looked at me sternly and said, “He should be getting milk no more than THREE times a day.” “Do I have to keep nursing?” I asked, with a note of desperation in my voice. “No!” he exclaimed, and I happily went home and weaned, thrilled to be getting my body and breasts back. Within a month I lost 10 pounds.

Three years later, baby #2 arrived via planned c-section (I had to keep defending why I wouldn’t try for a VBAC). It was even easier to nurse the second baby. No nipple shield and only minor cracked and bleeding nipples that quickly healed. When she was eight weeks old, I noticed a bug bite on my right breast. Fast forward a week and this “spider bite” was almost the size of an egg and causing a tremendous amount of pain – so much pain that I drove myself to urgent care at 2am where the throbbing lump on my breast was lanced and stuffed with gauze. I was given orders to return 24 hours later to have it reexamined. By the time I arrived the second night (having already started antibiotics), red streaks formed across my breast. I had MRSA and started IV antibiotics immediately. I had to keep returning to urgent care at 2am to receive IV antibiotics for the next several nights and go on ten day course of antibiotics so strong I had to stop nursing. Suddenly the milky breasts that had been my salvation with my first born were now threatening to kill me. Post-partum anxiety set in and I lost my best friend because of my diagnosis (she was paranoid she or someone in her family would contract MRSA).

So for two weeks I pumped and dumped and succumbed to formula feeding my baby girl. By the end of my nursing “vacation,” I realized we were on a schedule and I was sleeping better (even with all that anxiety!). But once the course of antibiotics was over, I started nursing again and was back to exclusively breastfeeding within a few weeks. I couldn’t let my breasts fail me when my cervix was still broken and I wasn’t going to let that damn flesh eating staph infection stop me. I weaned her “early” at 10 months because I wanted my body back and was starting to feel the drag of always having a small human attached to me. Within a month of stopping, I shed those last 10 pounds.

Five years later and now I’m on baby #3. My breasts have swollen to a 36J/K cup from their pre-pregnancy 34H, and pregnancy 36I, the largest they’ve ever been. In the hospital I confidently supplemented with formula and had no problem politely telling the lactation consultant to shove it after she raised her eyebrows at the pre-mixed formula in my room. I told her I exclusively breastfed my older two children but that my nipples/breasts/self need the break only a bottle or two of formula can give in those early days but that I would get around to EBF within a month. Since I’ve given birth, I’ve pumped at least once a day and have publicly stated “I’m not going to feel guilty for feeding my baby” when given questioning looks for why I’m ordering my husband to go make a bottle of formula. quotescover-JPG-96

Except… I feel guilty as hell.

My baby boy is now a month old, five weeks tomorrow. I’ve had the EASIEST time breastfeeding this lil’ guy. I’ve had no cracked nipples, no blood, no sores, no plugged ducts, no supply issue, no MRSA. I can pump over 3 ounces in less than 10 minutes. He’s gotten at least a bottle a day; sometimes breast milk, sometimes formula. Mostly though, he’s been latched to me.

And. I. Do. Not. Like. It.

I shudder and grimace when he latches on; it’s not the pain. There is no pain. I dislike the feeling of the suckling, of the letdown. I absolutely cannot stand it when my nipples become pacifiers. When he nurses, I want him OFF my body. I can’t stand that while my belly has shrunk, my breasts have not and I have to buy plus sized shirts to get them over my gigantic breasts.

I’m a stay at home mother. I have the “time.” My older two are in school five days a week. I’m white, college educated, and live in the Bay Area, home of all things natural and attachment parenting. I’m SUPPOSED to breastfeed.

And I don’t want to.

Here is my list of reasons why formula feeding is awesome:

1) Your boobs can go back to being sex objects. Yup. Having to smack away hub’s hands every time they come near you gets annoying hella fast.

2) You know how much baby is eating!

3) Even for the uninhibited, it’s nice not having to whip out your tits several times a day.

4) No more Heave Wheeze Heave Wheeze Heave Wheeze sound of the pump.

5) No more pump parts to clean!

6) Daddy gets to share in feeding.

7) Mommy’s nipples can go back to normal. Er, “normal.”

8) You will feed on some kind of schedule.

9) For me, I will lose 10 lbs in one month (unlike every other woman whose weight just “melts” off while breastfeeding, I hang onto at least 10 lbs until I’m done nursing)

10) You can wear a REAL bra – not some shitty, ill-supporting bra with clasps.

11) wearing a bra to bed sucks

12) Wearing disposable nursing pads 24/7 gets old fast. Because I’m a squirter, I wear then however long I nurse.

In the most perverse way, I wish I had issues breastfeeding so I GET to formula feed, so I have an  ”excuse” not to breastfeed.

But really, why do I need an excuse? Why must I tell people why I prefer bottle feeding? Why do people care how MY baby is being fed? He’s well fed, isn’t he? He’s healthy, is he not? His pediatrician used the exact words, “Super Duper” to describe my thriving son. If my son is super duper and *I* am okay giving my baby formula, then why can’t I let go of this gnawing guilt and just feed my baby that way *I* want to?

I’m phasing out the breastfeeding as of yesterday. It’s not that I can’t, it’s that I don’t WANT to breastfeed. It’s not a bonding experience for me, it’s something I dread. Currently I’m pumping several times a day because I’m scared of mastitis but I know that will fade in time. This baby WILL be formula fed. It’s the goal I’m working towards.

***

Feel like sharing your story for an upcoming FFF Friday? Email me (the FFF, aka Suzanne) at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

 

FFF Friday: “Motherhood and martyrdom aren’t the same thing.”

The stories I receive for FFF Fridays tend to fall into three categories: those who never wanted to breastfeed, those who couldn’t breastfeed for physiological reasons, and those who ended up formula feeding due to situational and/or emotional reasons. 

