Tuesday, July 23, 2013


The details are hazy as I was in a new mama induced fog, but I do remember hearing "Breast is Best!" over & over & over.  That is all fine & dandy if said breast is doing it's job, but if you happen to have one on strike & it doesn't feel like providing nutrition & substance for your baby or perhaps it does, but is kind of a slacker in the production department or better yet perhaps it does & with decent output, but there just aren't the nutrients in the milk that the little ones need to thrive then the breast isn't the best.

 I can remember the lactation consultants & their pressing desire for me to.try.harder.  To pump more.  To eat certain foods.  To try a nipple shield (that was a fumbling catastrophe).  To sleep with baby skin on skin.  To relax.  To rest.  To go with the flow (ha!couldn't help it).  And I get it. It was their job & their passion to unite me & my babe in nursing victory.  My pediatrician was the same way.  She wanted me to do more. To come to the office every other day to get my little one weighed.  Oh, the pressure.  She remains our pediatrician today and at the time of my firstborn she hadn't yet had her own 2 kiddos.  AMAZING how her outlook softened once she had her own little ones.  Isn't there some rule that no man or woman whom hath never had child is not allowed to be a lactation consultant or consult on those matters in general.

Not only was nursing mis.er.a.ble. for me. All of the "trying harder" sucked all the joy out of me.  I had no sweet moments bonding with my babe.  It was all work all the time. I literally would cringe when he would cry, because I knew that meant having to try yet again. Did I mention that he was born by emergency c-section & the first 11 days of his life were spent living at the hospital?  Going through the ordeal of nursing not working atop of being so mentally & physically exhausted most likely didn't help matters.  Like at.all. There were times in the middle of the night when my husband would say "I think he is hungry" and I literally wanted to hide under the covers or run away.  Poor little fella cried day & night & night & day.  Because he.was.starving.  Because I had too much guilt to try something different.  Because I had never heard before that sometimes nursing doesn't work.  Because no one suggested maybe I had done all I could do as a nursing mother & that it was perhaps time to not throw in the towel, but to try a different towel.  I can remember sobbing on the phone to my sister. Saying "Isn't that what I was intended to do?  Isn't that how God made a way for my baby to eat? Isn't breast best?"  Then she wisely said " That is what formula is intended to do too.  That is why it exists.  To.feed.babies."

For me I would have much rather breast fed.  It isn't like formula feeding is all that convenient.  There is the formula to measure, the water to warm or chill, washing the bottles over & over & over.  Not to mention finiding just the right bottle & nipple combination.  And making sure you move up a size as your baby grows.  The cost of it alone is enough to make most people not want to use formula.

Once I actually made the decision to go forward with formula my pediatrician was 100% behind me supplying me with samples & bottles & support.  She had mentioned that my son wasn't growing eyelashes nor did he really have tears when he cried so the little amount of milk he was getting wasn't doing it's job.  Upon hearing that I knew I had made the right decision for me & my babe & our family.  I only triumphantly nursed my son for 3 weeks & quit cold turkey (ouch!  cabbage really does help, but make sure it stays cold.  You don't want warm cabbage on your boob.  Trust me) & he immediately started gaining weight, crying less, growing eyelashes & sleeping better.  Which meant I was able to begin getting to know him & falling for him bit by bit.

You would think that I would have learned my lesson & went straight to formula with my second born. Nope.  I am stubborn.  Tried nursing again.  It didn't work.  Again.  All of the same results too.  Miserable mom, starving baby, nipple shield falling on the ground during the dark of the night.  The one thing that was different was that my pediatrician had then had a child of her own by then so she immediately said it was up to me.  We tried for 2 intense & very difficult weeks to make the breast best for us when it became apparent that I was living a ground-hog dayish life we switched to formula & all was well & peaceful.

I know now what I didn't know prior to having kids.  That all births & babies are different.  All mamas & their bodies are different too.  Each family gets to make the decision about how they provide the nutrients their little ones need to flourish by whatever means works best for them.  Isn't that fantastic?  So why do we try so hard to push our agendas or thoughts or convictions onto other mamas?  Especially when they are in the midst of the toughest & most exhausting phase of their lives?  I know that everyone shows their support & love & compassion for others in their own unique way.  I also know that at no high school graduation have I ever attended do the graduating class members have to answer if they were breast fed or bottle bed before receiving their diploma.  And at no time  no where has any mama ever receive a gold star for avoiding the bottle.  Not even when my son signed up to play Tee Ball did his coach ask which way he got his milk as a babe.  The thing is that in the moment it was one of the largest looming & daunting decisions I have ever had to make.  But, since making that decision I haven't once looked back & wished I had made it differently.  I am just thankful that my boys grew into such resilient & strong & healthy fellas.  I am also thankful that they were young enough so that they won't remember me walking around the house with cabbage sticking out of my shirt.

1 comment:

  1. Ahh...well said. So many families struggle with this.