Breastfeeding is really, really hard in the best of circumstances.
Madeline never fed from my breast. I had to pump when she was in the NICU, and since I couldn’t be there around the clock, she drank my milk from the bottle. When she came home it was so important that we accounted for every drop she ingested, so I continued to pump and bottle feed until my supply ran dry. It was great – I not only got to snuggle her when I fed her, but Mike had the opportunity to as well.
I was excited about the idea of breastfeeding Annabel. I hoped that if she avoided the NICU we’d be able to establish a routine. We did, sort of. After 45 minutes of crying, latching, unlatching, latching, etc, she would finally calm enough to eat…only to start the whole thing again an hour later. My nipples were a disaster. I can’t even describe how awful they were. And the pain, omg. I literally would bite down on a washcloth when Annie latched on.
I went to a certified lactation consultant. She looked at my nipples and gasped at their horrible condition. She said she couldn’t believe I was still feeding Annabel with them. She watched Annabel eat, and had me try a bunch of different positions and holds to improve her latch. Finally, the LC told me that Annie chewed when she nursed. She instructed me to pump until my destroyed nipples healed.
So I pumped, and it was great. I snuggled Annie, and I didn’t dread meal times. Mike also got to feed her, and bond with her.
(I firmly believe that I bonded with both of my daughters the same as if they had been fed from the breast. I held them the same way, we looked into each other’s eyes with love. They just got my milk from a bottle.)
In the meantime, my mental health was precarious. I started a very low dose of anxiety medication after Annabel was born, but it didn’t improve things at all. My psychiatrist and therapist begged me every week to up my dosage, but I was reluctant. I didn’t want to take anything that would affect Annabel. As time went on, the begging became insisting. Mike started to chime in. So did Dr. Looove. I agreed and let my doctors slowly raise my dosage.
Then the panic attacks started, and my doctors fretted over me more. An additional prescription was written at a low dose. It wasn’t enough. I resisted raising it to a level that would help me. I did tons of research. I didn’t want anything to impact Annabel, and this definitely would. I couldn’t be alone, because I was so scared I’d have a panic attack that I’d HAVE a panic attack. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stop. It was a horrible way to live.
Someone made me realize I was holding myself hostage. I was so focused on the drugs affecting Annabel that I didn’t take my state of mind into consideration at all. I was preventing myself from being a good mom. Something had to give, and the something was breastfeeding.
It wasn’t easy. I’d told everyone that I wouldn’t make myself crazy if breastfeeding didn’t work out, but then when this situation arose I made myself feel horribly guilty. I felt like I was putting myself first, and that I was a terrible mother. Even when the rational part of my brain would tell me it wasn’t true, I wouldn’t let myself believe it. I was certain everyone would judge me, so I told hardly anyone. If someone mentioned breastfeeding, I sidestepped it. I swore I’d never write about it.
Some time has passed, and I have much more…I don’t know, clarity, about the whole thing. I am going to try to not feel guilty about choosing my mental health in this situation, because it impacts everyone around me – especially Annabel. The other day I told a friend with a low milk supply that there is no shame in not being able to breastfeed. I realized that I need to stop saying there isn’t and acting like there is. So I am writing about it, because I am not ashamed. No one should be.
Breastfeeding is really, really hard in the best of circumstances. The circumstances were out of my control, but I am making do. My daughter is fed, happy, and healthy. I am working on being happy and healthy, too.
I love that kiddo!
Glad to hear you are doing better!
.-= Annie´s last blog ..What’s That? =-.
Nancy Smego says:
Absolutely 100% agree with you. You are an amazing mom – to both of your daughters!
Karen Chatters says:
You’re doing awesome!! Mom guilt is soooo easy to put on ourselves for so many things. You have already done so many things to ensure that Annie is happy and healthy, it’s important you do the same for yourself.
.-= Karen Chatters´s last blog ..I need a valium =-.
Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemies, you know? You made the best choice because you made the choice that works for you and your family, and you made that choice from a place of love.
Good job, Mama.
.-= califmom´s last blog ..Living, Because I Didn’t Die =-.
Malou's Mama says:
Oh, you poor thing. I am also parenting after loss (to a boy only a week younger than Annabel) and it makes every decision even more agonizing. It sounds like you have gone above and beyond in terms of BF…and you know what? Even if you didn’t give it your all (which you clearly did, and more), that would be okay too. The last two sentences of your post are the most important for you to keep in mind, imo. That’s what matters.
Thanks for sharing – hopefully it will make others realize how we feed our babies is a personal decision -. and there is no shame in however we choose to do it! A healthy, fed baby is what is important. As is a mama’s mental health! I hope your meds are now doing their job.
You did everything – and more – in your power to do it and you haven’t failed or given up and in no way should you feel even a tiny bit guilty. You are doing what’s right
for everybody – if you’re doing okay, then Annabel will be happy and healthy. Too many people are made to feel guilty about this issue.
.-= Alison´s last blog ..Still, Life =-.
Anna Marie says:
Thank you for this. I pumped and bottle fed both my preemies for as long as I could stand it, and now that they are 3 and 5 I still feel the need to defend the fact that I could only keep it up for a few months each time. Maternal guilt is a powerful force and breastfeeding is a hot-button issue. Combine that with postpartum hormones and you have a perfect storm.
I am so glad that you are feeling better. I don’t know you personally, but it has been apparent in your posts over the last month or two that you are making some progress…good for you! I can’t imagine how one could even begin to deal with the loss of a child, but I can only believe that it is the hardest, most horrific and heartbreaking experience in existence. Annie is sooo adorable, strong and healthy & she looks so incredibly happy, but then again, she has two awesome parents that love her to bits, so her personality is inevitable, I suppose! It is insane about the amount of “mommy guilt” out there, much of it from individuals trying to be well-meaning, but in the end have absolutely no clue as to each individual’s needs. You are spot on, Annie is well-nourished, healthy & happy and obviously adores her Mommy & Daddy! We need to care for ourselves before we can be any good to others, which is hard to swallow in the real day to day existence, but so very true. As far as breastfeeding, it is not ideal all the time for everyone and you are right…it needs to be said over and over. So many moms needlessly have such guilt if it doesn’t work for them! I have been an NICU RN for over 20 years and when I had my daughter, she flat out refused breast milk. Latching on was like your experience with Annie, plus when she finally latched on & fed, she would then projectile vomit across the room. Even pumping, along with watching what
I ate didn’t work. She was jaundiced & I was terribly anemic after my c-section and feedings/life in general were so much easier for her (and me) after switching her to a special formula for allergies & reflux. She is now going to be 16 on June 16th & is healthy, happy, strong & smart….an absolute sweetheart, with some amazing artistic ability, an Honor Roll Student/Girl Scout and a softball pitcher for almost ten years (sorry, had to brag)!
Anyhow, best of luck to you & your family. Your blog is awesome, painfully honest, smart and funny, plus watching Cutie Pie Annie grow is another great reason to keep up. I wish that we could watch her grow up with her Big Sis, Maddie, but your faithful readers know she is always there, regardless!
When my first son was born breastfeeding simply wasn’t working out…I pumped but I wasn’t producing enough and he was so hungry…I felt like such a failure when I had to supplement with formula and then eventually switch to formula…I couldn’t talk about it without crying for quite a while until my grandmother and I had a talk one day. She was 85 at the time and had raised 5 children…in those days they didn’t have formula and one of her children simply would not breast feed….she tried and tried with no success and she told me they would give her bottles of corn syrup mixed with water and a little cow’s milk since they didn’t have formula then. I about fell over but then I thought about it and you know what my aunt is alive and well today and has never been overweight, has never had diabetes or cancer or any other horrible disease and I realized some formula wouldn’t hurt especially since they aren’t made from corn syrup and water :). Feeding time became a lot more enjoyable and a time of bonding when my poor little boy wasn’t screaming with hunger and frustration and my husband could spend more time bonding with him too. When my second son came along I did produce more milk but still not enough to meet his hunger and ended up supplementing with formula but with a lot less guilt. I’ve had friends who breastfed solely for the first year or more of their child’s lives and those children ended up with more illnesses than my boys or iron deficiency, etc…so take it a day at a time and enjoy that beautiful baby girl!!! And take care of yourself!!
AHHHHHHHHHHHH that baby is so painfully cute I could cry. I’m sitting here working on my lab report at 2:30am and those chubby cheeks just made me hate my life a lot less (and that’s saying something for a biochemistry major in the middle of dead week).
So important to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your family. You are absolutely doing the right thing, so feel really good about that.
What a beautiful baby. Love that cheruby face
.-= Karen´s last blog ..Less is More =-.
dysfunctional mom says:
And look, she’s already walking! So clearly she’s doing just fine. ;o)
I’m very glad that you’re taking care of yourself. Healthy mama = healthy baby.
That Annabel is so stinkin cute!
Listen, I was guilted into the whole breastfeeding thing and totally regret trying to stick it out when it was so clearly not working for me or my daughter. My cousin passed away a few weeks after my daughter was born. She was like a sister to me but I couldn’t fly 2500 miles to her funeral with a newborn and I didn’t have enough milk pumped to leave her at home. I forced myself to keep nursing for months and it was such a struggle. My supply was low, she didn’t latch properly even with a lactation consultant and trying every position imaginable. I got breast infections all the time. She was underweight and hungry and crying all the time. It was miserable for both of us. After struggling with the guilt for months I realized how something that was supposed to be so positive was having a damaging effect on both of us and it just wasn’t worth it. We switched to bottle feeding and she thrived. And I slept, because I didn’t have to be awake every 90 minutes since my husband could step in to do some of the feedints.
Breastfeeding is great in theory but it doesn’t work for everyone. You try it and do the best you can do, but honestly Heather, you really have to take care of yourself to be the best possible mom you can be.
.-= Noelle´s last blog ..I Remember =-.
awwww, I feel bad for you because I know what you went thru. I was a mother of 3 and was never able to become a success at breastfeeding any of them. Humor eventually took over when my husband started calling me his little “milk dud”. Now here it is 20 years later and they have all turned out happy and very much loved, breast or no breast. Looking into the eyes of your baby is another way of breastfeeding if you get what I mean. I have the utmost respect for you and read your blog daily. You write a book on grief everyday that reaches thousands and lets them know that they are okay just where they are in their own grief. A situation that was meant for harm but God turned it around and is using it for His glory with the lives you touch on a daily basis.
Lynn from For Love or Funny says:
Heather, I had panic attacks when I was in my 20’s, so I know exactly how frightening and debilitating they are. The fear of experiencing another panic attack would be just as bad as the panic attack, itself. I’ll keep you in my thoughts; you are just as important as Annie and Mike are. We need you to be healthy and happy, too!
P.S. Wow – is Annie standing against the couch?????
.-= Lynn from For Love or Funny´s last blog ..What’s going on while you sleep? =-.
Amid the beauty there is so much that is hard that no one shares. I remember feeling very close to the edge when my supply was flagging and my sense of failure was rising. My husband told me not to worry, others shushed me, but the panic couldn’t be quieted. It really is staggering how hard, harder even than the judgey-judgy people in the world, when it comes to how good a mom we are.
Every picture of Annie you post and every image of Maddie that people around the internet proudly show, demonstrates that you are doing more than “good,” you grow love, beauty and wonder—breastfed or not.
.-= Amanda´s last blog ..Maybe it will =-.
I did not breast feed my daughter. I just could not stand the idea of it. Yes I know it is natural and good, but the idea was just too much for me. So when I had my baby she went right to bottle. I felt fine with my decision. I’t never occurred to me that I should feel guilty for not breastfeeding. There are So many other things that I feel guilty about (not being able to afford an Ivy League school for her when the time arrives, getting angry when the dog pees in the kitchen and I step in it because I didn’t let him out in time…poor little guy it’s not his fault he can’t open doors to get out!, when I act like a total jerk to my husband for leaving a mess somewhere…oh the list is long) I guess that I just had no room for that issue.
.-= charlane´s last blog ..BBQ Cake =-.
Charlane – Thank you for posting this. Where were you when everyone around me was giving me ‘tude for not having any desire whatsoever to even try breastfeeding. I was called selfish and a bad mom…so I tried and it was horrible. Every time I tried my daughter and I would end up a crying mess and she was still hungry. So I pumped, which was the most painful thing I’ve ever put myself through. Isn’t better to have a mother who is happy with her decisions and a child who is fed and full?
.-= Maria´s last blog ..Sell, sell, sell…DANCE! =-.
A-Men to that! I am an RN in the women and infants area and I had no desire to nurse either of my boys but forced myself to try with my first son. Of course he ended up with pneumonia and visited the NICU and even went home with a PICC line in his scalp. So it only added to my stress. Finally my husband said ENOUGH!!! Bottle or breast babies get what they need regardless. You have to do what’s best for EVERYONE involved. I have seen more tears shed over breastfeeding than anything else in my line of work. So proud of you Heather for taking care of yourself AND Annie.
Women can be our own worst enemy: the guilt we place upon ourselves and our fellows can be immense. Admitting to bottle feeding these days is like taking a step out of a dark room and showing a secret side. It did not work for me, either. I believe strongly that caring and nurturing are the most important aspect to parenting a newborn and you are hitting homeruns in that department. Annie looks so happy in all of her pictures. I could just hug her up!
A good mama takes care of her own and does what is best for her family. Keep on keepin’ on and don’t carry any guilt for bottle feeding. Good luck with your medications. I hope you find the best combo.
.-= Jenny´s last blog ..Lost and Found =-.
I think you’re a little bit wrong. Breastfeeding isn’t always hard – in the best of circumstances it can be pretty effortless. For some women it’s easy, for some women it’s hard. But all of them can be wonderful loving mothers, with or without breastfeeding. You are making loving choices for Annabel, and that’s what’s important.
Also that she’s beautiful and has a totally infectious smile! To look at that picture is to smile!
I agree with Ib. Breastfeeding was easy for me, and I even pumped when I went back to work and I am proud of that…..but that was me….everyone is different and I would never judge someone who didn’t. You have to do what is best for your child and for you.
The important thing is she is thriving and you are getting the medicine that you need.
I didn’t take Heather’s comment to mean that it’s ALWAYS hard. I took it that it CAN be hard even in the best situation. Whether it be emotionally or physically difficult. Some women effortlessly breastfeed but don’t like being so “attached” to the baby. Or they don’t feel a bond when they breastfeed and feel inadequate b/c they feel that way. As a lactation initiator and and mother/baby RN I have seen most every situation. I agree that the most important thing is that the baby thrives and that momma gets what she needs physically AND emotionally.
Hi Heather, I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now. My daughter Giada was born just before Maddy in Nov, 2007, 4 weeks early. I was unable to breastfeed her–for some reason my milk never came in fully and I would try and try to pump and get her to latch on and I would only get droplets and maybe a 1/2 ounce of milk. It was devastating to me–I felt like the world’s worst mother because I couldn’t even nourish my child. For three weeks I tried to breastfeed and pump to no avail and shed many tears along the way and finally, I too, came to the realization that it was more important that Giada was growing and getting nourishment in some form (formula) and she was getting the love and bonding from us anyway. So I do understand how you feel about that.
Annie is beautiful–I received her birth announcement in the mail and it was nice to feel a part of your extended family.
PND is the worst, and you have had plenty of reasons to have PND. But it sounds like you’re hormones are settling and you’re getting to the other side.
I breastfed my first child for 14 months (ouch!) but my second for 6 weeks. Both are strapping healthy bright kids – thats all I ask for.
A happy and healthy mum is much better for a baby than a sore, weeping mum with a guilty conscience.
And is that girl REALLY standing on her own????? Where has the time gone?
Heather, I apologize that I incorrectly spelled Maddie’s name in the previous post.
Kate @ UpsideBackwards says:
Good for you! You are working so hard to do your very best, and it’s important to remember that a healthy Mum is the best thing a baby can have. Annie is clearly thriving, both physically and in general – love those smiles! Lots of love and hugs to you.
.-= Kate @ UpsideBackwards´s last blog ..Tree farmers can change the world =-.
Ella xxx says:
I’m a huge supporter of breastfeeding – My whole family is very passionate and my aunt is fairly high up in the hierarchy of our states ‘Nursing Mothers Association’.
As passionate as I am about it I must stress that CANT and WONT are two separate issues. I morally disagree with people who are physically capable of breastfeeding and CHOOSE not to – although I would never be disrespectful enough to comment on it to someone or argue about it as despite my rather strong feelings on the issue I still believe everyone has the right to make their own choice.
But Heather…you tried. Through adversity and pain you persevered. You did everything humanly possible. You tried all you knew, then you consulted doctors with depths of knowledge and then finally had to concede defeat and discontinue an already losing battle when you needed medication essential to your own health. You gave it all you possibly could – you struggled through to get Annie the precious colostrum she needed and the foundations of her immune system.
No reasonable person could have anything but admiration for your efforts. You did all you possibly could, and at the end of the day you have a beautiful healthy baby – Thats all that matters.
.-= Ella xxx´s last blog ..Just a whinge =-.
I’m confused. You morally disagree with someone who chooses to feed their child from a bottle? There is nothing MORALLY wrong with feeding your child from a bottle. You seem to be confusing your “morals” with your righteousness.
I don’t know about this. In a way I see the point – it does bother me when women don’t try. But then, what is try? How hard do you have to try before we will say it is ‘OK’ to quit? Do you have to go until your nipples bleed? Or is it OK if they are just sore? If you give up after only one lactation consultant, are you a wimp? Or do you need to at least get a second opinion? How many sleepless nights? How much pain?
Or maybe we can just let it go. Encourage women to breastfeed, make sure they have the facts, but refrain from making moral judgements about them or their parenting based on their choice.
Amen, that reply made me cringe a little.
With my first baby, I was soooooo sore. OMG tears would come to my eyes when my baby latched on. It was awful pain. I would go topless around the house because it was unbearable to put a bra on, or even have any kind of material even slightly touch me. I ran a fever sometimes. I felt like crap. To this day, I have no idea how I stuck with it for those first two weeks and didn’t cave. My husband thought I was insane (afterall, he was there to see what the baby was doing to my breasts during those first weeks! eeeek!) Looking back, I didn’t have much support in my decision to breastfeed. I had my mother in my ear the entire time telling me to just stop and give the baby formula. Afterall, that’s what she did with me…and I turned out fine. But, I was set in my my mind to nurse that baby, and in the end, I did. For 4 months. I am proud of that, because I can remember so well how painful those first few weeks were. And I can totally understand why others would stop at that point — out of pain, out of frustration, combined with sleepless nights and perhaps a fussy newborn. Oh yes, I can see why there are mommies who, for them, the choice to “give up” and give the baby formula might be the best choice. And I’d never pass judgement. For those who do not even try? Well, I have a friend who had 3 children and from the moment they stepped out of the womb she gave them formula. She had the nurses in the hospital bind her breasts with cloth to help with the engorgement that was soon to come. Her reason for not breastfeeding? She was dependant on her anxiety meds and felt it was not in the best interest of her marriage to be off her meds. She said breastfeeding would stress her out too much. And you know what? Who am I to say that she wasn’t right about that? And I’ll tell you something, those 3 kids are ages 14, 12, and 9 right now…and they bonded to their mama just like my breastfed kids are bonded to me, and they are healthy and happy. So who am I to say? Breastfeeding was hard for me with my first baby, and with all the others it was a piece of cake. But that’s me. Not everyone is cut out for it. We all have different situations, different personalities, different stress levels. In the end, no one should be made to feel quilty for their decision.
.-= Katrina´s last blog ..The Strike =-.
Breastfeeding is NOT a moral issue. It’s a personal choice. Geesh…
Ella xxx says:
Maybe morally is the wrong choice of words. When I referred to women who don’t try I was talking more about who don’t try because they think its disgusting or cant be bothered. Not breastfeeding because you are dependent on anxiety meds is definitely a cant rather than a wont.
I have one particular friend who made the decision not to breastfeed because the idea of a baby sucking on her breast ‘creeped her out’ and she ‘couldn’t be bothered’ even pumping a little for those initial colostrum feeds because ‘why should i be stuck feeding the baby on my own when everyone can take turns if i use formula?’.
So that was more the attitude I was referring to – which is a wholly selfish one not considering the child at all over your own desires. But I do concede that if you DO have that attitude and someone forces you to breastfeed you have little chance of success.
I think any effort whatsoever counts.
Look…I dont know. My daughter latched and drank beautifully but I had bleeding and infections which didnt seem to impact her feeding – only my pain levels – so I kept going.
But since I was only blessed with my daughter for just over two months, who knows how long I would have continued for?
.-= Ella xxx´s last blog ..Just a whinge =-.
Simply Jenn says:
I truly don’t believe can’t or won’t should be an issue either. I found out when my son was 10 months old that I was pregnant again. I did not breastfeed the new baby because I just didn’t want to. And honestly? I think that’s okay. I did bottle feeding solely for me, totally selfishily and my now 13 year old is healthy, happy and strong. That’s all I care about. The outcome I breastfed my other four and felt like those were were good decisions at the time. No better, no worse. Just what I needed at the time. I don’t feel what I did was morally wrong or selfish. It just was,
.-= Simply Jenn´s last blog ..I HATE being afraid to be in my own house =-.
I have 3 kids and could only breastfeed the oldest and the youngest. My middle girl was born at 7lb 13ou (3 weeks early!!) and I tried breastfeeding her for 3 weeks. She kept losing weight and had bright yellow poo and was looking yellow in her skin. I took her to the doctor and she weighed 6pd 8ou and he diagnosed Lactose Intolerance. My milk was literally making her sick. She was bottlefeed from that day and she thrived. She is now a 5 year old who is bright, bubbly, above average height and very healthy. While I loved breastfeeding my other 2 kids, I loved feeding my middle child just as much because she was healthy. You can still hold them and have skin to skin contact and gaze at them when they bottlefeed.
Thank your for writing about this. I, too, had low (almost non-existent) milk supply when my son, Adam (who is now 3) was born. I saw a consultant and she said I would have to pump ever 2 hours for a month and MAYBE my milk would come in, then. For 2 weeks, I supplemented my ounce of breastmilk with formula and pumped around the clock. Still…. virtually no milk (I am hypothyroid so the Dr. thinks it was related to that). Anyway, I felt terrible guilt but I stopped pumping/nursing after 2 weeks and went to formula “full time”. After a few weeks, I stopped feeling guilty (thank goodness)! I DEFINITELY 100% felt just as bonded to Adam when I fed him from the bottle… so much though, that he didn’t hold his own bottle until 14 months! He also didn’t get sick once (besides minor colds) until he started daycare at 17 months. Most of my friends did nurse but it just didn’t work for me. I’m thankful that I was able to let my guilt go and just enjoy my feeding time with Adam and let my husband have that time, too.
