I'm a formula-feeding pariah... but at least my nipples aren't bleeding!
By poppytheblog on February 08, 2011
When I was pregnant with Em, I was all like, I am going to friggin' breastfeed. Period. No ifs. No ands. No buts. To me, there was no other choice; I knew that breastfeeding was the very best thing for her and I would have rather died (not really) than give her disgusting, artificial, sub-par baby formula. Yuck.
That's a lot of friggin' pressure, right? For sure.
So, imagine my relief when, in the recovery room, my darling sweet adorable quiet baby girl latched on. She latched on like a little freakin' champ. It was surreal and blissful and wonderful and magical and...
... never happened again. Like, ever.
We tried. Over and over and over, all the way to the edge of psychosis. She would not eat. At
all. By the time we left the hospital, I was pumping for about 45 minutes every two to three hours. I did that for six weeks. Forty-five minutes pumping, then another hour trying to feed her. Did I sleep a lot? No. No, sir, I did not.
My sweet angelic baby had turned into a possessed, colicy, anorexic devil-baby who refused to be nice to me and just drink the dang milk straight from the source.
If you know us or have followed my other blog about Em's health, you know that this was the very beginning of a long nutritional crisis for her that that resulted in her having a g-tube for a year and a half. Do you know how much of that pumped, liquid gold mommy-milk she actually ate? Not a lot. Do you know how frustrating it is to work that hard to feed your kid something good for them and then have to pour it down the sink? I'm sure you can imagine... It drove me out of my friggin' mind. Imagine how she felt.
So, after six weeks, I threw in the towel. I admitted defeat. I was a tired, weak, horrible mom who needed sleep, who needed her anorexic devil-baby to just freakin' eat so that life could be normal.
What I didn't realize then was what happened to Emme and me in the hospital when she was born is completely normal. (What happened after is not; it's not normal for a child to just not
But, it is totally normal for breastfeeding to be so hard in the beginning. It's hard for almost everyone. No one really told me that. *THEY don't tell you that because *THEY are afraid that if you know how hard it is, you'll go straight to formula. And *THEY hate formula. And you should, too. Because if you feed your baby artificial food, you will become a formula-feeding pariah. An outcast. A bad mom. A failure.
So here it is, new moms-to-be. I'm letting you in on a secret. Breastfeeding is really freakin' hard.
But worth it, I'm sure, for those who are able to muddle through those first dark days.
The secret *THEY never tell you is baby formula will not kill or maim your baby.
Baby formula is actually very healthy for your baby. (But not as healthy as breastmilk- please don't send *THEM to my house to burn a cross in my yard.) Formula is very strictly regulated by the FDA and scientists are constantly looking for ways to to make it more like breastmilk. In short, baby formula is an acceptable and appropriate substitute when breastfeeding is not possible.
And a lot of things make breastfeeding impossible.
Sometimes, your supply can't keep up with what your baby needs.
Sometimes, infections, medications, cracked, bleeding nipples and other physical barriers get in the way.
Sometimes, women are just too uncomfortable (emotionally) to establish an enjoyable and productive breastfeeding routine.
And sometimes, like what happened to us, your baby just won't eat that way.
And it's OK.
My best advice to new moms is don't put so much pressure on yourself. Your baby won't die if you end up feeding them formula. I promise. And it doesn't make you a bad mom. I mean, at least you're feeding the kid, right? Right. (wink.)
And for crying out loud, moms, stop putting so much pressure on each other. We're all just doing the best we can.
I'm interested to know what you think about breastfeeding. Was it hard for you? Do you think I'm an idiot?
P.S. I say *THEY when referring to people who freakishly endorse breastfeeding to the point of making non-breastfeeding moms feel like ignorant, horrible mothers. Like, you know, Gisele Bundchen. I don't mean breastfeeding moms in general.
P.P.S. Yes, I made my child look like a vampire for the purpose of this blog post. No, I don't see anything wrong with that.
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