Friday, January 8, 2010

The (Emotional) Cost of Formula, Part 2

Some of you may remember that I was unsuccessful at breastfeeding due to my previous breast reduction surgery (at least that's what we're assuming led to the problem). In any case, over the course of Chloe's life, I have found myself letting go of the guilt and feelings of failure associated with understanding that a choice I made as a junior in high school would affect my life as a mother.

But, as Ed and I are thinking about adding another baby to our family, I've started thinking about it again. And I find myself overwhelmed by the questions in my own head: "Do I just assume that it won't work and start with formula from the beginning?" "If I do, does that make me not as good as a mother to Baby#2 since at least Chloe got SOME breastmilk and colostrum?" "Should I man up and just try, but keep in the back of my mind that it won't work?" "If I do that, will I go through all the feelings of failure all over again?" "If I do try, will I get frustrated with Baby#2 because it will be even harder this time around to manage all the pumping time plus caring for TWO kids?" "What about my breast pump, sitting in a box in Chloe's closet? Am I letting down the friend that bought it?"

Then, today, on a message board I frequent, a woman who had her baby a week ago was asking for some support about the fact that her milk has not come in and was looking for advice. A bunch of people wrote supportive posts about things to try or what their experience was, but also made sure to tell her not to beat herself up if it didn't work out.

One person wrote this:
I assume because you are asking bfers for advice I am going to assume that you
are looking for advice on making bfing work, and not simply to be told 'you
tried your hardest, it is okay to quit". I hope you will come back and clarify
so if you do want to make your nursing relationship work, we can help.
And I tell you, it just about brought me to my knees. She wasn't writing to me or about me, but in a way she was.

One of things I wish I could eliminate from motherhood: the judgment from other mothers. I've been guilty of it, too, so if I'm casting stones, I'm throwing them at myself, too. But sheesh. This is all hard enough by itself. I don't need people on the internet adding to it! LOL

On the message board, some other posters thought some of us were taking the remarks wrong and as I was responding, I realized what most irked me about the post. Her remarks make it seem like the original poster had a choice ahead of her. I understand that successful breastfeeders often feel that way. But, what sometimes people miss is that our choice doesn't come down to "Do I want to breastfeed or bottle-feed?" but rather "Do I want my baby to eat or not?"


Heather and Ed and Chloe said...

So that whole thread on the message board took a turn. LMAO. I should have known better... of course, random people on the internet would definitely know more about my life and health than I do. Or my doctor does. Or the national expert in breastfeeding who is Chloe's godmother does.

grams said...

Hey there...Grams here...I told Heather that many years ago I tried to breast feed worked for a week (almost) .My nipples were cracked and when my little one tried to nurse all she got was blood! So I went to formula and she turned out FABULOUS! So my thought is if it works great...if not don't get all upset!Your little bundle will know you love he/she so relax!
Kisses to all my family.XOXO

stefhutch said...

From someone who chose not to breastfeed b/c of medication I was on for my own sanity to make it thru, let go of the guilt...easier said than done, but she's happy and healthy and so loved. In the end, that's all that matters.

Heather and Ed and Chloe said...

Well-said, ladies!

Beth said...

I NEVER leave comments on ANYTHING, but this topic is SO close to my heart, because the same thing happened to me with my firstborn. Went to formula, and nine years later, that child is the biggest of the three, hands down. What I do know is that the only "regret" I have as far as the attempt at breastfeeding with my firstborn is that I waited so long to go to formula, period. Whatever works for a happy baby and happy mommy is what should be chosen, without anyone else's moronic opinion inserted, requested or not!

Heather and Ed and Chloe said...

Beth, thank you for sharing your story. That's a good point that you make about the waiting period... that was actually the issue that my husband and I argued about - were we waiting too long to move to formula? It's a piece of the puzzle that we haven't really discussed here yet, so thanks for bringing that up!

vinobaby said...

I have battled the narrow-mindedness of the booby brigade for years. They say breast may be best, but it is MY child, MY choice, and, well darn it, MY boobs. I tried to BF when G was born, and after 1 week the dr was very concerned about his weight loss and strongly suggested I supplement with formula. He sucked it down as if he had never been fed before. Years later we find out that the shape of his palate may have caused him to not attach properly, so I had been basically starving my poor kid and feeling guilty for no reason. But I had to constantly defend my decision to switch to formula and had ignorant La Leche Nazis belittling me at every opportunity.
Don't let anyone let you feel guilty. Only you and your family know what works in your own circumstances. It's the quality of love not the quantity of breast milk that you all will remember.

Heather and Ed and Chloe said...

Excellent point, K-G!