Let me start saying the following: we all know that there is nothing as good as breast milk for babies. It’s what’s most natural and what has been done since the beginning of times. When were expecting our first, we had planned on doing many things. Many of those never happened, and some did that we never discussed before. Isn’t that the life of every parent? This post is not a debate on whether to breastfeed or not, it’s simple to give you HOPE if you cannot do it, because nobody will. I hope my experience can help you find some comfort and relief.
We were set on breast feeding 100%. Of course, it was the natural thing to do and the best by far. Not only that, but it’s the only thing that we hear about these days as if it was a new discovery. I had the best pump on the market sitting on our newborn’s room with too many new things that were not needed.
After a great and short delivery, little Benedict made his entrance into this world. That could be an entire post in itself, so I will skip forward. When they saw my body shape (the one that inspire this post) they saw how challenging it would be for me to breast feed. Those body parts of mine are simply not favorable for breast feeding. Note I said challenging, not impossible. So the lactation consultant worked with me and while she manipulated my body, it seemed to work. The two wonderful days we spent at the hospital, he was feeding easily for 30 or 40 minutes at a time, per side. It was very hard but it seemed to work. We had more challenges and someone suggested the nipple shield – though they really don’t want you to use it. At night, a sweet nurse worked with me and it really seemed like I had it. Two days later we were on our way home on a hot summer day.
We got home and we were super excited to bring our new little soul home. Until… He got hungry! I attempted to feed him confident that I had somewhat figured this breastfeeding thing out, but he couldn’t latch. I tried to move my hands like the lactation specialist did, but it simply wasn’t working. I tried, and tried, and tried. We started around 8 PM at night and I didn’t give up until close to 3 AM? It’s impossible to remember the exact times. I knew I wasn’t supposed to let him bite, but I was so desperate that I let him. I was raw and he was starving and crying! It was my third day as a mother and I had no idea what to do, or who to go to. Towards the last hours, I was completely raw and in pain, and he was hungry and frustrated. I knew it wouldn’t help a bit, but I couldn’t stop crying. In my desperation, I told Aaron: ‘Take me to the ER!’ (I mean, where else do you know as a first-time parent with a starving newborn that won’t stop crying, right?). Suddenly, I thought about formula. I didn’t know anything about it, but I figured maybe that could help. By the grace of God, someone had given us a container as a baby shower gift so Aaron didn’t have to run to Walmart in the early hours of the morning. I called our clinic asking for guidance and they told me: ‘Ma’am, you sure try to breastfeed your baby‘ and I said: ‘But I HAVE! I have been trying for 6 hours! Can I give my baby formula?!’ They told me how much to make and we proceeded. This sweet little guy took his bottle with his entire soul and went to sleep like an angel.
Do I need to say how traumatizing that entire experience was?
It was SO hard for me that I never really tried again. I say really because I did try on and off, though never for too long. I saw him happy and content with his milk and that was so comforting. Once again, my body shape is simply not favorable. If you would see it, you would believe it. A few times I’ve seen some women breastfeed their babies in front of me, and when I saw their attributes I thought to myself: Yeah, I definitely don’t have that. Sure, I could have probably pumped, I could probably try with my entire strength and maybe, just maybe… I would have succeeded. I won’t know.
What I do know is how guilty I felt! I felt like a horrible mother, I thought my child and I wouldn’t bond, I even told my mother that he wouldn’t know I am his mom! Now I think of this and I giggle, but that is how bad I felt about it. I know people don’t mean any harm, but this breastfeed fever sometimes hurts mothers like me. For one, not sure why it’s a trendy fever when it’s the natural and most common thing. Like I said, we treat it like a new discovery. And two, some of us really can’t do it and we are not less mothers because of it. Nobody means to I am sure, but that is how formula moms feel too often. A sweet doctor told me: ‘Well, there are not any death causes known due to formula’ – WOW. Okay, so my child at least won’t die from it.
Here is what nobody told me:
-My child and I would bond tremendously.
-My child and his dad would get lots of skin to skin time during feeding times while I could get some of the much needed rest.
-He would start sleeping all night at six weeks old (and does to this day at 3).
-He would grow to be healthy (healthy as a bull we would say in Spanish) and strong.
-He is taller and sturdier than most kids his age.
-He is smart as can be and fully multilingual before age 3 (Gibberish (HA!), Spanish and English).
-He is so loving that sometimes it’s hard to believe such a tiny human being can kiss, hug and show this much affection.
All I want to say is this: if you can’t breastfeed your child like I couldn’t, you still get to have a loving, healthy and wonderful child! You still get to be the amazing supermom that you are meant to be. You are not less of a mother! Don’t ever feel like that. Don’t feel guilty! Don’t feel like you have to hide to feed your baby. I couldn’t believe that there are mothers that pretend to breastfeed in public when they’re bottle feeding (but I DO understand why they feel like they have to). Babies need to be fed! If you can breast feed, God bless you! I can only imagine how amazing it is! I know it’s difficult and challenging even for mother’s that end up being successful at it. That too is something most people don’t tell you. IT IS NOT EASY. So if you can’t, keep trying and you will probably succeed!
But, if you are like me and simply could not do it, please know that it is OKAY. I write this post because I have talked to many mothers that have struggled with all of these feelings and had nobody to share them with. I am blessed to have had a very supportive husband and mother, but without that I don’t know what I would have done. Our second child was also formula fed for her first year (until we switched to whole milk), and she too is in the 75% percentile for her weight, and 91% percentile for her height. She has never been sick (aside from mild colds and teething) and couldn’t be a happier, healthier child.
Sure, there are times where I still wish I could breast feed them but formula is simply all I know. I have health, happy and loving children. If someone would have told me back then everything was going to be fine, I would have appreciated it. So if you got to this post, it’s probably because you also needed to hear it. Mama, you’ll be just fine and your precious baby will be too. Happy motherhood!