In reponse. (Or, my experience with breastfeeding.)

March 29, 2010 at 8:28 am 23 comments

So, two posts ago, I asked what kind of parent you were and what choices you were making. Much more interesting to me than what I wrote, was what you wrote.

We’ve got pro-vax, babywearing, amber loving and hating, organic, cloth and disposable diapering, baby led weaning, veggie, strollering, cosleeping, natural parenting, breastfeeding, bouncy chairing, attachment parenting, non cosleeping, organic, green living, spoonfeeding, non circumsizing, homeschooling, non homeschooling, fence sitting people out there.

But those are how you are doing it – because the one thing everyone seems to have in common is they are doing the best they can with the knowledge they have.

I think judgment is a tricky thing, and I’m not just talking about what other people think. I’m talking about that more damning sort of judgment – self-judgment.

There are degrees. There’s your pride getting wounded when someone has suggestions that are actually pretty good, but you resent them for suggesting you aren’t doing well enough in the first place.

And then there is the big stuff.

MY big stuff is that I am not breastfeeding. My breasts were damaged by a past surgery and milk ducts were severed. I fought with midwives and doctors. I got two lactation consultants, I took meds to boost my milk supply, I rented a hospital grade pump. I bought books, I cried. But most of all, I breastfed two babies around the clock – and it gradually became a horrible struggle.

I loved breastfeeding in the beginning. My favourite times were the middle of the night in hospital, a baby nestled along each side, two tiny mouths firmly latched to my breasts. I initially thought of breastfeeding as the best choice for my babies, and was surprised by the fierce swiftness and depth of love I had for the experience, the three of us connected in such a vital way.

That was before the babies were weighed on day five – in preparation for going home – and we found out they had both lost very dangerous amounts of weight. Snort was starting to get dehydrated. Neither was peeing. They refused to let us leave the hospital, my wife fought on my/our behalf against formula top ups, we had daily weighing and it was a nightmare.

My babies screamed from hunger all the time. They would nurse for increasingly longer periods of time and still be hungry when they finished.The staff took them away to give them the odd top up while I sobbed in my room, overtired from not sleeping days at a time.

I shudder when I think about what their first couple of weeks were like. Constant hunger, a mother who loved them fiercely but was crying about her breasts all the time, them screaming and nobody understanding why.

My wife was there to offer them hugs, spoonfeed me while I used my hands to keep both babies in place at my breasts. Her gentle presence always, always trying to support me and our family in any way she could. Every feed required her assistance – I needed my hands to help the babies latch on, she needed her hands to hand express as I fed, helping the babies to more effectively feed, to get more milk. She also gave them their top ups from little cups, because I could not bear to do it.

I have still not come to peace with the fact that we are now bottle feeding.

But my friend having a baby three months after I had mine opened my eyes a bit. When she nursed her baby, milk flowed copiously from the other nipple. She can casually sit in my lounge and hand pump for a few minutes and get a full bottle of breastmilk.

I would pump with that hospital grade pump, twenty minutes on each boob (or tandem), and get MAYBE 50 ml on a very good day.

I blame myself, I think, for the choices I have made. I had elective surgery on my breasts – a breast reduction. My massive breasts caused tingling in my fingers (they pulled down on some nerve-or-other), they caused constant back pain, etc etc. Now I think back and believe I would have been able to exclusively breastfeed if I’d not had that reduction.

And yet another part of me feels a relief about formula feeding. There was a relief in being able to start sleeping more than five minutes every three hours when I stopped exclusively breastfeeding (after trying for a good hunk of time once home from hospital, with a private lactation consultant. Always I feel the need to justify and explain.) When I made my babies their bottles and cuddled up one at a time with them, for the first time since that blissful, ignorant week in hospital I knew what it was like to feed my babies and have their tummies get full. My wifeΒ  got to hold and feed her babies for the first time, smiling into their eyes and holding them close. I got to feed one baby at a time, totally focused on their needs and experience.