Once again, thank you SO MUCH for sharing such an important topic. June’s Redbook also has a good article on this, too, that I just read at the dentist’s office. =)
P.S. I hope you’re panic attacks are getting less frequent… I also suffer from them… they can take your breath away and not in a good way! Thinking of you!!!
Oh Heather please don’t feel so guilty! There is nothing wrong with embracing formula. I did and only after 4 weeks if trying to breastfeed. It just did not work for me and the stress of it all was ruining a very special time in my and my son’s life. And I did feel like it was all my fault, I was not producing any milk at all and when he would latch on I would cringe in unbelievable pain. It was terrible. As soon as I switched to formula it was like a fifty pound weight lifted off my back and it felt good. And you know what? My son has grown up just like any other 2 year old. He is healthy and happy and so is his mama. You are a good Mom, no you are a GREAT Mom no matter what you feed your child! And thank you for writing this for all the other Mom’s who had to make the same choice as you. It makes all of us feel better to know that there are others out there who have difficulties with breastfeeding!
.-= Nicole´s last blog ..The Potty =-.
I wasn’t able to breastfeed either. My condition after I gave birth just didn’t allow me to become comfortable enough to allow my daughter to latch on. I too felt so guilting for not doing it but I know that what I did was best. She slept through the night early and I thin that had a lot to do with her bottle feeding. It also allowed my husband to take over the night feedings when i was a total mess!! You have a beautiful daughter and you are doing an amazing job! I also struggle with anxiety so I know what it’s like to have to choose your metal state! Good for you and good luck going forward!
I breastfed my daughter once or twice after she came home from her brief stay in the NICU. It was clear that it was going to be a challenge, and with all the other challenges of having a premature newborn, it was an easy decision to pump.
My daughter drank pumped breast milk for her entire first year — far longer than most breastfed babies I encountered, whose mothers would nonetheless judge and blame me for pumping instead of breastfeeding. Then, after I stopped pumping (with considerable relief) I kept running into mothers who looked askance at my decision to stop after “only” one year.
I realized then that no matter what you do as a mother, or why, you, or someone you know, will try to make you feel guilty about it. Now I know that whenever this happens, it’s a good idea to evaluate their — or my own — motives for doing so.
I’m not a qualified therapist of any sort, but I suspect guilt-tripping can be a way of denying your own sense of relief. If you feel guilty about something, maybe it’s because subconsciously you also feel a little bit relieved about it but don’t think you should.
I’m just a stranger who reads your blog, but I’d like to think you could (or do) give yourself permission to be relieved sometimes. Relieved that Annie is so lovely, and that she’s growing out of the helpless baby stage and into more of responsive person all the time. Relieved that you — and Mike — can snuggle with her without the added anxiety or labour of breast feeding or pumping. Relieved, maybe, to regain control over your body and its functions again. And so on.
From this distance Annie looks like a healthy, thriving, happy baby. And surely that is the greatest testament to your success as a parent, regardless how she gets her nutrition.
“I realized then that no matter what you do as a mother, or why, you, or someone you know, will try to make you feel guilty about it.”
Here, here, fer frick’s sake!!!! Amy is utterly spot on.
As an infant, my now-17-year-old daughter was soooo not up for The Boob As Lunch… An entire TEAM of the most Elite Lactation SuperSpecialists could NOT convince this cherub that straight-up breastfeeding would be a WAY cool thing to do, even with all-expenses-paid trips to DisneyWorld and full wardrobes from Jacadi thrown in as added incentive. Feeling wretched (as this did NOT jibe with my “parenting plan” (looooong since shredded)), I ultimately cultivated a warmer relationship with my handy breastpump than I EVER had with her dad, my ex-husband… She nearly-exclusively drank pumped breastmilk for the four months I was able to pull it off — with the exception of the day I caught my mom secretly feeding her a bottle of formula, as it was MOM’S feeling that I was slowly destroying the glorious 9-pound newborn I’d birthed by neglecting her God-given right to free access to Enfamil. (This is the same MOM who eventually whisked my babydaughter away one Friday afternoon (after slyly hoodwinking me into taking a MUCH sought-after nap — bitch!) for a super-sneaky under-handed Catholic baptism, ya know, just so her nascent soul would be properly bumper-padded against my rampant non-denominationalism much in the way that the formula was to protect her from my “insipid”* breastmilk. Not dissimilar from the way the vodka I nearly caught her rubbing on the baby’s gums once teething took up in earnest was to shield my Roo from ever experiencing any level of dental discomfort… GAAAAK!! How did **I** ever survive my OWN upbringing??) (* just for the record, my breastmilk was the most sipid possible, Mom!!!)
Two years later, I gave birth to my twins, her beloved brother and sister. For reasons that remain utter mystery to me, THEY took immediately to breastfeeding with much the same passion that **I** felt for their sister’s breastpump. Go figure.
For nine months, I was able to hook “Hoover One” and “Hoover Two” up at absolute random for glorious meals that left the two of them in blissful, drowsy stupors, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes while doing handstands, sometimes while otherwise performing delicate dishwasher-loading procedures with my free hands.
Totally different experience from the first.
All three of my kids to this day are full of health and spunk and ALL the stuff both the pro-breastfeeding and pro-formula campers promised me (with equal zeal) from their divergent sides-of-the-field.
Turns out ALL we ever REALLY needed to fear was Grandma.
Gorgeous little angels who are standing independently shortly after their 4th-month birthdays are an entirely *separate* thing to fear, however… Yikes!!!!
With all the warmest wishes,
Michelle, you crack me up. Your mom sounds like a real piece of work, as my grandmother would have said — good luck, and thank you for making some good points.
You pumped for an entire year!! Wow!!
My daughter was born with a cleft lip/palate and physically could not nurse. The analogy I use is “try vacuuming with a hole in your hose”
And yet people would judge me for giving her my milk in a bottle.
I only lasted a month….It was pure hell for me! I could not get my daughter and my pumping schedule to line up and I was exhausted. I would get really pissed at people who would say “I know how you feel I pumped a bottle so I could go out tonight” That is NOTHING like hooking yourself up to a machine every 4 hours.
I Bfed my other daughter easily and for 6 months.
Wouldn’t life be so much nicer if we could just respect people’s choices and keep our opinions to ourselves.
Alexandra :) says:
Don’t feel guilty about it. You can’t take good care of Annie without taking good care of yourself, first. And besides, I’m sure that Mike is happy tha the can get in on the action, too
Mary Ann says:
Don’t ever feel guilty about your decisions. Just look at that beautiful, healthy, happy baby girl and know that you are a fantastic mother. Breastfeeding does not make a mother any better than one who bottle feeds. You deserve the mother of the year award for all you endured to give birth to that gorgeous girl. You are truly an inspiration and Annie is blessed to have such wonderful, loving parents. Glad to hear you are doing better, take care of yourself Annie wants her Mommy to be happy.
Heather – you fell into the age-old mom trap of putting everyone else ahead of you. If you don’t/can’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to take care of your family. I know it sounds selfish but you have to be the best you possible to be the best mom. I’ve watched so many friends struggle with it to the point of physical and mental exhaustion.
You are doing a wonderful job with Annabel, and it appears by the chub on her cheeks that she’s doing just fine!
I totally agree with you on this, I always say as long as mom is happy everyone around her is
You have nothing to be ashamed of! You are a strong person and you made the right choice for you and your family. And it IS great your wrote about it because no woman should ever feel shame about this.
And Annabel is beautiful. Great photo. You did the right things!!
good for you for making the right choice. We adopted our daughter (at birth) so she wasn’t breast fed. She’s happy and healthy. Annie is beautiful. Congrats to your whole family.
Sarah P says:
.-= Sarah P´s last blog ..Inadequacy, feelings of =-.
Heather your honesty is so refreshing. Most people tend to hide themselves … I love how you are open, in spite of your fears. I suspect you help other people more than you’ll ever know.
I did everything to keep breastfeeding Rocco. But my supply was so low because I was so stressed. My doctor prescribed some pill that was supposed to increase my milk, but ended up giving my insomnia with acid flashbacks. I thought spiders were crawling in my hair – it was awesome!
Rocco went on formula the next day. It was such a relief.
.-= edenland´s last blog ..Diss Function =-.
J in eire says:
My first daughter was breastfed for 10 days !!! In that time her weight dropped from 8lbs 12oz to 7lbs 2oz ….. She was jaundiced – in special care under lights, and had reflux, and for 10 looooong days and nights I did 23 feeds in 24 hrs…. Then her paediatrician told me I had to stop, she was put on formula with thickners to help with the reflux and things started to turn around. When my second daughter was born 9lbs 10oz after 1hr 20 mins of natural labour I was more than happy to sit back and enjoy my husband giving our daughter her first feed – pure love. By helping yourself to get through all of this trauma you are showing Annie pure love, and she reflects it right back at you (and us).
I breastfed my twins for 6 weeks and didn’t enjoy it. For me it hurt so bad. It also felt like the only thing I was doing was feeding. I was very sleep deprived and these being my first children I was overwhelmed. I had bad PPD, and stopped nursing. But I feel you on the guilt…my twins are now 6 and I still feel guilty for stopping breastfeeding. I wish it was natural for me.
Anyways, you are not alone. Thanks for writing this post.
Breastfeeding was a nightmare for me, too.
I pumped and fretted over my twin girls and averaged a 20 minute nap at a time.
I stopped when I realized that I had not held one of my daughters for 24 hours!
The lactation consultant was the one who encouraged me to stop. She made me feel so much better.
Now that they’re 3 1/2, I can’t believe how much stress I put myself through… I should have stopped to smell the… um… babies and enjoyed the early days more…
I’m so glad you posted this. My sister tried to breastfeed her first child for over a month. Her nipples were bleeding, the baby was underweight and not gaining weight and screaming all the time, etc. She went to a lactation consultant and they told her to stay in bed all day with the baby until she got it right.
When I had my first baby, nursing went fine, but I struggled with crippling post partum depression. I had taken an antidepressant pre-pregnancy, and like you, I was worried about taking it while breastfeeding. I called a pharmacist, and she told me to “Just tough it out”.
Breastfeeding is great, but it does not work for everyone in every situation. Moms shouldn’t feel guilt for choosing another perfectly good option when breastfeeding just doesn’t work for them.
Thanks again for posting this.
What a brave and touching post. Good for you for having the courage to write about this. I, too, went on anti-anxiety medication after the birth of my son because I wasn’t being the mother I wanted to be…it was a very tough decision to make, but I’m feeling so much more sane, relaxed and happy. And, of course, that translates into being a better parent. BTW, Annabel is so FREAKING CUTE!!!
Good for you Heather. Here is my experience with breastfeeding twins and the awful guilt that I felt for so long and how my girls are almost two and I still feel I get judge when asked how long did you breastfeed? http://www.mamaloves.ca/tag/breastfeeding/
Thank you for writing this. I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to judge what a woman decides when it comes to breastfeeding. It is a very personal decision. I breastfed my son and was miserable the whole time. We never got it down just right and like you I got infections. I only continued out of guilt. Everyone made is sound so wonderful and easy. No one mentioned the hard stuff and I seriously thought there was something wrong with me for hating it. Once I finally decided to switch to formula we were both much happier and daddy was happy to participate too! When I had my daughter, I decided to put her on formula right away. I felt a little guilty at first, but knew that I had made the right decision for me. It may sound selfish, but a miserable mom is no good for her baby. I spent so many nights with my son crying in the dark because he wasn’t latching on properly. Of course I blamed myself and felt like a failure as a mother. That wasn’t how it was supposed to be. With my daughter, I still bonded and held her the same way as I did with my son, but his time though, I wasn’t stressed out and cringing at the anticipation of the latch. I actually enjoyed our feeding times.
Don’t forget, you matter too! I’m glad you are taking care of yourself. Anne is beautiful and healthy. You’ve done good momma!
Just so you know I read you every single morning (EST time) I don’t reply often but had to for this post. I have always believed in breastfeeding, I have bf all our 5 BUT I believe more strongly that the baby needs fed and whether he/she gets formula or breastmilk it doesn’t matter in the end as long as BOTH mom and baby are happy. I also do not believe that bottle feeding prevents “bonding” at all. I was also miserable with our 2nd. We had lots of issues and I cringed everytime it was boob time. After almost 3 months I gave up and switched him to formula and boy were we both so much happier. My point is that you shouldn’t feel guilty you DID your best and you did bf some which in itself is success! Anyways keep up your good work Annabel is a gorgeous baby
cindy w says:
You probably already know this, but I never made any milk so breastfeeding was impossible because I didn’t want my baby to starve. There is nothing – NOTHING – wrong with bottle-feeding your baby. And the people who imply that there is something wrong with it, make me want to punch them.
Annie is doing great and thriving. You taking care of yourself is equally important. After all, she needs her mommy.
So many things factor in to this stuff!! I taught Breastfeeding when it was coming back in style, if you will. I know so many people who want to do it because of the brainwashing and the advertising we see.
Knowing your limits is the best thing for everyone. Even *I* had to recognize that I could not do without a bottle of formula to make it through the early evening for kid 2. He was just a difficult baby. So, I broke down.
And I realized I was calmer. He gave up breastfeeding and a pacifier at 9.5 mo. because he hated the waiting for let-down. He drank milk and ate 1lb cans of fruit. We were both happy!
Even when you have been successful, all things being equal, it takes much more out of us than we realize to nurse a baby and not have some feelings of inadequacy.
Knowing when to say when works for the best. No matter what.
Ms. Moon says:
Heather, I have to tell you that for some, breastfeeding IS easy. It was for me. I now realize how blessed I was.
But for others, it is not and I am now watching my grandson get both breast and bottle and when it is my turn to give him his bottle I hold him as I would if I were nursing him and just as you describe- it is magic and I am grateful to be able to give him his milk.
You made the right decision, your baby is thriving.
That’s what matters.
.-= Ms. Moon´s last blog ..Adventures In Babysitting =-.
amen, sister. i suffered some terrible post partum anxiety and tried to BF through it. my baby was not a stellar latcher. so i had anxiety AND no sleep. who won?
after suffering and crying and feeling terribly guilty, i finally stopped BFing. now that my baby is happy and healthy and I am happy and healthy, I can see clearly that all that guilt was for naught. formula isn’t rat poison. in fact, most of our mothers didn’t BF at all. if you can BF, awesome. if you try and it doesn’t work out, then shame on those who make any mother feel guilty. (shame on me, in my case, for the self-imposed guilt). and i LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE my baby girl.
Another Mama says:
Just when I think I couldn’t agree anymore with you, you write a post like this Heather!!! Breastfeeding is something that so many of us have let ourselves feel like crappy moms about! Or even worse- that other people have JUDGED us as mothers about. We do what is best for our child, for OUR child. We love, bond to and raise healthy children with whatever food supply is best for them. It is ridiculous when people ask “How long did you breastfeed?” or “You’re going to try to breastfed, right?” After a wicked birth, a very sick baby in the NICU for way to long, and some lame boobs, nope, I didn’t breastfeed my baby. But I gave her more than enough love for all the breasts in the world.
You are incredibly wonderful and amazing – as a mother and as a writer! I had dreams of breastfeeding my daughter until I “ran dry” but within the 4th day of painful breastfeeding, I realized I just had to stop and start the formula for my daughter. I felt fine with it at the time of my decision, mostly because my nipples wore in excruciating pain and were beginning to bleed, etc. But, I must admit, days and months later I felt guilty and truly awful that I could not breastfeed my daughter. I’ve since found closure with it and see a happy, healthy 3 year old who is not wanting for anything emotionally, physically or spiritually. I am healed and I am blessed.
Annabel is absolutely precious, beautiful, healthy and happy – you and Mike are doing a WONDERFUL job!!
Porscha Is says:
A happy mommy makes a happy family.
I’m glad you were able to expeirence nursing with Annabel, but even more glad for you that you are now able to give yourself the care you need.
Good for YOU for doing what was best for both of you!!! We put so much pressure on ourselves as Moms, and then with the loss of Maddie….well, I can only imagine how grief compounds the weight of “mommy guilt”. It makes me so sad that there is even a debate on the issue of BF’ing verses formula. We all do the best we can, and what is best for our families!!! I was blessed to be able to BF my boys, but it was the ABSOLUTE HARDEST thing I have ever done starting out. Painful, emotionally draining, frustrating…you name it. I’ll never forget watching my first son sleeping peacefully in my mother’s arms and asking her, “can I hold him?” I hadn’t realized until that moment, that the times I was holding him, he was hungry, frustrated, and screaming. It was interfering with OUR bonding process!! Everyone else was very helpful and after we were done nursing, would take him and change him, and try to take the “pressure” off of me. I never got to hold him when he was HAPPY! It was crazy! Luckily, we made it through it….but it could have turned out differently, and as long as my boys were healthy…THAT is all that matters!! Really…if someone has issue with your choices??….screw’em! ;0) **hugs** to you!! She is beautiful and you are doing an AMAZING JOB!!!!
Best gift you can give Annie is a happy mom. Good for you for taking care of yourself!
Breastfeeding is not for everyone and given the circumstances you should feel proud at what you have accomplished. I breastfed my youngest till he was almost 2 and had several problems in between but it worked for us and yet it doesn’t for everyone. Annie gets fed and it doesn’t matter how. Taking care of yourself will make you a better parent…not breastfeeding.
.-= Java´s last blog ..Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing!! =-.
Good for you!!! My first-born was also a NICU baby and couldn’t nurse- I allowed the nursery, upon their urging- to formula feed him and felt such guilt like I was letting them poison him He turned into one of the smartest, healthiest, sweetest kids you’d ever meet. By the time #2 came around (a healthy birth like Annie), I said I’d take the same attitude as you- try my best but don’t fret if the nursing didn’t work. It didn’t. And I did freak out- paid $$$ to various consultants and experts- none of whom was able to get her nursing properly. My chest and my mental health couldn’t take it and we switched to formula.
They are now 4 and 2 and the happiest, healthiest little squirts a mommy could ask for! Formula did ok by us
Julie B says:
Heather – Breastfeeding was something I was committed to, often at my own expense. I nursed my first son ’til 16 months, and we endured thrush (top layer of skin peeled off my nipples, and it felt like a dagger when he would latch on) and mastitis (in bed with chills and fever). But working through those obstacles was totally worth it, and nursing him was really a beautiful experience. Then came my 2nd son. He had severe reflux, and nursing him was an absolute nightmare. Finally, after 4 months, I decided it was just too much, and he did better with a bottle anyway. I pumped for a while, but felt that I was neglecting my other son to do so. The amount of shame I felt was UNREAL. I felt I had to explain to EVERYONE why I couldn’t nurse him longer. I didn’t want to be seen feeding him a bottle in public. I was crazy. Son #3 came along, and he nursed perfectly from birth, and nursed til over 2 years of age. I swear, I sometimes STILL feel badly about only nursing #2 for 4 months. But, I did what I had to do…I had to consider the welfare of the whole family, and bottle feeding him was in the best interest of EVERYONE.
Stay strong. I know that nothing you hear will make the guilt wash away, but know that you’re not alone, and any decision you make with love is the right one, for EVERYONE.
1.) I commend you for going as long as you did and putting forth such effort with both Madeline and Annie. They both benefited from your work.
2.) As someone who breastfeed for 13 months, I believe that it is only worth it until the benefits stop outweighing the sacrifices, and NOTHING is worth the sacrifice of your mental health. For me, I realized the benefits were over when I found myself crying at work over 2 ozs. of spilled pumped milk, and you, my friend, pushed way, way, way beyond that.
I’m proud of you for breastfeeding and proud of you for choosing your mental health. Annie deserves a healthy mommy.
.-= Laurie´s last blog ..Classic Summer Day =-.
Good for you! We should stop beating up ourselves, and each other, over this issue.
I am glad you are seeing more clearly what is really important! Mental heath is more important than feeding method any day.
O M G that baby is cute!!!!!!
So, I’m not a mom or anything, but I’ve never understood the ferocity with which people insist on breastfeeding, or why mothers are shamed when they are not able to do it. My own mother was unable to breastfeed me and I’m a relatively well-adjusted adult. Whether to breastfeed or not is your decision and no one should ever make you feel badly for what you do. Your own mental health is far more important to Annie than whether or not she’s getting her food from you. As someone who has suffered from debilitating panic attacks my entire life, I understand how badly they can interfere with your daily existence, and how important it is to be on the right dose of medication.
.-= Deborah´s last blog ..And Now For Something Completely Different =-.
Sometimes we can get so focused on what we think we should do, what we think everyone around us expects us to do, that we forget to do what is best for us and our child. You gave breastfeeding your best shot because that is what you wanted for Annie. There is no shame in that. You recognized that breastfeeding just wasn’t in the cards for you guys because it meant you weren’t there 100% for Annie, you weren’t healthy. There is no shame in that.
What you did for Annie by stopping breastfeeding so you could get yourself to a healthier, happier place is the best thing you could have done for her.
And that picture. OMG. She is just so, so adorable.
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..The Waiting Game =-.
Like you, I couldn’t totally breastfeed my first because she went straight to the NICU after birth and I went to the ICU…we never were able to get my supply up after that and I really was sad about not being able to BF.
With my second, I was bound and determined to make it work. But he had a high hard palate (as per a LC) and my nipples were also destroyed…sorry for TMI but chunks were missing. I didn’t take my narcotic pains meds for my c-section but I took them for my breasts. That is funny to me for some reason now.
Anyways, I wanted to throw in the towel SO BAD. Formula feeding worked fine for my daughter so why not save myself the stress? But I kept doing it – only because of my in-laws. My sister in-law is a champion breastfeeder and all of our family is pushy about it.
I am,happy to say that after 8 weeks, it got so much easier and better. I am glad that I stuck with it, NOW. But I didn’t do it for the “right” reason. I just didn’t want my in-laws disapproving. Had it not been for that, I would have given the bottle at two weeks!
I’m just happy that you’re happy. No mother should have to have daily panic attacks and feel guilty about breastfeeding. Breast may be ideal but formula isn’t evil, people! The mental state of the mother should be considered way more than it is.
