THANK YOU + a little more about formula

11:21 AM

First and foremost I don't even know if I could fully express how much your kind words of support have meant to me. I hope that anyone out there feeling lonely and bad about the whole thing can draw some comfort from your words as well. You also gave me the courage and made me realize that's it's high time I documented my whole journey with breastfeeding and formula. I remember feeling like there was a massive dearth of information on the subject when I was doing research myself so perhaps this could give someone an idea of what it looks like.
To do this right I must start at the beginning. The story begins when I was halfway through my pregnancy and I read somewhere that the absolute best time to start breastfeeding was right away. So I was determined that as soon as I would be done gazing at my little bundle of love I would attempt breastfeeding. And so it happened that I pulled Birdie's tiny body onto my chest, for some reason asked for "permission" to breastfeed, lifted up my shirt and... pure bliss ensued. She latched on perfectly and sucked voraciously. I thought to myself "this is it! I got it! We got it! Go us!!" She nursed for a few minutes and predictably passed out.
The next few feedings went fairly well until the evening of the second day. Papa bear had left to go check on our kitty and get us some food and he returned to our room at the hospital to quite a scene... There I was in my bed topless, bewildered, my face soaked with tears and my almost purple screaming babe in my arms next to me. I told him I had been trying to nurse her for the past forty-five minute to no avail. He did the absolutely prudent thing and pushed the button for the nurse. Moments later a lovely young girl appeared who attempted to help - I am not going to delve into the minutia but let it be said she was also of no use. However, she did tell me that most likely my baby is fine, I should let her sleep and that she would send a "lactation specialist" to me first thing in the morning.
Now let me tell you about this "specialist." This woman was more than a specialist, she was our angel. She came bustling into our room at 8 am with her arm full of bracelets cheerfully jingling and for the next two hours she proceeded to get as close and intimate with me as almost my own husband (side note: you may think it's all very awkward, and maybe it is, but when you feel like your child is starving you'll stand stark naked in a mall if it guaranteed a full feeding). And this sweet, sweet lady showed me how to nurse, because NO it's NOT common sense. I will forever be grateful to her as I'm sure Birdie will as well.
It was a few weeks before we had another one of the screaming incidents but I would always try some of the tricks she taught me and we seemed to figure it out. And yet by the time Birdie was one month old I couldn't shake the feeling that this was not how it was supposed to be. I read Vanessa Lachey's experience with PPD and nursing a few weeks ago and she described some of my feelings perfectly. I too hated the way nursing left me feeling very lonely. I wouldn't seclude myself due to embarrassment but because of the fact that because of my broken tailbone the only place it was comfortable for me to nurse was my bed and I wasn't dragging my husband, my family or my friends to our bedroom with me every time V needed to nurse. I kept waiting for that "warm and fuzzy" feeling that so many women spoke of to kick in but it never did. Instead with every passing week I would find myself dreading that cry more and more. I began to obsess about it, spending every "non-nursing" minute dreading what was to come.
And then on top of everything I got a plugged duct. At this point papa bear had gone back to work, I was alone, in a lot of pain, with no way to feed my screaming infant, attempting to make do with one breast and trying to pump the other one while gritting my teeth. As George Banks would say "that was the low point." It was then and only then that I got the courage to even begin to broach the topic of formula with my husband. Being the ever supportive and kind spouse that he is he told me that his priority is a happy mama and baby and that I should do whatever I think will bring that about. I wanted to make it to five months so badly but each day was becoming insufferable and so I decided I would try a little bit at four months.
I'll never forget the drive to the COOP to pick up our first can of formula. We were driving back home, the can safely tucked away in the backseat and I had a complete panic attack and meltdown. I felt like I was failing, like I was a terrible mother, terrible person and that this was my first test and I had failed miserably. I cried and cried and cried. And then the next day with a lot of support from papa bear I gave her her first bottle. She had had bottles before so that was not an issue but she also didn't mind the formula itself!! I was relieved but also still a little apprehensive.
The following week we decided that I should go back on birth control and between that and supplementing some of the feedings with formula my milk had dried up completely within two weeks. Whether I wanted to or not we were fully on formula. And I have to tell you it felt so good!
All that time I spent dreading nursing I now enjoyed with my little girl, I could wear my (much more comfortable) old bras again and a lot of the hassle of breastfeeding was gone. For me personally it was a much better fit. I was happy, my baby was happy and we were all happy as a family. And now you my dears have taken away that last pang of guilt! Formula isn't for everyone but neither is breastfeeding and as so many of you have told me as long as our babies are healthy and happy well to put it bluntly - who cares?!