I feel guilty about how formula has changed our lives – because everyone I know is so anti-formula feeding and not afraid of condemning mothers who do it. But for us, it worked. Is still working. We have two happy, healthy, strong, vibrant, smart beams of sunshine. And two moms who are a lot happier about not having to compromise on their babies’ health and development because they are so firmly pro-breastfeeding.

I miss breastfeeding though. Tears are in my eyes as I write. I still wonder, if I’d done this, what if I’d tried that, is it too late to try now? Even though I know my breasts were so damaged, and I know exclusive breastfeeding probably could never have happened with twins. With one baby? Maybe, maybe not.

When I stopped pumping it felt like being punched in the guts. It also meant I had an extra forty minutes several times a day to cuddle my babies, to kiss them, to love them.

I am giving them sustenance the best way I know how, and for us, that comes from my heart…not my breasts.

Now if only I could figure out how to forgive myself and my body.

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Entry filed under: life, twins. Tags: , .

What my babies do when they’re not being slung: Will post again tomorrow, and in the meantime my babies hijack the blog.

23 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TwinHappyJen  |  March 29, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I too had trouble breastfeeding my twins… a lot of our problem was due to their prematurity and we just could never seem to get it down…. so I finally just ended up pumping what I could, mixing it with formula…. and not only did they recover super-fast from their bout of TTTS (which almost killed them) and being born almost 10 weeks early, but they are now two of the healthiest, happiest little girls you could ever meet πŸ™‚ And, our bond is amazing… I couldn’t feel closer to them…

    Honestly I think breastfeeding is a little overrated. It’s great if you can do it, and there can be benefits, but I also don’t think anyone should feel guilty if they’re not able to do it and have to go to formula. It’s really not the end of the world if you don’t breastfeed. I wasn’t breastfed and I’m also one of the healthiest people I know! Again, not to say that there aren’t benefits… but it’s also not absolutely essential to raising a healthy child (physically or emotionally).

    Everybody has to find their own way through motherhood. There’s no one right way to do it… and, if you love and care for your babies, that’s all that really matters. Sounds like yours are doing great πŸ˜€ So, there doesn’t seem to be anything TO forgive…

    Reply
  • 2. Jenni Williams  |  March 29, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Gah, I hate that we living in a society that is set up to guilt mothers. YOU knew what was best for your babies. You tried your ass off at breastfeeding, I remember you talking about it. But the truth of the matter is sometimes it just doesn’t work for everyone. When it boils down to it, you are an INSANELY fantastic set of parents. Your twins are the healthiest, happiest, well adjusted set of twins I have ever seen. Formula is NOT the devil. Breastfeeding is a incredible and for some people it’s easy. It wasn’t for me. My first was not nursed at all, my second received only expressed milk, my third….oh my third. I nursed in the hospital, but when I got home I could NOT do it. I went to an LC and the ped, no help. So I pumped. And PUMPED. I sat in my room, sobbing attached to a pump, while hubby fed him. The problem? He was 5 lb and 4 oz at birth, my boobs are 44j’s I couldn’t even see him! He gained weight fast and at 6 weeks he was 9lbs and I was able to resume nursing! I plugged away (literally) at it until he was 6 months and he suddenly refused to nurse. Now I know it was a nursing strike and I should have kept trying. But he is five now, so….lol
    My long RAMBLING point is YOU are an awesome mom. I am in awesome mom. Any parent that puts their babies needs at (or near) the top of their priorities is. We do the best we can, make the choices that are right for us, and love them. That’s all that matters.

    Reply
  • 3. nic @mybottlesup  |  March 29, 2010 at 11:59 am

    oh my friend… and psychic woman the universe bows down to… i hear you loud and clear. and i feel for you. i’m attaching a link to a portion of my blog that is dedicated to this very thing, not necessarily how it pertains to twins (obviously, i don’t have twins), but just so you don’t feel alone. xoxo mama!

    http://www.mybottlesup.com/colic/

    Reply
  • 4. Wonderkarin  |  March 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Thank you for writing this post. It has me thinking about my own supply issues, which for me I think came with inserting the Mirena. I get a lot of support and have continued nursing but BB has not put on weight as she should be, but neither has she complained and the weight seems to be an issue even after exclusive breastfeeding was over.