I am big on people at least trying to breastfeed-and you certainly gave it your all! Never feel guilty that it didn’t work out-you should put your mental health first, because of all the things that will REALLY impact Annie, it will be your mental state as a mom. HUGE hug and congrats to you for realizing how important it is to take care of yourself, and that by doing so you are doing the best for Annie.
And even though I breastfed both of mine, I still would do the occasional bottle so Will could feed them, or for places like planes where even being covered was just not enough for me to feel comfortable. Whatever keeps both of you happy and healthy is the right choice..
.-= Miche´s last blog ..Your Love Is My Drug =-.
rachel cortest says:
Thank you for your honesty and for this article. I am going to show it to my daughter who was unable to breastfeed due to mental health meds. Her doctor told her that not nursing did not make her a bad mother but not being there to raise her was another matter. I know that she still worries about this decision. Isabel is 7 weeks old and doing well. Thank you!! Oh, Have I mentioned that Annie is absolutely beautiful. I loved the announcement also.
I wouldn’t feel guilty about not being able to breastfeed. It is more important for a baby to have a mother who is able to be there with them in their best frame of mind than it is to give the baby breast milk. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty, especially you. Annabel is most definitely happy, anyone can see that. She is healthy, look at all that chub! She is adorable. Don’t feel guilty. You have absolutely NO reason to feel guilty. You are putting your mental health first, but really, you are also putting everyone else in your life up on the list as well. By being able to function, you are able to properly care for Annabel. By being able to function, you are also a better wife. You aren’t just putting yourself first, you are putting your best life first.
OMG, look at that beautiful baby. Whatever you are doing is perfect. She looks happy, healthy and it appears as if she is thriving, no worries. Take care of yourself and you are taking care of her.
You are describing my head exactly. I don’t know about the loss of a child; I can see where you’re coming from on the meds. Enter post-partum depression.
Although my doctor, who I trust implicitly, told me that zoloft was safe for breastfeeding, I googled everything on it before I started it. Darren finally took the laptop away from me and threatened to use the (industrial) firewall we have to block google.
When the cloud lifts, there is clarity. And things get better. And so do you.
Your mental health is intrinsically tied to the health of your daughter. You did not put your needs above hers – rather, you made a choice that will benefit BOTH of you. A mother who is so hurting and stressed and fearful that she cannot function is not the kind of mother Annie needs. I’m glad you finally saw that, and I’m glad you wrote this post!
Congratulations on Annie! I think that you are an amazing and very brave mom.
Kudos on the breastfeeding discussion. It just doesn’t work for some people for a variety of reason My best friend (who is an amazing mom of three) had a horrible time breastfeeding (infection etc) with all three – and she kept trying. Another friend was like the earth mother with her kids, another could only do it while she was home prior to going back to work and yet a few others had problems producing enough regardless of what they tried. It taught me that there is no right or wrong way in this matter – but what is the healthiest and safest for the child and mother. I was very fortunate and grateful for these examples so that when the ob asked me about breastfeeding I was able to say yes if it works and no if it doesn’t and I will not beat myself up about it either way. The ob said good for you since she thought that it hindered more than helped some moms with the bonding. I was also very lucky that my daughter’s peds doc always stated that if her second child would have been her first she would have never breastfed again.
Have a great summer with Annie!
Just like on the airplane – you have to put your own oxygen mask on first.
Just take one look at that happy, chubby, beautiful baby and know that she is doing great! Because of you!
My boys are almost 4 and 6 now and I still have my regrets over stopping breastfeeding due to antidepressants. At the same time, no one deserves to feel the hell that is depression/anxiety. I think part of it was that I was so proud of breastfeeding – I grew this baby and now I can feed him like no one else can I am woman hear me ROAR! Like finally I had done something right in my life.
But now they can tell funny stories and learn all kinds of interesting facts and bring home glowing reports from school and I can still be proud of both them and me.
It will get easier…………
I think you’re spot on. Motherhood is hard enough without adding in the guilt of having to give up breastfeeding. I had to learn that as well.
Annie is an amazingly beautiful, healthy and happy little girl with parents who love her very much. She is very lucky indeed.
.-= Anjie´s last blog ..Day 1 of 30 Days =-.
Breastfeeding is so easy for some people and an ordeal for others. I fell into the latter category. Although my baby latched on fine, I never produced enough milk. I rented the hospital grade pump, saw a lactation consultant, woke myself up at night to pump (my mom thought the lactation consultant was a criminal for even suggesting this), bought all kinds of mysterious nipple creams and pills, drank yogi tea and guiness, kept a log…my GOD the list never ends. Despite my efforts, my daughter became dehydrated and began peeing orange dust. YAY. I just couldn’t believe the awesome fun of new motherhood! So I supplemented with formula after the first week and switched to all formula after 6 months when I finally accepted that pumping for hours to get 4 ounces of milk was a huge waste of time.
All of which is to say…you did the right thing. You are completely, totally, 100% right. I look back at my insane (and expensive) machinations and laugh. Never again.
Ugggh. Breastfeeding. I count “not having to breastfeed” as one of the blessings associated with *adopting* our second child. And guess what? She’s had WAY less ear infections, minor illnesses, etc. than my breastfed first born did. Go figure.
.-= Melany´s last blog ..Ride that Pony Pony =-.
Unfortunately, being a mom is a competitive sport, and breastfeeding is just one of the benchmarks by which we judge one another. Working outside the home, crying it out, the right mommy and me classes, feeding a child a happy meal, I could go on all day. Personally, my hands are full with my crazy girls, and I really could care less how another mom is parenting so long as it is with love. I’m older than you, but really, I was not breastfed, and neither was anyone I know, and hey, we all turned out fine. We mommies must stop the strutting and the chest thumping and just support each other. This being a mom gig is absolutely the hardest job I’ve ever had (and I taught middle school for years!) and the road is a lot easier with caring, encouraging women walking it with us. For the record, I nursed one child for a year and the other for two, and to any new mommy, I’d say try it, and if it’s not for you, STOP and don’t feel badly about it. But if you don’t want to try it? Don’t! And don’t feel badly about that either. One last thing: Holy cow is that baby standing against the couch?! I did a double take and then scrolled to her last monthly picture to make sure she was as young as I thought she was. She gets cuter by the day and I’d love to kiss those cheeks.
Good for you for being so honest. I had tons of problems breastfeeding my son, and I was so embarrassed about it, too. When you have a little baby, it seems like all anyone wants to talk about is how you are feeding them and it can be so isolating to feel like you have failed as a mother.
I have a very wise friend with children older than mine, who told me this when my son was a baby and I was losing much sleep over this. She said that mothers are always competitive with how their kids are doing, and when they’re babies, the big thing is breast v. bottle. But she said, when your baby is older and is out there on the baseball field, no one is in the stands pointing out who was breastfed and who wasn’t. They’re just thinking about who is better at baseball. And you know what, she was right. My son is now 5 and I almost never think about the disastrous time feeding him as an infant. But really reading your post brings it all back. Please know that Annie will be fine and someday you will be watching her on the baseball field and this will all seem like a distant memory.
I’m so glad things are better Heather. The best thing for Annie is a healthy happy mom!! Where her groceries come from is secondary. I bf my daughter for 9 months totally, then started supplementing with formula. My 2 boys were 100% formula babies, they are SO SO much healthier than she is.. go figure! You do what you have to do to make sure everyone is in the best condition possible at the end of the day and that’s all we can do. YOURSELF included. Annie needs her mommy to be MOMMY more than she needs you to be the Dairy Queen. And I’ve always heard that some breast milk is better than none so she got a lot of benefit from it. . No mommy guilt, she is awesome and so is her mom! *HUGS!*
Thank you for writing this. My son was in the NICU for almost 3 months, and I pumped and was on meds to help the milk supply the whole time. Finally the lacataion specialist sat me down, and gave me permission to stop (my supply was decreasing, and my guilt over not producing was increasing). I had felt like such a failure for not being able to carry him to term, then to not supply food that he need compounded the guilt. But that conversation set me free.
I know just how you feel, sweetie. I actually didn’t drive for the longest time, because I was afraid of having a panic attack while I drove.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience, but it isn’t the only way to feed a child. And if you aren’t in a good space, it’s not going to help either one of you to continue nursing. *hugs*
I am so happy you felt well enough to post this. Sometimes we moms have to put ourselves first in order to take care of our lil ones.
When I had my first son I decided to breastfeeding with the idea that I would continue for as long as I could. I nursed for 15 months. It was REALLY easy for me. So two years later when my girl was born I of course nursed her. Once again, we had an awesome experience. Then my third baby was born. The first month was a nightmare. I didn’t understand why it hurt so badly. I mean I have 25 months of breastfeeding under my belt, it isn’t supposed to be this hard. We made it though, but I know for a fact that if he would have been my first, I would have quit and never tried breastfeeding again.
Breastfeeding my babies doesn’t make me any better of a mother than the next. In fact, to be honest, I’m way to lazy to make all those bottles. That’s the real reason I lasted so long. Oh, and I loved my big boobs ?
No mother should ever feel guilty with the choices she makes. And that includes you Heather. You are giving Annie everything I gave mine. And omg, just look at that girl! She is healthy and thriving. What more could a mother ask for?
Great moms know that keeping themselves healthy and happy is what is best for everyone – but most especially their baby.
Babies know when we are stressed – they feel it and react to it. Focusing on breastfeeding when your mental health is suffering doesn’t make anyone a better mom. It’s far better for Annabel to feel your calm, love, and softness rather than panic and stress.
Your decision Heather – it shows that like I’ve always thought – YOU – are a great mommy.
.-= Amanda´s last blog ..A Mother’s Day Wish… =-.
I’m BFing my 2nd and I am very lucky it has never been much of a struggle for me. When I had my 1st, I had a friend who had her 1st a mere 9 hours before mine was born and she said that she used to nurse him and cry in agony. I never forgot that, nor will I forget my vision of you biting on a washcloth in pain.
I can’t imagine.
You had to do what you had to make you a better mother. And that is far more important that breastmilk. To me, it would so much worse to have a stressed out, anxiety ridden mother trying to give her baby BM rather than a calmer, well-rested mother who is able to love and nurture her child.
Attachment is far more important than BM to Annabel.
Good for you, and thank you for your honesty. The message that goes out to new moms and pregnant women these days is almost militantly pro-breastfeeding, and it can be so hard to see through that and do what you need to do to be the best possible parent– and that’s going to be different for everyone.
As someone said above, we have to support each other, not judge. Go you.
.-= J+1´s last blog ..Getting along =-.
Taking care of YOURSELF is truly the best thing you could do for Annabel, not breastfeeding. You gave it your best. I am sorry the experience was so difficult for you, but I am glad that those around you encouraged you to do what you had to for your mental health. That really is so much more important than being able to say “I breastfed for X number of months”.
.-= Lora´s last blog ..Little Oak Tree =-.
This post makes me the HAPPIEST I’ve read of yours in weeks and months. I’ve been hoping and hoping that they’ve got you on something, but I remember reading that you were concerned about the breastfeeding. Our culture does such a number on mothers over breastfeeding. And to think that 40 years ago it was a shame to breastfeed, only formula was socially accepted. It’s all so nuts. Yes you are entitled to be happy and healthy and safe. There are a zillion formula fed babies out there doing just fine. Thank you for saying it. But mostly thank you for doing it, for taking care of you. Oh I’m so happy about this. I breastfed and bottle fed three kids and went through this process to a degree too. I couldn’t keep up with nursing twins and was going crazy so I just quit. Oh the opinions of everyone! So proud of you. You’re amazing. As always.
Makes me so very happy too! Always had this worry in the back of my mind.
For what it’s worth–had a very mixed experience with breastfeeding. Bottle fed milk allergic son and breastfed daughter until she started biting HARD. Working full-time made breastfeeding TEN TIMES as difficult as it should have been. But of course no one was ever as tough on me as I was on myself–Mom Guilt, grrrrr.
I completely agree. It doesn’t do your baby any good when you can’t focus on both of your needs with the same clarity. Kudos to you for putting it out there that breastfeeding – while beneficial – isn’t the only way to feed/love/bond with your child. There’s no shame in being bottle fed… for whatever reason! My best to you on your conquering your mental health woes. I know it’s not easy!
.-= Amie´s last blog ..The Whispers of Summer =-.
Good for you for putting you first. As mom’s that is one of the hardest things in the world to do. But it matters so very much. You’re doing an awesome job and Annabel is just beyond precious. We have her birth announcement up on our fridge and I oddly feel like she is a baby girl I know personally. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us.
Heather, thanks so much for sharing this! Oh, how I wish we did not have to feel such guilt over the breastfeeding decision! I chose to bottle/formula feed my daughter (she’s now 6), and it was the BEST decision for my family. My husband and I (and grandparents!) shared in the experience of bonding over feeding times with bottles; it was precious! Studies show that oxytocin levels in the mother increase *significantly* when bottle feeding. I hope the pendulum swings back toward center in the coming decades on this unfortunate debate over breast vs. bottle. I certainly understand health benefits of breastfeeding (particularly preemies or babies with health issues), but I hope we all move toward judging each other less for our infant feeding decisions. I honestly feel that I bonded with my daughter BETTER due to not breastfeeding, as I didn’t have the stress of being on call 24-7 for her feeding needs (my husband was equally responsible). I ENJOYED her (and still do) SO very much – – and I became a much happier mom when we switched to formula.
I have to share this – with all due respect to the profession – my husband called the lactation consultants at our hospital “lactation Nazis.” We needed some humor during a difficult time.
Our 6-year old is now amazingly healthy, happy, and incredibly close to both her mom and her dad.
You and Mike are doing SO INCREDIBLY WELL raising sweet Annie!
Hang in there, and let’s all remember this when talking with friends and family about infant feeding – Let’s be KIND about it – we often never know the entire story and we ABSOLUTELY should NOT judge one another over this issue!
Hugs from Ohio!
Oh Heather….. thank you so much for this post. I appreciate all of your posts, but this one in particular means so very, very much to all of us moms out there who have struggled with breastfeeding.
You have done an unbelieveable job parenting both of your daughters. I hope some day that you will look back on these early months of Annabel’s life and feel very, very proud of what you were able to accomplish!
Thank you for sharing with us.
You did what was best for you and for Annie, all in one. And that’s just what you should have done.
(((Hugs))) from here!
.-= jen´s last blog ..bunches =-.
I had severe post partum anxiety disorder which resulted in my going on some heavy hitting anti-anxiety meds and being unable to nurse.
So this is what I now tell mothers: Breast feeding is not necessarily best. What is best is a mother who is able to hold her baby, feed her baby and bond with her baby, while being safe, sane and secure in herself. If medication and a bottle are what is required to reach that state, then THAT is what is best.
.-= Beth´s last blog ..Wherin I Ask For Assistance =-.
Adventures In Babywearing says:
Everyone knows I’m a big breastfeeding advocate, but more importantly, I’m an advocate for doing what is best for YOU and your baby. It’s that whole put the oxygen mask on yourself first type of thing… it makes me sad (although I do think breastfeeding should be given an attempt) that there is so much pressure to breastfeed that it causes Mothers to feel guilty or not be able to speak honestly about it – whether you are having a good time with it or not.
Because there will always be someone with a different story and they’ll find a way to be offended, and someday we all just need to hold hands and get over the judgments and stand together.
.-= Adventures In Babywearing´s last blog ..June ONE =-.
i am proud of you for making the right decision for your family even though it was difficult to do.
Mama Fuss says:
Good for you! I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding, but the MOST important thing is to a)get her fed and b)that you do what is best for BOTH of you, because if YOU are not okay, then you have a whole new issue with caring for her. So good for you for trying and realizing that it wasn’t working for your family. And for talking about it, because I would bet that your story is helping a lot of other mothers out there, too!
.-= Mama Fuss´s last blog ..More Random Things on a Wednesday =-.
I’m so glad you wrote this. I could’ve used it months ago and even thought our circumstances are different, the message is perfectly stated.
When I was pregnant with my Rory, I was fully prepared to breastfeed. Books, talks with my midwife, a pump, etc. Ready to go. By the day we got home after she was born, I wanted to cry. My nipples were a mess. She was chewed as well, but was latching on correctly so it wasn’t recognized. For 2 months, I tried. I was seeing a lactation consultant a couple times a week and checking in with weight over the phone in addition. I pumped, I breastfed. It was so hard. Finally after discussing with our Pedi and the LC, we realized the inconsistent nursing (vs pumping) and my hypothyroidism was affecting my supply and that I should consider formula. I was heartbroken. Had I not planned on breastfeeding, I would’ve been at peace with the decision to stop but instead I felt like a failure. I now know I did everything I could, but sometimes it takes another mother to post about their decision to stop to help another mother come to terms with their struggle. Even if not for the same reason, but the same intention of wanting what is best for their child.
.-= mel´s last blog ..I’ll be on my boat. =-.
Mary @ Holy Mackerel says:
Been there, done that. It’s so hard, like you said, and we blame ourselves. My story’s way too long to go into here, but I want to thank you for writing about, for all those moms who are currently struggling, doubting, blaming.
.-= Mary @ Holy Mackerel´s last blog ..New York City!!!!! Where Slut’s Momma Touches A Man’s Chestals =-.
I was one of the lucky ones who never had problems breast feeding and had a plentiful milk supply with both of my boys so this was a non-issue for me. It breaks my heart every time I hear a friend suffer because they are in pain, the baby won’t latch, they’re not producing enough milk, or they just plain hate to breastfeed. Mommy guilt is the worst kind of guilt, but a happy mommy makes for a happy baby and that’s really all that matters.
There is just way too much pressure to breast feed these days and it’s none of anyone’s business what you decide or why. I think it’s great that you posted this for all those mom’s out there who had issues. Even my mom, who had 4 kids and nursed none of them (it was the 70’s-times were different) feels guilty today that she didn’t try to BF “knowing now how important it is” (her words, not mine.) But seriously, we all turned out fine. Only my brother battled ear infections as a baby. My kid’s also never had ear infections, but all 3 of my nephews had them so bad they had to get tubes. We all nursed our boys for a year, so I truly believe it’s more genetics than nursing.
Shelley Viestenz says:
I went through the same exact thing with my first baby, Adam. My nipples were in such pain that I had to grip something in order to feed him. I was wiping my blood and milk off his little cheeks with every feeding, as I’m sure you did too. After a few weeks I developed mastitis from the open cracks on my nipples. I had to have my breast LANCED to drain the infection. I was miserable and feverish and felt like the biggest failure and worst mother in the world when I switched to bottle feeding. But boy were feeding times more pleasant and sweet! Oddly, with my next child the breastfeeding experience was entirely different and was a real joy. Now at 52, I look back on that time and wonder what I was so stressed and depressed about. Both my children grew the same way and have always been as healthy as can be. Breastfeeding or not had nothing to do with me being a good mother, but I sure felt like it did when Adam was a baby! Have no fear, my dear Heather, you are a wonderful, wonderful mother.
Ohhh Sweetheart, How proud I am rights now! When I my first baby son, my labour was 36.5 hours long and I was exhausted. I had planned on BF but like you my nippes were hellish! I bled every time. My OB came in during feeding and she watched while I attempted attach my son. I was horrified and scared and it showed. She gentley took him off my breast, whispered to the nurse to get a bottle, took my hand in her one hand and with other she wiped my tears and said this…”You know Sweetheart, breast feeding is over rated in today’s age. She went on to say how goo the formals was just as healthy as the Breast is now a days. by then the nurse was back with the bottle, she handed it to me and said “LEt’s see how he does on this”! Well, the poor little guy was starving. He ate a botte and a half that day and then slept for 4 wonerful hours” We were both in heaven!!! What I wasn’t prepared for as a new mom was the resistance I would face when I told people I wasn’r nursing!!!! OY Vey!!! It’s ;like I was telling people I was feeding my day newborn, a slab of cow!!!!!!!!!!!
You do what’s best for YOU and Annie. One can clearly see how skinny she is!!!! (yes, I am being s smart ass).
Last night I was looking at pictures of Maddie when she was nine months old. My goodness, what an incredibly gorgeous! I miss her too Heather.
Take Care of yourself,
Love U Darlin’!!!!
Good for you Heather! I don’t know why us moms feel such guilt with this struggle. I remember the 2nd night in the hospital with my son was such an emotional night for me. That day he had his circumcision and slept when the lactation consultant came to visit. She tried to help me through a feeding but he just slept…and slept for about 7 hours after the stress of the circumcision. By the time he woke up he was ravished. He couldn’t get a good latch…we tried for hours. By the end we were both exhausted, frustrated, and crying. Then, I finally conceaded and called the nurse station asking them to take him for a couple hours and give him a “gulp” bottle. So I could get some sleep and try again. I remember feeling so guilty, I cried myself to sleep. I was just sure he wouldn’t take the breast after having a bottle so early. I had to visit a lactation consultant a few days later to help with a proper latch. But I never could breastfeed exclusively. My son never seemed to quite have the patience for it. But all the same he thrived and we bonded.
Michelle H. says:
I’m glad you wrote this blog. It’s a personal decision everyone should be able to make on their own without having to justify it to anyone. I’ve both bottled and breastfed and they are all healthy. We are our own worst enemies with guilt and really don’t need anyone else to help us feel bad! I hope women can learn to support each other instead of beating each other up for making different choices. I’m glad you did what was best for you and your family.
Great post Heather. Thanks SO SO SO much for sharing.
.-= Christina´s last blog ..What Memorial Day Means to Me… =-.
I commend you for trying as long as you did. I am currently breastfeeding my 8 month old son and breastfed my older son until he was 17 months. It was and is hard, but worth it for me. I think women who don’t breastfeed can be judgemental to breastfeeding mothers as well. You won’t believe the stuff people say to me because I breastfeed and not men, other mothers or women. It’s crazy!
mom’s are the worst at taking care of themselves. i’m glad you are feeling better. That old saying you have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others is true. Love that little chunk a love, I wanna eat her up! Too bad I don’t live near you!!
You do what you gotta do, Heather. What Annie needs most is a healthy, happy mama. You’re doing what you need to do to give her that. And that’s coming from someone who breastfed her three (with relative ease) for YEARS. Taking care of you *is* taking care of her.
More than the breastfeeding, I’m glad you were able to realize that you HAVE to put your mental health first, because it’s best for Annie. It’s a hard decision to both accept that you need help and then to act upon it, so I totally commend you for facing that head on and sharing it. Annie is healthy, happy and beautiful, and at the end of the day: thats. all. that. matters. end of story.
