FFF Friday: “What matters to me is not my ‘breastfeeding relationship’ but my ‘relationship relationship’.”

My feelings about Toni’s story can be summed up in two words: Absolute Awesomesauce. 

Hope this gets your weekend off to a good start. I know it did for me. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

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Toni’s Story

I never wanted to breastfeed.  I understand that it’s supposed to be good for babies and I don’t doubt that it is but I also don’t believe that formula is poison or even less good than breastmilk.  I don’t think comparing formula to fast food is at all fair and if anything the culture of mom-shaming that surrounds the breastfeeding debate only deepened my ambivalence towards breastfeeding.

I recently reread Hannah Rosin’s article, “The Case Against Breastfeeding” and her words ring so true to me still today while I mother a toddler and the whole feeding debate isn’t nearly as central for me.  In fact, I think because the emotional investment has dissipated for me, I can finally look at feeding in a clear light.  Rosin writes, “[W]hen people say that breast-feeding is “free,” I want to hit them with a two-by-four. It’s only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing.”

Yes. Yes. Yes. I always understood that having a baby would be a huge time commitment but that didn’t mean I was willing to sacrifice all my time and comfort.  And I didn’t want to pump.  I think the best thing about breastfeeding was the closeness and getting close to a pump…eh.

So, I did breastfeed a little, three or four months, always supplementing with formula, more and more as time went on.  Before and after my baby’s birth, I kept telling the hospital people I intended to supplement and they gave me no support on that front whatsoever—even acting as if what I, a 34 year old grown woman with a master’s degree, had decided for my family was wrong.  So, I felt combative pretty much my entire hospital stay.  I did not ask for any help on anything and even when I worried that maybe I wasn’t holding my baby right or that he was maybe not getting enough milk, I kept quiet.  My one and only goal was to get the heck out of that hospital as soon as possible so I could try supplementing with formula in the privacy and comfort of my own home with no one around to judge me.

Even my child’s pediatrician did not seem to understand anything about supplementing.  When he developed reflux, she was sure I just wasn’t holding him right—because how could breastmilk—liquid gold– possibly upset his stomach.  It must’ve been the formula, she thought, even after I explained that he spit up more when I breastfed him.

There was no special reason for me stopping except I realized that the soothing my baby got from me breastfeeding him could just as easily be gotten from me just holding him.  And there was no special reason why I wasn’t into breastfeeding. A friend had told me that while in the hospital after her baby’s birth a nurse actually grabbed her boob without permission to aid in the breastfeeding process.  This image haunted me—a shocking violation of personal space.  I don’t care if someone just assisted in delivering my baby—no one touched me without permission like that.  I see breastfeeding advocates claim that this reserve I maintain is residue of a culture obsessed with breasts as sexual objects to which I reply: Yep, that’s right.  My breasts are sexy and private and not just anyone can touch them.  I understand that they are also at times for feeding my young but I’d smack your hand if you touched my baby’s food without asking first, so what’s the difference?  I informed the nurses at the hospital that while I agreed to try breastfeeding no one was allowed to just come up and grab my boobs.  I thought maybe I was being a bit overcautious until they actually expressed surprise that I’d be uncomfortable with this and suggested that maybe I have a history of sexual abuse.  I let them think it.  If that was what it was going to take to maintain some personal space, so be it.

Anyway, while I strongly feel like I made the right decisions, I know that next time around, I will be more forceful with doctors and nurses.  While recovering from labor, I will request the nurses give a bottle to the baby so I can rest up for the rough sleepless nights ahead and if that one bottle “ruins our breastfeeding relationship” then that’s fine—not all relationships were meant to be.  What matters to me is not my breastfeeding relationship with my baby but my relationship relationship—that is enough of a struggle on its own with a mother as used to her privacy and independence as I am.  Breastfeeding wasn’t bad but I do know that nights when I stayed up breastfeeding as my husband slept soundly in the other room, a dark resentment crept into my already exhausted, hormonal brain.  Maybe I’m just not, as the now infamous Time magazine cover harangues, “mom enough” for breastfeeding.  But I’m completely fine with that.  It’s not a competition, at least not on my end.  While the super moms fight it out to see who can be best, I’ll be at home, telling my husband to fix the baby a bottle while I take a much-needed nap.