    But I still wonder, what would have happened if I had taken my midwifes advice and chosen the copper IUD instead?

    Reply
  • 5. Kat (@kathym425)  |  March 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I am very pro-breastfeeding believing that it is the best way to start your baby’s life. That being said, it doesn’t always work for everyone and the fact that we have such good, nourishing infant formulas now make them a perfectly good back-up plan. I firmly believe that everyone should at least try breast feeding but, if it doesn’t work out (for whatever reason), then so be it. The fact that you attempted to breastfeed and, really, gave it all you had before turning to bottle feeding makes you a wonderful mom. You have nothing to justify, nothing to feel bad about and two beautiful babies that will grow up strong in a wonderful, caring and nurturing home. Hang in there Momma!

    Reply
  • 6. Sarah  |  March 29, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    just your local stalker here.

    I read that with tears prickling in my eyes. yes i am a sap. it just reminded me so much of my struggles to breastfeed my oldest daughter. By 6 weeks she was onformula. In our case it was lack of support, lack of knowledge (on my part mainly), and yet 10 years on, i STILL beat myself up over it. N is my eldest daughter, and aside from Soph, who has overtaken her in the allergy stakes, is the one most affected. N is the one who would need bandaging nightly to stop her ripping her skin off, who was admitted to a+e with breathing issues, the one who is allergic to life just by being outside. The one who cant sit on the grass, has very soft clothing etc etc. And all i thought, before I had soph, is ‘if I breastfed her for longer, maybe she wouldnt be so bad’. Daft isnt it, because Soph is still breastfed, and is allergic to the main part of a childs diet, Milk. and eggs and nuts.
    I belive breastfeeding is fab, but its not the be all and end all. I think if people tried, even just the once, then thats excellant. It doesnt work for everyone, i know that, and it is something that makes us beat ourselves up over.

    You and your dw are fab parents, and your love shines through.

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  • 7. Ness  |  March 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    I read your blog and felt for you and for myself. As you know, I had a similar issue with a singleton (supply issues, not the reduction). I found the round the clock feeding, bleeding, cracks and excrutiating pain too much to bear. I’d wince every time my daughter latched on, I dreaded feeding and began to fear I might reach a stage that I would come to hate her. I would have gone through childbirth 6 times a day rather than deal with the pain of feeding her. Like you, I am a baby led parent, co-slept, wore her and weaned her with baby led weaning. However, the one thing I had believed to be crucial and a ‘non-negotiable’ part of my being a mother was truly hideous. I kept going for four weeks, supported by a husband who would watch me sobbing, sobbing himself, but refusing to be the one to tell me to switch to the bottle. The decision had to be mine and mine alone. Finally, the second lactation consultant told me my daughter had a Tongue tie and couldn’t latch on properly. Looking back, do I really believe this? She has no problems eating and has incredible speech. Who knows if it is true. It gave me the impetus to try her on a bottle of breast milk. Oh the relief! Unfortunately my supply dried up within a week without her latching on and we moved to formula. I cried as I watched her suck in from the bottle, but she burped contentedly and slept, feeling full and happy for the first time. I felt this horrendous guilt and sense of failure with a strange lightening of the spirit.

    Some 20months later I look at my amazing daughter who is wonderfully attached, on the 50th percentile and a chatty happy being who eats really, really well and wonder why I gave myself a hard time. I truly believe breast is best. You should give it a go. However, nothing is worth doing where it threatens that bond between mother and baby and ruins those precious first few weeks. I look back on that first month and recall only pain and fear. If I have another child I will try to breast feed again. However, I will make sensible and rational choices for us as a family and do so without making myself feel like a bad mother who is poisoning her child.