Since this is already the longest post on earth I'm going to just briefly touch on what we use that works and makes all of our lives easier:
  • Earth's Best Organic Infant Formula - I did a lot of research and this really seems to be the best organic option. It's also worth noting that a lot of our family have often remarked saying that V doesn't at all "smell like a formula baby." We once tried conventional formula and I simply couldn't stand the smell. She's never had any problems with it whatsoever. 
  • Lifefactory baby bottles - these are pricey but well worth it. They are glass which I love but best of all the nipples NEVER get clogged. All other bottles I have tried were a disaster when it comes to formula including Medela (duh), Tommee Tippee and Honest Co's baby bottle. Also, I've found that the glass retains the temperature much better. 
  • Tea kettle - I'm big on giving her the formula warm as often as humanely possible (unless we're out) and this tea kettle is fantastic and warming the water to the perfect temperature in just a matter of seconds. It's also very small and portable. 
  • OXO Tot bottle brush - this is my favorite for the Lifefactory bottles as it's long enough to get to the very bottom and fits inside perfectly. 
  • Gerber Pure Water - I mentioned my troubles with baby water in the last post so let me say something GOOD about this water. It's available in most grocery stores including Target. It's ready for mixing which means you don't have to boil it which is great for when you're in a time crunch and like I said before I have never had any problems
So that is our experience with both breastfeeding and formula! Thank again SO much for making me feel comfortable and understood and for giving me the opportunity to share about this. And as always any other formula feeding mamas please do share any tips or advice that you have!! 

Sending each and every single one of you and huge, huge hug!!!

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12 notes

  1. You probably have some of those little 2 oz containers used for storing breast milk, right? They are awesome for containing powdered formula in your diaper bag, rather than a plastic baggie (and they dump perfectly into a bottle when ready to mix when you are out & about).
    My sister-in-law gave me a bottle warmer that plugs into the car and that has been great for long drives or days away from home.
    Wonderful post...thank you for being so candid. You should be proud of doing what's best for you and your family!

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    1. Yes I do! That is a fantastic idea! I've never even thought about doing that! Thank you again for your kind words! xoxo

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  2. I'm so happy to read that you no longer carry around any guilt over this. You're such a good mama and your daughter is thriving. I completely understand what you mean when you talked about dreading nursing sessions. In those early weeks I felt that, too. I felted trapped. Physically and emotionally. I was very lucky that I was able to get thru it and I'm still nursing my 13 month old Max. If I had switched to formula I'm sure he would still be the same happy and healthy little boy. I would never pass judgement on a mama who tried her best. I have nothing but admiration for your decisions and how you got your family thru your breastfeeding journey.

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    1. Thank you SO MUCH!! Your words really ring true for me and it's so nice to know that I'm not alone. You are wonderful! xo

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  3. I was actually nursing Cecily when I read this, and I started to tear up! I'm so sorry that breastfeeding was so emotionally difficult for you. If it had been like that for me even for a few weeks, I definitely would have started her on formula! I absolutely love breastfeeding Cecily. I totally get the warm fuzzies, and it makes me kinda mad for you that you didn't get to experience this!! But that's okay! Lots of us mommas miss out on something. I had a c-section so I missed out on seeing my baby the second after she came out. I had to wait like 15 minutes before I got to hold her or even look at her! It felt like an eternity because I was just struggling to keep my eyes open. But I, honestly, feel totally okay with missing out on that experience. It was outside of my control, and a c-section is what was best for me and my girl. So I'm sure you feel okay with your own experience too. I'm kind of babbling here, so I hope what I'm trying to say is coming across to some extent. And I'm especially sorry that you had to feel any guilt or fear of judgment. It's kind of funny because I'm often a little afraid that I'll experience judgment for breastfeeding Cecily in public or that people will think she's too old to nurse or whatever! I've actually felt a little bit of judgment from the nurses at her doctor's office because I only give her solids once a day (and, truthfully, she doesn't even get them every day). And just today, I got all panicky that she's going to become anemic because she's practically exclusively breastfed at seven months and I don't give her iron fortified foods. BUT she's happy, she's healthy, and she's a total chunk, so who cares, right??! As mothers, the guilt thing and judgment are just battles we face. The truth is that we DO get judged for the choices we make for our children so it's just something we have to come to terms with. I can't let it bother me, and I especially can't let it influence my decisions. Being a mom is HARD on so many levels. Good for you for doing what's best for you and Valentina! You're doing a WONDERFUL job. :)