Here’s to hoping that you continue feeling mental clarity (we should totally swap stories sometime) and to a lifetime of happiness with Mike, Annie and Rigby (and of course, with beautiful thoughts of the famous Madeline).
XOXO from GA,
I have suffered from panic attacks. I also could not breast feed my child (tried to pump for 10 weeks but not enough milk). I was committed to a very “natural” experience (I had a home birth), but when my midwives suggested that my 4 week old baby had lost a pound, and all of my anxiety was fixated on getting her to eat, I knew we had to switch to formula.
The first bottle of formula she took she drank in under a minute. 4 oz. Immediately, she was calm. I knew it was entirely the right decision.
She’s a healthy, super-smart girl (now 10) who doesn’t have attachment issues (despite the problems my anxiety and PPD brought into our parent-child relationship for the first few years).
We are so lucky to live in a time and place with alternatives that work.
PS: My husband loved having the chance to feed my daughter. And I made him take the night shift!
It is so true that “mom guilt” is so much stronger than any other type of guilt that I had ever dealt with before. When my son was born, I decided to breastfeed because that is what everyone said was best but in the days after his birth, it became apparent that my milk supply wasn’t going to be plentiful. I pumped and pumped and tried to resist supplementing but in the end I had to give in because he was just so hungry and I didn’t have enough milk to satisfy him. I felt like a failure and this, in addition to suffering from post-pardum made those first few weeks absolute hell for all of us (my poor husband included). The catalyst came one day when my mom was visiting and I had just finished pumping for almost a half hour and just managed to get one measley ounce of milk. I placed it by the sink in the kitchen and when I went to get it five minutes later to feed my son, it was gone. My mom, thinking that it was leftover formula, had dumped it down the drain and I went absolutely insane. Not only did I hurt my mom’s feelings but I scared myself and it was that that made me realize that I wasn’t doing what was best for anyone, including my baby and myself. Making the decision to switch to formula feeding was easily the hardest decision that I’ve ever made but it was also the best decision because I was able to enjoy the time bonding with my son and as you said, my husband could take part in the feeding and bonding as well. The fact is that there is no “right” choice for everyone and you made the absolute best choice for Annie, yourself and your family and that is the most important thing. And I can tell by just looking at her that she is certainly not suffering from it..she is healthy and so beautiful!
I to suffer from pantic attacks and every time they put me on antidepressants and they up my dosage the pantic attacks get worse.. It is a awful feeling.. I tried to nurse my kids but my second wouldnt take it.. And I still feel like I still had the bonding time with them.. You have to take care o your self and do what you feel is right.. Annie will still grow up loving you because you are the best Mom!!
Take care, and hugs.
I’ve posted a few times before but just wanted to let you know that I think you are an amazing mom to Annabel. It is clear that she is a happy, healthy baby. I know it’s tough with all the information about the importance of breast milk deciding to take the medication, but it seems like it is the best choice for you. There are always going to be things we wish we could do “better” for our kids but you are doing the most important thing of all- loving Annabel. I was a 27-week preemie (34 years ago), my mom used to tease me that I must have major issues because back at that time she didn’t hold me for over a month AND I didn’t have breast milk, but here I am years later a happy, healthy nurse who knows how much my mom loved me (she passed away 5 years ago). Anyway, sorry for the long message (I’m still working on my morning coffee).
You are such a wonderful mama. Thank you for your honest, heartfelt posts, you, MIke, and your girls have touched a lot of lives.
Here’s my take on this….
when Annie graduates from high school – and beyond – no one will be discussing whether she was breastfed. You do the best you can – and that’s what you’re doing. Keep it up.
Good for you for speaking what many of us have gone through. Formula guilt was horrible for me when my twins were born-they were small, there were two of them, I had PUPPPs rash all over and needed mega steroids and I STILL felt guilty. I felt like I wanted to hide when I was at the grocery store buying the cans of formula-what would people think? Probably most people didn’t think a whole lot and if they did, that was their problem but at the time it would have been nice to know I wasn’t alone.
I’ve now been on the otherside with my third child-successfully breastfed for one year, all babies are different, all mommas are different. All my babies are happy and healthy.
I think it’s great that you were able to write about this because I think a lot of moms struggle with the balance of what is best for the mom and what is best for the baby. I know I’m struggling with it right now w/ the breastfeeding issue. It is definitely driven by guilt! But I’m glad you pointed out that what is best for Annie is for you to be your best and if that means formula then thats what it means. I am constantly impressed by you Heather. You are an inspiration to many!
Oh my goodness that picture! She is getting so big! happy to hear that you realized that your mental health was as important for Annabel as getting your milk. You should be proud of what you were able to do!
.-= kbreints´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: baby geese =-.
Misc Jenn says:
I too had to make a similar decision and fought it every step of the way. I look back now and wish that someone would have just took my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said “not breastfeeding is *not* the end of the world.” So much guilt over such a small matter.
But yes, the nipple pain. I still have post-traumatic stress about that one!
Good for you! I am one of the ones who always had the “best of circumstances” with all 5 of my children. I. HATED. IT. And as a result, all of my children hated it. I did it for 6 weeks (a little longer with my first, but he was done by 6 mo, I think?)
It is not for everyone or every circumstance. And once I let that go…feeding time was something that we enjoyed instead of dreaded. Bottle feeding was better mentally, physically and emotionally me and my babies. What is right for one family, is not going to always be right for another.
My motto (with 5 kids)…”whatever gets you through the day”
Live the life that is right for YOU!
Good for you for taking care of yourself…you deserve it and so does Annie!
Heather I am a 24 year old who reads your
blog religiously BUT I have no children and no input about breastfeeding.. But I do know you are a wonderful parent! Now pleeeease tell me- how did you get Annie to stand? I am so curious
Hey Heather: Wow, what a great photo! I had to stop breastfeeding my oldest when she was only 6 weeks old. I remember feeling simply awful about that. Then my doctor gave me copies of a few studies about breastfeeding — that there were immense health benefits for babies who had been breastfed for only one week, two weeks, one month….I wish I could get my hands on those studies again, but my daughter is 11….Two more children later, I can’t find something I had yesterday much less that many years ago. Anyway, whatever amount of breastfeeding you did will really help little sweetie girl. Even if it was only a week! Knowing that made me feel a lot less horrible. Hope it does the same for you. (Oh yeah…..whenever I do anything for myself — even something as simple as a night out with my friends….I feel guilty. I feel guilty for having done something for my own sanity when my kids love to have me around so much. My mom used to say that “if the mom isn’t happy, then NOBODY’S happy!” and she was right. You’ve gotta be OK. You’re the captain of the emotional/behavioral ship. You’ve simply GOT to be OK! : )
You have done an incredible job. Annie got your first milk and she is healthy and happy. I breastfed all of mine, but not like my sisters did. I worked full time with my first, and she breastfed for 9 months (much of that time I pumped). I stayed home full time with my second child and we only made it 6 months before he decided he was done. I stayed home again with my third and he was an awful nurser. We only made it 3 months (with supplementing). My sisters both nurse their children for years (literally). I had to come to terms with the fact that my children with healthy and loved. I did the best I could, and their was no reason for me to feel guilty. It’s not a competition, and personally I don’t want a 4 year old lifting my shirt in public to get a sip. LOL. You should feel so proud of all that you have done. Annie is gorgeous!
Catherine Lucas says:
why do most women attach love to breastfeeding? Do moms who do not breastfeed for whatever reason do not love their children? And do breastfeeding moms love their children?
I think that the one thing has nothing to do with the other.
A breast is not love… The love has to come from the one feeding the baby, whether it is breast or something else.
I think that far more harm is done by those silly women breast feeding till their kid till it is seven or eight years old, which is a new movement in England, and who knows, maybe even in USA… I call that one harmfull for kids…
The woman preaching that breastfeeding is the only good solution for a baby should have their brains examined…
.-= Catherine Lucas´s last blog ..Reasons why I love gypsies… =-.
mar in the mn says:
I had a very similar situation after the birth of my first son. I had PPD and needed prescription drugs, so I had to quit nursing. The guilt stayed for a long time. I tried to over compensate with subsequent acts of breastfeeding heroism (pumped every three hours around the clock for 1.5 years for my second child, just finished nursing our 19 mo. old) and yet the guilt has stayed. Thanks for the post, I would love to let go of the guilt I feel about my decision to take antidepression meds. Does anyone else feel like all of the propaganda about how “easy and natural” breastfeeding is should be replaced with “breastfeeding can S.UC.K. at times……. Ask for help” I know it is the healthiest option for a baby, but I also know that moms who cannot or do not want to nurse can feel major guilt and judgement placed upon them by OTHER MOMS!! What happened to the sisterhood, people??
I know exactly how you feel. When my son was born in 2007 I was only 19 and after the same problems you were having with sore nipples and such I gave up and gave him formula. I felt like the worst mom ever, I still till this day feel guilty for giving up.
When my second son was born in 2008 I had problems getting him to latch and ended up pumping for 4 months and giving bottle. I pumped day and night and he never got any formula, but it was hard. I thought many times about quiting. At four months he latched out of nowhere and nursed until he was 14 months old.
My daughter who is 2 months was the easiest and has been nursing great since she was born!
All I can say is every child is different and you have to do what is right for you and your child. In your situation your mental health was definately more important and I commend you for making the hard decision to stop breasfeeding. Please don’t beat yourself up about it, Annie is just perfect and so beautiful as is my first son!!!
.-= Nicole´s last blog ..Memorial Day Weekend =-.
I agree with you 100 percent.
My daughter arrived at 32 weeks (11.7.2008). I pumped religiously and also tried to breastfeed. Emerson was born before her latching developed (I know you know exactly how this goes) and trying to breastfeed was frustrating and tear-inducing for both of us.
I pumped for 6 months, every 2-3 hours, even at night. Finally we reached a point where she was eating more than I could pump in one session. The pump only stimulates the breast to produce so much milk, and had she been nursing, my supply presumably would have kept up with her.
After 6 months, I felt incredibly selfish, but I just couldn’t go on. Pumping was stressful for me. I know I don’t have to explain all of the cleaning, sterilizing, clean-up, sitting for 20-30 minutes and not being able to do much if my baby became fussy, etc.
I felt so guilty but I’ve learned that a happy mommy makes for a happy baby. I tried hard to not let anyone’s comments make me feel guilty for switching to formula at 6 months. I felt so much happier after I made the switch, and I know my daughter noticed that change in me.
.-= Laura´s last blog ..Babies and blueberries =-.
Just Jiff says:
I was unable to breastfeed because I just couldn’t get it figured out (even after using a lactation consultant). Bayley was in the NICU after being born too, and I pumped as much as I could. When she came home, we just had issues (my breasts are large, she was a tiny baby, I had NO experience, etc). I was pumping and giving her whatever I produced and supplementing with formula. I got NO sleep because I knew I was supposed to pump for at least 30 mins to get whatever I could after she had her bottle to stimulate my milk production… but it never really worked. I gave up after 6 weeks. I cried in the shower so no one would know. I felt SO guilty and awful, but like you, I told other people it is okay to stop. Finally, I am okay with it. Just took me a while.
I hate that breastfeeding is such a sensitive topic, in that most moms feel guilty if they can’t or don’t want to. Sigh.
Yay you, though, for talking about it and knowing that it’s okay.
.-= Just Jiff´s last blog ..Summertime. =-.
Thank you for this. I had low milk supply with my daughter 14 years ago (OMG, can’t’ believe it’s been that long!). She was 5 lb 8 oz at birth and didn’t care if she ate. I had 2 miscarriages before she was born, and when she was born was surrounded by 3 sisters in law who had no trouble getting pregnant or breastfeeding. Everyone (supposed experts, not family) I talked to made me feel horrible for not breastfeeding, but my daughter would have been hospitalized if she didn’t start getting nutrition. I had a hard time with why everyone else got pg so easily & I didn’t & what was “wrong” with me so I couldn’t breastfeed. I hadn’t even considered formula when I was pg, I was just gonna breastfeed. When my son was born 3 years later, I tried breastfeeding and pumping, but still didn’t produce enough. My husband is a great dad & I am very glad he had the opportunity to bond with both kids when bottle feeding them. Both kids are healthy, happy, straight A students, so formula can’t be all bad! = )
Thanks again for writing this. I wish I could have read this when I was struggling and maybe I wouldn’t have felt like such a bad mother. Now I realize that was just one of the hard decisions that comes with being a parent. Sometimes the best choices aren’t the “easy” ones. = )
Trisha Vargas says:
You are so right, breastfeeding is sooooo hard even in the best of circumstances.
I tried it 16 years ago with my first daughter. Being only 16 myself, I got flustered, she got flustered and I was so young and scared that I only lasted about a week and then made the switch to formula. She is a happy and healthy teenager today and has been her whole life.
I tried it again 15 months later when I had my second daughter and still, NO DICE. She is a happy healthy teenager today too.
Neither one has had any major health problems, ear infections, etc from being formula babies. It was my choice as their mother and I am not ashamed of having to make it.
20 months ago, when I gave birth to Dannica, my last daughter, I was determined to not let breastfeeling defeat me. I started immediately planning for it. I attended a prenatal breatfeeding class, I counseled with a LC and went home confident that I could do it. Dannica got the breast for about 3 weeks. My nipples were screaming for relief.
I tried creams and ice packs and nipple shields and nothing was offering any comfort. I bought a pump and pumped away for about another 4 weeks and then the dairy farm ran dry.
I tried, oh how I tried.
I am proud of my efforts. You should be proud of yours too. Breastfeeding is not easy. It is a mother’s right and choice to decide what is best for her baby and for herself.
I am so proud that you trust us all enough to write about it and I hope it gives you comfort to know that you are never alone.
Annie looks perfectly happy and healthy and like she could care less where her next meal gets served from.
(((HUGS))) from Florida
HA! I honestly have to say, you have a bajillion understanding readers, and THAT is AWESOME. I fully expected a few rude comments, and was fully prepared to judge them in return, but in scanning the comments, I didn’t see one. It’s a huge relief, actually.
I’m only sorry that it was such a struggle for you, though I’m glad you’re able to talk about it. It needs to be done. Because if a mom is having a hard time, it doesn’t help to hear all the success stories. That just breeds guilt and discontent.
kelly e says:
good for you, heather! Do what’s best for you AND sweet little Annabel. there are people who never give breastfeeding a try, which I don’t understand (but I’m not speaking poorly of them…I’m just of the camp that ‘breast is best’), but to give it an incredible effort and it not work out, you did everything you could. be proud of what you’ve accomplished, what you have been able to give to Annabel, and take care of yourself so you can be the best mom you can to her
excellent choice, in my opinion
kelly e says:
forgot to say…i agree that nursing is HARD work. my daughter did a number on me when she was first born, though not as bad as yours, so things improved, though still very challenging in other ways. my son had a voracious appetite that i couldn’t meet, so i supplemented with formula after about a month. it’s about finding that ‘formula’ that meets the baby’s needs.
thanks for sharing openly about this. i hope you feel great peace about what you’re doing for Annabel
I had to stop trying to BF my son at 3 weeks old because I had very low milk supply (1/4 oz. a day was all I could ever pump). I had lac. consultants come in for 3 weeks and not much helped. Finally, the LC told me to stop trying and I did.
I felt so guilty. I beat myself up about it for a while but then I realized something. I was MISERABLE and ANXIETY RIDDEN (my post-partum depression didn’t help) when I was attempting to BF and I am sure my son felt that. I realized that he needed me to be happy and sane first and foremost!! Once I made peace with the bottle feeding/formula thing everyone was much happier.
BF’ing is a great thing but many more people have trouble with it than I would have ever guessed. I always tell all the new mothers I know that if it doesn’t work out for you, it’s OKAY, you are still a great mother.
Thanks for sharing your story!!
People give up on breastfeeding for a lot less than you did–forgive yourself! I think I had the most admiration for an English friend of mine who tried it for a few weeks and then simply said it wasn’t for her. She just didn’t like it, the end, and apparently wasn’t bothered at all by the social pressure.
It worked out fine for me but I’m not sure how long I would have kept it up if I’d had raw, bloody nipples or had to pump exclusively. I’m so glad to hear you are feeling better!
Ok, first of all you are freaking AMAZING lady. As someone who is a HUGE supporter of breastfeeding (hell, I was training to be a LaLeche League Leader) I will say this, I am glad you quit.
As Mothers we tend to be the martyrs and put everyone elses needs ahead of ours. We do this because we don’t want to be seen as selfish.
However when we do that we are being just that, selfish. When we don’t take the time for ourselves (or take the medicines that we desperately need) we are not able to be there 100% for our families, the people who really need us. So, that makes us selfish. Does that make sense?
I am proud of you. It is hard to not only realize you have to do something for yourself, but in turn to give up something that could benefit someone else.
Also, you are no good to anyone, Annie included, if you are not mentally well. I am so proud of you for listening to your team and doing what is best for everyone, yourself included.
Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks!!!!!
.-= Kim´s last blog ..Who Needs Anthropologie? =-.
Jess L. says:
My heart goes out to you, Heather. I had a very similar experience, and I remember breaking into tears when I gave my daughter her first bottle of formula. Rationally, I knew it had to be done and that half the population grows up perfectly healthy on formula, but emotionally I felt like I was “poisoning” her. It’s ridiculous, but it still hurts some, and I applaud you both for doing what’s best for you AND Annabel, and for bringing the issue into the light. ::hugs::
I breastfed my kids because it was easy for me (also convenient and cheap) but I have never felt judgment about anyone who doesn’t for any reason, including just not wanting to. Whole generations grew up on formula, including much of mine, and many of us are healthy, thin and allergy free. Formula is a godsend to humanity for so many reasons.
WHAT A PICTURE!!!!!!!!
Thank you for posting this! Breastfeeding didn’t work for us either, and I experienced the same guilt. It makes me so happy to see when people speak up about this.
Heather, thank you for sharing your story. I have suffered from depression and anxiety for the last 10+ years, and recently went off my medication so my husband and I could try for a baby. To make a long story short, it hasn’t worked. I am scheduled to go back to the doctor and get started on some kind of medication tomorrow. I know how hard this decision is, and I wanted to thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone.
Thank you Heather for sharing this. I am one of the 5% of women whose milk does not even come in and I have always felt this horrible sense of guilt. Anytime anyone would ask me if I was breastfeeding I felt like I had to make up excuses or defend myself – when in reality there really was nothing I could do. Once I accepted this fact, I was a totally different person. Happier. I care more about myself and my body image. I am also a better mom because I am more focused on what I can do verses what I can’t. You, Heather, are an unbelievably amazing woman. Your insight is often very profound and you share details of your life that by doing so are making a positive difference in others lives. Thank you!
Wow…this post made me tear up. I have suffered with anxiety and panic attacks for the last 20 years. I would love to say that there is some magic quick fix but if there is I haven’t found it. I know that fear of having another panic attack all too well…one of the worst feelings in the world.
Reading this, I just wanted to give you a hug and a shoulder to cry on and an ear to vent to…those seem to be the things I want most during a period of panic. I will say that it ebbs and flows. I have gone years without having any attacks at all and then it will be triggered.
While I can’t even imagine your loss…on a much smaller and different scale I have lost children. I am a foster/adoptive parent and three children (2babies) that my husband and I raised for over a year went back to their biological families against all recommendations. Talk about a panic trigger. Lavender spray on your pillow may help with creating a calm environment. Peppermint has helped too (I know it sounds crazy…but I tried everything).
I know you have tons of support but if you ever want to talk with someone with years of panic attack experience, feel free to email me. Take care (easier said than done).
I understand how you feel because I tried to breast feed, but due to unfortunate circumstances I couldn’t. The guilt feelings were there, but I decided I had to do what was best for myself and my daughter. You did what was best for you and Annie.
I’m glad you wrote this post because people need to realize that breast feeding is ideal, but not always an option. Thanks!
Oh, how I understand this struggle!! Good for you for sharing your experience, and showing that it’s okay for moms to take care of themselves. It’s evident in every post how well loved your children are, and that you’d do absolutely anything for them. I truly feel like you are a gift..not only to your beloved Maddie and Annabel, but to your readers as well.
You are a rock star, plain and simple!
I have been reading you for a long while and just haven’t commented but today I had to comment. When I had my son I planned to breastfeed (I think almost all of us have that intention in the beginning don’t we?). Two things happened and I’m not sure if they’re related or not. 1. I had a horrible spinal headache (had a c-section) and by the 3rd day in the hospital I couldn’t hold my head up. 2. While I was in recovery the nurses gave him a bottle of infant water.
I tried and tried and tried to breastfeed him. He cried and cried and cried. The nurses kept bringing him in to nurse and I had such a horrible headache but I tried so hard. Then the lactation consultant stopped by and she said I was doing everything right (even despite the blinding headache) so my milk just wasn’t in yet and he’d get there. By the time the 3rd day rolled around we were both miserable and I was so sick. I couldn’t lift my arms. I called my mom at 7 AM crying. (She’s a nurse) she knew exactly what was going on because she worked in outpatient surgery and recovery. She called the nurses station and told them to give my son a bottle and leave me alone. They put a block on visitors and no one was to bother me until the anesthesiologist could get there to give me a blood patch. I can’t even tell you how sick I was. the blood patch worked and I felt better in about 30 minutes, but we continued to struggle with breastfeeding.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and we’re home and my son is supremely colicy and cries all of the time and just doesn’t nurse well. We went in for his two week check up and he’d lost a lot of weight. At that point my doctor (and his) said it was time to bottle feed him. He just wasn’t getting enough to eat. I was devastated. I cried for two days. My “milk” dried up in 24 hours and I had NO pain with it. I called the lactation specialist to ask her what she thought my problem was and she said she thinks I just didn’t produce milk. She said some women just don’t/can’t and there was nothing I could have done.
I have no idea if it was nipple confusion on his part, if my milk would have come in better if I hadn’t been so sick, etc… I still wonder and he’s 10!!
Women beat themselves up so badly. It’s a shame we can’t build each other up rather than tearing each other down. Some women just can’t breastfeed for whatever reason and we should support them because it really could be any one of us at any time.
PS/I never could pump much either, the LC had me try a couple of times and just nothing.
Thank you for your post and your honesty. ((((HUGS))))
.-= Steph´s last blog ..Honey if You’re Going Out Take the Baby =-.