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  • 8. Celina Hosp  |  March 29, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    What a wonderfully brave woman you are!!! I understand that it’s hard for you to look back on breastfeeding and your problems and say I could have done this and this and this I have a two yr old who was bottle fed the first two months and formula fed till she was a yr old. My baby Libby has been exclusively bf’d for 4 months something I am very proud of! But, hey, you did all you could and you wanted to enjoy your children pain free hassle free it wasn’t convienient and it was hurting your family!! My motto is feed your baby! Don’t let others make you feel bad extenuating circumstances have caused us to formula feed our babies orfor some of us webjisr wanted to and THAT’S GREAT!!! we still held them and kissed them made eye contact and heldtheir little hands they recieved nurishment from us even if it wasn’t from our breast so don’t beat yourSelf up too much!! Thank you for sharing!!!!

    Reply
  • 9. saralema  |  March 29, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Kat wrote what I wanted to say much more eloquently than the words I was attempting to jumble together.

    I could feel the your pain and was tearing up as I read your post. I hope your pain over this lessen as time moves on.

    Reply
  • 10. Natasha  |  March 29, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Gosh. You can’t live your life beating yourself up over something that, really, was out of your control. You have NOTHING to feel guilty about. At all. You gave breastfeeding your all and it wasn’t possible, it’s not like you thought, “oh, you know what? I don’t care that ‘breast is best’, I’m not even going to try, I’ll just formula feed”. You do not have to justify the way that you feed your baby to ANYBODY. Even if you HAD chose to formula feed without giving breastfeeding a go, that is YOUR choice and you are entitled to it, should never be questioned over it!

    I, too have faced a lot of judgement and criticism over the way that I feed my babies, although I breastfeed them. CERTAINLY have been judged over the fact that when I was unable to feed them myself, due to the pain, my sister wet nursed them for me.
    I was most judged in the early days, by neonatal nurses who thought I was selfish for persisting through their weight loss to breastfeed exclusively without formula top ups.

    I have to say that your comment about “not having to compromise on their babies’ health and development because they are so firmly pro-breastfeeding” did sting me a little, even though I know that it was in reference to your own personal experience where there was a supply issue, which was totally separate and different to my own experiences.

    I had to work damn hard to breastfeed my babies and in the first few weeks was constantly up against nurses and health professionals and consultants telling me I was being selfish. It was an uphill battle through a tirade of comments like, “Why are you so obsessed with breastfeeding?”, “hundreds of babies are raised on formula, why don’t you want us to give them formula, it won’t do them any harm!” The nurses were bitter and foul and made my life hell, as if I was not stressed enough with two babies arriving 6 weeks early and being in the SCBU, when all I wanted was to take them home and be reunited with my husband and daughter, as a family, the way it should be.

    While we were stuck in the SCBU, I had nurses making it perfectly clear that they did not like me and thought I was being selfish and stupid, and that I would rather breastfeed my baby to sickness than give them formula for the sake of their health. Of course that was not the case at all – I knew what was best for them and through persistence despite a threatened court order and the summoning of a safeguarding nurse, I have successfully exclusively breastfed my babies to 3 months now and they could not be healthier so all those who told me I was so strongly pro-breast that I was putting my babies lives in danger and their health at serious risk were wrong and I have proven that I was doing what was best for them, and I knew it.

    If it had come to the point where I agreed that they were at serious risk I would of course have given them formula without a doubt – I wanted and will always want what is best for them! If formula was best for them I would give it in an instant. So there I really believe I would have done the same in your case as you did – you didn’t have a choice, when it comes to your babies health you have to do what is best for them, and that is exactly what you did.

    You clearly wanted to breastfeed very much so you should be proud that you could put that aside and, for the sake of your babies, turn to bottle feeding as I can only imagine that I in that situation would be so upset, it would take a lot of strength for me to put the idea of breastfeeding aside and admit that I would have to formula.I think you have a great deal of strength and an even greater supply of love in you to be so willing to do whatever it is that is best for your babies.