 ***

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

 

FFF Friday: “This isn’t a post about how I tried to breastfeed my children and failed.”

Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.

Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They also are not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so. 

 

I got another one last week. One of those messages. The ones that make me feel like I am totally failing to impart my message correctly; the ones that make me question my own inner bias. The message was from a mom saying she didn’t feel supported on this site because she had chosen formula from the get-go. And as I’ve said many times before, I get that. I seriously do. I can give you every reason in the book for why these FFF Fridays tend towards a certain storyline (the main one being that people who feel 100% confident and happy with a choice to formula feed don’t tend to feel inspired to write cathartic stories about infant feeding struggles), but it’s not going to stop you from feeling unsupported.

I can tell you until my face turns blue that I support those who choose to formula feed from day one just as much as I support those who tried until they fell apart, physically and/or emotionally. But I know that doesn’t always come across on my Facebook page, or in my posts. I think that is partly due to my own experience; I think breastfeeding is one of the coolest things ever. I wish I could have done it. Sometimes I have crazy thoughts about having another baby just so I could try, one last time (don’t worry, Fearless Husband, if you are reading this – I’m not that crazy). When I see some of you who came to me as FFFs now happily nursing second or third children, I feel utter joy for you, but I still feel a faint but unmistakably ugly pang of envy that I didn’t have that experience, that my depression had to be so inexplicably tied to lactating; that my nerves were misfiring in such a way that made breastfeeding about as fun as water boarding. 

It is hard to admit these things, because they are emotions, and emotions don’t always match analytical thoughts, and I’d hate for anyone to misunderstand my intellectual take on these issues. For me, it is not so much about breastfeeding or formula feeding; it is about respecting women’s bodily autonomy, and their lived realities, and also about respecting logic, analysis and the truth of statistics. It’s about respecting YOUR experience. I want to honor every single one of your stories, but in doing so, I can’t always make an editorial choice to change up the narrative so that it ensures a wider audience is served. 

I’m not sure where I’m going with this… I guess it’s one more attempt at an explanation for why so many of these stories start out with “I always wanted to breastfeed…” because it’s the people who are in tears, bleeding through their nursing bras, who seek me out in the wee hours of the night. It’s not typically women like Lynn who submit stories, but I wish I would get more of these (and I’m so glad she sent hers in), because they are just as worthwhile, and just as important. And speaking of analytical thoughts…. I have to say that I am in awe of Lynn’s ability to consider this typically emotional issue so clearly and thoughtfully, with thought being the operative word. I wish I could know this girl in real life because she’d make one hell of a sounding board for big decisions.  

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

***

Lynn’s Story 

This isn’t a post about how I tried to breastfeed my children and failed. This isn’t a post about how I tried to breastfeed my children and succeeded. This is a post about why I chose to feed my children formula, and why I have no regrets about my choice, regardless of the comments and criticisms I recieve.

A little more then three years ago I found out I was pregnant with my first son. It was an amazing feeling. I loved sharing the news with friends and family and I couldn’t wait to meet the little bean growing inside me. At about 20 weeks I had my first appointment with my OB. They asked me if I planned to breastfeed. I hadn’t really given much thought at this point to how I was going to feed my child and told this to the nurse. She told me she would give me some information and I could let her know what I decided at my next appointment. Sounded good to me. So when we got home I decided to go through the information the nurse had given me and decide what was right for us. (At this time I thought the choice was all mine, you know, since the nurse told me to let her know what I decided… but we’ll get to that) Going through the information I realized that all the pamphets were titled things like ’10 reasons breast is best’ ‘Positions for Breastfeeding’ ‘Breastfeeding and Bonding with your baby’ It was all so onesided. There was no information on formula. At all.

So I asked my mom what she did. She breastfed all but one of her children. The one of my siblings she couldn’t breastfeed was born with a cleft lip and palate and was tube fed. She tried pumping for awhile, but only had a manual pump and couldn’t keep up with a 2 yr old and a newborn at home so she switched to formula. She had no issues, no struggles. Breastfeeding was 100% natural for her.

Then I asked my husbands dad what they did. They formula fed all of their children. All of us (my husband and I and our siblings) are healthy, and looking at all of us, there didn’t seem to be a huge difference either way.