I was unable to breastfeed my son. I felt like a failure. I’d heard all the horror stories: breastfed kids are healthier, get fewer ear infections, are less likely to be overweight, etc. Well, he is now six feet tall and has a 29 inch waist and he is by far my healthiest child. I breastfed both my daughters and they both struggle with their weight and catch nearly everything that goes around. Oh well. I think the most important thing is that you hold your baby while bottle feeding, don’t prop the bottle. My son refused to hold his own bottle, even when he was old enough to do so and because of that he got all the closeness and nurturing that he would have gotten if he’d been breastfed.
.-= Joy´s last blog ..responsibility =-.
I forgot to mention that both of my daughters who were breastfed REFUSED to drink from a bottle. I was chained to them. My darling patient unflappable husband would squirt formula down their throats with an eye dropper while they were screaming whenever I had to leave my house for work (I worked from home as a bookkeeper) but I could never have someone babysit them until they were old enough to eat solid foods.
.-= Joy´s last blog ..responsibility =-.
Mary c says:
Breastfeeding was one of the hardest thing that I have ever done. I had the worst breastfeeding thrush for a month. I get the whole bitting down on a wahcloth. After three months I went back to work full time. I share an office with three other women and was kicking them out every two hours. Not that that was hard. They loved the fifteen minute breaks every two hours and were great reminders of the time! After 7 months I gave up breastfeeding. I felt guilty too. I say kudos to anybody that can do it for any amount of time. Keep up the good work mama Spohr.
As someone with NO SUPPLY, I appreciate this post. :o)
I would love to take the person who coined the phrase “Breast is best” and put a tidy little noose around their neck.
I started out my motherhood journey fully intending to breastfeed. In fact, I’d long before having kids decided I’d go for it. Both for the nutrition and because well, I had itty bitties that I hoped would um, change? Anyways, I spent the first week after my first daughter was born trying desperately to feed her, a visit to the health nurse discovered what I had feared. I had no milk or very little an ounce at best. I went on medicine, I too herbs, twice a week i attended a breastfeeding clinic, but still I had to supplement. I was devestated, I went as far as to supplement using a system called an SNS, where my daughter would latch onto me and drink whatever milk I had along with a little tube in her mouth to get formula. Feeds lasted 1.5 to 2 hours. Then I’d have to clean the system and start over. It was exhausting but I was feeling ashamed I couldn’t give her the best. I stressed and fussed for 6 months and then during a move to another portion of the country I had to quit. We went to formula and carried on. When my second daughter was born the struggle began again, and at best (even with everything imaginable) I only ever had 2oz a feed from both sides combine. I was upset and feeling like a failure, everyone kept telling me that there was “No reason every woman can’t breastfeed” and “breast is best, don’t settle for formula” I felt like a horrific mother. And the more I worried the more discontented my daughter became. Then I met an angel.
She looked at me, and said, “The best you is best. You love her and that’s what makes you the best Momma and that’s what is best. WIth as good as formula is these days your baby gets everything she would from you and tell me this. If I stood 5 people together in a line, adults, would you be able to pick out the breastfed ones? No. It’s all a matter of opinion and necessity. Because nobody can tell the formula fed babies from the breastfed ones when they’re 20 years old. But everyone can spot a person who’s been loved and one who hasn’t. Are you loving her? (TO which I gave her an insulted look) Well, then, that’s all that matters”
Good for you for being ok with your choice. Annabel deserves the whole you, however you need to achieve that, and doing what you’ve done will give her and Mike and You more than a few ounces of breastmilk or the connection from the boob ever will.
.-= Ashley´s last blog ..Gah! I am my Mother! =-.
Hi Heather, I’ve been following your blog for a while now but have never commented. I’m so glad you wrote about this issue because I went through the same thing when my daughter was born almost 5 weeks early (Nov. ’09). She was in the NICU for 5 days and I was pumping, supplementing with fmla, and breast feeding only to start the process over the next hour. I was exhausted and then 2 months in decided it was best for all of us if I just stopped and bottled fed her. OMG – what a difference in mood and and overall calm feeling in our household. People would ask about the breast feeding and I side-stepped it for a while then I just looked at them directly and told them the truth. My baby is doing amazing and has been off the preemie charts since month 2, has never been sick, and has such a great temperament. I loved reading your posts about Annabel’s progress because I went through such similar experiences, just 3 months ahead (same with your pregnancy experiences, i.e., bed rest, gestational diabetes, pre-term contractions, etc. – probably should have e-mailed you sooner – lol!).
So glad things are going well with Annabel and with you!
Rach L in Vancouver says:
As a primarily formula fed baby who turned out just fine (no, really – ask my parents…I swear they were just here…) I would venture to say that you made EXACTLY the right decision. Annabel needs to latch on emotionally far more than she needs to latch on physically. She needs you to be present, and you are – you are doing a wonderful job of it! What nature hasn’t given you, you’re making up with nurture, and that’s all a sweet little one like Annie could ask.
What a charmer too! She’s won all of our hearts for sure.
.-= Rach L in Vancouver´s last blog ..The Ultimate Follow Friday List =-.
Guilt is one crazy emotion, isn’t it? Unlike some of the above posters, I don’t believe that anyone can make you feel guilty. It’s 100% personal and only I can make myself feel guilty. Others can judge, others can make nasty comments… all making me feel bad. But it’s only if I think there is something wrong with my decision can I feel guilt.
Personally I don’t care if other mothers choose to formula feed, start solids early, etc. That’s their choice even though it differs from my choices. I don’t like it when women base their decisions on incorrect information but once again, if they choose to trust that incorrect information, that’s their choice as well.
You are SUCH an amazing mother! I definitely believe that a child bonds the same, breast or bottle. You did the very best you could and Annabel will be better for it. A lactation consultant once told me that ANY breast milk a child gets is beneficial, so even though you feel guilty about choosing your mental health (which ALSO benefits her), you also gave her the gift of breast milk for as long as you did.
Mother guilt sucks. Every mother feels it, not matter what. Thank you for your post, as I know that your blog helps other mothers know that they’re not alone and that we’re all in this together – to support each other.
Thank you for your post. I am in a similar situation (my son was born a few weeks before Annabel) and I can’t begin to tell you how reassuring it was to read what you wrote. I’ve been telling myself the same thing–my boy is happy, and healthy, and is being fed with love, regardless if it’s from the boob or the bottle, formula or breastmilk.
chatty cricket says:
OMG Heather, I have so so so so so many thoughts on this…so many that I can’t even type them out because I don’t know where to start so just:
Look, bottle fed my first two- didn’t even make it to pumping. Then with my third I decided I wanted to try nursing incase he was my last, so I did and it was a huge horrible painful disaster and we struggled through 9 weeks of latching badly, bloody bleeding pain, pumping, anxiety, guilt about stopping….AND MY FIRST TWO WERE EXCLUSIVELY BOTTLE FED. FORMULA. And they are fantastic and I knew that stopping the breastfeeding would be fine and he would be fine and STILL! Still with the guilt!
You have to take care of you too. Obviously, you know that. Annie is amazing. You are amazing.
So the big question: Will Annabel crawl or will she just begin walking?
I’m glad to hear you have found what works best for you and your family. More difficult decisions lie ahead (e.g., letting babies cry it out, when to give up the bottle and or paci). I hope you will remember to do what works best for your family.
If you don’t take care of YOU, you will never be able to take care of her.
Because we are a special sort, the women in my family either do not lactate (me) or do not lactate enough to fully nourish a child (daughter). People tried to shame me for not breast feeding even tho I had no mild to give. “Keep trying” they said. “Bite me” I said.
There is no perfect way to do anything, there is only the right way, and the right way is whichever way works best for you and your baby.
btw OMG she is as big as the twins and they have a year on her!
your story resonates with so many women, so thank you for sharing. breastfeeding is SO hard. and no one really tells you how hard it’s going to be. i know that i was looking forward to breastfeeding my daughter when she was born 18 months ago. what i didn’t expect was how incredibly hard (mentally and physically) it would be. my nipples would bleed and i would literally cry through each feeding. there was NOTHING enjoyable or satisfying about it. everyone told me to stick it out because it would get better. my nipples were a hot mess. i HATED it. i dreaded each and every feeding. but refused to stop because of the extreme guilt i felt. this was supposed to be easy and “natural.” yet i hated it. my daughter and i struggled each and every time. after 5 weeks, i finally stopped. the day i stopped, i think i cried all day. oh the guilt! but looking back, i should have stopped sooner. i was so consumed with the breastfeeding that i was missing out on her first 5 weeks. and i was unhappy, deeply depressed about being a failure. and i also was a prisoner in the house because breastfeeding was such a fiasco that i couldn’t imagine trying to get her to latch in public. it usually took my husband and me together to get her to eat properly. the day after i stopped, it was like a whole new world opened up. i could take her to lunch with friends. i could go shopping with her. just whip out the bottle, feed her, and she was good to go. i wasn’t in pain anymore (and the pain was INTENSE – i understand where you are coming from!), i was happy, and my daughter was happy too. she’s 18 months now, very very healthy, active, and happy.
i intend to try again when we have a 2nd child. only this time, i won’t beat myself up if it doesn’t work out. breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, for a multitude of reasons. i think it is wonderful if it works for you, but that we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty or like failures as mothers if the breastfeeding relationship with your child doesn’t flourish.
thank you again for sharing your story. i wish i had something like this to read 18 months ago when i was going through it and feeling very alone.
I had breast reduction surgery 6 years before having my son. Breastfeeding was very important to me, I almost didn’t have the surgery because of it. I was and am very happy I had the surgery. However, not being able to breastfeed my son 100% was very stressful for me. I felt incredibly guilty that I had selfishly choosen something for myself that caused me not to be able to provide for my baby. I was able to breast feed him until he was 6 months, but I always had to give him a bottle too. Each feeding I would nurse, pump and give him a bottle, it was exhausting, but I felt I was doing what was best for my baby. Eventually, my milk supply was so minimal I stopped and the guilt was horrible. He is a perfectly health 14 month old now and I am sure he suffered no adverse affects from formula, that is what my head says, but I still feel guilty about it. I guess this became a vent of my own(sorry), there is no reason to feel guilty you did what is best for you family and your daughter is perfect!
I’m glad you’ve had some time to gain presepective and realize that you should not be ashamed or guilty that you had to stop breastfeeding. I understand those feelings, I’m not discrediting them. I’m just glad you’re working through them and past them. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS BEING HEALTHY- BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY.
I breastfed for 8 months and then my son and I switched to formula. Mainly because I was planning on returning to work. I didn’t see any difference between the nutrition or how my son accepted it. He’s 5 now and the only way you might think he was breastfed is his slight obsession with boobies ; P
Love you all and wishing for your continued improvement.
Thank you…from one mom to another…my first was nicu baby so I pumped…14 mos my second was 36 and 5 days but had anger issues so they put her in the nicu for a week…started out pumping and then breast fed but my supply was horrible..I decided it was better for her to be fed then for me to feel like a hero so formula it was. I was guilt ridden and ashamed. I appreciate your blog today…thank you for making feeding any way you can…the “norm”.
Amen and thank you! Too many people get guilted into doing stuff that doesn’t work for them because of societal pressure and/or expectations, and breastfeeding is about at the top of that list in terms of its emotional weight for so many people.
The bottom line is, and I’m sure we’ve all heard this before, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy” and frankly, it’s true. No one can be a good caregiver if their mental state won’t permit it, breastfeeding or no.
It’s time to STOP beating ourselves (and others) up over this issue! Thanks for being open about it.
Full disclosure: I was perfectly able to bf. Produced tons of milk. Had no medical issues of any kind. BUT HATED EVERY SECOND OF IT. Why…? Who knows; I just did. It didn’t feel good, or right, or natural. Forced myself through it for three months with each kid, because I felt like I “should.” Afterwards, found myself wondering, Why did I do that…? Everybody’s FINE! Sigh.
Pumping did a number on my breasts with NICU baby #1, and he never latched. We switched to formula (soy, at that) at 3 mos and my stored milk ran out at 6 mos. I had an issue with pumping in that it was preventing bonding with my kid. I swore it would never happen again.
Flash forward to #2 NICU baby who could latch, except now I had an oversupply problem. Didn’t want to go to an LC. Pumping wasn’t working as well. I felt terrible giving up after two weeks, even though I swore I wouldn’t. Then I got over it.
Two kids, soy formula, pretty darn brilliant and wonderful if I do say so myself. Came to find out from my mother, the breastfeeding Nazi, that I was bottlefed from 6 weeks on, as were my husband and all his siblings — all with doctorates.
When I had hard times that first year, I would think, “A lot of babies are born to parents who don’t care and do the bare minimum, and usually those kids grow up and turn out relatively fine. I would have to work REALLY hard to physically damage my child.” I think it’s ridiculous that we as mothers question putting ourselves — especially our health — ahead of our kids. Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others!
Oh my, you’ve hit one of my hot buttons. I was a sufferer of low milk supply and I felt horribly guilty about giving formula. I tortured myself with a pump for 8 hours a day and still did not have enough. And looking back I think I was depriving my son because of the self-imposed pressure. Finally at 6 weeks I decided to feed him as much breast milk as I could and let him have as much forumla as he wanted and volia! I was happier he was fat and happier. For 4 more weeks I pumped and pumped until the few ounces didn’t prove worth it. You know what? He’s now a perfect 2 year old and the formula didn’t poison him like I feared A happy Mama makes for a happy baby. If Mama is stressed baby will feel it. You did the right thing. Thank you for your honesty on behalf of all of us breastfeeding failures.
You are a fabulous mom. Please do not beat yourself up over minor things like that. TONS of people don’t breastfeed, either by choice or because they can’t. And it’s OK! You have so many other things going for you, please don’t ever forget that. You are lucky to have Annie, but remember, she is lucky to have YOU.
I have read here for a while but never have commented. First, what a wonderful writer you are! And what a good mommy! I’m so glad you wrote this post. And I was so glad to read all the other comments from people who also could not breastfeed. It made me feel so much better. I’m mostly over the guilt of it not working out. But that earlier poster was correct — parenthood is a competitive sport — and it shouldn’t be! My first baby never latched, and even with a bottle, she didn’t have a good suck. The lactation consultants made me feel guilty, like my child would grow up stupid and sickly. But she is 3 now and is just fine! I had trouble nursing my second baby, too, and felt guilty again. She actually had to spend her first couple of days in NICU to be on IV antibiotics, and the nurses there were soooo nice. They told me that no one else has to live my life and that the baby would be happy and healthy no matter how she was fed. And she is! (Eight months old now.) Anyway, thanks for saying what I wish more women would. Breastfeeding is great, but there is no shame in not doing it. What matters is a healthy, happy mom and a healthy, happy baby — just like everyone else already said.
Abby C. says:
Lots of people have trouble breastfeeding. What’s most important is being the best mother you can be. You’ve made the right decision for your family after taking time to deliberate it, and you should be proud of it!
This just re-iterates the fact that you are one brave woman. To admit that you felt ashamed is very strong of you. I commend you greatly. And you are right, as long as Annabel is fed and happy, thats what matters.
When my daughter was born she wouldnt latch at all, but it was 3 weeks until we could get into a Lactation Clinic, so for the first 3 weeks I pumped and bottle fed, so I know first hand how exhausting that is. Good for you for keeping it up for so long.
Since other struggling moms may be reading I’ll add my AMEN! I had one baby that wouldn’t latch and another baby that would fall asleep sucking but not drawing milk. Both were losing weight and miserable. I got myself a Symphony pump…supply was not an issue…and pumped and bottle fed for 4 and 5 months respectively, supplementing with formula when convenient. Kids are fine, I am fine, and I wish I could start a crusade to convince mamas not to feel bad about their breastfeeding difficulties. I know way more people who struggle than don’t and I wish we didn’t have to feel like failures because of it. She is gorgeous and perfect and you have enough to deal with without guilt about how she gets that beautiful chub!
I agree, Katie…I have often wished I could start some sort of support group for NON-nursers, to help people let go of guilt and just know that there are so many other things that are more important.
Guess Heather is doing that for us, judging from most of the comments! LOL
Good for you for doing what you feel is best for you and your gorgeous baby. THAT is the priority here!
This post is wonderful! I love it! So proud of yu for speaking up – breast feeding is hard and NOT for everyone. It was easy with my first and a nightmare with my second so I KNOW that it isn’t for everyone – no matter if it is mommy or baby.
Again love the post!
.-= MBKimmy´s last blog ..Mothers Day =-.
Thanks so much for writing about this. I had guilt about this, too, but I rationalized with myself that the stress was taking away from my time with my sweet daughter. She needed me to be her best mom. With the stress and lack of sleep from staying up for hours trying to bottle feed her breast milk, then pump and clean up, it so wasn’t worth it.
I LOVE that picture of Annie. She has an incredible smile. I can’t believe she is standing/leaning against the couch. Strong little girl!
I have never commented but have been reading for a while. I pray for you and your family daily. Just wanted to say- I had a baby 5 weeks ago and I was determined to breastfeed. My mom couldn’t ever make enough for me or my brother. Long story short but an induction gone bad and baby in the NICU after a c-section resulted in him getting bottles before I even got to see him so after 2 horrible weeks of nursing or pumping every two hours I just couldn’t keep him full so him is now strictly on formula and I still cry about it but everyday gets easier. Best of luck to you and your beautiful family.
Thank you for writing this, Heather! No one ever says how hard breastfeeding is or how traumatizing it can be to mother and child. The main focus is how good BF is for the baby and if you can’t do it you’re a quitter and unfit parent. Just simply not true.
Thank you for letting us into your world and seeing that we’re not alone in our struggles. It helps me to know that other moms are thinking and feeling the same way I am. For that I am very grateful.
I truly believe that the benefits Annabel will receive for having a mentally stable mother far outweigh the benefits she would receive from breastmilk. And while I’m sure you have known that all along, I understand what it’s like to not be able to admit that an anxiety problem is severe enough that something has to be done about it. I had crippling anxiety and panic after my son was born. It took me 13 months do something about it and I only wish that I had done something sooner. I know you feel guilty about the breastfeeding, but you should also feel brave for making the best decision for your daughter and yourself.
I had a lot of breast feeding issues as well and spent so much time feeling guilty and embarrassed about the situation not turning out the way I wanted it to, I’m afraid I missed out on being able to enjoy watching my son grow and thrive. We are far too hard on ourselves. I’m glad you feel better.
I was very fortunate to be able to exclusively breastfeed my son for 13 months with only a slight bit of pain for the first two weeks. I feel very lucky that I was able to that, as I have met many other moms who did not have that same luck. They struggled through torn and bleeding nipples because they thought they had to, and also struggled with huge guilt when they had to give it up. I am a firm believer in breastfeeding, however, that is ONLY if it works for you! If you physically can’t do it, there is NO shame in that! I love that people at least try it first, and then decide later that they can’t continue for one reason or another. Every single feed that you gave your babies does a world of good. It does not make you a bad mother to not breastfeed, it would be ten time worse for you to continue breastfeeding when it makes you upset and hurt, and in turn, causes your baby to not get the best supply of milk possible. Your baby can sense the stress coming off of you with each painful feeding, the bonding between you would be much stronger if you were both happy and enjoying it. This is why formula exists! It is meant to be used when needed. I am glad that you feel you can talk about it here. You will get no judgement here because you did the right thing! Good for you!
i just wanted to thank you for this post. My breastfeeding saga with my kids is similar to yours. My first born was born a 32 week preemie and due to me being in intensive care for days before I was allowed to pump my milk supply never fully came in. Despite pumping every 2 hours I never produced enough for her to survive off of so she was supplemented with preemie formula. I managed to keep that up for 7 months until my body just stopped. Then along came my baby boy (who is only a few weeks older than Annie) full term and STARVING! lol. He did breastfeed very well and I was soo happy that I was able to produce enough milk for him. Until I became sick and had to take medications that pretty much put a stop to my milk supply. I felt so guilty and worried that he wouldnt adjust to the formula change. I didnt tell any of my family that I had stopped BF him. Its been 3 weeks now and Im starting to come to terms that I had to do what needed to be done so I could get well and hes adjusted fine to the formula.
But again just wanted to say thank you for this post, obviously from the comments many women have been in your position also and just hearing another mommy say that its okay is reasuring to us!
BTW I have a photo of my son standing up against the couch just like that from 2 weeks ago! If I knew how to post photos or links on here I would show you b/c its too funny that we have almost the exact photos!
Been there! I breastfed two bio babies (for 9 months and then 4 months, for various reasons). With the second I had post-partum depression and didn’t start medication until she was 9 months old, and really until I was on the medication a few weeks it was hard for me to see what a good decision it was – for her as well as for me.
When we adopted a 4-month-old bottle-fed baby, I had a friend who gave me a hard time for not breast-feeding him (it’s possible with the aid of devices). I was never able to pump, and really felt like you – the bottle feedings were just as close and loving. He was healthier and stronger than his sisters were as a baby/toddler and is fabulous now.
For some reason, maybe because I had to take way too many plane rides recently, I am reminded of that announcement regarding “While we never anticipate a change in cabin pressure…” and putting the oxygen mask on yourself before helping any children or those who may need assistance. You can’t help those around you if you don’t help yourself, and that’s a lesson I think a lot of people need to learn. Bravo, Heather! You are a great role model.
.-= Alison´s last blog ..IQ =-.
Aunt Becky says:
What so many people forget is that YOU matter, too. Period. And Annabel and Maddie, well, those babies, they were just FINE on formula.
.-= Aunt Becky´s last blog ..There’s A Blaze of Light In Every Word =-.
one bottle fed, one breast fed. survivor of panic attacks/anxiety disorder; master of guilt.
The day after my son was born we realized breastfeeding was going to be hard due to my son’s jawline. I tried for two days but it became him crying for food and me crying in frustration. I had a bottle of formula and an eyedropper that a nurse and said “you can try this if you feel you have to”. I remember sheilding him from teh doorway whilst I surrepstiously dropped formula into his mouth. I sobbed with guilt. The next morning a nurse came in and looked at me with concern..and she said this ” he is YOUR son, feed him whichever way works best for him and you. How you feed him is unimportant as long as he is nourished and loved”. She empowered me to make a parental decision and stick to it regardless of others’ judgements. I was able to breastfeed my daughter for 10 months with little problem.
Your health and mental well-being directly affect the health of your daughter. Panic and anxiety can prevent you from giving the best of yourself to your family. I have also gone thru this and fought against meds but in the long run I wish I’d taken the prescription sooner than I did. Now I am the best mom and best person I can be and that, in turn, nourishes my children on many different levels.
I am sending you hugs and love from Vancouver BC Canada and wishing for you an easy heart and peace of mind today and every day.