    I’m still so sore, emotionally, over the hard time we had establishing this breastfeeding and all of the judgement that we faced in our determination to give them nothing but my milk. But I have the consolation that I know I did what was best for them, and knew it at the time. Those who judged me were wrong to do so, so while the judgement I faced hurt me, I know it was misplaced judgement.

    If anyone soever judges you for the fact that you bottle feed your babies, that too will be misplaced judgement, believe me. You know you did what is best for your babies, so place the judgement you hold against yourself aside, and remember there is nothing to be judged except a mother who loves her children so much she would do anything for them. And that is the greatest kind of mum, with the greatest amount of love πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • 11. Amanda  |  March 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I think anyone who would see a bottle feeding mother and instantly assume the worst (aka that they are selfish lazy mothers who couldn’t be bothered to breastfeed) has some serious issues.

    It’s cases like yours that really bring to light the need for support and information in bottle feeding formula as well. I don’t know how well you personally got on with the switch and knowing how to make up, store, sterilize, etc; bottles but I know some women do struggle. I was pushed and pushed by my (rubbish) Health Visitor and GP to give formula but I didn’t have the slightest clue what this meant. I cringe when I think of how I made up those couple of bottles because I had no idea what I was doing. (My cousin made her bottles up by rinsing out a previously used bottle, filling it with room temp tap water straight from the tap, bunging in a few scoops of powder, shaking it, then feeding it to the baby!)

    I do call myself a ‘lactivist’ but in that I include support and knowledge for formula feeding Moms and believing that donated human milk should be more accessible, safe, and affordable for cases where babies cannot be breast fed. I also try to speak out against anyone making harsh statements and over generalizing that all ffing Moms are probably just selfish. It’s ridiculous and makes my blood boil just as much as when I hear of a bfing Mom being told to just give up and put the baby on formula.

    I know nothing any of us says to you can take away guilt but you having nothing to feel guilty for. You clearly fought hard for your babies and they are clearly very happy, healthy, thriving babies with full bellies. I love seeing their pictures on this blog and on Facebook. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • 12. Bobbi  |  March 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Stories such as yours are why my advice is always this “Do what you need to do for yourself and more importantly your children.”

    So much time is wasted worrying on whether or not we will measure up to the next mom whose doing X, Y and Z. I refuse to waste myself in that way. I do not care to measure myself against anything but the happiness and health of my children.

    Reply
  • 13. themessyme  |  March 29, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Wow, you are really hard on yourself! Please forgive yourself and move on.

    p.s. Your babies are soooooo adorable!! πŸ™‚

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  • 14. Kerry  |  March 29, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I am bottle feeding my twins. I failed miserably at breast feeding or maybe I just gave up too early? I was totally traumatised after their birth (natural labour ending in an emergeny c-sec). One of boys ended up in SCBU, if only for 1 night, but I had so many emotions running through, felt totally overwhelmed and just couldn’t get to grips with BF them both. I made the decision to move to bottles and never looked back. Although I still have days where I wish I had stuck at it. But at the end of the day the main thing is that my babies are fed, happy and healthy – all of which they are πŸ™‚
    I hate the fact though that whever I seem to turn I am made to feel guilty about it, whether it be the HV humphing when I say they are formula fed or the big sign on the formula tub – Breastmilk Substitue. I feel guilty enough thanks and it really can’t be very nice for those that simply CAN’T BF.

    There is no doubt in my mind that breast milk has to be better for your babies, it’s natural and made just for them! BUT, there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving your baby formula. There is no much pressure on us to BF and so little information or support for bottle feeding and I think that it is really sad.

    But that’s just my tupence worth!!

    That pic of you BF your bubbas is simply gorgeous!

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  • 15. Marcy  |  March 29, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    This is the part that’s so difficult about wanting to be a breastfeeding activist. I wish every “breast is best!” declaration could come with a little disclaimer, to say “And if trying to breastfeed just plain didn’t work for you or was causing you to lose your sanity, then just do what you have to and don’t feel any guilt.”

