This is a post about breastfeeding. Consider yourself warned.

Disclaimer: This post does not take sides in the great breast fed vs. formula fed debate. I am of the belief that we should nourish our babies anyway we can. These are just my thoughts on my own unique experience.
Earlier this week, I reached into the freezer and pulled out the last two lonely plastic bags sitting on the shelf. And then I started crying.
Breastfeeding did not come easy to me. My milk was late coming in (resulting in a trip to the Emergency Department at the Children’s Hospital with a floppy four day old) and Emma had a lip tie which manifested itself in a difficult latch. This all added up to cracked and bloody nipples, incredible frustration and lots of tears. I remember sitting in the glider cringing in pain wondering how I would ever do this for the next week, let alone the recommended year. Through my stubbornness and a fabulous lactation consultant, E and I figured it out and breastfeeding became one of my favorite aspects of motherhood. I savor the time for connection, looking into my baby’s big blue eyes as she stares at me and touches my face, the quiet moments where it was just the two of us. I continue to be amazed that my body has been able to nourish her, and the trust she has in me to keep her fed, healthy and safe.
Keeping this gal full has not been easy. My body does not respond well to pumping and my job does not provide for regular space and time to do so. I have struggled to send her off to daycare with enough breast milk each day and have altered my schedule at times to allow for an additional feeding at home. I have pumped in the car, standing up in the bathroom stall at a hotel during a conference, back to back with a co-worker (or two) in a shared office space and, at my lowest point, on the floor of a hotel room, dress pulled down to my waist, in front of my 22 year old male intern during my company’s annual gala. We had a hard time making eye contact after that. Despite all this, lots of water, daily oatmeal and mugs and mugs of Mother’s Milk tea, I have not produced enough for my munchkin and it is breaking my heart.
So, this weekend, I will feed my 10 month old baby girl formula for the first time so we can start supplementing at daycare next week. I will try not to cry as I watch her gulp it down, able to drink until she is full. And I will savor even more those moments before bed, or in the middle of the night, when it is just the two of us all alone in this world. Because I know those times are fleeting.

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4 thoughts on “This is a post about breastfeeding. Consider yourself warned.

  1. Just saw this and cried a little bit for you too. I went through a very similar experience with both girls. Rocky start from the get go, latching on was a nightmare, pumping and not producing, lactation consultant on speed dial, suffering through thrush, downing brewers yeast and finding out I was allergic to fenugreek, drastically changing my diet, etc. It was exhausting. The worst was feeling like less of a woman because I couldn’t provide for my girls. At first, switching to formula was heartbreaking. But a huge weight was lifted when I saw my girls truly happy and satisfied. We bonded over the bottle and it was a beautiful, special time. To be honest, it was better because I could relax and focus on my sweet babies instead of worrying about milk production. Good luck with the transition. It’s tough but you can get throught it! You aren’t alone. You are being the best mamma and that’s all that matters!

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    1. We beat ourselves up so much don’t we? I am really so very frustrated by the fact my body won’t do what it should. Thank you for making me think of it in a way that I can focus on her instead of production. For now I’m hoping to continue to breastfeed when we are together and pray my supply keeps up.

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  2. What Erin said!! While I was incredibly blessed with a good supply (and sometimes a painful oversupply I felt criminal to complain about) and a good eater (despite the dairy issues and also having to drastically change my diet), we started supplementing at 9 months. I was crushed not to have met my personal goal of 12 months. But, I did what I could until my breastaurant was officially closed for business at 11 months. Sad at the time, but in time I’ve come to accept that I did my best, I am proud of how far I made it towards my goal… and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say it relieved a TON of daily stress when it was all over. Pumping on a toilet seat in Logan airport was not finest moment. Good job, mama, you’ve already achieved a wonderful thing – a healthy and gorgeous girl child!!

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  3. I can relate 100% to your whole post. Breastfeeding is one of the most special things I have done as a mother, but also one of the things I have shed the most tears about. I was most hard on myself with the first, when despite everything in my power I had to start supplementing. Something my mom said that made me feel better was to just think of the formula as another form of baby food. You don’t feel guilty about giving her baby food, so no need to feel bad about the formula. You will still be giving her as much breast milk as you can, but also food/formula. Also, from experience I can tell you that at the same time next year and maybe even next month, it won’t ever cross your mind to feel bad that she needed formula. You are no doubt an amazing mom and doing the absolute best job you can! PS. I have never been as jealous as when I hear moms say they produce too much milk and were able to donate the excess. Imagine telling our 20 year old selves that was what we would be jealous about in our 30s!

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