FFF Friday: “I don’t think I have ever felt quite so judged about any other parenting choice.”

So much of the conversation on infant feeding focuses on first-time mothers and their breastfeeding experiences, for understandable reasons. But that also makes it easy for some to dismiss these experiences as simply “misconceptions”, “nervousness” or “inexperience with breastfeeding”.

But what happens when a third-time mom has twins, and despite the fact that she breastfed successfully twice before, she finds herself dealing with unexpected complications? Turns out, in Michelle’s case, that mother ends up dealing with the same emotional turmoil, conflict, and confusion as the first-timers. Because breastfeeding problems are not the sole property of any “type” of mother, of any age, socioeconomic group or ethnicity, or parity. These problems can strike any mother – and when they do, each and every one of us deserves support, respect, and the opportunity to make the best decision for our families. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

***

Michelle’s Story

When I found out that baby #3 was going to be baby #3 and #4 I was understandably excited and nervous. One one the first things people commented/questioned me about was whether i was going to try to breastfeed them. My answer was always that I would play it by ear and see how it went.

The twins developed something called TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome, which can happen when identical twins share a placenta) and I was hospitalized for 6weeks with daily ultrasounds and monitoring, to make sure the babies were still okay. Every day I worried that one or both babies had died. It was not a relaxing pregnancy.

My babies were born at 31 weeks….tiny but perfect. They spent 6weeks in the NICU and I spent those six weeks pumping every 3-4 hours and making trips back and forth to the hospital while also trying to care for my other two kids who were not quite 2 and 6. I was generally NOT at the hospital for feedings, but the girls were getting my milk, first through an NG tube and then when they got better at suck/swallow/breathe, through a bottle. When they were getting close to discharge, the nurses told me to buy bottles and I was clueless and overwhelmed because I had always breastfed my others and had never used a bottle. I had requested a lactation consultant to help me transition them from bottle to breast, but she told me to nurse them and give them bottles afterward if they still seemed hungry. Prior to their discharge, I had attempted putting them on the breast exactly one time and it was not what in would call a rousing success.

They were discharged at 37 weeks and they were still incredibly sleepy and not interested in working for their food. I continued with nursing, bottle feeding, pumping every 3-4 hours. I was attached to the pump. I was miserable . I got in touch with a different LC who was more helpful and over the course of a week or so, I got the girls to latch and eat and finally I could be rid of the infernal pump.

Around 40 weeks the girls woke up. And they screamed. They screamed and they screamed and they screamed. They were miserable. I contacted the same LC again and she thought maybe I had oversupply. I worked on that. The babies continued to be miserable. I took them to the pediatrician who said some babies are just miserable and despite the fact that I had experience with two other babies, I had not had experience with twins. The girls still screamed. Finally when they were around three months old I read about milk protein intolerance and decided to eliminate dairy from my diet. There was much less screaming. There was still some though, and their stools were still showing signs of further intolerance, so I stopped eating soy also. That seemed to be the magic thing. Finally, I had happy babies (their bowel movements still seemed weird, but they were happy, I was happy…everything was finally good in our world). They were five months old at that point and I was finally enjoying them.

Fast forward to their weight checks. The older they got, the less they were gaining. They started out at three pounds, were almost five pounds when they came home at 6weeks old, and at five months were eight pounds. At six months they were up a couple more ounces each. We were going to the pediatrician for weight checks weekly and they were gaining, but slowly. Nobody suggested formula (I had on occasion used nutramigen when I got too touched out and needed a break. They also suffered from pretty severe reflux and wanted to nurse ALL THE TIME. I had tried a “gentle” formula once and it had resulted in immediate screaming that lasted two days, so that solidified my belief that these babies could not tolerate any dairy).

At their NICU developmental follow up appointment at almost 8months, the neonatologist was very concerned about their weights. At first they were recommending physical therapy, but he thought that if they started growing that it would not be necessary. They were 8 and 9 pounds and had been within 6 ounces of that same weight for at least 10 weeks. He suggested me doing an elimination diet and also supplementing with puramino formula 2x a day to see if that would help. I was already struggling without dairy/soy and feeding the rest of my family, so I was not thrilled about an elimination diet. I was not thrilled about the prospect of formula either. I thought long and hard about it, and decided to give them the formula and go back to eating what I wanted. I continued to pump just in case, for about three weeks. I watched my supply dwindle. I initially struggled with guilt, despite the fact that in the month they have been on the formula, they have each gained THREE pounds. There are rolls of chub on their legs! They are finally thriving and I love seeing them grow (they are almost 9months old now).