A happy and healthy mommy leads to a happy and healthy child….take care of yourself!
Good for you for realizing that in order to be a good Mother, YOU have to take care of yourself first! Thank you writing about a subject that so many women need to hear about!
You must be an amazing mother, breastfeeding or not, because I’ve never seen such smiling, happy babies like your beautiful girls!
I am delighted to see you getting so many supportive responses. Families have to do what works best for their situation, and studies show that when Mom is doing well, families do well. You have gotten some great advice and support around taking care of yourself. I think it is a common theme among mothers to second guess every decision we make, everything we do and say. You have the added burden of having gone through a loss most people will never experience. Giving yourself permission to take care of your own health and needs will only result in you being better able to take care of your family, and I am so happy that you are able to share your thoughts on this. You may have helped another mother today.
.-= Barnmaven´s last blog ..Accidental Vacation =-.
Andrea's Sweet Life says:
I don’t know if you remember how skinny I was when we first met, 2 years ago (my how the time flies!) but I was beyond unhealthy-skinny. I think I *might* have tipped the scales around 100 pounds.
At that point, I had been nursing Blythe for 14 months. At 10 months, she was diagnosed with her corn allergy and her allergist recommended that I nurse her as long as possible, hopefully until she was 2, to help repair some of the damage done to her body by all that corn exposure she had for the first 10 months.
So, for those six months between, I was doing everything I could to nurse her, but I was scared out of my mind to eat something with corn in it, because the corn exposure through my milk made her terribly, terribly sick. To say I was caught between a rock and a hard place is putting it mildly.
Finally, after becoming emaciated, I decided that it was more important that I NOT starve myself, than for Blythe to have my breast milk. I found a safe alternative – Horizon Organic Milk, because they don’t feed their cows corn – and I quit. I felt AWFUL for quitting, feeling like I had failed my daughter – but my body was telling me I needed to. I HAD to put myself first. And in taking care of myself, I was better able to care for her.
I don’t regret my decision one little bit. I did my absolute best. And having a healthy mom is more important than having breast milk, IMHO.
Love you, lady. I am so glad you decided to speak up about this.
.-= Andrea’s Sweet Life´s last blog ..Food vs "Food" =-.
Thanks for being honest about your struggle. My son was three weeks early and just would not latch on. Three lactation consultants later and I was forced to pump. My milk supply only kept up with him for 5 weeks and I felt terribly guilty about the whole thing. I wish more people would talk about this. Thanks again!
Out of 5 children, I did manage to BF each and everyone… but not all of them for the length of time I would have liked. Some were short, some were really short. Only my 5th child was nursed for 10 months. The others were 3 months (the longest before my last child) or less (way less).
I am PRO BF. But I think we tend to beat ourselves up for not being able to do it… do it long enough… or simply choosing to formula feed. While I do believe that breast milk is best, moms love and attention trumps everything. Babies grow healthy with breast milk or formula and they blossom with love.
.-= Diane´s last blog ..I think I may be crafty shmafty after all. =-.
My doula friend is firm on this: happy mama, happy baby. Breastfeeding is great, but not if it causes mental anguish. But it’s such a charged subject that I think people lose their brains over it a little. I admire you so much as a mama, Heather. Maddie and Annie are so lucky to have you.
Bianca S says:
Heather, I found your blog because of one of Loralee’s posts about choosing not to breastfeed. I wasn’t sure if there were women out there like me who (for whatever reason) did not want to breastfeed, and so Loralee’s post was a comfort. And it was thanks to her blog that I found yours so it’s funny to have come full circle!
I know in my heart and head what I believe about breastfeeding but I can appreciate how when you’re actually in the situation your heart and mind might conflict. All I see in those pictures is a healthy and happy baby; I don’t think you need to put yourself through what sounds like TORTURE in order to justify your own motherhood when you’re quite clearly doing fine anyway. Cut yourself some slack! (Easier said than done, I know!) Take care
THANK YOU for being so honest Heather! I had soo many struggles with breastfeeding. I felt very ashamed that I could not get it to work. I went to a couple of LC’s for help. I went to the b’feeding support groups at our local hospital. I read everything, and had all the paraphenilia that is on the market to help make it easier. I had to use formula for 80% of my daughters feedings and would pump what little milk my body would make and give it to her in addition. There is such a stigma placed on women that we “have to breastfeed” and if we aren’t, we’re doing a disservice to our kids. I agree with you 200% that the best thing we can give our children is a HEALTHY AND HAPPY MOMMA. and if you get that through b’feeding, or pumping, or formula – so be it. My husband wrote about it once on his blog, how in the end, we all pretty much turn out the same. It isn’t like we look around at our friends and say, “Yeah, Frank? Yeah, he’s a nice guy, real smart, but he was “Bottle-fed”.” So true. Is Frank a nice guy that was raised by a happy family….I think that is going to matter a lot more.
You made the best decision for your family – that is all that matters. Good for you! and again – thank you for bringing it out into the open.
I couldn’t wait to breastfeed. I knew I would, I told everyone that was the only way I wanted my children fed, then I had my first daughter.
I tried, I cried, and I decided to pump for as long as I could. I too believe it was the best, if not only, decision I could have made.
Then I tried again with my second daughter, same thing. Only I got seriously down on myself for failing at breastfeeding I didn’t get the help I needed and my depression really affected my marriage and my bonding with my Ava.
Heather you are doing EXACTLY what you should be doing, and Annabell is SOOOOOOO cute
Sending hugs and love from Michigan
I have a saying….i was a perfect mother and then i had children….it is amazing how opinions and such change when you are in the middle of the situation with your child! There were so many things i said I would never do or say or behaviors from my children that I would never put up with but when you are in the thick of it you do what you have to do to survive and sometimes that means doing things you said you would never do. I agree breast is best but if you are suffering emotionally and need medication your situation changes and you have to choose differently. It has to work for you and your family. No one can judge…..you do what works for you and your family and if that is bottle feeding then so be it……and you know what Annie will still be a happy and healthy child with a happy and healthy mommy!
I’ve been following your blog for a few years now, and never commented. I’m a new mom who had similar issues breastfeeding and I felt so guilty when I weaned my little girl.
I was sent a link to this site and it totally helped me (I just wished that I could have printed it out and shown all the disapproving eyes…)
I know all of our support will be nice, but I know it comes from within to start feeling guilt-free.
Oh, thank GOD someone is speaking honestly about this. I struggled so much with breastfeeding with my first, and I can’t tell you how often I got the whole guilt trip BS from doulas, LCs, and fellow Mommies alike who thought I was crazy for giving my child formula. And even those who thought they were being supportive kept suggesting I wasn’t trying hard enough. And no, I wasn’t doing the pumping and the latching as much as I should have….but I was also SO DEPRESSED I could barely lift my head up. With my second, I breastfed for 6 months, and even then my milk supply was so low he was on 25% breastmilk and 75% formula.
The kicker? They are both OFF THE CHARTS in height and weight. And healthy to boot.
Heather – I admire you and your blog so much. Annie and Madeline have an amazing mother. Thank you for being so candid and so wonderfully funny. You are a light to others even in your darkest days – not many people can claim that.
Much love and strength –
Heather, you did the right thing, no question. You are a superhero for trying to breastfeed for so long through awful pain, and you are 100% right that bonding while bottle feeding is absolutely equivalent to bonding while breastfeeding. I have been fortunate to be able to breastfeed my kids, but if I were in your shoes, I would’ve stopped breastfeeding even sooner than you did. You made the right choice and I hope that over time you are able to look back without any guilt. You didn’t choose your mental health over breastfeeding – you chose to be fully present for Annie and Mike, which is the best gift you could give them (yes, a better gift than breastmilk)!
I know this guilt! My milk hardly came in at all, and my son was one hungry little tiger. I did everything I could to increase my milk supply. After three weeks, in a fit of tears, guilt and exhaustion, I gave up, with the blessing of my lactation consultant.
It’s a hard, personal decision to make, but you did the best for your family. And I’m pretty sure just like both my kids didn’t suffer, neither will Annabel. You did good!
Although I don’t have kids yet and haven’t the slightest idea how tough breast feeding is, I’ve dealt with PTSD for most of my life.
I think you’re a great Mama for not only doing what’s best for your baby, but for looking out for you too =)
I think you’re incredibly brave for being open about everything.
Annie is a total doll!
Former NICU mom here, with my NICU baby, I had to pump as well, I did it for like 4 months and couldn’t do it anymore because my milk supply dried up, I totally felt like a failure. Wa later diagnosed with PPD, put on medicine and everything went back to normal. WIth baby #2 my plan all along was to nurse, well right after he was born, the nurse raced in and said that I couldn’t nurse because there *might* be a risk due to the med I was on for PPD. My OB/GYN and my family dr all said that there was a potential risk as it had never been tested on newborn babies, BUT the peds on rotation at the hosptial were pushing and pushing and pushing me to nurse saying that the benefit outweighed the risk, RISK?!??! RISK!?!??! I opted not to, because of the potential for risk, and also I could not go off that medicine because when Mommy isn’t mentally there, it’s not good for anyone. You did the right thing Heather, not only for you, but for Mike and for Annie.
finally de-lurking here…
i just had to say, just this morning, i was grieving the fact that my son (3 months) would scream every time i’d try to get him to latch. we’ve been struggling with supply issues since he was a month and a half, and i’ve limped my way through with formula (which made it worse) and incredible guilt. this morning, all the guilt came crashing down on me and i truly became the mom who felt bad about not giving her baby “the best”. i had no problems with supplies with my other two children until they were around 5 to 6 months old. i just can’t make milk. sigh…
anyway, thank you for this very timely post. i still can’t believe how perfectly timed it was to what i’m going through today.
.-= molly´s last blog ..:: bah. :: =-.
You need to kick MG to the curb! Mommy Guilt is always there trying to tear us down! She’s evil, I tell ya. Don’t listen to her. Not all babies are the same, and not all breastfeeding situations will be the same. You just do your absolute best, and that’s all we can do, you know? Love your baby, and all will be good. (Love comes in the form of breastmilk and formula, ya know!)
.-= Katrina´s last blog ..The Strike =-.
thank you, katrina!
.-= molly´s last blog ..:: bah. :: =-.
I am so glad for this post. I nursed my daughter for 4 months and in the end, we were both ready to stop. Nursing took a toll on both of us, both emotionally and physically. I am constantly concerned that women are pressured to nurse their babies. If a mother chooses to bottle-feed, she is made to feel guilty or inadequate. A mother must ALWAYS do what is best for her child and sometimes, a stable mother and a bottle of formula is the BEST thing. My sister recently had twins that both weighed less than 5 pounds. Between pumping, measuring, supplementing with fortifier, and then feeding the babies, she felt like she was spending precious hours away from her little ones. She made the choice to bottlefeed and now both the babies and my sister are thriving.
Thank you for sharing your story. Your bravery will help inform and help others!
Heather, I am so glad you chose to write about this! I too had a breast feeding experience. I swore I would only BF my son, but when the time came, he was unable to latch on, at all! The LC was at a loss too. Nothing to do but pump. As you said, you have the same closeness as if you were BF, it’s the same product, just in a bottle! Well, a few weeks to months of pumping and I was getting depression, anxiety, etc. Unlike you, I was BEGGING my doc for meds, but they wouldn’t give them to me! Anyway, I had to stop the BF and did so very reluctantly and didn’t say much of a word to anyone other than my husband and my mom. But, it was the right thing to do, because a healthy mom is better than the alternative! YOU DID THE RIGHT THING! You need to be healthy for Annie and if that means she gets formuls and you get meds, so be it. You will still be close and bonded even if it isn’t your milk! You’re a great mom, your husband is hilarious and your kids are adorable! Bless you!
I think you definitely made the right decision. I stopped taking my depression and anxiety medication when I got pregnant and against everyone’s wishes I didn’t take it so I could breastfeed too. My son is now 3 years and 4 months old and JUST stopped breastfeeding a month ago. I drove my family insane with my depression and mood swings and they are all very relieved that I’m back on my medication. I feel better than I have felt in years and wish I would have done this sooner. I just kept saying that Maddox would surely stop nursing soon and it took over 3 years – 3 long, anxiety filled years. Hugs to you for making a tough decision!
Deb Hauer says:
I am so proud of you! I was a mom that breastfed but I consider myself lucky. I have a lot of friends that have babies. Some didn’t feel comfortable breastfeeding, some didn’t have the supply to do so and one even ended up with a major infection in her breasts and hickeys all over because the baby would not stay on the nipple. I always encourage moms to try but when it isn’t working it just won’t happen. You are a better mom to Annabel by taking care of yourself first! You would not be any good to her if you don’t make sure you are ok first. There is absolutely nothing wrong with formula. That is why it is there. I didn’t breast feed my children more than 6 months. So they had formula too. I only breastfed my middle child for 2 1/2 months and I had no problems…..I had to go back to work and it was a big hassle to pump there. Always remember to take care of yourself so you will be there for Annabel. She needs you!
I can’t say enough how much I support you and I think you are an AWESOME mom!!!!
You have to do what’s best for you and your situation. Annabel is already 4 months old, and look at her: she’s a chub-chub! You did GREAT! And now….if it’s best for you to ween her off the breast milk because your health and sanity needs that, she will be FINE. She will be just fine. I nurse my first baby for 4 months. I used to breastfeed her and then also pump so that my husband could feed her. After a while, she preferred the bottle to my breast because it came out faster from the bottle. At least, that’s what I was told. Soon, she started to fuss whenever I breastfed her and would only drink from the bottle. After 4 months, she was fully weened. And I didn’t even want that, but that’s what happened. She started getting formula shortly after that. She is 17 now and healthy and happy. She doesn’t hate me because she wasn’t breastfed for her first 12 months, lol. With all the others, I didn’t ever pump so they never had a bottle, and they all nursed for well past a year. So, I learned. But, my point is that my first daughter is no different than all the others, healthwise or anything else. I just saved a heck of a lot of money with all the others, lol. (formula can get expensive!)
You know the thing that messes with us mommies? That dang Mommy Guilt. It’s always there, trying to mess with our heads and cast doubt into our minds. So your MG is trying to tear you down, trying to make you feel as if you aren’t doing enough. When you clearly ARE! I hate MG but it is what it is. I always have it…about practically everything I do. Did I read enough books to the kids today? Did I take them to the park enough times this week? Are they getting enough veggies with each meal? And the answer to those questions, most of the time, is YES. But my MG will haunt me and tell me I could have done better. Yes, according to my MG, I can always do better. Ugh. That’s why it’s so good to have the support of other mommies out there. With enough mommies and friends encouraging you and setting your mind at ease, telling you that you are in fact doing a great job….well, how can MG win when up against all that girl power??
.-= Katrina´s last blog ..The Strike =-.
OMG, that photo is awesome! I’m loving it!
There’s NO doubt that Annabel is a healthy and happy baby, and that you’re doing an awesome job in caring for her. Your well being is an extremely important factor in mothering Annabel. I’m glad you figured that out and that you’re getting the help that you need.
MAJOR PROPS to you for breastfeeding in such hard circumstances!! You’re such a trooper and Annabel (and Maddie) are SO LUCKY to have you!
Breastfeeding just does not work out for everyone and these days, formula is made with so many nutrients that the growing babies drinking formula are just as healthy as breastfed babies.
My daughter has had ONE ear infection. Just one, and she is 5 years old. She’s also been extremely healthy. (Thank You God!)
My son has had 2 ear infections and he is 3 years old. He has had MRSA 2 times, but I’m pretty sure the infections were both hospital acquired infections. He has been in the hospital for genetic things, not viral or bacterial things that just go around.
So, they are basically healthy kids who drank formula.
.-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Memorial Day =-.
i am so glad you wrote this post.
For 17 years, I have felt so guilty, innadacuate, and like such a “NOT a good mommy” because I have failed with each of my kids at breastfeeding.
all of my babies have been born between 22-31 weeks of pregnancy, needless to say they have stayed in the NICU for a while…
pumping was the only way I could feed them, then milk would run out, stress would overtake my mind, life would happen. I have felt like such a failure at being the perfect mom, at breastfeeding, I am so glad to see that I am not the only one who feels that way.
Thank you for posting this
Scottish lass says:
Gorgeous photo! Boob milk or formula – she’s clearly thriving.
I had a friend who had to give up breast feeding under similar circumstances. She too was racked with guilt. I will tell you what I told her.
If you breast feed for two minutes or two years you will feel guilty when you give up.
Guilt is omnipresent with this issue.
Ditch the guilt it has no useful purpose.
I did a combination of boob and formula with my girls because it worked best for us. Give yourself a break. You are doing the best you can and that will be perfect.
.-= Scottish lass´s last blog ..The Play. =-.
I’m so proud of you, Heather, for doing everything you could. You made the right decision — take care of yourself and be the best mommy to Annabel that you can.
.-= Nanette´s last blog ..A Yo Gabba frame of mind =-.
Heather, I breastfed till my daughter was 8 months old and it was the hardest thing I have ever done. I spent the first 3 months dealing with hysterical crying during most feeding times, and still continued to do it. I commend you for your dedication to breastfeeding and also commend you for your dedication to your mental health to stop. And I’m glad you’re open about it now. Like you told your friend, there’s no shame in not breastfeeding. Your child will still be healthy and happy, G-d willing, and your value as a mother is not affected.
We love and support you!!
I am so there with you.
With my first, my milk was red thanks to my son’s horrible latch. I lost count of the blisters, trudged on for a 6 weeks, and then gave up. The guilt was horrendous.
I told myself that the 2nd time around I wouldn’t let myself feel guilty if I had to give it up. My son had thrived on formula, as most babies do, so I knew it’d be fine for my daughter if need be. Things went great…awesome latch, great supply…and then THRUSH hit. Anyone whose ever suffered from that would know that the pain is horrifying. And then the PPD came. We had to give it up…and even though I told myself I wouldn’t feel guilty, I did.
Now pregnant with #3, I know that I’ll feel guilty if it doesn’t work, even though I KNOW that there isn’t a reason to. I can’t explain it; maybe its our natural instinct and we feel like “failures” if we don’t, or maybe it comes from thinking that everyone else thinks that we are weak and failures.
Either way, I’ve learned the guilt only last for a few weeks, and it goes away pretty quickly when you can stop holding your nipples in the shower so the water doesnt’ touch them and when you realized you didn’t spend 22 hours of the day cleaning pump parts!
I am a big breastfeeding supporter, but I’m an even bigger supporter of good Moms. Never feel guilty for choosing to give your daughter your best self, in the long run that’s better than mommies milk.
.-= Amanda´s last blog ..If your wondering… =-.
I hope, hope, hope that I will remember this post when this dilemma becomes my own. As it will – I have dealt with severe, severe depression since I was a young child (morphing into bipolar disorder when I hit my 20s). I have (more or less, most of the time) made my peace with the fact that I will always be on, at the very least, a mood stabilizer, likely lithium, a class-D drug, if not a second mood stabilizer or anti-depressant, as well, for the rest of my life. What I have not made peace with is the fact that I will have to weigh my (future, not yet existent in any way! )babies’ health against my own. There is no chance I will be able to switch to “safer” drug like the SSRIs during my (future) pregancy(ies?), and it is highly unlikely I will be able to go off of lithium and/or unmedicated for 9 months. Even if I somehow miraculously manage to be off of lithium for that long, there’s no question I will need to get back on it as soon as humanely possible. Breastfeeding? Totally out — and it already hurts me, years in advance. And yet, I already, years in advance, remind myself and try to believe that a healthy, safe and sane mommy is so very much more important to my future children then a severely ill mommy who is able to breastfeed….right?
I will remember this post when your experience becomes my reality. As it will.
I think you did the right thing. They say “breast is best” but what’s best for Annabel is to have a sane mommy. She’ll never remember that you didnt breastfeed, but she’ll remember that you were always there for her.
I only breast fed for 6 weeks with both my kids for different reasons. I felt guilty and like I was a horrible mother. I too would avoid the subject when talking to others. I let the guilt go. And I have 2 healthy young adults who are still close to mom. That was all the proof I needed.
And my GOD Anna is a cutie-pie.
.-= Sue´s last blog ..Crazy Ass Neighbor =-.
I applaud your courage for posting about a parenting decision that didn’t feel 100% good to you and for being kind enough to yourself to allow your humanity to have weight in the decision.
I would be remiss though if I didn’t challenge the statement that even in the best of circumstances, breastfeeding is really really hard. In the best of circumstances breastfeeding is at worst inconvenient at times, or limiting to one’s freedom to be away from baby/child, or fodder for a funny-after-the-fact story. That is in the best of circumstances. Of course, we aren’t all fortunate enough to experience those circumstances with our child/children. I had a very very difficult time breastfeeding my second and I can completely relate to and remember the pain that you describe (in my case it seemed due to my daughter’s restricted range of motion in her neck, my overactive letdown, and her trying to adapt her latch to deal with the first two which bought us 5 mos. of horrible pain, nipple injury, Reynauld’s, etc. It resolved in time with chiropractic adjustments for her and using different holds, but that’s neither here nor there). Nursing my third has been a complete breeze and we haven’t had any difficulty whatsoever (nursing my first was somewhere closer to easy-ish, with the occasional challenge to figure out).
My point is that almost every woman CAN establish a positive nursing relationship and overcome challenges if that’s where she is able to direct all of her mental/physical energy when needed. That’s not to say that it is in the best overall interest of the woman, child, or family to have breastfeeding be the focus of all of the mother’s energy. We all have to make choices about parenting in a million ways to best support the health of ourselves as parents, our children, and our families.
Again, I fully completely 100% understand why you made the decision that you did and I think that it is brave of you to recognize when you have to compromise your ideal vision of how you hoped that something would look to support the overall interests of yourself and your ability to be a good, nurturing, loving mommy to your girl. I just don’t want women reading this and believing that even in the best of circumstances breastfeeding is really really hard. It isn’t. In the best of circumstances it is natural and easy and great. I wish that you had been blessed with those best circumstances as I wish the same for every other mom. I am glad that when presented with less than best, you and Annabel found what worked best for you both.
I went through the same thing. I kept avoiding my health to keep breastfeeding which stressed out everyone. I think it even stressed out my poor little boy. Finally I got it through my head to take care of me otherwise there would be no Mommy to take care of him (I had postpardum depression really bad, to the point I don’t really like thinking about that time). Anyway I just wanted to support you and say good for you for taking care of yourself too!!! Your baby’s are both beautiful.
