Disclosure :: World Breastfeeding Week is recognized August 1 – 7, 2016. This year, the World Breastfeeding Week theme is about how breastfeeding is a key element in getting us to think about how to value our wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other and care for the world we share. Our World Breastfeeding Week is sponsored by Woman’s Hospital.
I speak both languages.
I formula-fed my first and breastfed my second. That’s just how it worked out for me. I made choices based on circumstances and resources, capability and convenience and pain vs no pain. I made the choices that made me the best mom possible for each of my children. It happens that both infancies I’ve
lived through survived, I traveled a different journey.
With my first, I had high ideals. The short story: Breastfeeding is hard and it doesn’t always work. Formula will keep the baby ALIVE and eventually get the child to the age when no one will ask you about how/what you’re feeding them. Truth – formula feeding is expensive, but ANYONE (not just you) can feed that baby formula. You can sleep. I know there were nights I would have paid a months’ worth of the cost of formula (the one in the gold can – oh, I KNOW) for some sound, uninterrupted sleep. Yes, I would. And I DID. I relished in my extra few hours of sleep when it was my husband’s turn to feed her – especially during World Breastfeeding Week. Way to make us formula-feeding moms feel left-out, guys. Is there a World Formula-Feeding Week? Is there a week dedicated to celebrating the heartache and struggles some of us go through before we ultimately fail to reach our goal? (Um, no.) I totally looked it up. There are tons of mothers that feel that kick in the stomach during this time of celebration and promoting of breastfeeding. I was one of them. I pretended to be super-happy that I didn’t have to pump at work – next to an office housing a pumping mom. Sometimes, when I was alone, I’d let the middle fingers fly (because I’m super-childish) (and jealous). I didn’t like being unable to do something I wanted to do. I’ve known a few mothers that made the choice to formula-feed from the get-go, and I completely respect that. That was their choice. It was my contingency plan. I don’t like it when things mess with my plan. My daughter is now six. She’s healthy and lovely and smart. When people see how well she can read for her age, no one remarks, “That must be because you ——-fed her.” BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MATTER.
With my second, I left no stone unturned (that’s a post I still need to write). The short story: Breastfeeding is hard and it doesn’t always work. I was able to find a way with my son. I knew he was going to be my last baby and it was an experience I wanted to have. After three lactation consultants, an in-home visit from a midwife and a few friends that had successfully breastfed, we wound up in Dallas for a lip/tongue-tie revision. It still hurt to nurse him up to a tolerable point, but he now had the ability to latch/suck properly. He wouldn’t have the roadblocks with speech that would have come without the procedure. I got to breastfeed. I breastfed on the beach, at the zoo, in the car… I pumped at work three times a day until he was a year old. It was hard. All of it. It was inconvenient and not without a kind of heartache of its’ own. I liked being able to do something I wanted to do but I felt like I was abandoning the sisterhood of the formula-feeders, like I was betraying them somehow. Motherhood: Feeling alone in the fact that there is no decision made without guilt. My son is now three. He’s healthy and handsome and smart. When people see how quickly he can destroy a room for his age, no one remarks, “That must be because you ——-fed him.” BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MATTER.
I’ve played for both teams. I’ve seen both sides. No matter how you get through it, we’re really all in this thing together. Take a breath, look at that healthy baby and give yourself (and the mother next to you) a little grace.