Nobody says “Good for you for feeding your babies!”. People insinuate that I didn’t try hard enough, that if I were a really good mother I would have gone on the elimination diet. One lady told me that I finally gave in to the evil medical establishment and that I should go back to breastfeeding. I don’t think I have ever felt quite so judged about any other parenting choice. I hate that I feel like I have to explain how we got to this point and despite me resolving NOT to explain, I feel oddly compelled to anytime anyone comments (which they all do immediately upon seeing a bottle).

One thing these babies have taught me is empathy. I never really understood empathy like I do now. I am much better able to put myself in someone else’s shoes and not be judgmental (secretly or otherwise).

I am so incredibly grateful that i found FFF when I did. My healthy thriving babies are glad also!

***

Share your story. Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

FFF Friday: “I formula fed her and enjoyed her, and it was the best decision I ever made”

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 are also not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so.

I’ve saved Melissa’s FFF Friday entry for right before the holidays, because I feel like it is a perfectly packaged, lovely gift: beautifully written, honest, and with the exact message I’ve been trying to impart since day one of writing this blog (although she did it better in one attempt than I’ve done in 2.5 years of posts. In fact, her last sentence is almost word-for-word in the introduction to my book, but I kind of like how she said it better. Maybe I should have her write my foreword? 😉 ). The story is also a primer on the variety of breastfeeding complications which can make nursing a challenge for some moms, which absolutely sucks for Melissa since she had to live through it all, but also gets me all fired up as a researcher. (Sorry, Melissa….!)

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and a very fearless New Year to you, fearless ones…

The FFF

***

When my oldest was born, I was a pretty young mother (18) and came from a staunch formula feeding family. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I planned on breastfeeding – in fact, I knew I’d breastfeed, it was that simple. However, I figured it came “naturally” (it’s natural, right? That’s what they tell us!) and did absolutely nothing in the way of preparation outside of reading a few websites and buying lanolin and a hand pump for times when I needed to be away from the baby. To everyone’s surprise, my baby was born four weeks early due to PROM. At 36 weeks, she was a hefty 8lb, 4oz, and as expected, her blood glucose levels were poor. Right after birth, she was taken to Special Care to be given glucose and formula, despite my stating that I wanted to nurse her right away.

