This is a story I’ve been working on documenting for a very long time. It is a subject that is often shamed & debated but I believe strongly that sharing my experience may help others realize they are not alone. This is the story of why I formula fed my second child from birth and why I believe so strongly that fed is best.
First let me start by saying, I truly believe in benefits of breastfeeding. I understand that they are scientific and true. If you want to breastfeed, then please try. However, if you do not want to breastfeed, I understand you may have MANY reasons and I support you. Fed is best.
When I was pregnant with my first child, Dawn, I was determined that I would breastfeed until I went back to work. I took classes at the hospital, I researched, it was best & it was what my mother did for me. But that all changed when she was born. Dawn has been a strong willed little girl from the beginning. In the hospital, she wasn’t getting anything(my milk hadn’t come yet) and I had a HORRIBLE nurse who encouraged me to just keep letting her suck. So she sucked on me pretty much exclusively for 2 days, without much milk at all. By the time we got home I was in so much pain it was horrible. However, the milk came & I could feed her. But I was still raw, sore and in pain. Due to the pain, I was hating everything. I was miserable & I was starting to have signs of postpartum depression. When she would cry I’d bury my head in the pillow, I wanted to run away & I wanted to never see her again. I nursed her for maybe 5/6 days when I finally realized, in the middle of the night, that I was starting to hate my baby. I didn’t like her and I wanted my old life and my old body back. My mom was the first one who spoke up and made it known what was going on. She had been staying with us to help with the transition and asked if I wanted to try a bottle of formula. That was the first time I felt attached to my baby, she was so beautiful and so sweet and all mine. I never looked back from that bottle and within a few days the “fog had cleared” and things were getting much better. She was about 4 years old when I finally was strong enough to say that when we decided to have a 2nd child, I was going straight to formula. I was more traumatized by the breastfeeding than I was my pregnancy or childbirth. I couldn’t imagine having another child & possibly hating them as much as I hated Dawn those first few days.
I was very lucky that no one shamed me back then. Maybe the internet was a nicer place, or maybe it was because I was the first of most of my friends to have a child. I’m not sure what it was, but I am very lucky to never have experienced any harsh words about my decision.
When Dawn was 5, we were pregnant and getting ready to have baby #2, PJ. I ended up having a ton of milk with PJ & I probably could have had a much better experience breastfeeding with him, but I was very lucky to have Drs & nurses & family who all supported me 100% in my decision to go straight to formula. That didn’t stop the peanut gallery, though. I was once approached by a woman in an airport bathroom while babywearing PJ. She asked if I was breastfeeding. When I answered “no, I’m not” she responded “Oh I just figured if you love him enough to wear him, you’d love him enough to breastfeed” I was in shock.
So please, when you read this story. Do not judge me and my choices because you have not walked in my shoes. And when you see a mother breastfeeding in public do not judge her, because you have no idea what obstacles she may have overcome to be able to breastfeed. And when you see a woman feeding their baby formula do not judge her, because you have no idea why she made her decision or what she may have been thru. If a child is being fed and loved and cared for, that is all that should matter.
I’ve also made this very simple sign, please feel free to print this & use at your free will. Mothers have used it in hospitals, at home, etc to express their wishes for a judgement-free & breastmilk-free environment with their newborn.