I want to make one thing very clear: in my mind, they why’s shouldn’t make a difference to anyone but you. Choosing formula or having the choice made for you only matters because of how it affects your experience (ie, are you grieving the loss of the breastfeeding relationship, or do you feel relief after a traumatic experience with it). It does not in any way affect how I see you, or how anyone else should see you, or how you should see yourself. It does not make you a bad mother. It makes you a formula feeding mother. That’s it.

Still, I also think it’s important for people to voice their feelings and their personal truths. So if someone needs to explain how they “had” to choose formula, that’s okay. In a perfect world, no one would feel like they have to give an excuse. In a perfect world, like Kate says, no one would ever ask “why”.

But we don’t live in a perfect world, so there’s FFF Friday.

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

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Kate’s Story

To everyone who would like to know how I will feed my next baby:

Firstly, it’s good to know you’re interested. I worry about how you’ll respond to my answer, which might be delivered at you with a one-word sentence: “Formula.”

I might not say any more, because this is a hard one for me to discuss.

It’s a difficult decision to talk about because we live in an era where our choices as mothers tend to be driven by particular ideologies. As it happens, I do subscribe to the “Breast is best” ideology in theory. It’s a tired old aphorism which has often been quoted at me by well-meaning individuals oblivious to my own circumstances. Sure, perhaps breast is best in a scientific sense, or in a health and wellbeing sense. Very few would dispute this.

Unfortunately, due to the gap between ideology and reality, breast was not best for me. Breast was not even possible for me. Most importantly, it didn’t work for my baby, and probably won’t be for any future babies.

I started off wanting to breastfeed. Apparently, 97% of Australian women do begin this way. (This is possibly related to the way it is relentlessly promoted by grim Nazi-style midwives, and the cruel manner in which formula feeding is openly belittled. Am I a bad mum for ‘choosing’ formula? No, I’m not – but it wasn’t really a choice, as you’ll discover.)

Here’s what breastfeeding did: purely and simply, it starved my baby. Initially, she wasn’t even going to be allowed home from hospital because she had lost too much weight. My breasts bled each time I tried. Nurses alternately (and incorrectly) attacked me for not ‘latching on’ correctly and then suggested that my baby might have a tongue tie. (They were correct about this, as it happens. I have nerve pain to this day because of a problem that wasn’t diagnosed until it was much, much too late.)

So I saw a lactation consultant. (If breastfeeding is so natural, why are there so many professionals whose job it is to help us with it?) I didn’t get any answers. She was brusque and frustrated. “Just try harder” was her general advice. New mothers are in an incredibly vulnerable situation, and of course you want to take all advice on board. So I tried harder. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was both time-consuming and ultimately disheartening.

My baby couldn’t sleep because she wasn’t being fed. I couldn’t look after my baby because I was too busy hooking myself up to a breast pump. Night after night, every couple of hours, and I still couldn’t produce enough. I sat there, freezing and crying in the dark with shrivelled up, hideously bruised breasts – one on a pump, the other attached to an unhappy infant.

My baby cried constantly.  I couldn’t look after her – I didn’t even have the time to take care of her and be the inadequate labouring milk-producing machine I had reduced myself to becoming. I didn’t play with her. I didn’t even have time to eat properly. All was sacrificed to the ultimate goal of the “liquid gold” I had been promised. I was a mental wreck – I felt shivers of pure panic whenever she woke up, because waking meant feeding. There were nights where she would latch on for an hour and sleep for 15 minutes.

The milk bar was closed, against the wishes of its owner.quotescover-JPG-53

Later on, I was to realise that the combined effects of gestational diabetes, a caesarean birth, my baby’s tongue-tie and a condition called insufficient glandular tissue had all conspired against me. The fact that I feel compelled to give a medicalised explanation implies that I still feel defensive about the whole business. Well, you’re the one who asked about it.

I’m not sure why we all feel free to inquire about every mothering decision, especially given that, regardless of how I feed, I’m still Top Dog in my baby’s life. No one has as much of an interest in her as I do. I have the legal and moral right to make decisions about what works for both of us.

The first time I fed my daughter formula was possibly also the first time she slept properly. She didn’t look cross and anxious as she had before. She knew I cared about her enough to make sure she was nourished.

As opposed to putting myself first. Realistically, why was I breastfeeding? I thought it was expected. Most people I know could do it without too much worry. I didn’t want the judgements that came with formula feeding. The worst reason to do anything is to satisfy others. But, at the time, I thought I had to live in this miserable manner. I looked in the mirror and saw a tired, stressed martyr in those days.

Here’s the secret: motherhood and martyrdom aren’t the same thing. I’m Catholic, so I know a few things about martyrs. They all make amazing sacrifices for strong beliefs. They generally go against the grain of their times and are individual and counter-cultural in the way they live and die.

You can’t be a martyr to breastfeeding! Nor can you base your decisions on the expectations of others. The only person whose opinion I care about other than my own is my husband’s, and he supported me because he was the only one who saw and appreciated what breastfeeding was doing to me.

So, whenever I’m blessed with another child, it’s straight to the bottle. I hope my next child will smile and laugh as much as my little girl now does. She’s great. She’s never been sick. No one’s going to look at her in a year’s time and know how she was fed.

I am immeasurably angry that I live in a society which seeks to define my worth as a mother by how I can or can’t use my breasts.

For those who struggle with breastfeeding and don’t give up, I have only admiration. I wish them success, though not at the expense of their own health or their relationship with their baby. For my own sanity, I had to realise when it was time to put the whole experience in the ‘too hard’ basket.

I hope that answers your questions.

Most importantly, I hope it also makes you realise that you were wrong to ask questions in the first place

***

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

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

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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!

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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

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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

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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!

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

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