When I finally got my hands on her at four hours old, she already had a full belly and was completely uninterested in nursing. The lactation consultants weren’t available as she was born over the Christmas holiday, and the nurses were cold and at times downright rude to me due to my young age. I actually had a nurse laugh in my face when I expressed frustration that my breasts were so floppy and hard to manage when trying to get her latched on (this would have been a key warning sign to a lactation consultant that something was amiss – but they weren’t there…) At five days old, despite nursing and pumping, I had no milk, no engorgement and she was jaundiced as a little Oompa Loompa and had lost almost a full pound. I was an emotional mess, she wasn’t latching or interested in eating, and my mother convinced me to go get some formula. And that was it. I pumped for two weeks (and despite pumping 8-10x a day, never gained anywhere near a normal supply.) I was frustrated and stopped at that point. I brought it up to my OB that I never had enough milk and he sort of shrugged it off, stating that I just had never gotten a good nursing pattern going.
When she was four months old, wracked with guilt and fighting severe postpartum depression and feelings of inadequacy that I couldn’t nurse my daughter, I relactated using galactogogues and frequent pumping. I again never gained a full supply, but we used an SNS to get most of her nutrition in, and a nipple shield to get her to latch. I continued pumping and nursing her for three months, until mastitis beat me into submission. I never enjoyed it, and it was stressful and at times I even felt downright resentful – but I was receiving the feedback from so many sources (mostly online, which as a young, isolated mother, was much of my support system and where I turned for advice) that real mothers nursed and that formula was inferior, so I did it.
When my twins were born, I was DETERMINED TO NURSE and swore that nothing would dissuade me. This was apparently a recipe for disaster. They were born full term, after 24 hours of labor, by C-section. My milk “came in” when they were two days old and I was thrilled. I wasn’t broken! However, it became clear that something wasn’t right pretty quickly. The hospital we went to didn’t have an LC on staff, but I knew that despite their latches looking fantastic and how alert they were, something was off. I was able to express milk, but despite a perfect latch, they didn’t seem able to get anything out. I was frustrated but resolved to get through it. We got an LLL-recommended LC up there and she reassured me that everything looked great. She noted that my breasts were not as heavy/hard as she’d expect for that stage, but assured me that it would come. So I kept nursing. They lost weight, but not enough to be concerning, and they didn’t get jaundiced because I would literally sit there and express milk into their mouths while they attemped to suck. This, unfortunately, meant I did almost nothing but feed them, and by the end of the hospital stay I was a basketcase.
We went home and things started to fall apart. Their latch still looked awesome, but my nipples looked like raw hamburger. The babies were hungry and I was losing my mind with worry. I took a 24 hour break from the whole thing, called another LC and made an appointment for the next day, and pumped so my husband could feed them and I could sleep (between pumping sessions, anyway.) This LC came and, bless her heart, she was able to figure out that the babies were getting almost no milk out on their own because they both had high “bubble” palates and tongue ties. I still have no idea how I was lucky enough to give birth to fraternal boy/girl twins who both had oral conditions that made nursing difficult… but there you have it. I decided to move forward and pump and bottlefeed expressed milk to avoid fighting their oral issues while nursing. And from there on, I did almost nothing but pump and obsess. Freezing milk, thawing milk, cleaning my pump, galactogogues, will my domperidone get here on time? Are they eating enough? I, again, never had a full supply, but it was almost enough for the first few weeks with the help of a combination of teas, fenugreek and a high dose of domperidone given to me by a local nursing mom. And when my milk ran out, this mom also donated some milk to me, which I was so grateful for. I was DETERMINED not to use formula, or to use as little as possible.
When they were 10 weeks old, I had a “delayed postpartum” hemmorhage that ended in a blood transfusion. When I told my primary care doctor at my follow-up appointment that I was on domperidone, he called me back a few hours later to let me know that there was a rare but documented link between that class of drug and excess menstrual/uterine bleeding. I was miserable, but I threw the pills out, because I knew that I was no use to my babies in a hospital bed. My supply almost immediately tanked. I stopped pumping about a week later, exhausted by the blood loss and defeated by the fact that I had literally made myself sick trying to give the babies breastmilk. We switched to formula and my husband put the pump parts in the trash – I was done having babies (so I thought!) and he wanted to remove my temptation to relactate again, because he knew the kind of special hell I’d put myself through with our oldest.
Three years later – surprise pregnancy! At this point I had gone from being a stay-at-home mom to working full-time at two jobs. From the start, I decided I would nurse in the hospital and what happened after that was up to fate and my breasts. After a difficult pregnancy, my youngest daughter was born by C-section a few days before my scheduled date, at 38 weeks. She was a big baby and very alert, her latch was fantastic, she had no oral issues and no issues getting colostrum out. I was thrilled, but again, made no promises or statements about continuing to nurse, because I knew where that had gotten me the last two times! She had no bottles or formula at all in the hospital, which I was proud of… but she was nursing constantly, and my milk, again, wasn’t coming in. I was blessed with a very easy C-section recovery, and we went home three days postpartum. Still no milk, and I had no pump and no intentions of buying or renting one, so we kept nursing and syringe fed her formula after feedings. Finally, at six days old, when my milk still wasn’t in and her diaper count was no longer passable, I sent my husband to the store for some bottles and more formula, and that was that. I was slightly sad, but I knew intellectually that something was physically wrong with my breasts that six days of nursing hadn’t produced a milk supply or breast changes. But I didn’t pursue it, I didn’t obsess over it. I formula fed her and enjoyed it, and enjoyed her, and it was the best decision I ever made.
When she was 11 months old, I went to the OB/GYN that had delivered my youngest after finding a breast lump. Thankfully, the lump was nothing, but after examining my breasts he asked me whether or not I had breastfed my children. When I told him that I had had major issues, he told me that he believed I had a condition called IGT, based on the spacing and shape of my breasts and the fact that he couldn’t feel much glandular tissue. I was floored and flabbergasted – how had several LCs missed this? (I believe the answer is that I am obese, and so my breasts are significantly larger due to fatty tissue than what LCs see in the typical IGT moms they help.) I went through a lot of emotions with this discovery – anger that no one had figured it out earlier despite so much contact with doctors and LCs over my nursing problems, relief that I had an “excuse” now for not breastfeeding, happiness that I had been flexible and willing to throw in the towel and enjoy my youngest instead of beating myself up over what she ate.
I’ll always agree that breastmilk is made for babies, and that breastfeeding has its benefits. I’m a breastfeeding supporter and believe in a woman’s right to nurse where she wants, when she needs to feed her baby. But for me, breastfeeding was a heartbreaking, painful experience, whereas formula was freedom and happiness and the ability to enjoy my babies. I look back on the early days of my first three children with regret and confusion. Was I really that determined to give them all-important breastmilk, to the detriment of enjoying their newness? That – not failing to breastfeed “right” – is my biggest regret. And if I do have another baby, I will formula feed from birth without apology. The shame I was made to feel – being told that I was “booby trapped,” inadequate, not doing enough to nurse successfully – as a young new mother is something that will never leave me, and it’s the biggest reason I am determined to normalize formula feeding by choice OR by necessity to the subset of society who feels that nursing is the yardstick with which to measure one’s motherhood.

