I have purposely not blogged about this because I initially felt a lot of shame, and still do to some extent, but I have to come clean in order to write this post: Silas is not breastfed, and has not been for most of his life now. Depending on how well you know me and/or follow me in other internet circles, you may already know all of this, but for those who don’t, here is the story. I tried to breastfeed Silas. I felt in my heart like something was not quite “right.” I was not feeling or experiencing the things that other breastfeeding women I knew would describe, but I thought I would keep trying. When we took Silas for his one-week checkup, he had not gained any weight, and had actually lost a few ounces. The pediatrician was concerned, and told us that she suggested we start supplementing with formula. We really did not want to do this, so we persisted with trying to breastfeed. When Silas went back to the doctor one week later, he still had not gained weight. The doctor told us that now there was no question, we had to supplement. So we began supplementing, but within only a few supplemental feedings Silas had stopped taking the breast and only wanted the bottle. I shed tears – many, many tears – but for three months now he has been bottle fed and it is fine. Actually, it is more than fine, and that’s the point of this post.
I still would like to breastfeed the next baby who hopefully comes along, but I will admit that this is not because I want to, but instead only because it is what I know is nutritionally best for the baby. I get scared, though, that having my first baby formula-fed is a recipe for breastfeeding failure. I intentionally try to always think, “What if I were breastfeeding right now? How would this situation be different?” That is leaving me pretty scared.
I will admit that there are some aspects of bottle feeding that I like. For me, breastfeeding was extremely painful and not at all the magical bonding experience that I was told it would be. Now I don’t know if that is because we quit before either Silas or I got the hang of it, or if my body was not producing enough milk and Silas had a terrible latch – I tend to think the latter. I get scared that this will happen again with a second baby, and I feel like why even go through all of that again, combined with the scary situation of the baby not gaining weight, if I could just bottle feed? Is that awful? But on the other hand I’ve had several women tell me that they could not breastfeed baby #1 but had no trouble at all with #2. Go figure.
I also really enjoy the convenience of bottle feeding. Now this may seem silly, since with breastfeeding all you have to do is essentially whip it out and there’s the perfect food, but let me explain with an example. We just got back from a trip to Ohio to visit Ryan’s family. While traveling, I of course had to feed Silas. This was a big “What if I were breastfeeding?” situation for me. While on the road, I was able to feed Silas inside McDonald’s and Cracker Barrel with no trouble. While out celebrating a family birthday at O’Charley’s, I simply whipped out Silas’ bottle, mixed his formula with water, and fed him there at the table. I really enjoy being able to do that with no hassle and without having to leave the room or make people uncomfortable. I enjoy being able to feed Silas wherever we go. I think that my biggest problem is that – no lie – I have literally never seen a woman breastfeeding in public. Does it happen? Seriously, please tell me! I have never, ever seen it! And because of this, I feel like I could never, ever do it, and I am always counting my lucky stars that I have a bottle fed baby. Is that awful?
Sherry of YoungHouseLove just posted about how her breastfeeding time has come to an end. She talks about how she was not crazy about it at first, feeling overwhelmed by how time-consuming it was. She tells a great story about how when her daughter was very young she and her husband had gone to visit friends for the weekend and every two hours she was having to go off to a private room to nurse for 30-40 minutes. She recounts how she began adding it up in her head and realized how many hours she was going to spend nursing while everyone else was out having fun. That really hit home for me because I had those same exact feelings while I was trying to breastfeed Silas. I remember on Easter Sunday we were over at my Mom’s and it seemed like almost as soon as I had come back into the room and was getting to visit with my family, Silas would need to eat again. I sat back in my old bedroom feeding him somewhat begrudgingly and thinking, “All I am is a milk cow. I am never going to have a life.” I felt a similar claustrophobic feeling when I realized that Silas was completely dependent upon me for his food and this meant no date nights, no grandmas babysitting for extended periods of time. Now that Silas is bottle-fed, Ryan and I have been able to enjoy extended alone time and excursions without Silas, and I have to admit that I really like that flexibility.
You may remember that in one of my posts prior to having Silas, I explained that I was really scared about breastfeeding and I said one reason I really wanted it to work was because I did not like the idea of someone else feeding him. I have to admit that now I really like that. I like that Ryan can feed him if I need him to, or that a grandma can have her chance to bond with him by giving him a bottle. I still do prefer to be the one to feed him because it still feels like a special time for me, but I enjoy not feeling so tied down.
So am I an awful mom? Well, don’t answer that because I know I am not an awful mom, and I don’t spend much time worrying about it. What I do spend time worrying about is whether or not I am an irresponsible, selfish person for actually enjoying having a bottle-fed baby. I also worry whether or not I will ever be able to breastfeed, not physically but psychologically. I think it would be a huge adjustment, that is for sure.