So out came Google. I searched breastfeeding and sids, I searched bonding, I searched a million and one things and was loaded down with information about why breast is best and got next to nothing on formula. So my husband and I sat down and talked. And talked and talked and talked about what was best for us.

When we discussed bonding, we decided that since he was taking parental to be home with me and the baby, he wanted to be able to help with feedings. Formula feeding got the benefit there. I have heard the arguement that dad’s can bond with their babies at other times then feeding, and that pumping was an option that would have allowed me to still breastfeed. And those people are right. But it wasn’t right for us.

Then we needed to take into consideration how the elephant in the room (my anxieties) felt about our choices. The anxious part of me felt that I had enough defiencies in my diet, that how could I possibly know that my baby was getting everything he needed from my milk? The arguement that my body would make sure he was didn’t soothe me. How would it possibly make me feel better that my body would take away from me to make sure the baby was healthy? Then I am going to be unhealthy and then how is that going to affect the baby? Formula won out on that arguement too. When I give the baby the bottle, I know exactly how much he is drinking, and what is in it.

We also took into consideration the cost. We didn’t have a lot of extra money, but we made up a good budget and figured out that we could indeed afford to formula feed, if that was our final choice.

Since I was still wavering a little bit in my choice, I decided that I was going to ask a few friends who had babies what they had chosen and why they went that route. Friend 1 told me she chose to breast feed. It  worked out great for her and she breastfed for 3 months until her and her baby’s daddy went their seperate ways then she chose to switch to formula so the baby could have time with his daddy without needing to worry about feedings. I asked her why she chose to breastfeed (not to judge, but just in case there was something I was missing) She gave me 3 reasons. 1- it was cheaper 2- it reduces the risk of sids 3- to help her lose the baby weight faster. Friend 2 told me she had chosen to breastfeed but only breastfed for a couple weeks before she switched to formula because it was really hard on her with a c section and her baby wasn’t gaining any weight. I asked her as well why she chose to breast feed and was told 1- it was cheaper and 2- to help her lose the weight faster.

That gave me 2 more reasons to consider. Reduces the risk of sids…. I looked into that. And found the actual study that proved this. I don’t have it handy, but I do remember that it only reduced the risk by about 0.002% or some similar small number. As for losing the weight faster… to me this seemed like one less reason to breastfeed. When you are breastfeeding you need to get an extra 500 calories, I don’t have an appitite when I am tired and I get sick if I force myself to eat. Having a newborn seems to equate to being tired, and being tired (for me) equals not eating… so what exactly am I feeding my newborn if I choose to breastfeed?

This led me to my choice. Fast forward to my next OB appointment. Again the nurse asks me if I am going to be breastfeeding the baby. This time I confidently reply with ‘No. We have chosen to formula feed’ She didn’t say anything negative about it. She smiled at me and told me she would get me some pamphlets on my way out. I smiled and said Ok. When I got home and went into the envelop she had given me, expecting to find some tips on formula, I found more information on breastfeeding… Being naive, I assumed I must have been given an envelope meant for someone else and let it go. When I went back into the Dr’s office for my next appointment, I mentioned to the nurse that I was given more breastfeeding information and I wondered if I could get any information on formulas. I was told that they didn’t have any information about formula types. All she could tell me was what the hospital used. What a royal pain it was, to get anyone to answer any questions I had about formula.

Eventually I went into labor, and I was very glad that the nurse I had when I had my son was very non judgemental when I told her that I wanted to formula feed. She made sure that I was given formula and took the time to explain to me how much my baby needed to eat, and how often to feed him. She talked to me about feeding on demand, and what signs to watch for for allergies and over feeding.

After leaving the hospital, my son gained weight, grew and at each appointment with our family Dr we were told how great he was growing, and how healthy he was. That made it easy to ignore the people who told us that we were overfeeding him, that formula makes fat babies and how we were poisoning him. When I got pregnant with my second and third children, we automatically went to formula. With each pregnancy people would ask me if I planned to breastfeed my baby, and I replied with a simple no. Of course they always looked shocked and would ask why I wasn’t even trying. Not that it was anyones business, but I had no issue explaining that we formula fed our first and it worked so well for him it just made sense to do the same thing with any additional children, unless it proved not to work. (This extended to all of our parenting choices, not just the feeding issue)

I don’t regret choosing to feed my children formula rather then breastmilk. I don’t feel as though they or I missed out on some cosmic bond that only breastfed babies can have with their moms. I know I did the best thing I could for them and for me.