    I do feel that, when both options are available, breastfeeding should be the optimal one. I wish we had a culture of breastfeeding, where it wasn’t seen as obscene for a woman to do out in public.

    I have also seen women experience severe postpartum depression while breastfeeding that immediately went away when they started using formula. Another friend who drove herself nuts trying to pump when she didn’t have enough milk. Yet another whose baby was so incredibly miserable while on breastmilk, no matter what changes in diet the mother took, huge discomforts in his bowels that went away as soon as he started drinking a special formula instead.

    Breastfeeding, if attempted and supported, would probably work for most people. But it is NOT for everyone. And i wish we could get that message across without making wonderful, amazing mothers like you feel so guilty for it.

    Reply
  • 16. Jen  |  March 29, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    If I was going to label my parenting style, I’m about as AP as it gets; We babywear, cosleep, cloth diaper, unschool, blah, blah blah. My 6yo, however, was exclusively formula fed. By choice.

    I was 20 when I got pregnant with him. I started vomitting before I’d even had a positive pregnancy test. At 12 weeks, I had been hospitalized twice for rehydration, and the doctors assured me the vomitting would stop soon. By 20 weeks, I’d been back to the hospital three more times. By 28 weeks, I’d lost 45 pounds. I was throwing up 15-20 times a day. My doctors were stumped. They thought it was all in my head…I was stressed about the baby coming, I was having anxiety because Hubs had lost his job…they couldn’t figure it out, so they called it anxiety and put me on anti-anxiety medicine. But I still kept throwing up. I threw up every single meal I ate, and several time in between meals, and in the middle of the night, for the ENTIRE 40 weeks. By the end of the pregnancy, I WAS depressed!

    I went into labor on my due date, and Connor was born the next day, after 38 hours of labor. I cracked my tailbone during labor, and had tore so severely that I split my urethra in half (TMI, I know!). And I threw up about 10 times during labor.

    By the time they handed me my baby, I was already exhausted. I had given all I could give to him, and he was barely 10 minutes old! So, when they asked if I wanted to nurse? I didn’t even hesitate to say no. I NEEDED my body back. The nurses said that breastfeeding was hard in the beginning, but that it would get easier….but that’s what the doctors had said about my vomitting, “It’s bad now, but by 12 weeks it will be gone…by 16 weeks, you should be better….by 24 weeks, there’s no way you’ll still be sick…etc. etc.” But it never did go away. And by that point I didn’t trust them that breastfeeding would be easy either!

    So, I formula fed. Without an ounce of guilt or shame or regret. It hasn’t changed how much I love him, or how bonded we are, or how smart he is. πŸ™‚

    WIth your SPD being as bad as it was/is (I’m lucky enough to have that too!!) imagine how much worse you would feeel physically if you hadn’t had a breast reduction. You have given your babies everything they need…be gentle with yourself, and shut out as much of the negetive noise as you can. You’re obviously an amazing mama. And that has nothing to do with what you feed your babies! (hugs!)

    Reply
  • 17. Christy  |  March 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I cried for you as I read this. It’s sort of funny, I read your blog, follow you on Twitter and Facebook and I don’t think I realized how hard this was for till now. I feel I need to apologize to you first and foremost is I ever said anything to hurt your feelings. as I had my own breastfeeding issues I hope I never did.
    I had a similar hospital experience and when I finally gave in and asked the nurse for formula I thought I might die. I was unhappy not because I felt formula was going to harm my baby but because I had always dreamed of breastfeeding and I was so mad at myself. I still don’t know what the problem was but luckily for us we have worked out our issues.
    I’m very sorry that it didn’t work you for you to breastfeed but I love that you found the silverlining of being able to cuddle your babies individually and having more time because of not pumping.
    Much love!

    Reply
  • 18. SylkoZakur  |  March 29, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Formula is there for a reason. I have breastfed all of my children, but baby 2 switched to formula at 7 months because my supply disappeared when I got preg w baby 3. Baby 2 is 6 yrs old, & I still feel guilty!

