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I Fed My Baby Formula! (and other confessions of a loving mother)

by added on 20 January 2015, Comments Off on I Fed My Baby Formula! (and other confessions of a loving mother) , posted in Blog

Amy Best, 1 Day B Coordinator

When I was expecting my 1st born, 7 years ago, I never even considered the idea of bottle feeding.  I was going to nurse.  I went to the nursing classes at the hospital, I read the research, and I told anyone who asked that that was my plan.  I was shocked (as many new mothers are) when breast feeding did not come as easily as I had hoped.  My newborn was on the small side and my breasts were not producing enough milk for him to thrive.  I tried the nurse hot line, Le Leche League, the breastfeeding clinic, fenugreek and pumping but to my dismay nothing worked.  My baby continued to drop weight and he never seemed to be getting enough.  My husband suggested a bottle and I just couldn’t do it.  Breastfeeding was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, why was it so hard?  One desperate night early on I called the nurse hotline and asked if they thought it would be okay if I gave my baby a bottle of formula.  I had been nursing an hour on each side on and off all day, and when I tried to pump (my poor baby screaming the entire time) I got less than one cc of milk “No, do not give your baby a bottle, “the nurse said, “bring him to the ER and tell them you are unable to feed your child”.  I was devastated.  Why could my body not do the one thing this baby needed?

I looked down at my hungry baby.  I so badly wanted him to thrive, to be okay.  And so I gave my baby a bottle.  And he stopped crying.  I had peace of mind that he was getting the nutrients he needed.  I continued to spend much of my time trying to nurse him for the next 5 months but I also started giving him a bottle when he still seemed hungry.  This would have been fine except for all of the judgment around me.  At the Target checkout the cashier noticed I was buying formula.  “Aren’t you nursing?” she asked, eyeing the can and then placing it into my bag “well I am trying to,” I sputtered, and then I proceeded to tell her all of the intimate details of my journey. “I do an hour on each breast, and then….” Why am I defending myself to a perfect stranger?  As I walked away she yelled “well keep trying, it’s worth it!” I hung my head and hurried out of the store, completely ashamed.  For the next 5 months, I use the nursing cover in public to hide the fact that I was bottle feeding. What would people say?  I would cry with my son at home as I tried to get him to latch on.  One day, with both of us crying, me pushing his head to my breast, him screaming and pushing away, I finally let go.  And a weight was lifted.  Feeding time ceased being a daily struggle and became a time of holding and eye contact and contentment.

6 months later, a woman stopped me at a store.  “Beautiful baby,” she said “was he breast-fed?” I decided she did not need the whole story “yes,” I answered.  It was a half-truth.  “I can tell,” She replied knowingly, “he looks so bright.  People say you can’t tell the difference but you and I know.”  Right.

When my 2nd son was due I decided I would not put my family through the breastfeeding agony again.  I snuck a bottle and formula into the hospital just in case.  And then, to my amazement, my new baby took to breastfeeding!  Because my husband had enjoyed the bonding of bottle feeding the first time around, we still used the bottle on occasion but it felt so good to finally be able to nurse.  Once we were both comfortable, I stopped using the nursing cover all the time, it was almost like I wanted to world to see I was able to do it.  And then my aunt from out of town came to visit.  My oldest (now 3) was running around with my breast pump attachments on his chest.  “Do you actually do this in front of him?” she asked, disgusted.  Turns out she never nursed any of her 3 in public.  What would people say?

My friend from another part of the country told me her friend was nursing her newborn in her car in a parking lot.  Her husband came out and was horrified.  “Cover up!” he yelled, throwing a blanket at her.  “What if someone saw?”

Both of my sons (3 and 7) are healthy, well-adjusted kids even though they both ate differently the first year.  I feel a strong bond with each of them, they rarely get sick and they hit their milestones at the same rate. I have learned that there is more than one right way to feed your child.  Breast or bottle or a little of both, as long as they are getting enough to eat they will be fine.  I promise.   I have also learned that no matter how you feed your baby, there will always be people offering their opinions.  Some will be helpful, some insulting.  Just remember that when it comes to feeding your child, listen to what your heart is telling you, and it will be okay.  No matter what.