***

All I want for Christmas is (my daughter to get her) two front teeth (because she’s driving me crazy with her night wakings). And also, a new crop of FFF Fridays to sink my own teeth into. Send them along to formulafeeders@gmail.com… thanks!

FFF Friday: “I shouldn’t have to excuse my decisions.”

I love when I get FFF Friday submissions from people like Darlena (whose blog, Tales of an Unlikely Mother, is fantastic) because they manage to express sentiments that I’ve clumsily attempted to impart, in such a unique, poetic way. This is another story about multiples and feeding difficulties, but Darlena’s perspective on the subject of formula feeding is really quite singular.

***

It’s 3 p.m.  My month-old twins are crying, but they are so tiny – their lungs so weak – that their little cries sound like a few quiet ducks quacking in the distance.  They are hungry, of course.  They are always hungry. 
For some reason, they missed the memo on how babies are supposed to eat.  That memo probably comes out at 36 weeks, to give the unborn some quality reading before they make their way out into the world.  With a whole month to digest the information, maybe babies born at 40 weeks have properly studied the technique and are sucking geniuses right off the bat.  That’s all conjecture, of course; I could be totally off base. 
It’s more likely that, being born at 34 weeks, my babies had other developments they were working on – like keeping their temperature up, so they didn’t fall into the dreaded ‘failure to thrive’ category.  We stayed in the hospital for ten days while they concentrated on that and gaining weight.  I saw lactation consultant after lactation consultant, nurse after nurse, doctor after doctor.  No one could make my babies latch.  We fed them via finger tubing for the first few weeks.  I pumped and pumped.  Finally, we moved them to bottles of pumped milk, all while I continued to try to put them to the breast.
At 3 p.m. on this particular day, I was attempting a taking-turns system.
My husband would feed one baby a bottle of my pumped milk; I would take the other baby into the bedroom and try to breastfeed until we were both so frustrated and exhausted that we were both crying by the time I gave up and made a second bottle of pumped breast milk.
“Which one is going to be the hungry baby this time?” my husband would joke.
At one month, my babies weighed maybe six pounds.  They were not gaining weight.  How could they when I made them burn all of their calories by wriggling and crying and fighting with me before I let them eat?
Eventually, I stopped trying to get them to drink from the tap.  I became an exclusive pumper, and I spent the rest of my maternity leave strapped to a machine.  My skin bruised and tore.  My babies were still hungry.  My supply started to diminish.  My babies were still hungry.  When I had to go back to work, my babies were still hungry.
The day I bought that first can of formula marked a parenting low for me.  I had never felt like such a failure at anything in my life.  I was giving up.  I was choosing convenience over my kids’ health.  I was failing them already.
That feeling lasted for about a week, until our next well visit.  The babies had gained almost a pound.  At three months, they were able to move out of preemie and newborn clothing.  Most importantly, their little duck cries were subsiding.  For the first time in the three months they had been alive, they weren’t hungry.
They gained a pound the next week and the next.  They gained and gained, and I never looked back.  What I thought of as failure was actually success.  My beautiful little bags of bones were filling out.  They were happy.  They were well fed.  And they were loved.
That’s our story.
The sad thing is, I shouldn’t feel the need to tell it.  I shouldn’t have to type up 600 words to explain to people why I chose to formula feed. I shouldn’t have to start out the story by showing everyone how very hard I tried to breastfeed first.    I shouldn’t have to excuse my actions or decisions. 
In an ideal world, a formula feeder would be able to boil my story down to this: I formula fed my children.  No, I take that back.  In an ideal world a formula feeder would be able to boil my story down to this:  I fed my children.
Because, really, what else does anyone need to know?