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    1. Thanks so much Jasmine!! You are so sweet and I appreciate you sharing your story too! Yay for little girls :) xo

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  4. You are very brave that you have tried breast-feeding for so long. I didn´nt have that warm feeling either - until my second child. With my first, I was impatient and often insecure, although we only had problems during the first 2 weeks. I was able to nurse her for up to 9 months (mixed with solid food then already), and it didn´t bother me, but I often thought she didn´t drink enough (she was always done so fast) or when it took long, I was impatient to get up and do something "productive". It seems weird to me now, but that´s what I felt then. When I got my second child, I started really liking the intimate moments and was able to enjoy it more. Maybe you will have another experience with another child. Also what you wrote about the birth in an earlier post: the second is often much more easy. ;-) It kind of makes up for the first (it did for me). Really love your honesty. Thank you for sharing all this personal stuff.

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    1. That's so interesting about you having different experiences with your children. Perhaps I will too?! Thank again for your very kind and encouraging words! xoxo

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  5. hey love! I've been catching up on your blog today and this post is SO timely. I just posted on my blog about feeding Nora some formula as well (I use the same brand!). I have been feeling so guilty but slowly but surely that guilt is fading away as I see Nora thrive more and more every day. I introduced formula at the 6 week mark and it was just an ounce or two a day. But, the past two weeks I've been giving her more. I go back to work next week (sad! but that's a whole other "mommy guilt" topic) and I'm honestly not sure I can keep up with the pumping at work that would be required to meet her needs so I've started giving her a whole bottle just before bed. Honestly, it's been so liberating. I love that Jason can help with feeding her now and I love the flexibility I have when we're out and she demands to be fed. I recently came across this blog www.fearlessformulafeeder.com and reading the stories and posts has been so cathartic. I also really enjoyed this article on the atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/04/the-case-against-breast-feeding/307311/

    In the end, we do what we can for our babies, but we also need to take care of ourselves as mamas so that we can be the best versions of ourselves for our babies.

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  6. One thing I forgot to mention is that we use the tommee tippee bottle warmer. It is great and you can plug it in anywhere. I actually have two - I keep one in the nursery if I need to warm up a bottle at night so I rock Nora while it warms and then grab it as soon as it's ready.

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    1. Thank you SO MUCH Julie for sharing and for your kind words, it really means a lot! We're all trying our best here and it's so important that we support each other! Really looking forward to reading those articles! xo

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  7. i'm in the process of moving and have been fairly quiet on the internets due to that, but let me say this: I was formula-fed. I rarely get sick except for the common cold. I scored high on my SATs. I have lifelong, healthy and rewarding friendships. I am happy. I graduated college and graduate school. I have a very good relationship with my mother. I am able to conduct a long-term relationship with someone I love. And, if I do say so myself, I have great taste in shoes. THEREFORE, it looks like feeding me formula didn't kill me and I'm still able to lead a successful life. The Union of Dulce de Leche Mothers for Tits and Tits Only and Breast is Best No Other - Or whatever the F*&k they call them selves - are a wee bit ridiculous. Yes, breast-feeding is amazing, but it's true benefits are really seen in the first few months. After that, it's gravy. But all their insane campaigning and shaming has led to it being OK to judge mothers who use formula, but if you dare judge a mother who's breast-feeding her 2-year-old, you're totally out of line. You know what? I think it's kind of odd and weird and unnecessary to breast-feed your two-year-old. I think Moms do it more for themselves than for their children. But it's not my kid. So I don't say anything, I don't roll my eyes, I don't tell them what I think because it doesn't matter - not my life, not my kid. And it's the same with formula. You don't like it? Good, don't give it your kid.

    Formula is OK. V will be awesome, you will be happy. I was given formula because my Mom got an incredibly serious infection breast-feeding my sister and didn't want to do it all over again. And she was happy. Which made me happy. And I was really fat. Everything a baby should be. I was visiting my friend, a new mom, and she's not producing enough milk and will have to substitute with formula. She said the guilt was eating away at her...until she finally decided she needed to do it. And what's the alternative - the baby starves? And now that the decision is made and done she is... relieved. She is happy. And that makes for a good Mom. Which is exactly what you're doing - choosing happiness and health. I hope mothers use you as an example and an inspiration to be ok with formula-feeding. As someone who was formula-fed and, I think, leads a pretty good life - trust me, V will be great.

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