Beautifully put, Heather. You are such a strong mother.
Oh Heather. So sad you went through this. A happy, healthy, rested mother is the best gift you can give your child. If breastfeeding works for you – great. And if not, that’s fine too. I was able to relatively easily nurse my babies and I’m grateful for that – but what you went through? I would have turned to the bottle (wine for me, actual bottle for baby) long before you did. You have been through so much… the best thing for Annie is to have her mother as happy and stress free as possible. You are doing great – that kid is cute as all heck and clearly developing all those delicious baby curves we love so much. Good job, momma.
I haven’t read the whole comments thread, but I’m sure I’m agreeing with many other posters when I write that you made the right choice for both you and Annabel (and for Mike, and the rest of your family). There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the full equation into account, and clearly Annie continues to be a happy and healthy baby! Wishing you all peace, happiness and love.
.-= Michele´s last blog ..Consider This a Warning =-.
Please take care of yourself. Annabel needs her mommy and Mike needs his wife. If it makes you feel any better, I never attempted to breastfeed. It was just something I wasn’t into. I didn’t want to pump so that my hubby can feed the baby. I never felt guilty because I knew I was doing everything else I can do to ensure they were healthy,happy and loved. Thankfully both of my kiddo’s are healthy and happy. Don’t beat yourself up Heather. Enjoy every second of every day with Annabel. Sending you hugs!
I remember the nipple pain – OUCH!!!!
Your little girl looks perfectly happy and healthy.
I’m glad you took care of yourself – you already know that was the BEST thing for both of you, right?
Thank you for writing this post. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear someone else speak about the “shame” of not breastfeeding. I struggled and struggled with both of my children to do this and made myself crazy-not fun for anyone! Kids included! I appreciate that breastfeeding is healthy, etc. etc. but I think that as a society we have gone waaayyy too far the other way in putting pressure on Moms to do this! Thank you! thank you thank you for sharing. You are such a great mom and I so appreciate your honesty!
Laurie SL says:
You just have to look at that beautifully precious smile and know that your are a great mom! You are doing so great, take care of yourself so you can take care of your babe.
I went through a similar situation. I have been carrying guilt for 18 years. Thank you for this post. For the first time ever, I feel like I’m not the only one. ?
I don’t know why my comment has a ? mark. lol
What a GREAT photo! I love it! … I am really sorry you had this stress about nursing on top of everything else you’ve had to deal with. It’s cool that you shared this with everyone. I’m sure it will help some people with similar struggles and I hope it helped you to get it out, too. I’m not a mom, but I have a history of anxiety and panic attacks and in my opinion (yours is truly the only one who counts here though) you did the right thing. And clearly, Annie agrees. (that photo!!! awesome!!!).
First time Commenter!
My Mother was 36 when she had me. She didn’t even WANT to breastfeed…and I’m awesome. Oh and my Mom is my best friend.
So…what does this tell us? Breastfeeding is NOT everything. Love.
Oh and I want to add I’m healthy. Awesome and healthy. Yeah I’m the total package.
You made the right choice for you and your daughter. That, quite simply, makes you a great mom.
Also, does that deliciously happy standing (!) child look like switching to a bottle was problem at all? I think not.
.-= Laney´s last blog ..Afterward, we walked through the (gorgeous) Columbia campus over… =-.
M in NYC says:
I love your blog. It’s the first site I go to everyday but I never comment. I think it’s really courageous of you to write not only about the breastfeeding part but about the mental health part. Best of luck to you & your beautiful family.
M in NYC
Thank you for this post. It really moved me. I think your statement that breastfeeding is really hard at the best of times needs to be said, and heard, more often. I struggled with breastfeeding my daughter, and two years later I am just starting to come to terms with the feelings of guilt and failure. I completely relate to your description of thinking you were choosing yourself first, and thus being a bad mom – that was totally my situation. Breastfeeding is really put on a pedestal and it’s easy to spiral into post-partum depression when you feel judged for your lack of breastfeeding.
So again, thank you for writing on this topic!
Jennifer-Eighty MPH Mom says:
Heather – this is a beautiful post! I felt the pressure to breastfeed with my son and we were both miserable. But my sister-in-law convinced me that I HAD to. So I did for awhile, then had to stop. It was unbearable and I was very uncomfortable and unhappy. As soon as we switched to formula, I was a new person, and my son thrived because of it.
It is a VERY personal choice, and I hate it when people make you feel you have to breastfeed. When I was born, hardly any of the mothers breastfed, and we turned out fine. I know breastfeeding is wonderful and if you can do it, great! If not, that’s okay too!
Your daughter is beautiful!!
Oh Heather, I’m so glad you wrote about this. I too beat myself for stopping breastfeeding so soon. With my first daughter my milk never came in. I tried for 4 weeks and gave up. I was so much happier afterwards and so was my daughter because she was finally full and happy. I tried again with my second daughter who is just a few days younger than your sweet Annabel. I got milk this time but my supply was so low that it only lasted about 5 weeks. I finally realized that beating yourself up about it doesn’t help anyone. No one should judge a woman for stopping breastfeeding, or not breastfeeding at all or whatever the case may be. You are courageous for writing this. I hope that you are feeling better very soon!
I have to comment: Breastfeeding moms can be so judgmental (toward non-breastfeeding moms), and yet, as soon as their kids are walking they take them to McDonald’s. I don’t get it.
I am more of a lurker on your site rather than a commenter but I had to tell you that I didn’t breastfeed either of my children. I tried with my daughter but she couldn’t latch on, I was offered no assistance in the hospital, and I didn’t know about lactation consultants (I was 19) I brought her home and the first night I tried and tried to get her to latch and it wasn’t happening, she was screaming and hungry, my nipples hurt, so I gave her a bottle. I felt guilty too since there was so much pressure to nurse. It was a hard time to begin with and the stress of trying to nurse didn’t make things any easier.
My second child was born 4 years later and I didn’t even attempt it, he was bottle fed from the get go.
I feel I bonded with both my kids and thus far they are happy, healthy, and smart!
You have no reason to feel guilty. As long as your child is fed and happy you are doing right by her!
Sweetie! A calm, peaceful environment trumps breastfeeding.
If the choice is breastfeeding or a calm, loving environment…. THEN CALM, PEACEFUL ENVIRONMENT WINS.
And the key to a calm, peaceful environment is a calm, peaceful caretaker… and that is you, Mama.
You are an extrordinary lady in an extrodinary situation. You deserve to be taken care of. Annie deserves a Mama who is taken care of.
You made a good decision. : )
And look at those happy healthy baby cheeks.
You are a great mom. Thanks for being brave enough to write about this here.
It seems as Moms that we’re always putting our children first–even at the expense of our own health and wellbeing sometimes. It’s a shame that we ever feel guilty or ever have to defend our choices but we all seem to at some point, to some degree.
You went above and beyond for Annie and ultimately, what’s best for you will be best for her.
Panic attacks are terrifying and debilitating. I had them in my early 20s and it was such a rough time. I’m so amazed that you took that trip by yourself recently. You are such a strong and brave woman and Annie is lucky to have you as a Mom!
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..BEA 2010 and brushes with fame… =-.
I’m going to say something really controversial here and just admit that I did not try and barely even considered breast-feeding my twin sons when they were born. I understand the endless data about breast-feeding being best….but I wonder why no one wants to take into consideration the BENEFITS, yes, benefits of bottle-feeding. With two newborn twins, my husband and I were able to alternate feedings, I was able to sleep for more than two hours at a stretch because I didn’t have to worry about pumping, I was aware of every single ounce my children had consumed, I could take ample pain medication for my C-section and later, meds for PPD. As a result of NOT breast-feeding, I was well-rested, clear-headed, and both my husband and I were fully bonded with our children because we BOTH fed them. Our children, by the way, are now four years old and have never had a single ear infection, are in the 95th percentile for height and weight, and are happy, talkative, healthy toddlers. Why can’t it be as simple as a mom choosing what is best for her baby… by choosing what will make her the happiest, best mom?
I know it’s bold to say, but frankly, I think it’s fair for a mom not to breast-feed simply because she doesn’t want to, and it’s her choice. I don’t think it’s morally wrong to want to do what feels right for you. Nearly every listed benefit of breast-feeding can also, instead, be directly attributed to benefits available to solidly middle to upper-middle class families. Those who breast-feed ALSO happen to be wealthier, do not have to return to work as soon after having a child, have better access to better childcare and pediatric care, are more highly educated (and are much more likely to be college educated) and are in more stable relationships. Maybe, just maybe, it is all THOSE reasons– smarter parents, more money, more time at home with children, more knowledge of nutrition and access to health care– that lead to breast-fed children thriving– which they would do just as much if they grew up in the exact same families, in the exact same circumstances, but were fed from a bottle.
(And FYI: I’m a microbiologist, so I know all about the nutrients and benefits to colostrum and every last peptide, nucleotide, enzyme and protein in breast milk…and I firmly believe that absolutely none of them are as essential to infant health as a mother’s well-being, and nearly all of the contents of breastmilk have been effectively replicated in formula. Trust me folks, it’s NOT poison.)
I think I love you. Thank you thank you thank you.
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Friday Favorite =-.
.-= Jenny´s last blog ..Lost and Found =-.
Natalie @ Hope Springs Eternal says:
I completely support people who simply don’t want to try breastfeeding. Formula’s not cyanide! I can’t stand the stigma surrounding formula. I think that a happy, rested mommy = the best possible mommy.
.-= Natalie @ Hope Springs Eternal´s last blog ..Nellie Rose as DJ Droolbug =-.
Awesome! I love this comment and the responses. I agree; the stigma surrounding formula feeding is completely over the top. I once had a woman tell me she wished I would BF because she just wanted my son “to be a success.” GAH.
There are SOOOOO many more things that go into a baby’s health and happiness than breast milk. It bugs me that we are beating ourselves up over this…but bugs me even more when we beat each OTHER up.
We adopted internationally. The kids were 8 months and 14 months. The prevailing wisdom at the time was that an woman had never given birth (moi) could not produce milk. Anyway, the nurses in China slashed open bottle nipples and put rice formula in them.
I don’t think it would have done anything for “bonding” if I had cut off the supply and made her try.
The obligatory brag: Oldest Madeleine had tons of ear infections that went away when we put in ear tubes. Other than that she has literally never been sick for more than a few hours. She will be 12 in September. She’s skinny as a rail and will start high school courses with her Honors 7th grade class in August at age 11.
Youngest Meredith has literally never been sick at ALL for more than a couple of hours. She is not overweight at all (she has a more stocky body type than Madeleine) and just got accepted into an Engineering magnet school for 4th grade.
Both kids brought home straight As for the year in EVERY subject.
.-= lorrie´s last blog ..School’s Out!! =-.
You have nothing to be ashamed of. You made the best decision you could for you and for Annie. And you both are healthy and fed and happy. What more is there?
I was ambivalent about bf but my first latched on and was a pro. She nursed for 2 1/2 years. My second was a nightmare. The first two weeks were HELL and I completely understand anyone who wants to give it up. I screamed everytime he latched. He was just mashing my nipples. OMG. It was AWFUL PAINFUL TERRIBLE. Completely. Somehow we turned it around and he nursed till he was 3. You get comments for that too you know. You can’t please everyone as someone has said in these comments.
You are a GREAT mom and you are awesome. Here is a hug from a stranger who has been followin you for a while!!
Honestly, breastfeeding scares me. I saw my best friend have four kids – every single time she tried, and failed, to breast feed. She pumped, but could never keep up. And pumping looked scary and weird!
I don’t know – I mean, I KNOW it’s a great thing for babies obviously. But it just scares me!
I am very glad you are taking care of yourself FOR Annie. I remember growing up and seeing my mom hit “rock bottom” of depression. She didn’t want to take anything because she didn’t want it to affect me…that my mom was taking pills and such. She wanted to believe she was a happy and healthy mom who had a great life and a great daughter. More than that, she wanted me to FEEL that. I remember her crying, laying in bed, never smiling enough…I really wish she had cared for herself better in those early years. I remember always trying to cheer her up. I remember watching her cry.
I am so glad you are doing it for Annie.
Good for you Heather. I agree with you 100%
Love the picture!!! She is so adorable.
designHer Momma says:
the perfect formula (no pun intended) should never, and could never be put in a box.
gah, she is SO CUTE. When do I get to smooch on her?
.-= designHer Momma´s last blog ..Get a Job =-.
I really appreciate this blog post, after getting mastitis 3 times in the first 4 weeks of breastfeeding, I made the decision to stop breastfeeding and struggled with the guilt.
I do have a question to throw out there…are certain brands of formula better than others? My doctor recommended both Enfamil and Similac but I am wondering if the Target brand formula would be just as good for the baby?? Heather, feel free to delete my comment if this is totally off subject
my doctor said the two brands are like coke and pepsi, whatever you prefer. I don’t think Target brand would be a problem at all!
Natalie @ Hope Springs Eternal says:
Sorry to butt in, but I just wanted to let you know I made the switch to Target formula weeks ago and it’s the exact same stuff. My baby girl tolerates it beautifully and the savings are really amazing! We used to pay $23.00 a can for our old stuff and now we pay $12. Make the switch!!!
.-= Natalie @ Hope Springs Eternal´s last blog ..Nellie Rose as DJ Droolbug =-.
Both our kids used Target formula exclusively. Works like a charm and is like half the price!
I find it fascinating in 2010 we are still having this discussion. There are such bigger things in the Universe to concern ourselves with. As long as any parent is doing what is best for her/his family/child/self…who do we think we are to judge? Snuggle your darling girl, love your husband, be the best Heather you can be and ENJOY YOUR LIFE GUILT FREE
I had really bad problems breastfeeding also and had to stop. I had similar feelings as you described and it was horrible. Just because your body/mental health didn’t allow you to breastfeed doesn’t mean you aren’t a wonderful mama to that precious babe! You are a wonderful mama for taking care of yourself so that you can take care of Annabel. Be well and don’t be so hard on yourself.
looks like you are doing a wonderful job to me! Annabelle is the happiest baby on the block.
Katie Ann says:
I think you made a wonderful decision for your daughter- both to nurse her and then to know that she’d be better off with a functioning mom rather than breastmilk. Your sanity is central to being a good mom.
I never even tried to breastfeed my two daughters. I never felt any guilt about it, and thoroughly enjoyed bottle feeding them both. I don’t think I could have bonded any more than I did with each of them. They were happy and healthy, and so was I. They are now 37 and 30 and are my best friends. No guilt, no regret, I did what I felt was right for me, and it was. Annie looks absolutely healthy and happy. She’s gorgeous.
Wow….she looks like she is pretty healthy to me! It is amazing how as women we are so hard on ourselves about everything to do with our children isn’t it? From every blog post you write, it is evident what an amazing Momma you are to both of your girls. Thanks for sharing.
I almost want to collapse and bawl over this post. I had TERRIBLE problems with nursing, and pushed, pushed, pushed through mental anguish (anxiety and panic as you describe so eloquently) without meds, and continued to nurse for 15 months. Those were terrible times, times I can never regain. I would NEVER do that again. I’m glad she had my milk, but it was definitely NOT worth my giving up a year of her life to avoid my own guilt. And why? What was it all for anyway? I thought nobody could understand my pain. Heather, it sounds like you do.
Thank you for living honestly, without shame or guilt.
I’m glad you wrote about this, too. I had a breast reduction before I had kids. I have tried to breastfeed with all three of my children, but have yet to be successful. All three times when I finally gave up, I sobbed. Even when I knew that the possibility was slim, it still killed me that my body couldn’t do what it was “supposed to”. Wanting to breastfeed and not being able is hard enough emotionally. PPD surely doesn’t help. But I was thankful to my best friend who always(all 3 times) cheered me up with flowers and a card that read: “Don’t cry over spilt milk(or lack thereof)”
.-= Bridget´s last blog ..Searching for Simplicity =-.
She curls her toes! That made me grin.
I don’t have children so I can’t relate to breast feeding or sore nipples. (Although this did kind of make me go WHOA b/c I didn’t know things like that can happen). My mom breast fed both me and my brother. Her younger sister breast fed all 4 of her kids. When I was the nanny for her she would pump so I could feed Sophia from a bottle.
I believe that the bonding happens either way, bottle or breast, b/c you are holding the baby close to you, talking, telling stories, watching with awe that little baby eating. My one cousin is 10 years younger than I am and I spent nearly every waking moment with her when she was little. I fed her, changed her, loved her. Now she’s 18 and we’re still close as ever. She remembers snuggling in bed at night with me humming lullabies and stroking her hair until she fell asleep.
Telling someone bottle feeding isn’t bonding doesn’t take into effect the father’s bonding, and even bonding between an adopted child and their mom/dad. I can guarantee Annie has bonded with Mike over her bottle. I’m glad that you are working towards better health and yes you are bonding 100% with Annie.
And on a weird ending, I really hope your nipples have healed.
Thank you so much for writing this. My daughter was born 10 weeks early and my milk supply never came in fully. We tried everything–lactation consultants, fenugreek, massages, etc. You’re right–there should be no shame. It was very freeing for me when I finally ‘let go’ and realized I wasn’t horrible mother for not being able to breastfeed.
.-= Jana´s last blog ..My Grand Casino Story =-.
Heather this is a fantastic post. While breastfeeding carries undeniable benefits, everyone needs to remember that the most important thing is a healthy baby AND a healthy mother, not only in body but in mind. There is nothing wrong with turning to bottles and formula; that’s what they are there for. And just look at Annie! It doesn’t get much healthier and happier than that!
Breastfeeding my daughter was relatively easy, but when my son was 9 weeks early, breastfeeding him was decidedly not. Thanks for speaking up about this – I generally think we’re too judgmental about how other people feed their babies. Breastfeeding is great if you can make it work, but aren’t we so fortunate to have other options?
.-= Kelsey´s last blog ..Things I Know =-.
Someone else said it, but I think we’re often our own harshest critics. I think bonding happens because of the shared closeness, not just from if someone breasfeeds. The important thing is that she’s loved, and she so clearly is!, and cared for. I would venture to guess that there are some children who have been breastfed for a long time who are not lucky enough to have the depth of love and care that Annie has. As my sister told me (about a lot of thing), give yourself a break on this one.
It’s not being selfish to want to be healthy. I hope you can let yourself believe that.
I’m glad you decided to write about this. I went through the same thing, though not quite as severe, with my son. I breastfed him until I thought I would go crazy, which was about 6 months, and then decided to wean. It’s way more important that your child has a lucid, happy mommy. Your baby is healthy and beautiful and you need to be able to truly enjoy her. Giving up the breast isn’t such a big sacrifice when it comes to your sanity.
Overflowing Brain (Katie) says:
And that baby is better for having a mother who is taking care of herself than one who sacrifices her own sanity for breastmilk.
Breastmilk is great, but it will never be better than taking care of yourself, because that will benefit you and Annie more than anything she could ever ingest.
Thank you for posting what is some people’s reality, including mine. I breastfed my first daughter and after 6 weeks and death threats to myself I went to my doctor who told me that I had to make a choice. I had to either give up breastfeeding and be a mentally healthy mommy or I could continue and have my daughter grow up with only her daddy. It was a rude awakening and even then I didn’t listen. I went back to work and spoke with a fellow teacher about it. I don’t know why. Her and I weren’t friends. I respected her work, but didn’t know her well and she said something to me that I repeat to others who are trying to make a decision about this. She said that if you looked around her kindergarten classroom that you could not tell who had been breastfed, but you could tell who had been read to. I went to the store on my way home from school and bought my first can of formula and didn’t look back. I got on my medication and stopped wanting to die. I stopped wanting to steer my car off an embankment. I stopped yelling at my newborn daughter. I stopped torturing my husband.
When my son was born 4 years later I did not try to breastfeed. (Previous posters will take issue with that.) I knew that I could not relive the emotional pain that I suffered the first time. I wouldn’t survive it the second time. I got a lot of flack from the nurses until my doctor finally told them to shut up about it that they know nothing of my previous history. They said nothing after that and I am grateful to that doctor to this very day. An emotionally healthy person is going to be a better parent. Period. Both of my kids are bonded with me as Annabel will be/is with you. Your daughter is beautiful, healthy and a riot on video. You are a good mom and not breastfeeding was a choice that needed to be made for the sake of your whole family. You have support here from a fellow mom that has been there.
I’m not a mom, so maybe I’m not qualified to respond to this… but in my eyes you did exactly what you should have.
In my life I have learned that at times, putting yourself before others is not selfish, it can actually be the smartest and most kindest thing you can do.
This sounds like one of those times.
Melissa, you are an inspiration in every way, please keep being honest and hanging on, we all believe in you.
I never made any effort to breastfeed my daughter. After seeing how painful and stressful it was for my five closest friends and their babies I knew that it wasn’t the choice I wanted to make for my daughter. She is 5 years old now, never had an ear infection or serious illness, lovely dancer, bright and beautiful though of course I am biased. I haven’t ever felt any guilt over it. You have to do what is right for your family. Annie is lovely like her sister, proud Mama.
I didn’t read anyone else’s comments, and part of my comment below may draw gasps from hard-core breastfeeders, but, it’s what I believe.
Good for you, Heather! Good for you for being so honest with yourself. For taking the steps to make sure you are a healthy mom for Annabel.
While I have heard from some mothers about how breastfeeding is, I’ve had far more friends who had problems with breastfeeding~whether it was low milk flow, biting, sore & bleeding nipples, or just plain hating it. The breastfeeding was a hamper on their bonding with their children. Switching to formula or pumped milk meant more quaility time gazing into their children’s eyes & cuddling & bonding~not just for them but for the daddies too.
Break free from the nazi-dogma of breastfeeding that too many people cling to and just do what you are doing: that which is best for you (mentally & physically), for your child, & for your marriage.
You are loved & supported by so many! That includes me~a total stranger.
.-= Mary´s last blog ..Reminders =-.
Also, here’s my thought on meds to help w/anxiety & depression. After struggling, years ago with this issue~a sort of shame for needing them, I had an awakening.
If our body needs these medications for mental & physical health, then, for goodness sake, we need to take them.
After all, were were diabetic & needed insulin, not taking it would be insane. Doctors, friends, family, etc would be urging us to take it.
So how is a chemical imbalance in our brain any different???
There is no shame in it. I know I am a better, more balanced person on my prescriptions than off them. Why would I choose unbalance & unhappiness rather than taking a prescription??
.-= Mary´s last blog ..Reminders =-.
