It has been fourteen years and six months since I had my first child, it has been two years and ten months since I had my fifth and last child. With my first I tried to breastfeed, for the first month it seemed like he was constantly hungry, like he was starving. I was young and didn't know about lactation consultants and support groups so I quit and started giving him formula. At the time I thought it was weird that I never leaked, I never had any boob pain, even when I stopped breast feeding.
With my second I decided to try again. Before I had her I read a few books on breastfeeding to hopefully help me make it work this time. A few hours after she was born she was rushed to the special care nursery because she had almost died choking on spit up. She was in there for 5 days. She wasn't able to be fed for a few days but I still gave it a shot. When she came home we went to Baby's R Us and bought a very nice, very expensive pump because it was recommended to build up my milk supply after telling the lactation consultant at the hospital about my previous attempt at breastfeeding. So we go home and again it seems as though my baby is starving. The lactation consultant said she was latching on good so it wasn't that. I would pump and in those first couple of weeks I would be lucky to get 2oz's in 30min's of pumping, and no that isn't just one breast that was combined. After a couple more weeks I couldn't even get an ounce of milk. After trying a few of the things the lactation consultant suggested, still no change. I put her on formula and again like before I had never leaked the whole time and never got engorged after switching her to formula.
It was a that point I realized my body had failed me. I had failed my babies. I never tried again with the rest of my babies. And I never got those great big boobs that is a plus to pregnancy and I also never got engorged or had very much pain. When I was pregnant with Isabella, before we knew about her condition, I talked with my NP and she agreed that my milk doesn't come in, I did still have some hope up until that point that maybe the other 3 times were flukes. With Isabella I did have a little tenderness but that was it. I always thought it odd that the one baby Indidn't have a choice in is the one I had a little bit of pain. Like another sick joke my body was playing on me.
Even though I would have breastfeed if I could I still feel guilty that I used formula. I had never heard of breast milk banks until my youngest was over year old. My brain knows there wasn't anything I could do differently but my heart still feels that guilt.
I think what makes it worse is that breast feeding is pushed in your face everywhere. Which is a good thing, people need to be educated on it and it's benefits, but for people like me it's just a constant reminder of what we couldn't give our babies. They have posters covering doctors office walls, you go to WIC and there are posters and pamphlet's everywhere, I even saw a poster on a metro train in D.C., then I come home and see it all over my facebook.
Most of the time it doesn't bother me on facebook. But sometimes when I see a status some wrote about breastfeeding and everyone comments how great of a mother she is for doing it, it just hurts. I know no one says stuff like that to hurt people but when I read it all I can think is I guess that makes me a shitty mother because I couldn't do that for my babies. A breastfeeding mother posts about problems she is having and everyone comments with supporting words. Where are the supporting words for those of us who can't or even those that choose not to? Just because we can't breastfeed or *gasp* actually choose to give our babies formula doesn't mean we don't need support words letting us know that we too are doing the best we can for our babies.
Then you have what some of us call the breastfeeding Nazi's. They are the ones that go around talking crap about everyone that doesn't breastfeed. They are the ones that will put you down even after you explain that you didn't have a choice it the matter. You tell them it was either let your baby starve or feed them formula. They don't care, they tell you you should have tried harder and I have even been told that I am lying that there is no way a body wouldn't produce beast milk. I have literally been told that I am a horrible mother for giving up and not trying harder, yes because by trying hard it would automatically make my body change into a milk machine.
Will this guilt ever go away? Will I ever come to terms with the fact that my body didn't do what it was supposed to? Will I ever be able to see a poster or a status update without that nagging guilt coming back to the surface? I pray that one day I will be able to be okay with it.
From all the studies on how great breastfeeding is for babies I guess I am lucky how healthy mine turned out on formula. That does bring me some comfort. Between my 4 living children they have had a whopping 6 ear infections combined, yes combined between them all. They are all very smart and hardly ever get sick. My second daughters medical records were retired because she didn't see a doctor for two years because she never got sick enough. I know you are like what you didn't even take her in for a yearly appointment?? Well back then, or maybe it was just that military hospitals practice, they told me at her 2 year apt she didn't need to be seen again until she was 5 for any shots or physicals. Luckily now that isn't practiced anymore, those are the ages they need to be seen to catch most developmental problems. Anyways I guess my point it is does bring me some comfort that the formula feeding didn't cause any problems in my babies.
Before I go I want to say I have NOTHING against anyone that breastfeeds. This was not an attack at anyone who breastfeeds, or anyone who talks about or posts about on facebook. And just a FYI I also have NOTHING against anyone who chooses to formula feed. This is all about my own feelings of guilt and sometimes not feeling like the best mother because of not being able to give them what everyone says is the best thing you can give your baby, breast milk.
4 months ago