Today I have 3 healthy children. Alex is 2.5 years old, he is 37 inches tall and weighs 31 pounds. Nick is 16 months old, he is 32 inches tall and weights 26 pounds. Zoey is 2 months old, she is 23 inches tall and weighs 12 pounds. None of my children are obese. None of my children are constantly sick.

It makes me sad that people feel the need to justify their choices. There is no right or wrong when it comes to breastfeeding or formula feeding or doing a combination of both. What is important is that you are listening to your childs needs and meeting them to the best of your ability. As moms we need to support one anothers choices. Formula feeding shouldn’t only be okay for moms who weren’t able to breastfeed. Formula feeding should be okay for all moms. Breastfeeding moms shouldn’t be shamed for feeding their children in public. Formula feeding mom’s shouldn’t be shamed for using something that didn’t come from their breast to feed their child. No one should be judged. No one should be criticized.

I hope that by sharing my story, and my reasons, more moms will feel better about their choices and not feel pressured into feeding their child one way over another just because society says its better. How can formula be perfectly healthy and okay for children when the mom was medically unable to breastfeed, but poison for children when the mom chose not to breastfeed?

***

Share your story for an upcoming FFF Friday – whatever that story may be. Email it to me at formulafeeders@gmail.com. 

FFF Friday: “I’m not going to do it this time.”

Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.

Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They also are not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so. 

As Jennifer explains below, I get a lot of criticism that the FFF blog is more “breastfeeding-friendly” than “formula friendly”. I like to think I’m choice friendly. Parents-know-best friendly. Zealotry unfriendly. But regardless, I can see how someone who chose to formula feed might feel alienated by FFF Fridays, most of which start out with some variation on the line “I always wanted to breastfeed…”

I think there’s a very logical reason that most FFF Fridays aren’t about those who made a conscious choice to formula feed and feel confident in that decision: women who don’t feel overly emotional about this debate probably aren’t religiously reading a blog about infant feeding. (I mean seriously – why would you? I bore myself.) When someone is struggling/has struggled, catharsis is necessary – hence, she feels compelled to tell her story. I am so proud of this forum for that reason – it is a safe place for women (and the occasional man – wish there were more of them!) to share their experiences and work through emotions like anger, guilt, and fear. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s not refreshing – and just as important – to hear from women like Jennifer. We need to be reminded that formula feeding is a choice – a valid one – so that we can feel positive and confident when it’s not a choice. I see a lot of dissension even in the formula feeding community; this divide between “those who tried” and “those who didn’t” – and this shouldn’t matter. If you support the use of formula as a viable alternative, it can’t be conditional – and on the flip side, those who happily chose formula need to accept that some bottle-feedig women really wanted to breastfeed, and that desire has nothing to do with fear or guilt. Both are valid experiences. And both are worth talking about.

Happy Friday, fearless ones, 

The FFF

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Jennifer’s Story

I recently read a criticism on another blog that Fearless Formula Feeder “panders” to breastfeeding zealots by admitting that they formula feed only after they fail at heroic efforts to breastfeed.  The critics were wishing that just once, there would be a truly fearless story by someone who didn’t even try to breastfeed and felt no guilt about it.  I’m not sure I entirely qualify but I think that I come pretty close.

I am eight months pregnant and I am going to formula feed from day one.  I’m looking forward to it and I feel no guilt.

I know that I could breastfeed because I have with my other children for an average of over one year each.  I make enough enough milk, I don’t have employment concerns and the culture that surrounds me is very pro-breastfeeding.  But I’m not going to do it this time.

There is, of course, a reason.  Every formula feeding mother has a reason.  The issue is whether others feel that it’s a “good enough” reason and did the mother first exhaust all of the other options?

I don’t intend to share my reasons with the general public.  The reason could be as “legitimate” as having both breasts fall off due to a flesh eating bacteria and there still would be those who judge that as fixable.  “You could always tape a supplemental nursing system to your chest and use donated breast milk from vegan/paleo eating women of New Zealand.”