When I was pregnant with my son ( at the very young age of 19) I wanted to breastfeed him but I get very frusterated easily and he was not an easy baby to breastfeed so I stopped trying. When I was pregnant with my daughter i swore i would breastfeed her no matter what. But after she was born she had some medical issues and while I pumped and fed her what I could from a bottle, my milk supply was too low. I was told that I couldn’t breastfeed, I was horrified. i felt like a terrible mother. I avoided the subject of breastfeeding when ever I could. My daughter got really sick on formula and after the 10th formula I finally said enough is enough and I tried to get my supply back bc she seemed to do best on breast milk. But again I had next to no milk, not enough to feed her what she needed. So i consulted with a milk bank and ended up getting breast milk from complete strangers. I was embarressed to let anyone know thats how I was feeding my daughter but I got over it very quickly. I told myself that i was doing what was best for my daughter, and if that meant getting breast milk from someone else then so be it!
Heather you are a wonderful mother and you amaze me each and every day!
In the circle of people I knew when my ds was born breastfeeding was ANYTHING but hard. It came so naturally to them, everything was almost perfect. I thought it would be that way for me. For us it was SO hard…bloody/sore on one side. Thankfully we had a wonderful lactation consultant that helped us get through. I would not give up when maybe I should have, I really wanted to keep it up (for health and financial reasons). My mental health suffered a bit….
That being said, I’m a firm believer that mom’s metal health is WAY up there on the list and I am happy that you are feeling better and that your little one is so happy and healthy. I would hope that nobody would ever beat you up for this or anything. You are a great mom!
As mothers, we need to give each other more grace and respect.
Reading this, I feel so much relief and happiness for you and Annie, that you were able to make this decision. Nursing is a wonderful, wonderful thing, but in no way worth sacrificing your sanity or your ability to function as a person or a mother. Annie needs YOU more than she needs your breastmilk.
.-= Nina´s last blog ..Off to Austin =-.
You go Mama! I was fortunate to completely bf my daughter for 11-13mths. We were don by around then and she took to regular milk like it was candy. But I too was on a low dose of mental meds for depression and if I had to have gone higher dosage I would have done the same thing you did at first until someone was able to get through. You are a strong woman don’t ever forget that.
Natalie @ Hope Springs Eternal says:
I’m really glad that you wrote this. I wrote my own “breastfeeding guilt” post a few months back. I breastfed for 2 months, and then after fighting sleep deprivation and a plummeting supply I made the decision to switch to formula. I felt immensely guilty for throwing in the towel, but I also became a more well-rested and patient mother, which turned me into a more loving and better mother to my Nellie. I hate that women are made to feel guilty about not breastfeeding. And sometimes, before you can truly take care of a little one and be a great mom, you HAVE to put yourself first. I don’t think that’s selfish.. I just think that’s the way of things.
.-= Natalie @ Hope Springs Eternal´s last blog ..Nellie Rose as DJ Droolbug =-.
21 years ago while pregnant with my son I had every intention of having this perfect delivery and then breastfeeding. After all, I had taken the Lamaze classes , read all the breast feeding info. I was ready! Then I ended up with preeclamspia and an emergency c section and my nipples had inverted during my pregnancy. I was not able to be awake during the birth and I tried the entire hospital stay and several days after to nurse my child. Finally overcome with guilt from my c section and inverted nipples I broke down in tears feeling like the worlds worst mom. It was my husband who had been adopted by a wonderful woman when he was an infant who reminded me that it is not how we bring a child into our family nor how we feed them that makes us their mom. My baby boy grew up to be 6 ft 4… and spent 10 yrs in the Gifted program. When I became pregnant with my daughter 2 yrs later I chose not to nurse and while she was another c section I was so much more relaxed and had much less guilt. My only issue was the nurses at the hospital who didnt understand why I would still want to be giving my child her feedings during the night if I was not nursing her. I insisted and I loved that time of holding her the night after her birth and feeding her. That child rarely had a cold growing up and she is graduating in the top 10% of her class tomorrow night. While I think breastfeeding is wonderful and it certainly is financially the best choice it is not the only choice. My heart breaks every time I hear someone tell a mom who is bottle feeding that their child will not be as healthy or smart. My kiddos turned out just fine. Blessings to you Heather for doing what is right for you and your family.
Thank you for posting this… I actually found your blog about 2 years ago, when I was doing research on sweat tests for Cystic Fibrosis. After having an emergency c-section to save my daughter’s life, I developed a bowel obstruction that nearly killed me and reduced my milk production to zero.
I desparately wanted to breastfeed my baby, so I tried and tried and tried, and she fought and fought and fought. I tried pumping, but couldn’t get a drop. I consulted lactation consultants, and took herbal remedies. I consulted doctors and took medications. Nothing worked… my body was in “fend for yourself” mode because of how sick I had gotten.
My baby stopped growing, after 6 months, she had only put on a couple of pounds… this was the red-flag that the doctor saw to start screening for CF. Abby didn’t have CF… I just couldn’t give her any milk.
I wish I hadn’t fought so hard against the idea of formula – in some cases (like mine) it’s the best possible thing for a baby. When I started feeding her from a bottle, and she guzzled 8 ounces in about 3 seconds, it was like a switch flipped. She wasn’t miserable and cranky all the time.
The best thing for your baby is very often doing what’s right for YOU.
My 31-year-old friend suffered a freak heart attack 2 months after bringing her baby girl home. She was one of those people where nursing just came naturally…no sore nipples, no engorgement, nothing! Lucky girl. Afterword, she had to be on medicine that meant she could no longer nurse. Imagine her saying no to medicine to save her life. There is something that compels some of us to believe that mental health is different, where we have choices, but we don’t. I can’t even imagine the number of people who find comfort and camaraderie in your words, way to brave it out!
Jodie Brooks says:
Good for you, Heather!! I tried and tried and tried to breastfeed, but my supply was just not there! So, I supplimented for a while because I wanted to give my babies every bit I could. I soon felt so stressed out from nursing and pumping and feeding, that I really wanted to stop, but I felt so guilty. My husband was on board with me stopping, but I was so wanting to nurse that I just kept doing it out of guilt. When I finally realized that sleep and sanity was better for my baby, I stopped and just gave him formula. What a relief that was for me! I was happy I was able to nurse for the 6-8 weeks, but was very grateful for the alternative, which is just as healthy!!
It makes me sad that you’d even have to explain this.
Breastfeeding will never truly be supported until people stop giving moms shit for not breastfeeding. If that makes sense.
Also, LOOK AT THAT BABY. Clearly she is happy and well fed. Haha.
.-= Maria´s last blog ..What’s in a Name? =-.
She is perfectly healthy and beautiful and so are you. As Mommies, we can only do our best and sometimes things don’t work out the way we hope. But Annie is loved and adored and fat and gorgeous and you are her perfect Mommy. I hope you are feeling better soon. Breastfeeding is so hard. You tried your best and PLEASE know that is more than most do! Try to let it go, you are wonderful Heather. Annie is blessed to have you!
.-= Paige´s last blog ..Grateful =-.
You go girl. You’re doing the best for your daughter and family, which is being at your possible best. Everything else follows.
And I LOVE her damask shirt!!!
You did what was right for you and your family! That is what is truly important.
And from the looks of Annie….it is obvious that, that girl is not lacking nutrition
Congrats on trying for as long as you did!
Breastfeeding is hard. I have twins and a singleton and none of them were easy to breastfeed. Especially my youngest, who I referred to as “baracuda” ! She chewed my nipples until they bled! Ouch!
Annie is absolutely adorable and chunky!!
.-= Jenn´s last blog ..F&%K CANCER =-.
A happy and healthy Mom is the best Mom there can be. And if that means you weren’t able to breastfeed, I don’t think there’s any better reason to not nurse. You have to take care of you so that you can be the best Mommy for your daughter!
Yes, breastfeeding is amazing, but if it’s causing pain and mental health issues can’t be resolved, it’s not the best.
Annie is obviously happy and thriving and you are being your best for her. Good for you for making the choice to control your mental health issues over breastfeeding-I know it wasn’t an easy choice for you to make.
Love reading your post and all these responses. I breastfed my older daughter for 17 months — because it worked for us — and I’m breastfeeding my 7-week old younger daughter — because it works for us. My SIL and my best friend elected to formula feed and their children are beautiful, smart, healthy, and well bonded to their parents. They’re both much more organized than I am; I once saw a onesie online which reads: “Mommy’s too lazy to make me a bottle.” Cracked me up because that’s me in a nutshell.
The bottom line is this:
1. This is a personal decision and nobody’s else’s damned business unless you choose to discuss it.
2. You have enough to deal with in your life without having Boob Guilt added to the list.
3. No one gives out medals for this stuff. It’s not like you get a gift card exempting you from dealing with rotten teenage attitudes because you had natural childbirth, or VBAC’ed, or breastfed, or used cloth diapers, or whatever. Maternal martyrdom does not make your kids love you more. You do what works for your family — and you are an important part of your family whose needs are valid and important.
4. Annie is a beautiful, healthy baby who is lucky to have been born into a family with the will and the means to care for her.
Keep writing, Heather; you’re wonderful.
I think you are awesome. Every day that I read your blog, I am impressed and heartened by what you write. Thank you for this post.
The whole breastfeeding vs. bottle debate is so overblown. If mom and baby are happy, that’s the most important thing. I gave up breastfeeding at 6 months because I went back to work and I wanted to ski all day without pumping. Before my daughter was born, I skied 50 days a year- it’s a big part of my life and it makes me happy. I was happy, my husband was happy because he could participate in feedings and my daughter was happy because her mom was in a good mood.
Win, win. Funny enough, a couple of months ago, I ended up feeding my now-22-month-old daughter from a fast food drive thru because it was obnoxiously late at night, no one had eaten anything due to schedules that day and everyone had to get up for work in the morning. We do NOT eat fast food at my house- ever. Except for that time and I felt SO guilty. Until, that is, my friend told me, “Hey, you’re a good mom. A bad mom wouldn’t have fed her kid at all.”
Point taken. Everyone? Give yourselves a break, okay? Because we deserve it.
I breast fed my first baby for a week. The pain was so horrible I had to quit. I put my second baby immediately on a bottle. I never felt guilty about not breast feeding. The media puts a lot of undue pressure on parents to where parents now feel as if they are neglecting their children by not breastfeeding. Nonsense! Babies and mommies bond by a lot more than just feeding. Holding, rocking, loving, singing, and comforting talking all play a roll in bonding. I think even telling someone to “not feel guilty” over not breastfeeding is still somehow implying that there is a reason to feel guilt. Just my thoughts! Love your blog!
Marti from Michigan says:
Hey, glad you’re doing better sweetie! This is so weird – when I was pregnant 35 years ago for my one and only full term baby, the prenatal classes I took had us take a turkish towel and rub our breasts until they were raw – that was really truly part of my prenatal classes! They said it would prepare us for breastfeeding. Well they were wrong! I used a nipple shield until my poor nipples were healed from the prenatal class preparations. Then I was fine until I started feeding Rebecca (my one and only who is now 35 years old), solid foods per the doctor’s schedule. Then she weaned herself at a little over a year old.
My daughter herself breast fed all 4 of her kids until they were 3 years old, strictly breast milk, nothing else, and all four of them are very healthy kids.
I guess it’s a little different for every woman.
Annie looks fabulous and happy, and obviously well fed. Blessings to you!!
Amanda M. says:
You wouldn’t want to leave your Annie in the care of a nutty lady, would you? It’s important to be sure her mommy is okay. You did the right thing! So she doesn’t get her food from her boob… she’s held and she is fed and she is loved and she is healthy.
My stepmom couldn’t quite catch on to breastfeeding with either of my siblings, and they’ve turned out perfect and wonderful so far.
It’s all good. I’m glad your boobies have healed.
.-= Amanda M.´s last blog ..Manga Monday (cough): 100% Perfect Girl =-.
Your daughter, like her mom and sister, is beautiful. As usual, your strength and bravery is so impressive, and I heart you!
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..Lazy, hazy, crazy days of…late June… =-.
WOW this post was as if I was writing it. I have 5 month old daughter and went throught the exact same thing, I withheld going on medication because I felt so guilty and thought I was putting myself first if I took the meds and stoped breastfeeding but it got to the point were I couldn’t function and couldn’t leave the house. So I stopped breastfeeding took the meds and feel so much better.
We both made the best decision for our daughters.
Annabel is beautiful!!
Erin Woods says:
It never fails. Every time I visit your blog, I think of little Madeline and I cry. You were so blessed to have such an angel in your lives, no matter how short of a time she was here. And although I’m not religious, I refuse to believe that she isn’t watching over the family she left behind. It makes me feel guilty that I had such easy births, and now that I breastfed so easily. Will ya quit already?? Just kidding. You guys are an inspiration. Keep up the wonderful (and inspirational!) work!
.-= Erin Woods´s last blog ..All About Me – A to Z =-.
Yes! There is that feeling that “I” failed when I couldn’t breastfeed, while we have no such judgments about other people’s situations or choices. You didn’t fail–you are working tirelessly to make the decisions that will best benefit your whole family. Bravo!!!!!!! You deserve support and a whole lot of happiness–I hope you continue to get both.
I think it’s fine whatever you decide about breastfeeding, and sounds like you made the right decision for you. I just wanted to add one comment re: your stating that breastfeeding is really hard in the best circumstances. I know I’ve been lucky, but it hasn’t been hard at all for me, it has been the easiest, most natural thing in the world. I bottlefed my first, and it was much more of a hassle to deal with the bottles, warming them, cleaning them, packing them if we went anywhere, getting up in the middle of the night to make one… while breastfeeding is so simple as the “meal” is always right there, perfect temperature, neatly “packaged” and fresh, day or night. Again, I’ve no criticism to whatever choices others make for themselves, but would hate for anyone to think that breastfeeding is always difficult. Just my 2 cents. I’m glad you’re happy with your decision and feeling better!
Sara K. says:
Oh Heather, I totally feel your pain here. I am a little late commenting, but wanted you to know that breastfeeding is hard for a LOT of women. We are led to think that, because we are women/mothers, and that breastfeeding is a natural thing to do, that it should be easy. That is not the case. Sometimes babies do not latch correctly, causing nipple trauma. Other babies have “tongue-tie” and cannot nurse correctly, which will also cause nipple trauma. And then of course, you have the chewers And many other things that make breastfeeding hard. Add in a low milk supply, and you are in all kinds of a mess. So many things can go wrong, and it is easy to make yourself think it is your fault, when in reality IT’S NOT!! I work at a children’s and maternity resale boutique, but we specialize in everything breastfeeding. We are a Medela Certified Nursing Center and our owner in a Certified Lactation Counselor. All of us are moms who work there, and we are all considered peer-to-peer (or mom-to-mom) counselors. We have weekly (3 times a week) breastfeeding meetings where new moms come together for support on everything from breastfeeding to diapering to sleeping, etc. I have learned so much in the 2 years I have worked there. I wish that you guys were closer to us so you and Annie and Mike could come to the meetings (and not all of the moms who come breastfeed! It has kinda just turned into an awesome new mommy group!) If you want to check out our website (that parts of are currently “under construction” LOL) here is the link: http://www.kingwoodmerrygoround.com/index.htm
Anyway, bottom line is, nursing is not easy. Pat yourself on the back for giving Maddie and Annie the best start a mom can give!! You nursed, and that is wonderful!!!! No matter how long you nursed for, you did a great job!! Try not to beat yourself up over having to stop, Annie is healthy and happy, just like you said. Your health is important so that you can be the mom that she needs you to be. She already got a great start, now it’s time to get yours!!
I could go on and on commending you, but I don’t want it to sound insincere. I am a huge Spohr Family fan
The picture you posted of Annie is just precious! She is growing up so fast! Is she already STANDING?! Oh my goodness, girl! You are gonna have a handful in a few months!!
.-= Sara K.´s last blog ..So blessed =-.
I never got milk with my first two boys and we bonded just fine so the third time around I didnt even try. dont beat yourself up about it so. She is obviously thriving from that beautiful smile. And she deserves for her mama to be healthy in a way that only the meds can offer.
.-= okierivermama´s last blog ..Old Wounds and New Beginnings =-.
I made myself feel really guilty when I couldn’t breastfeed with my son. Since I had preeclampsia and he was born at 29 1/2 weeks my milk just never came in. I tried everything and nothing worked. After I had finnally given up (after six weeks) I still was asked constantly if I had any milk for him. It was aggravating. However, I was glad that he got donated breast milk at the hospital and thrived from that.
Then when my best friend lost all this week because she was breast feeding, I felt bad all over again!
Oh well, Logan was sleeping through the night at 4 months and continues to, so I can’t complain much.
Plus he is doing great, and was completely caught up to his real age by 18 months.
You are doing great, annabel is beautiful.
.-= tanya´s last blog ..Not a happy camper =-.
Momma guilt is the WORST. When my son was born 6 weeks preemie, he was put on a ventilator and I had to pump. I pumped for about a month before my milk just spontaneously decided to dry up. Secretly, I was grateful. I just did not want to breastfeed. I was scared to say that for fear of being judged by the sling-wearing, co-sleeping, nazi breastfeeders that were out there, so I just kept it to myself. He’s now 12 years old and if you saw his picture, I’m certain no one would think he was traumatized.
BTW, Annie is soooo cute and I can’t believe she is STANDING. It’s so crazy how fast they blossom.
I’m so glad you made this decision. Probably many people have already shared this analogy: when you’re on a plane and oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, they tell you to put your own mask on first before helping your child put on theirs…
.-= Susanna´s last blog ..birthday party =-.
i know im a little late to the party here, but just thought it was important to say that im glad you were able to make the decision thats right for you and annie! as an rn who also practiced as a lacatation consultant for a while, it always made me sad when i would see women that were struggling with breastfeeding. it is a REALLY difficult skill for both mom and baby and people who dont breastfeed dont understand that. while i think its really important to do what you can to support moms that are breastfeeding and encourage them to do so, its equally as important to make sure it isnt turning into a negative experience. breastfeeding is meant to be a bonding experience and if it isnt working out, then it is more than ok to go to formula. (i wish more people in my profession would refrain from “looking down” on mothers who dont breastfeed. it gives practitioners like myself a bad name!) congratulations on making the right decision for you and annie. she seems to be doing well and you cant take care of her until you take care of yourself.
Thanks for sharing this. I struggled really bad with breastfeeding my baby. We had gotten pregnant unexpectently after adoptiing our daugther who was 14 months when our son was born. We had went through Bradley childbirth classes and they emphasized breast feeding so much. Everywhere you read or look you hear how the best thing is breastfeeding. So when I couldn’t do it, because we faced latching problems and I couldn’t handle breastfeeding for an hour while trying to care for our 14 mo old daugther, I felt awful. It’s been over a year and I still feel some guilt. Maybe it’s a false assumption on my part that people will tihnk I was a bad mom. But I tried not to tell people either. So anyway – thanks for sharing this so honestly. It was an encouragement to me.
Heather, join the club. I went to the bottle for mental health reasons too and I could give two shits (maybe 3) if someone had a problem with it. Breast milk is great nutrition but it isn’t a magical elixir that cures all (although I DO hear it can take grease stains off of a driveway
As long as a baby is fed then that is all that matters. Enjoy your baby and let go of any guilt. Annie needs a healthy mama. xoxo
Belinda Gomez says:
I’m glad you found a solution, but I don’t think breastfeeding is at all hard. I hope women aren’t put off by your post.
Oh Belinda, comments like this are why women are afraid to admit they have breast feeding problems. It was easy FOR YOU. It was “easy” for me in that my kid was good at it. But it wasn’t EASY. Nothing about being tethered to another person is easy. You need to get some perspective and lighten up.
Comments like this are why some women are afraid to even TRY breastfeeding. It was hard FOR YOU. See how this can be turned around? There are lots of women to whom breastfeeding is very easy and natural, and who don’t think being “tethered to another person” is difficult. Having 300 commenters saying how hard breastfeeding is could definitely frighten someone. I’m not criticizing anyone who bottlefeeds (I bottlefed my first), but as far as “getting some perspective and lightening up”, well, I could also say that to you. Don’t make breastfeeding sound like it has to be awful.
That said, Heather it sounds like you made the right decision for you. You put a lot of thought into it, no reason to feel guilty.
Belinda Gomez says:
I’m light as a feather–you’re the one with her knickers in a twist. I didn’t think feeding my kids was being “tethered” to them. YMMV.
You’re so right about your mental health and being the best mom you can be being more important than breastfeeding. I was in kind of the same situation. I’ve been on antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds for years. I was only able to nurse tillie for 12 weeks before it became a desperate situation without my drugs. I did not feel bad about it for one minute because I knew I was doing what was best for my child.
Amen. I found this essay so enormously true, and I wish it were widely available.
I’m a big supporter of breastfeeding, but it’s not the most important thing. You have to do what’s right for you, to me the most important thing is taking care of you first see you can take care of the child. Good luck and everything you do.
Expat Mom says:
You are definitely a better mom for looking after yourself.
I couldn’t breastfeed my oldest because he was in the hospital where I wasn’t allowed to feed him. I tried to pump, but it was literally while I was sitting outside on the sidewalk . . . it didn’t help much. In the end, he refused the breast and I felt so guilty. Everyone told me that he would be very sick and wouldn’t be able to have his surgeries if I didn’t breastfeed . .. even women on the street would berate me for giving him a bottle! I felt horribly guilty and just stayed at home.
My second son did breastfeed, but I had little milk and 0 interest, I still felt guilty about my first son, so after 3 months, I weaned him onto a bottle.
It’s only recently that I’ve felt that it’s ok to be the mom who didn’t breastfeed. My kids are SMART and beautiful and healthier than half the breastfed kids I know, so I’m not sweating it. It’s great to breastfeed, but if you can’t, you aren’t a loser or a bad mom and your kid will be just fine.
Michelle W says:
I have been busy but I am catching up and just stopped by this post to say you are awesome
darcy jerome says:
Hello! I have been following your blog for quite some time now . . . I have never commented, but felt I just had to because i have something very important to ask you. . . where or where did you get that adorable shirt for annabel? :> i LOVE it!! btw she is absolutely adorable and i am so happy for you and your family . . .i am sure some days are better than others but you have an amazing attitude and to be able to share this journey with others is incredible!
It was a gift from my MIL! But I know that it’s from the store “This Little Piggy Wears Cotton.” SO cute! She has a matching blanket, too!