***

Share your story for the FFF Friday series. Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com

FFF Friday: “I had to redefine what it meant to be a good mother.”

Multiple moms are a special subgroup in the breast vs bottle debate. It used to be that if you had more than one baby, everyone expected you to bottle feed. Nowadays, through education and support, a lot of multiple mamas are nursing successfully, which is great news. But if you are someone who is struggling with breastfeeding, adding twins to the mix means double the stress, pain and confusion. In this week’s installment of FFF Friday, Stephanie explains how her dreams of breastfeeding crumbled under the reality of a premature birth, supply issues, and mothering two infants. 

***

Before I had my twins I was sure I would breastfeed – there was never a question about it.  I was sure that “Breast is Best” and that “good” mothers breastfed their children.  I would bask in the praise I received when someone asked if I was planning on breastfeeding and I answered “of course!”  I didn’t question the lactation consultants in my pre-natal breastfeeding class when they said that “if your breasts have changed at all during pregnancy, you won’t have supply issues”.  I didn’t even buy bottles before the babies were born because I didn’t want to be “tempted” to bottle fed in a weak moment.
Enter reality. After a complicated pregnancy involving weeks of hospitalized bed rest, my beautiful twin girls were born five weeks early. They were healthy, but small and weak and required a 2 week stay in the NICU to grow strong enough to eat on their own.  Their first meal was formula through a nasogastric tube fed to them by a NICU nurse while I was recovering a hallway away.  As soon as I was wheeled back from my c-section, the first thing I did was ask for a breast pump.  I began pumping per instructions from the lactation consultants and NICU nurses (8x per day/20 minutes/time). 
Despite my best efforts at pumping and putting the babies to breast when it was “allowed” by the doctor (once a day for 15 minutes) plus other more desperate measures like taking Reglan despite the warning on it that it may cause severe depression (and I had already been feeling the tug of PPD) I was never able to pump more than ¼ ounce at a time.  It took seven days for even a drop of milk to show up – I never felt engorged, never felt a let-down, or had any other signs that my “milk had come in”.  Once the babies came home, I followed the doctors’ instructions to breastfeed for 20 minutes every other feeding and then give them a bottle while continuing to pump 8x a day.  They would nurse for 20-30 minutes and I’d offer them a bottle of formula.  Being 5 pound sleepy preemies, these were not ravenous babies, and it was a struggle to get them to eat 2 ounces of formula.  Regardless, they still would drink their whole two ounces even if they had nursed right before – as if they were not taking in very much milk during a breastfeeding session.  I think I can safely say that I had milk production issues. 
After a week at home trying to pump, breastfeed, bottle feed and otherwise take care of two premature babies, I gave up.  I couldn’t eat due to a very upset stomach (a side effect of Reglan) and I was sure the Reglan was sending me into a depressive spiral.  As soon as I stopped taking Reglan, I began pumping even less than the dismal amounts I had pumped before. It was completely disheartening to pump for 20 minutes and only collect ¼ ounce of milk.  My husband and I were sure that giving up was the right decision – it was too grueling to keep it all up with little or no results. 
Giving up nursing meant I had to redefine what it meant to be a good mother.  I spent at least a year feeling like the worlds’ worst mother.  In retrospect, I probably was suffering from PPD, but my depression was focused almost exclusively on my failure to breastfeed.  Oh, the horrible thoughts I had during that time period.  I felt like I should give my babies away to a “real” mother (i.e. one who could produce milk), I felt like I should get pregnant again right away so I could try again to breastfeed, and I contemplated suicide because I was obviously a failure at the most basic level. 
It didn’t help that everywhere I turned I was hit over the head with the “Breast is Best” message.  From the posters in the pediatrician’s office to the message on the side of each formula can, I couldn’t escape it.  The worst was when I tried to find other mothers on the Internet with similar experiences and my searches usually lead me to forums where people told me that I was lazy, stupid, and ill-informed and that I was damaging my children by feeding them formula.  (Too bad I didn’t find FFF back then – it would have been immeasurably helpful!).  The moms in my local community were not much better.  When I explained why I was not nursing (back then I felt I had to explain it to everyone who looked askance at my bottles), I would inevitably be told that my supply issues were in my head or that I should have tried harder or longer or that they knew a mom who had worse nursing difficulties and overcame them. One particularly virulent pro-breastfeeder even told me my girls would lose up to 7 IQ points because I wasn’t breastfeeding.
Thankfully, time has finally given me perspective. I think failing at something that I thought was critical to being a good mother made me realize what actually makes a good mother. I am now able to look back and actually be thankful that breastfeeding didn’t work out.  I still mourn it in a small part of me, but I’m also thankful that my husband was able to cuddle and help feed our babies and that we could split up night feedings at times so I could function during the day.  I’m thankful that my girls didn’t have to suffer with hunger because I was forcing them to breastfeed when I obviously didn’t have enough milk for them.  Most of all, I’m thankful that I didn’t waste months hooked up to a pump instead of spending the all too short time while they were small holding and snuggling them.  Even though I felt like a terrible mother at the time, I now know that I actually was being a good mother by doing the right thing for our family.
Oh, and I guess we’ll never know if my girls really are missing those 7 IQ points.  They are healthy, happy, and thriving two year olds (and extremely verbal – they spend all day singing and chatting to me and to each other). And isn’t that what counts in the end?       
 ***
Got a story that would work for a FFF Friday? I’d love to see it. When you’re ready, email it to me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

