The never ending looks. The side glances my way. You think I do not notice you, yes you with your judging eyes. Some of you are brave enough to make a comment to me, others your eye roll says enough, and speaks a thousand hurtful words. Casting shame on me. Will you not just let me feed my baby in peace?
It seems I cannot win. It does not matter if I am breastfeeding, or bottle feeding my child. Either way I find myself made to feel like I am a horrible mother making the worst choice possible for my child. Made to feel guilty for attempting to breastfeed while out and about, or seeing the mortified looks of those around me that I am giving my baby a bottle.
You do not know my story, my story that is intertwined with my children.
Like many mothers before me I wanted to do what was best for my child. I’d heard countless times how breast was best, it’s the natural way. Some how I just knew that things were not going to be easy for me. When my firstborn arrived I had the nurse in every time attempting to help my daughter and I. My husband went running out to get different things to try and improve the situation, but nothing was working. My daughter was crying out, and in my gut I knew she was hungry. Her little cry begging for milk. I asked for a pump and gave her what little came from a small cup, but still she cried. By the early hours of morning we asked for some formula, and she finally settled. This was the beginning of our very challenging feeding relationship.
Between reflux, and a tongue tie every time of nursing, and every bottle feeding was full of frustration for us all. What mattered most to us was her health, and happiness. Things did not stop there though. My milk supply was nonexistent to begin with. I ended up on medication to try and help, and it did a little. I was able to pump some milk for her to have, and I did so for 16 months. While she may not have been able to breastfeed like some babies, she did get milk from me for over a year. She also had formula because I had to supplement her feeds. It took a long time for me to be okay with that. I had a very difficult time knowing, and seeing others could breast feed their child. My baby was happy, healthy, and growing.
With the arrival of my second daughter I was not sure what to expect, I figured that it was very likely things would be similar to last time. Add in that fact that I had surgery to remove a mass from my breast a year before, and I worried that I may not be able to provide at all on one side. My whole pregnancy I prayed that my child would not suffer through reflux, or have a tongue tie, and that my baby would be able to latch without a problem. How happy was I upon her arrival when all she wanted to do was feed. She was placed on me for skin-to-skin time and she nursed for most of the first day. Then that cry, that all too familiar cry started. She was hungry. There was no doubt about what she wanted, what she needed. We asked for formula, and she was fed her first bottle by her Daddy. Happy, and full.
My youngest is now 4 months, and my milk supply is worse than last time. I am on the same medication to try and help increase my supply, but at this point it’s really just trying to maintain any milk at all. My daughter does like to nurse, and for that I am so thankful. She will feed, and be full first thing in the morning, and again in the afternoon. Throughout the day I will still try to feed her, but she does need a bottle with formula to supplement. I am also still pumping in hopes of providing some milk for her to have in bottles too… if I am able to pump anything that is. I’ve cried many times over spilled milk because I have been so tired while trying to pump.
You find yourself at a place where you have to make a choice for what is best for all of you. I’ve made that choice and I am happy doing breastfeeding, pumping, and bottle feeding. The truth is that as a mom I am doing everything I possibly can for my child in order to feed her. Dear fellow moms that are struggling, and soon to be moms who are worrying just follow your gut instincts and what you feel is best for you and your little one. That might mean you keep trying to breastfeed for months, and seek help from specialists and lactation consultants. Do it! Perhaps you have to exclusively pump. Maybe you do that for a month. Maybe you are able to do that for over a year. If you have give your baby a bottle of formula right away, that is perfectly fine too. Trust yourself, you will know what to do, and what your baby needs. It’s amazing to me how much my gut instincts have been right about what my child needs when it comes to feeding. I will always enjoy, and remember the quiet moments where I sit feeding my child.
To all of you that keep passing glances at me… would you PLEASE just me feed my baby in peace?