This is one of those that I’ve debated writing and wondered how to approach this subject, but after much thought I feel like it’s a valid and “postable” subject that we should talk about and maybe…just maybe I’ll reach someone out there that needs encouragement today, even if it does open myself to a little scrutiny.
What I’m about to tell you may shock you….
I am not breastfeeding my newborn.
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Yep. You heard right. I live smack dab in the middle of au natural-Asheville and I have chosen not to breastfeed. Although this wasn’t my plan from the get-go, I did plan on a bottle/breast combo platter. After about a week of breastfeeding and bottle feeding, Vera started refusing to latch on. I realize that this was probably as a result of giving her a bottle early instead of getting her fully established as a breastfeeder, but regardless, latching was a feat for days. My mom was still here to help and love on me during this time. Through tears and heaps of mommy guilt, she walked beside me as I chose to throw in the towel.
I felt tons of guilt initially, as if I was instantly some careless mother that would just as easily put Coke in a bottle as give up a mother’s perfectly concocted milk. I realized though after beating myself up that what I really felt bad about is what other moms would think of me. Now let’s not be painting a picture of Alicia as the president of the Le Leche club, but I did breastfeed my other babies…not for an overly long amount of time, less than a year for each, but I did breastfeed before. I felt like I was part of that club.
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I realized my limits and I knew I needed to stay within those limits. As I was sweating and wrestling with a screaming 7-day old infant that just. wanted. to. eat. something, I decided enough was enough. I could so much easier just give her a bottle and make her happy. I knew my mom was leaving soon and Jarrod was going back to work. I knew that I’d be alone with four kids, all of them needing something unique. I knew, for me, I would be stretching myself further than I could be stretched even if Vera’s latching issues were resolved.
Today Vera is six weeks old. She is healthy and happy. I feel confident in my decision to formula feed my baby. There have been moments in the last six weeks where I have gotten raised eyebrows from other mamas, yes, but I’m still confident in my decision. I have sat beside mamas with their happily suckling babe at a restaurant and smiled back at her stares while I shook my 4-ounces of Enfamil…and I’m still confident.
I have lots of friends, most of them are mothers. Mothers from all over the spectrum of baby-feeding: from never breastfeeding a day in their child’s life to breastfeeding till their kids are three. Regardless of their choices on how to feed their children, I love them all and they still love me, even though my decision might be different than theirs.
The message I’m trying to give is this: this mama-gig is hard enough as it is. Let’s love on each other rather than raise our eyebrows. Let’s cheer lead one another rather than pick apart the little things. And also? Lets not pick apart ourselves either…especially on this particular thing. Because what my mom convinced me of is that no one else has to feed your baby…nobody but you. There’s times where you have to push and do things that are really tough. And there are times when you need to realize your limitations and accept that.
Let’s love on some mamas today.