FFF Friday: “It was more important for me to retain my sanity.”

FFF Amy, a mother of twins, is refreshingly confident about her feeding choices. She reminds us that by doing the best thing for your family – not anyone else’s – you are being the best parent you can be.

***

On January 23, 2009, I gave birth to identical twin boys.  They were born at 36wk, but did not need NICU time.  They were however, pretty small.  Before they were born, I had planned to breastfeed as much as possible, but knowing I had to go back to work after a few months, that would include a lot of expressed breastmilk and formula if they needed it.  Well, we had to supplement from Day 1—the boys were jaundiced, and we wouldn’t be allowed to leave the hospital until their weight stabilized.  So, we did SNS–this took two nurses since I was trying to tandem feed the boys, and I simply didn’t have enough hands to hold the babies, the breasts and the sns system. 

I didn’t get to pump until about 2 days after their birth, due to some confusion with the LCs and nurses in the hospital, but we got that sorted out—I was able to pump a few drops of colostrum.  We got to go home when the boys were 3 days old, and I realized immediately that trying to do sns-tandem feeding at home wo/the two nurses was going to be nigh on impossible.  Very difficult,even if I did just one boy at a time, which I didn’t want to do.  So, I never nursed again—switched to pumping, and formula right away. 

The milk came in around Day 4 post-partum, and if it had been just one baby, nursing, my supply might have been adequate.  But pumping for two was only producing enough for 50% of their diet to be breastmilk.  After two weeks, even though my supply had increased some, the babies were eating more and I was only producing 25-30% of their diet.  That’s when the constant plugged ducts started…I was pumping every 3-4hrs and without fail, I had another plugged duct or two every 3-4hrs.  Every pumping session began to take 45min or more, with the warm compress, massaging, and pumping—to get maybe 4oz of milk, at peak production.  After a week of constantly plugged ducts, I developed mastitis.  Now, I had burning pain, along with blocked duct pain, and had to be on antibiotics. 

I learned, over this first month of parenthood, that I don’t deal well with sleep deprivation.  And the round-the-clock pumping was depriving me of precious sleep.  I had constant pain.  I hated being tied to the pump.  I was heading towards PPD.  I never did get there though, thank goodness, because at 4wk post-partum, I gave up the pumping.  I decided my boys were thriving fine on formula, and they had gotten SOME breastmilk.  It was more important for me to retain my sanity, and get some sleep than to provide a small amount of breastmilk that was increasingly becoming a smaller percentage of their diet. 

I didn’t feel guilty, or like a failure.  I felt relief…thank god I could be done with that awful pump.  I wouldn’t have to bring it to work.  I could do something else in the scant few hours between bottle-feedings, instead of pumping and massaging my aching breasts, like sleep or enjoy my children.  My boys are now 18mos old and are long since off formula—switched to cow’s milk at one year and never looked back.  Sure, formula was more expensive.  Sure, I was well aware of the advantages of breastfeeding.  But my children are happy and healthy, and I’m happy and healthy and bottle feeding formula was the best choice for my family.  

***

Want to share your story for a FFF Friday? It’s as easy as hitting “send”. Just email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com, and then give yourself a pat on the back for helping other women come to terms with their emotions. I truly believe that sharing our experiences is a potent balm for any residual guilt/fears/anger surrounding breastfeeding and formula feeding.

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