In the words of the ancient sage Justin Bieber... Never Say Never.
Before everyone gets all excited and starts sending me their breastfeeding tips and tricks, I'll let you know right up front that Lily is officially a formula fed baby. I completely stopped breastfeeding about the middle of the week, and I think it was the best decision we could have made. Now for the story...
This week has been one for learning lessons. I always knew that any phrase that starts with "When I'm a parent, I'll never _____" is a sure fire jinx! I've done my best to stay away from statements like this for a long time. Yeah, I'm a fan of the Attachment Parenting model but I also knew that I might end up with a baby that hated to be warn or hated the co-sleeper bassinet and wanted to sleep in her crib. Turns out Lily LOVES to be worn in my wrap and does hate her bassinet but that's because she wants to sleep on Mommy most nights.
But the one thing I really never thought I'd do was feed my child formula. I was that Judgey McJudgerson who side-eyed women who pulled out a tin of formula. I assumed they were lazy, selfish, or just uneducated... I mean didn't everyone know that Breast is Best.... Duh! Breastfeeding is convenient, free, and recommended by the American Pediatric Association for at least the first 6 months. Why would anyone CHOSE to formula feed??
My milk never fully came in. :-(
I had colostrum in the hospital and it changed over to milk in the first few days home from the hospital but I never felt engorged, never experienced let down, and never leaked. Since the supply was low Lily was latching on so strongly trying to get enough to eat that as soon as I would get my nipples healed up by pumping she'd bruise them again and they'd start cracking again.
After two and a half weeks of crying through feedings, being away from Lily while I pumped, talking to a lactation consultant and our pediatrician, trying an herbal supplement, and supplementing with more formula than breast milk, I was faced with a choice. It was a hard choice and one I didn't take lightly. I knew the advantages of breast milk. I knew that Breast was Best... but I also knew that breastfeeding was simply not working for us. Then one day I realized that I was actually facing a larger problem than whether we breastfed or formula fed, I was dealing with an inability to make the decision that was best for our family because I was paralyzed by the fear of the judgment of others. What would our pediatrician say? What would my midwife say at my follow up appointment? What would my friends say? I knew at some point or another I would face judgment either spoke or unspoken for my decision and that was causing me to be unable to make the decision I knew was best for our family.
Once I realized that, thankfully I was able to face the fear and over come it. So what if people think I've made a bad decision. They didn't have to be there to hold my hand at 3 in the morning when I was crying uncontrollably trying to feed my daughter. And Motherhood is nothing if not filled with choices that can only be made by Jay and I. Sometimes we'll make the right one, sometimes we'll make the wrong ones, but we can only do what we think is best with the information we have at the time.
Do I feel like once again my body has failed me? Sometimes. Do I feel like I failed my daughter by not trying harder and sacrificing more to give her as much breast milk as possible? Sometimes. Do I still think we made the best decision for our family? Absolutely! So, what did I learn this week? I learned that humility is a tough lesson, that I need to think twice before I judge someone when I don't know the entirety of their situation, and that I need to extend more grace to myself and to others as well.
On another note... Jay went back to work the middle of this week. It was hard to see him go and we miss him so much during the day, but we (well.... I) are doing better than I expected. I kind of like having some time to myself during the day. I like taking care of the house and figuring out what we are having for dinner. I like have the energy to do laundry and keep the kitchen relatively clean. Lily and I are doing great on our own and we've even been out and about a few times. I went to see my psychiatrist on Friday and I took Lily with me. She was of course the hit of the office and my doctor really enjoyed meeting her, I think. He also said that he hardly recognized the woman who was sitting in front of him. :-) He even used the phrase "earth mother aura" and recommended against going back on my meds at the moment. He said that they treat depression and mood instability and he wasn't seeing signs of either at the moment. He also said that some women never have to go back on their meds after having children. Sometimes having a child shifts a person's priorities so much that they learn to not sweat the smalls stuff and they manage their stress differently. He's not saying I'm "cured" or anything, just that we shouldn't assume anything at this point. He is monitoring me closely and we'll see how things go.
So, it was a week of ups and downs but in the end I still have the most adorable baby in the history of babies and the following proves it. Have a great week everyone!