Before Emily was born everyone asked me if I was going to breastfeed. I happily said "Yes!" and had the lofty goal of continuing for at least 6 months. Being a nurse I am well versed on the benefits of breastfeeding and the recommendations for it. Besides, it was what women are built for, right?
When Emily was born the nurses clamored about how wonderfully Emily nursed right from the get go. It filled me with pride to hear such compliments. They asked if I wanted to see a lactation consultant, which I did, and told me one would be in the next day. One never came and in the blur of adrenaline and new motherhood I forgot all about it until we were home. I was annoyed, but figured that since I was apparently doing such a great job according to the nurses that everything would be fine.
In reality everything wasn't fine. Besides Emily's ever troubling GERD that went undiagnosed for three weeks I dealt with the very common new nursing mom problems. I endured soreness and pain in order to 'toughen up' to Emily's ferocious latch. Eventually I became accustomed to the firm grasp of her jaw and my toes didn't curl up or I wince in pain when she latched on every hour or two. But thing weren't completely peachy...
Emily, and her ferocious latch were causing quite the frustration for both her and I. She would latch and unlatch continually which led to a pissed off baby and longer feedings. I spent hours on the internet researching how to improve nursing. I read several excerpts in books about it. I talked to other moms and sought out advice. All of it led to me sitting up late at night with a screaming baby begging to eat and then fighting my breast seconds later over and over again for hours. It led me to realize one very important thing...
I hate nursing.
I completely hate it.
In the entire month I attempted solely breastfeeding my child there were no magical moments where I felt an extreme special connection with her when I nursed. She was constantly unhappy and hungry. I could never fill her up. Everything I tried to increase my flow didn't work. Pumping, diet, more frequent feedings... in the end she sucked until there was nothing left and was still hungry.
That was when I reached for the bottle. I had bought some formula 'just in case' when Emily was born and in the middle of the night, sleep deprived and bleary, I filled a bottle with it and gave it to Emily. She sucked the entire thing down, burped, and blissfully fell asleep in my arms with a full belly. It was amazing.
Right then and there, as she snuggled in my arms - more content than I had ever seen her- I made the decision to wean my baby from breast to bottle. But that decision was what has caused me great disappointment... not in the decision itself, but in the stigma of making such a decision.
Every piece of literature I researched about transitioning to formula talked about how great breast feeding was and demanded that a woman try every single option before switching. Everything touted the attitude that if you didn't breast feed you were either selfish or doing something wrong. How could I deny my child such sustenance? What would I have done hundreds of years ago before the ages of formula?
When you say you are exclusively breast feeding you're praised to the ends of the Earth. "Oh, that's great!" everyone says. But if a mom admits she's bottle feeding, much less 'giving up' on breastfeeding she's met with disappointment and shame. Why? Reading and hearing all the opinions towards transitioning or bottle feeding at first made me feel guilty, but then I realized something.
Why should I feel guilty?
No mom should for making a decision like this for her own child.
An odd thing happened when I began bottle feeding Emily. I loved it. She loved it. We snuggled close. She at to her hearts content and didn't have to fight her enthusiasm to get a full meal. As she gazes up at me from the other end of a bottle during each feeding I feel such an intense happiness, love and contentment. I imagine that is what I was suppose to feel when I breastfed, but never did. Starting the transition to formula has been the best decision I've ever made since she's been born.
I'll admit it. I gave up on breastfeeding and I couldn't be happier.
Actually, we couldn't be happier.