When I found out I was pregnant, I was flooded with a million emotions. These emotions haven’t really left me even though I gave birth in late January to my child. I feel happiness. I feel sadness. I feel rage.
I could go on and on.
Motherhood is the best and worst thing at the same time. You’re scared probably 90 percent of the time you’re doing something wrong and the other 10 percent you are actually enjoying your child.
That brings me to the topic of this blog: feeding your newborn.
You’ve heard it a million times. You’ve seen it everywhere. And like it or not there is, unfortunately, a war between breast feeding and bottle feeding. What’s truly unfortunate about the whole war is that it is hard enough battling outside forces when it comes to feeding your child. The last thing on any woman’s mind should be fighting that battle with another woman that feeds differently than her.
Around week 20 of my pregnancy people had started to ask me if I planned to breast or bottle feed. Some of these people were health care professionals while others were counselors. Then, of course, there were the family members and strangers that would come up to you. I always responded truthfully with, “I am going to see what the baby wants. I plan on breastfeeding but if it doesn’t work out I will happily switch”
You would swear that I just told them I was going to drown my child in the ocean.
“Breast is best.”
“Don’t you care about your child?”
“You know your child will be smarter if you breastfeed.”
It happened every time I was asked. Eventually I just told people I planned on breastfeeding forever to get them off of my back. Which in hindsight, I should not have folded to societal demands.
It is said that research shows that breast is best. I’m not even going to argue that point because it’s not worth it. I encourage women to breast feed and I encourage women to bottle feed.
What research doesn’t tell you is how you, as a mother, will react to breast feeding.
I mean the emotional demons.
My child was breech and I had a c-section. Also, as a first time mom, my milk did not come in immediately. Actually, my colostrum didn’t even come in immediately. To top it off, my baby had low blood sugar. I wouldn’t say the deck was stacked against me, but it certainly made it very difficult to feed. I remember the hospital stay. Trying to get my colostrum to come in was the worst. They hooked me up to a pump and nothing came out. Absolutely nothing was coming out of me. So as I laid there listening to my child cry for nourishment, I felt pretty useless. The nurses kept putting her on me to feed and she would just get frustrated. They too would get frustrated. Well. I would be frustrated if I was trying to eat and nothing was coming out. Finally after her sugar went too low for their liking, they gave me some formula and a syringe to feed her. I felt relief because she finally was going to be fed.
It took six days for me to get my milk in. I became a slave to the pump and to my kid. But I was willing to do it to give her the best start in life. I supplemented formula only if absolutely necessary.
Then. All hell broke loose.
First, no one told me about lactation migraines. Every time I fed my baby for a prolonged period of time, my vision would blur and I would get this debilitating migraine. I would have to take my child off the breast just so I could see normally again. But again, I wanted what was best. Second, my baby became ill with a 24 hour bout of vomiting and diarrhea. I tried to feed from the breast, she would vomit. The next day I tried formula and she finally kept it down. I decided to try breast again and she would vomit.
I went like this for a week
Then, the demon known as post partum depression reared it’s ugly head.
I cried. I felt useless. Then I realized something: I’m not going to let my motherhood be defined by my boobs. I switched to formula and haven’t looked back.
Motherhood is not defined by a biological relation. Motherhood isn’t defined by how you feed your baby. Motherhood is the love you give to that little human being. Motherhood is making sure that child never suffers.
Breastfeeding wasn’t for us and I don’t regret that. My sanity and life has been saved by this decision. I can sit with my child and feed her and she smiles. She hears my voice and she smiles. I wasn’t going to let a failure to breastfeed take that away from me.
To all the mothers out there: you are beautiful. It doesn’t matter how you feed your baby, what does matter is that you respect that some women feed their babies differently than you. Next time you encounter a mom that feeds their baby differently, I encourage you to give that mom a pat on the back and tell her she is doing an awesome job. I still get crap for my decision to bottle feed from the pro-breast movement.
We need to #NormalizeFeeding.
And I mean all of it.
Check out my princess in this cutest baby contest and vote for her to win 🙂