    Reply
  • 19. Lori  |  March 29, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Breastfeeding was so incredibly difficult for me. My son was born 5 weeks early and he didn’t latch right away. We started supplementing with formula while still in the hospital as I pumped away. Doctors, nurses, lactation consultants all were giving us different advice–different guilt trips. After two weeks, he finally latched and I was overjoyed. And then I cried because then he wouldn’t stop eating. I returned to work full time and my milk supply drastically dropped. Even with pumping three times during the work day, I was only managing to express 10 oz total over 8 hours. I felt like I was failing. The guilt ate me up. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and finally decided to put my son on formula for good. I felt to guilty. But not breastfeeding/pumping made me much happier. And if I am happier, then I can be a better parent.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

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  • 20. Brie  |  March 29, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Breastfeeding is a hard issue. Do I think that it is better to breastfeed than give formula? Sure. When possible. But I also think it is better for kids to eat only organic, non-processed, sugar free food. Do I feed my kids that all the time? No.

    Sometimes as a parent we don’t do what we want to do. What er think we are going to do. We do what we need to do. What is best in the end for us and them. Whatever that is.

    Good for your for trying to breastfeed. Good for you for knowing when it wasn’t working.

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  • 21. pamela  |  March 29, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    It sounds like your elective breast reduction was pretty necessary. And think of the problems you’d be having with your back now if you hadn’t had the surgery! Your babes have mamas that love them. And that is all that matters.

    Reply
  • 22. Fearless Formula Feeder  |  March 29, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    What an amazing post.

    First of all, THANK YOU for writing this. I scour the internet looking for smart, educated women who talk candidly about their struggles, b/c when I was going through it, I couldn’t find much out there. It was a very lonely feeling. I too struggled with the guilt, the loss, the conflicting feelings – I had been so pro-breastfeeding before I had my son; how could I reconcile my new feelings of relief and joy about formula with the anti-formula sentiments I was so accustomed to hearing?

    I started a blog about this very thing (link above if you ever want to visit), partly to aid in my own healing, and partly b/c I was pissed that women are made to feel so horribly about something so truly insignificant in the long run.

    Hang in there. You and your wife sound like incredible parents and you have already made one of the most difficult parenting decisions for the benefit of your children…. good for you.

    Reply
  • 23. Henrysmum  |  March 31, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Don’t feel guilty for giving up on breastfeeding. You struggled a lot longer than most people would under such difficult circumstances – be proud of what you *did*, not guilty for what you couldn’t do.

    I do breastfeed (18 months & still going, throughout a second pregnancy), but that is because I was fortunate enough to be able to overcome my problems and I only had one baby to sustain.

    I do believe that breast is best for a baby, but formula was invented for a reason. Think of it as a medicine – it can save babies lives when nature can’t maintain them.

    I personally think the only problem with formula is how it is used – propped up bottles so that the mother isn’t inconvenienced by having to be intimate with her baby or so that she can still go out and get pi55ed and leave the baby with whoever will take them.

    When formula is used as a lifestyle choice instead of a substitute for breastfeeding, to me it says “this mother cares more about her independence than her babies needs”. That is clearly not how you use it and maybe there’s nothing wrong with it anyway – we are all entitled to our own lifestyle choices. But I can’t help wondering why someone who values their own independence so greatly would want to have a baby in the first place?

    Anyway, I’m waffling now. What I am trying to say is that there is a difference between trying to breastfeed and needing to use formula as a medical aid when breastfeeding isn’t successful and choosing not to breastfeed because you can’t be bothered or you think it’s “icky”.

    Unfortunately, the attitudes of the mothers who fall into the later category tarnish the mothers in the first category and cause these feelings of guilt. You wouldn’t feel guilty for accepting that baby needs antibiotics to get over an infection, would you? Or that a diabetic child needs insulin? So a child that *needs* nutritional supplements is no different – you are just supplying what they need to live a life that is as healthy and happy as possible in the circumstances that you have been given.

    Be proud that you are providing for your baby in the best way that you can.

    Reply

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