I research things as a hobby. I love to learn and if something even remotely sparks my interest, then it won’t be long before I am reading everything I can on the subject. So, in 2001 as I was expecting my first child, it should come as no surprise that I was pretty well-informed about breast and bottle feeding. To me, it was a no-brainer: I was going to love breastfeeding and I was very locked-in mentally to what a great bonding experience that would be for my son and I. Unfortunately we found out that….
my breasts are for decorative purposes only.
They worked with me at the hospital often because he had a lot of trouble latching on. Before we were released, they put me back on Zoloft and said that he wouldn’t be affected through my milk so we kept trying. I could see the colostrum that my reading had shown to be the most important and was thrilled to be able to give that to him. In less than a day, it stopped coming out and was replaced by blood. My son was still not getting the hang of latching properly and it was so painful for me that I cried in silence as he fed hoping that there was some milk in the liquid redness. By day three, we were both crying and he was refusing to feed. The first pediatrician who questioned my ability to parent because of depression pushed me to not give up. The next visit with a new doctor had showed that he had lost too much weight and the decision was made to switch to formula. We did try pumping in hopes of doing the bottle that way, but still no milk.
I was so devastated by my flaw. I failed my son and it shattered me in a million pieces. I don’t think my husband truly understood how my inability made me feel like such a failure.
Breastfeeding didn’t work for me.
Feeding continued to be difficult as none of the formulas would sit well in his stomach. I was so afraid because he seemed to be vomiting every drop we could get into him. After one particular projectile episode that flew from his mouth to the other side of the living room (something I wouldn’t have believed possible if I hadn’t seen it myself), we found Isomil Ready To Drink by Similac. Goodness, I think it was the most expensive formula on the market at that time, but it worked and he was able to keep it down.
He was six months old when I found a local mom group and we went to our first playgroup. It was at Chuck E Cheese and even though he was too young to do anything, I went in hopes of meeting other moms. Some of them had babies also, but those that did had older kids and they stayed busy watching over them. Being so shy, it was hard for me to connect with the chaos. Before long it was time for a feeding and we went to sit down where all the other moms had left their diaper bags. I had cold bottles ready in ours and we got started. As I murmured to him about all the sights and sounds, one of the moms drifted over to take a sip of her drink. She abruptly asked, “That’s not breast milk, right?”
The pain was still sharp, but replied “No. It’s formula. I wasn’t able to breastfeed.”
“Why not? If he was having trouble latching on, you should have contacted Le Leche. They would have sent someone over to show you how again.”
I tried to explain but I felt like I was defending myself and stumbled over my words. She eventually cut me off with a “What a shame.” and went back to her friends.
I was embarrassed to stay and embarrassed to leave. I stayed in the booth for another 20 – 30 minutes as he finished and wondered if I needed to tell any of them a formal goodbye. I decided not to and left. It took me another 4 months before I would try another playgroup and met some really wonderful women. We stayed close for over 4 years and I am glad I didn’t give up.
I didn’t attempt to breastfeed the twins. They were premature with some complications and I didn’t want to risk a moment of them not getting nutrition. That’s for another post though.
I am sharing this story because World Breastfeeding Week is coming to a close and I have seen some really beautiful posts in favor of breast that made me ache for my loss. Then I read The Huffington Post’s I Support You article and felt compelled to show another side.
This is my opportunity to add my voice to theirs and say:
I Support You.
Whether your babies are breast or formula fed, you made the best decision for you and your family and you should never feel judged for that.
For all the women who have used bottles, no matter what your reason is — I support you.
For all the women who have breastfed, no matter what your reason is — I support you.
My hope is that as women and as mothers, we stop judging each other. It is also my wish that women can openly breastfeed anytime and anywhere they need to do so.
xoxo ~ Melissa