If questioned by the general public I intend simply to say, “I have very compelling reasons to formula feed…  Hey, have you seen the new Star Trek movie/got any vacation plans/tried that brewery in town?”.

I don’t need more education.  I’ve done the research.  I don’t need more support.  I’ve received plenty.  I don’t need to give it a try.  I’ve succeeded several times over.  One benefit of being an older, experienced mother is that I am not easily made to feel guilty.  I’m confident in my decisions and have learned what matters and what doesn’t.  So in a few weeks I’ll be formula feeding my new baby.  He will grow and thrive in our loving and devoted family.

***

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

 

FFF Friday: “I chose to give up breastfeeding my baby.”

Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.

Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They also are not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so. 

Every so often, it happens: a Facebook thread provokes a divide in our community between those who “tried and failed” to breastfeed and those who made a conscious decision to formula feed without the drama. And every time, I try and make it clear: this community supports educating yourself on your options and making a choice that is right for your family. That’s it. I’m not pro-formula. I’m not pro-breastfeeding. And I’m definitely not pro-formula-as-long-as-you-at-least-gave-it-a-shot. 

But you know, that doesn’t mean each and every one of you has to feel the same way. Inner bias is natural, and it’s naive to assume that we can all just “get along” and always agree with everyone else’s choices. All that I ask is that we listen without judgment. That we acknowledge that our own truths aren’t necessarily someone else’s truths; that we agree that there are all sorts of ways to be a good parent, but there’s a few definite ways to be a good person: Listen. Don’t assume. Open your mind to someone else’s point of view.

Enough lecturing from me. I really enjoyed Corri’s story – it’s refreshing to take a break from reading about heartache and feelings of inadequacy and hear about someone feeling confident in her decisions. I admire Corri’s self awareness, and her ability to make a choice that honored her right to happiness and health – a choice that allowed her to bond with her baby, even if that choice butted heads with what we’ve been told is “necessary” for bonding between mother and child.

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

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Corri’s Story

I‘ve read all the stories about how hard women tried to nurse, and then it didn’t work out and so then they “resorted” to formula. 

My story with my second son is different.

With my eldest, I tried to breastfeed.  Unfortunately I ended up back in the hospital a day after discharge with sky high blood pressure.  After a 4 day hospital stay, a magnesium treatment, and blood pressure meds we threw in the towel on breastfeeding.  He was formula fed while I was in the hospital and was very angry when I tried to breastfeed him upon my return.

With my second son, I didn’t have preeclampsia or the lingering blood pressure issues that had prevented me from nursing my first son.  I was hoping it would work out this time, and I’d be able to do “the best thing” for my baby.

Sure, I produced enough milk.  The lactation consultant who burst into my room and started fondling me before I knew her name was very excited to see how much I was producing even on that first day.  Lucky me!  My baby was a champion eater (still is as a toddler!) and latched with no issues.  On paper we were a breastfeeding dream!

Turns out I hated it.  I hated breastfeeding.  I didn’t feel bonded to my son, I felt trapped every time he cried.  He would cry because he was hungry and I would cry because I knew I’d have to feed him.  I found myself wishing it would be over as soon as possible – I found myself wishing my child would stop eating as soon as possible.  I started to resent my husband and his freedom and ability to leave the house (as much as I’d like to be, I’m not a “whip a boob out in public” kinda gal) whenever he wanted, or his ability to not have to drop everything since he was the baby’s only food source.  I wanted to sleep and let him take advantage of his paternity leave and get up with the baby during the night once in awhile.

I just felt trapped.

So I made a choice – I CHOSE to give up breastfeeding my baby despite my good production and my champion eater and a complete lack of physical obstacles in our way.  I chose to feed my baby formula, and the day I made that choice I became a better mom to him and his brother.  I bonded with my baby in a much more significant way feeding him with a bottle than I did breastfeeding him.  I was able to pay more attention to my older son, and help him adjust to his new brother because I wasn’t constantly attached at the boob to his new brother. My husband was able to bond with his new son, since feeding a newborn is basically the only real interaction you have with them.  Even at only 18 months, my eldest was able to help feed his brother and he LOVED it.  We all bonded with the newest member of our family in ways made possible by my choice to formula feed.

