What’s so wrong with doing what’s right for us? (GUEST POST)

PIN ITHi there! I am Anna from www.newkidsonthebloch.blogspot.com. I am a southern girl who met a northern boy and somehow our worlds collided and we made the most wonderful little girl, Lierre (sounds like Lee-air), who was born on August 16, 2012. She is the absolute light of our lives and we would do anything for her…. “except,” apparently, one thing….

Let me back up a little. When I was pregnant with Lierre, I wanted a natural birth. I wanted nothing but the best for my little bub and I thought for sure that was it. Long, horrible story short, I ended up having a c-section that I still am not sure that I really needed. This resulted in me dealing with a lot of guilt and postpartum anxiety to grapple with in the following weeks. However, I moved on and things were starting to look up.

Until… I got a new teaching job. Don’t get me wrong. We were very thankful that I was offered a position working with deaf students, one that I had worked hard to get. However, it came up quickly and out of the blue and things started changing very fast. Tim and I went back and forth, making sure that my taking this job was the best for her, that we were indeed doing the “anything” we promised we would do for her. Our financial situation being what it was, we said yes and I tucked away the guilt I felt at returning to work.


Now, I may not have had a natural birth like I had wanted. But, I had proudly and wonderfully been successful at nursing. The first few weeks were hell and I had to deal with clogged ducts and all the other first time nursing pains. However, I was giving her the best! We got through it and she was thriving and we were happy. It was what I wanted and what the world approves of. A breastfeeding momma!

This new job really threw a wrench in our plans. I knew that working would be hard and it would be hard to try to figure out how to keep up a supply while only nursing a few times a day in the afternoon. It was going pretty well, but I could tell a noticeable difference in my supply. The first days that I tried to “train” my body to only produce in the afternoons, those first few bottles I had to give Lierre were awful. Each time I gave her a bottle of formula the first few times I had to distract myself with television or a phone call so that I would not notice that I was giving her formula when I had to perfectly good breasts that were ready and capable of producing milk. The times when I got settled in to feed Lierre a bottle and she instinctually turned her head towards me first instead and started rooting…. well, I just about felt like my heart was being shoved through a very tiny tube. Then, having to turn her head away and making her find the nipple on the bottle while also feeling my milk let down was even worse.

I would nurse 1-3 times (depending on when I could get home that day). It doesn’t take a genius to realize that my supply would suffer. Still, it was working and I willed myself to be ok with the fact that she was getting half and half.

One terrible afternoon happened when it seemed like my breast milk just wasn’t doing the job. Lierre was fussy and wouldn’t stay latched and kept crying her “hungry” cry. I gave up and tried formula, and after one clogged bottle attempt, she ended up eating and crashing into a fussy sleep.

I was heartbroken and shaken. I didn’t understand how I could have stopped producing cold-turkey like that. But, instead of taking the chance of another disastrous hungry afternoon, I decided I was finished with nursing. Lierre was going to be a formula-fed baby. That’s fine, right?


Nope. Not according to the world. Holding off on all the benefits of breast milk, it was hard on many levels knowing that Lierre was now a “formula fed baby.” I had dreamed of nursing. I got through the really hard first few weeks where it hurts every time you feed. I had DONE IT! And now I have had to stop it.

It was weird having to go from being essential to not only her happiness, but her survival, to being just another person who could feed her, or not, whatever.

The world does not approve of a formula-feeding momma.

I spent the next few nights googling things like “how to dry up breast milk” and “dealing with sadness over quitting nursing.

The world does not approve of a formula-feeding momma.

All the sites I found, even the very few that were meant to be helpful had disclaimers in the beginning, the middle, the end, the sides, everywhere about how breastmilk is the best for babies. Breastmilk is best. Breast is best. Before “giving up” on nursing, try talking to your doctor or a friend or a lactation consultant so that you make sure you make “the best” decision for your baby (aka nursing). Before you quit nursing, know that a formula fed baby can have all of these X, Y, Z issues whereas a breastfed baby has all of these A, B, C advantages! Are you sure you still want to formula feed your baby? Are you really sure? Have you tried talking to someone? You are still thinking about formula after reading all of our in-your-face facts about how it is not good for your baby? Really?! But… no, we won’t give you any advice on how to handle your feelings of inadequacy, because let’s be honest–that’s pretty much what we think you are–inadequate. Breast is best!

It was exhausting. And disheartening. I cried for days, stayed awake at night—one fetal position ball of anxiety. I remember crying in the car, praying out loud that God would take this depression and anxiety away from me, and saying over and over “I can’t stand this. I can’t stand this anymore. I can’t do this.” I felt like the worst mom ever. Clearly, I was not giving her “the best.” I was not giving her the “anything” I promised.

Lie after lie after lie. Although I still struggle with this issue, I realize that I am doing what is ultimately best overall for our family. It works with our schedule. Lierre is happy. It has taken much time and chatting with beautiful, supportive moms to make me realize this.

As a momma, you must always do what is best for your family. Whatever path that may be for you. Don’t let the “shoulds” and “should nots” from the world get in the way of your family’s happiness. You were chosen to be your little one’s momma and you are more than equipped to handle the job!


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  • January 5, 2013 - 8:20 am

    Jennifer - If you are a conscientious mother and are doing what you think is right for you and your baby, then I think it doesn’t matter if the “world” approves or not. It’s a scientific truth the breastfeeding is healthier for the baby, and it’s important to state this to encourage moms to give it a try. But it doesn’t always work out and that’s fine. I think some formula feeding moms are projecting their own feelings of guilt and inadequacy onto others in saying that the “world” is against them just for promoting the benefits of breastfeeding. To those moms I would say, look at the alternatives, read the research, consider your personal situation, and do what you think is best for your family (and sometimes, formula feeding may be the ONLY option). Then accept your decision and yourself. And please try not feel bad when others talk about how great breastfeeding is. I mean, it is great and that’s a fact, but life is never perfect and we have to do the best with whatever we’ve got.ReplyCancel

  • January 5, 2013 - 9:56 am

    Luna U. - Thanks for this post Anna! I had also planned on nursing my daughter (she is 1 tomorrow) and it just didn’t work out. She was preemie and I had hyperemesis during my pregnancy and never actually produced any colostrum or milk until I was on medication a few weeks after Anouk’s birth.

    I expressed and fed with whatever breastmilk I could supplementing with formula, however by 6 months I was exhausted and just knew I had to move solely to formula for the good of me and my brain.

    Even now, I always feel as though I have to explain myself to people about why Anouk is formula fed. The rational part of me knows it’s no one’s business but mine however, the ‘breast is best’ fundamentalists run rife and even friends who mean well silently judge if they BF as they usually don’t understand the difficuties I went through and the feelings associated with making the decision to move to formula.

    I am having another baby in August and so far, the pregnancy is pretty much identical to last time. I’m already stressing myself out with the ‘will I or won’t I’ conversation in my head. I know I don’t have it in me to express if I end up with another baby that has no latch. Do I even have it in me to try and BF? I just don’t know. What I do know however, is that if I choose formula, I am going to have to defend my decision, and that really pisses me off.ReplyCancel

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