Tuesday, June 9, 2009

When Bottle is Best

After giving birth my maternal instincts quickly switched to: ‘I gotta feed this child’ mode. I had a little colostrum but nothing more than a few drops worth. I pumped the little stuff I had and my child was still hungry so we started supplementing with formula. I tried to breastfeed but it’s hard when you don’t have any milk to give. I hear it’s normal for your milk to be delayed but in my case, it took a little over a week. My child had to eat, so we kept giving him formula and breastfeeding with the little I had. I felt bad every time because in my mind my milk was going to be running over. 

Breastfeeding was exhausting. I didn’t realize that besides recovering from major surgery you had to stay up all the time because the mom is the main (only) food provider. I had a pretty rigid pumping schedule as well but still, not that much liquid coming out. My baby would not latch on every time to make things even better. I remember looking at him late one night with tears in my eyes begging him to try to latch on once more. It had been hours since we had a successful feeding happening. I was at my breaking point.

My husband, who experienced so much with me, told me he thought I should pray about it because he didn’t feel like I felt released from breastfeeding. He was right on target. I heard a lot of Podcasts about breastfeeding while pregnant and never really considered any other options. I never really studied formula, what kinds were out there, etc. All I thought was that women who chose that option were punks. Was I mistaken big time. I felt better about using formula once I prayed. My mind was clear, I felt less stressed. 

My husband kept telling me that it was important to do what was best for our family. Bottle feeding works for us for so many reasons. My husband was able to help me with night feedings several times. That same night he stayed up with the baby and I literally passed out, never got up once because I was so tired! In the morning my shirt was wet, my milk finally came. Because I had already returned the hospital’s pump and stopped taking medication, we decided to accept a friend’s pump and feed the baby the little milk I was getting along with mostly formula. That’s what I’m still doing today.

During the time we were trying to breastfeed exclusively, I never heard stories of women who were bottle feeding but similar stories were popping up, one by one. I heard about feelings of inadequacy, insufficiency, just not being good enough. In my case, I had the feeling of not being a good woman because I could not birth my son naturally on top of everything else and couldn’t produce enough milk. When you are down like I was, it’s nice to hear stories from others who like me, simply made a choice that was better for their families. 

It’s a fact that breastmilk is great and little milk is better than no milk – my doctor told me that and I agree. I also learned that there’s no sin in bottlefeeding. The objective is to raise a healthy child.
When I do stop pumping I won’t be afraid of saying my child is bottlefed exclusively because there’s nothing wrong with it. Hunger is wrong. Seeing starving babies in Africa, that’s wrong. Those kids don’t have neither breast or bottle and that’s plain wrong. It’s nice to put things in perspective. 


I’m happy to say that my son is a strong baby who is growing, gaining weight and looking better as the seconds go by. 
I wanted to share my experience just in case someone out there is feeling less than because they can’t or choose not to breastfeed. I say do what’s best for your family and keep your head up. 

* It took me a while but I found a blog post about a proud mama who bottle feeds her child.

The picnic was fine. It was HOT outside, so besides the usual apprehension for having a newborn among so many people I had the heat to worry about. We stayed outside for a little bit watching daddy play with a jazz quartet and then we went in and chilled in the nursery. The baby was really hot, so staying inside mostly which was the best thing. I ate hamburger meat and a few sides. The most interesting was an Indian salad with curry, simply DELICIOUS! Last Sunday was the longest we stayed in church with baby ever. We used 4 diapers and had 3 bottles. We had our stroller which turned out to be a great decision. Welcome to mommyhood!!! Another sign of having a young baby at home: I totally forgot to brush my teeth. My husband asked me so politely when we got to the church if I forgot. Good thing I keep toothpast/toothbrush there in his office so we fixed that real quick. It’s funny but I forget major things that concern me like that sometimes. It’s all part of it and it’s just fine. 

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