We had a good run at it, breastfeeding and I. We got 4 good months out of the gig. Well, 3 if we’re being honest, because that last month was hell. I always thought I’d at least make it to the 6 month mark – because how hard can it be? When I was pregnant and people would ask if I was planning on breastfeeding, I would answer with a resounding “Yes!” My “plan” was to get to 6 months and reevaluate, see how I felt, and keep going forward. I only registered for like 4 bottles, for crying out loud.
And we started so strong, that’s the crazy thing. When other moms would check in on me those first few weeks and months, breastfeeding was one of the easiest parts of the new baby thing. I count that as a blessing. By the 12 week mark, we were starting to really struggle. Can we talk about how much it hurts to have a little person whip her head around with her mouth firmly attached to your nipple? I cursed more than I’m willing to admit in those days. But we hadn’t made it to my goal date yet, so I soldiered on. And cried, and cursed, and winced in pain.
By week 16 I was totally beat – physically and emotionally. I had started maybe-kind-of thinking about making the jump to formula, but the thought was killing me. My emotions ranged among, but were not limited to:
-I’m a bad mom if I don’t breastfeed her till she’s 2 (had I not JUST written a blog post about this?)
-Other moms are going to judge me that I only made it 4 months.
-I’m going to judge me that I only made it 4 months.
-My daughter is going to be sick all the time because she’s not getting my antibodies (And then she got RSV. While being breastfed.)
-As crazy as breastfeeding her is making me, I think I might miss it.
The first two were really killing me. A whole lot of comparison and fear was going on. And then one day, it hit me. I am still breastfeeding purely out of fear of judgement and failure. My next thought was well that’s not good enough.
I was coming undone, in constant fear that she wasn’t getting enough; is my supply drying up? (It was) Already tense before she even started nursing, anticipating the pain and the battle to come. Did I mention that I couldn’t lose any baby weight to save my life, despite daily workouts and clean eating? I wrestled with it for about 3 days. I talked to other moms I knew, some that had breastfed for over a year, some that had stopped sooner than I was. The sentiment was the same – the moment it becomes a major stressor in your life, is the moment it’s time to stop. One friend put it perfectly, “I have to remind myself that I can’t give my child 100% if I don’t have 100% to give! Quitting made me a better, happier mom, and I know they can sense that change.”
So we started the transition. The first day we started dropping feedings, I looked at my husband as I fed our daughter a bottle on a bench in Town Centre and said “I love not breastfeeding”. I instantly felt the weight come off my shoulders. I could see a line on a bottle telling me exactly how much she had eaten. She took to the bottle and formula like a champ. I wasn’t fearful anymore, for her health or for the judgement of others. I knew I had made the right choice for myself and my family. I think it’s easy for formula mamas to count themselves as lesser, whether they formula feed from day one or day 112.
And I honestly never expected to be on this side of the feeding issue, the formula side. But I’m here, and I’m good with it. I’m thankful for the advances in science that even give us the option. I’m thankful to have faced very little judgement and a whole lot of encouragement. Because at the end of the day, fed is best.