I think that part of what makes FFF what it is is respecting a mom’s CHOICE in what she feeds her baby.  I wasn’t “unable” to breastfeed – I just didn’t want to.  That was my choice, and it was what was best for me and my family.  To me, that’s what FFF is all about – respecting the choices other moms make.

***

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

FFF Friday: “The thing that amazed me the most was the public assumption that I would breastfeed”

Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.

Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They also are not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so. 

Today’s FFF Friday will probably cause a fair bit of controversy, but I think it’s extremely important to hear from women who made a conscious choice not to breastfeed, despite being educated about the benefits. And just like Nicole’s piece from last week, Amy’s story is brutally honest – and brutal honesty can sometimes offend. But in order for us to create real, positive change, we need that kind of honesty. We need women like Amy to say hey, this is my story, this is my truth, and I’m not asking you to approve of it, but simply to hear it, and accept that I have every right to make my own decision. It takes bravery and a strong sense of self to be on both the speaking and listening side of that type of conversation.

I am confident that the FFF audience has both those traits, in spades. So I’m going to let you all go to it, since my 2.5-year-old is getting uncomfortably close to an overly full cereal box….

Happy Friday, fearless ones. 

The FFF

***

Amy’s Story

I’m proud to say that I’m one of those 30% who didn’t try breastfeeding, and this is my story about feeding.  Pre-pregnancy I viewed breastfeeding as archaic and unnecessary, something only modern hippies did.  It was something that people did back in the day, but because they didn’t have a better option (sort of like why would you use an outhouse, if indoor plumbing is available?) It’s much easier to judge these things before you become pregnant (remember this was when your imaginary kids were always well behaved and clean).   And I was surprised the first time I was pregnant how popular breastfeeding was, because I still couldn’t understand why you would choose to breastfeed.  Then I started getting the books, the magazines, and visiting all the mommy-to-be websites. I learned how much better it breastfeeding is, and how really good moms always breastfeed.  But I was still unsure – my siblings and I were all formula fed, we seemed healthy and normal enough, was breastfeeding really some sort of magic to have instantly better babies?  Deep down though, I still felt breastfeeding was wrong for me, so I continued to prepared to formula feed.

But then, these thoughts ran through my head…But what about the cost?  I was going to be on maternity leave for 12 weeks with only two weeks of paid leave at 60%, could we get by with spending $20-30 per can of formula?  Even when I tried to research how much formula I would need at first, once again breastfeeding came up, because if I was a good mom I won’t need formula.  In fact one site told me, that if I was adopting I could pump myself full of hormones so that I could breastfeed…is that even healthy? This made me a little suspicious, would pumping yourself full of hormones really be better?  That’s when I decided to do a cost analysis for the the first 5 months of my baby’s life (3 months of maternity leave, 2 months to get our budget back in place (haha, as if this really happens after baby).  I found out that I only saved $10, and I also found out that the idea of breastfeeding really upset me, made me nauseous, and I was almost in tears by the end of the cost analysis.  That’s when I told my husband, who had been hearing the same breast as best propaganda,  that I didn’t want to breastfeed, that it seemed unnatural for me.  I felt it was worth the extra $10 to be able to enjoy motherhood and to not feel sick about feeding my baby.  He was concerned about the health risks, so I promised him, that I would wait and see after giving birth how I felt, since maybe once you give birth you suddenly have the desire to breastfeed, and maybe that’s when it seems natural?

I arrived at the hospital at 6am on October 4th, 2011 to be induced since my son was taking his time (9 days late).  After spending most of the day in between sleepiness, hunger (I’ve never been so happy to eat lime jello in my life), watching a lot of law and order, and starting the early stages of labor, I woke up to find two nurses and my doctor breaking my water.  My son’s heart monitor had gone off and they needed to use an internal monitor.  At this point I was at 2cm after using Cytotec for induction all day.  I had started the systemic drugs, and was feeling pretty loopy.  The doctor gave us two options, have a c-section now, or try the Pitocin, but probably have a c-section.  I honestly felt drunk, I couldn’t make a decision  I didn’t plan on having a c-section – I’m one of 5, my dad is one of 8, women in my family are very good at having babies, I was going to try to avoid the epidural, so I didn’t even think a c-section could happen to me.  I told my husband to make a decision, and he said he couldn’t on his own, so I told him to call my mom.  To my surprise, they opted for the c-section.  After a bit of time, my 9.5lbs, 23.5 inch long son joined us and I instantly loved him.  But that desire to breastfeed never came.  Luckily, the hospital I delivered at did not judge me on my feeding method. I was asked breast or bottle, and then after choosing bottle, what brand.  My heart goes out to those mothers who are forced to try one feeding method or another.

The thing that amazed me the most was the public assumption that I would breastfeed.  Co-workers would let me know that our insurance would cover some pumps (I told them I was on my husband’s insurance to avoid this conversation .  People would ask my how my son was taking to nursing, and I would quickly explain to them that he had trouble with regular formula, so they switched him to soy at the hospital.. When I returned back to work I was informed that if I needed to use the mother’s room to talk to HR to get a key (just to make this clear, they locked the door because they caught people napping in there, not to deter mothers who want to nurse.) It was so strange to me that others would assume that I was breastfeeding, especially those who had children.

A few weeks after my son was born, I joined a mommy support group sponsored by the hospital.  We shared stories of birth, pregnancy, late night feedings, and general adjustment to our new lives.  It seemed like everyone was breastfeeding, but I was not alone – two of my new mommy friends also formula fed.  As the weeks went by, I watched many of my fellow moms struggle with breastfeeding and by the end of the six weeks many of them were on formula.  It pained me to see them so upset that breastfeeding wasn’t working for them, I have a lot of respect for breastfeeding moms, it sounds exhausting.  I didn’t realize how much guilt they would experience, since to me, formula was the best choice, and honestly, as long as your child is eating, does it matter?

Further along into my adventure into motherhood, I finally understood the guilt felt by these mothers.  Not that I felt guilty for choosing formula, but I hated that some circles of mothers would make me feel less than.  Talking to other new moms after a library story hour, when to their horror they found out my child was formula fed.  Clearly I was uninformed, didn’t I know how amazing breastfeeding was?  How was I going to bond with my child?  Wasn’t I concerned that I was increasing my child’s chance of cancer, infertility, gastric problems, and ear infections?  Clearly, I’m a terrible mother.  Then slowly, the circle of moms got smaller, where I physically was no longer part of the circle. How could I relate? I couldn’t talk about how many ounces of milk I had in my freezer, my child’s favorite nursing position, or how I was going to nurse for 3 million years.  I now understood why the moms who couldn’t breastfeed felt guilty, they were pushed out of circle, but not by choice.  And apparently, formula feeding is a slippery slope, next thing you know I’ll give my baby fast food and cigarettes, because I can’t be trusted to make healthy choices for my child.

I hate that there is a group out there that has decided that formula feeders are lazy and/or uninformed.  I am neither, I’m the one up at 3 am scrubbing bottles because in exhaustion we forgot to clean them before bed.  I’m the one carrying six canisters of formula and a baby through Target.  I’m the one making sure I have bottles filled with water and filled formula container along with diapers, wipes, toys, pacifiers, and a change of clothes.  This was my choice, because breastfeeding was not the best choice for my family.  I won’t have the luxury of finding it funny that I woke up in the middle of the night with a baby on my breast, because my husband stuck the baby on there when it woke him  up.  I will not get to gossip with all my friends about how amazing breast milk is on cradle cap, poison ivy, or eye infections. But I love cuddling, playing, and snuggling with child without having a barrier of the obligation to breastfeed – something that I felt would make me resent my child.

 

I’m pregnant with my second child, and this time I wanted to be prepared.  I plan on choosing formula again, and I want to be able to prove I’ve done my research next time I get kicked out of a circle.   I hope someday we can get to a point where we all realize that what’s normal is feeding your baby is normal and it doesn’t really matter where it comes from.  That we stop indoctrination of moms with information about what is best, but give them the realities of the situation.  The important thing is to feed your child, safely, and that no matter what you do, someday your kid will get sick.  Food is not a magic health solution.  You will bond with your child if you pay attention to him or her.  Lastly, you are not less of a person because you made a different choice or had to give up your original choice.  You are a good mom, because you meet your child’s primary needs of love, care, and comfort, not because of one parenting choice.

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

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