That led to the first question someone asked me, which was "Why are you doing this?" And I thought long and hard about my answer...for one thing, I have always been a writer of sorts (as the numerous volumes of diaries that are still at my parents house can attest to) and I also pride myself in being really honest...brutally so at times. And I found that particularly with pregnancy & being a parent - people are not telling the truth. So I'm going to try to be as honest as possible here and I'm going to try to tackle some issues that people tend to be dishonest or maybe just not telling the whole truth about...
I'm sure I will write about this experience several times, and I know I've alluded to it in past posts, but my breastfeeding experience was not one that I wish on anyone! Truth be told (I promised to be honest), I didn't want to breastfeed...not even a little. I was the pre-pregnant girl who said "my boobies are for my husband and I don't want a baby sucking on them." Then I got pregnant and I decided that before I make this decision official I should be informed - so I read everything I could get my hands on that had to do with breastfeeding...
And let me tell you...there are some real "winning" titles out there to make any pregnant woman or new mom feel real guilty about decided to go the formula route:
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding - there was nothing "artistic" going on between me and J when I was nursing...
Breastfeeding:A Mother's Gift - my gift to J was not enough to milk for her to eat or gain weight
Your Priceless Gift to Your Baby and Yourself - my personal fave
I chose to buy The Complete Book of Breastfeeding (let me know if you want it, I really doubt I'll be using this again). I honestly read it cover to cover and you know what - I was a believer! Around my 5th month of pregnancy I said to my husband - "I'm going to try it! I'm going to nurse our future baby and I'm going to give it my all!" He was all for this by the way...not sure why husbands even have an opinion on this is beyond me. The book told me it was natural...it would help me bond with my baby...it would be healthier for the baby...the baby would be smarter...would be a better eater...and (honesty here!) I would lose the weight quicker....I even said at our "childbirth class" at the hospital that I was planning on nursing (and embarrassingly, I even balked at the one girl who said that she was doing formula).
Then J was born - in the hospital she seemed to latch pretty well...I had nurses and lactation consultants tell me I was doing great! I even had all the girls from work watch me as I emparted this gift of breast milk on my daughter...Then we came home...apparently your milk doesn't come in for a few days (I knew this - it was in the book - I was informed!) What they don't tell you is that it is timed perfectly with the day you bring home your baby from the hospital and your hormones are INSANE and now my breasts were literally like softballs.
J would not latch. I called the hospital - they said to "express" some milk...ok I was ready for that - I had a pump! They don't tell you that the pump makes a ridiculous sound so you really feel like a cow. I had my mother (who never nursed) and my sister in law (who did successfully) over to help me out - let me paint this picture for you...i'm topless on a chair in the living room - J and I are hysterical crying, my 2 1/2 year old niece doesn't understand why i'm topless, my brother is at the drugstore buying me nipple cream, my mom is on the verge of tears because she doesn't know how to help me, my sister in law is manhandling my breasts (in a good way) trying to get the pump to work on my boobs, and my husband is asking me if I hate our baby (for the record, I didn't - not for a second). Scenes like this went on for days - and I decided this is not ok - this is not ok for me, for my daughter, for my family...I don't care what the books say.
But I kept referring to those damn books and what they did not tell me: that nursing is hard...that my nipples would bleed for weeks (and I still have scars)...that it would make me cry a lot...that I would feel guilt because I was the ONLY one who could feed J and it wasn't working...that I would resent my husband because he couldn't do a damn thing to make this better for me (or for J). Then, when J was about 1 month old, our pediatrician said those magic words to us at a weight check "Why don't you start supplementing with formula?" I cannot begin to tell you the weight that lifted off my shoulders...and my husband in all seriousness said "Are you ok with this?" Are you kdding?!?! I ran to Walgreens and bought the biggest jar of formula I could find and J and I have been living happily ever after (and my husband has been doing morning bottle duty since...)
One day I'm going to write the book Formula: Your Priceless Gift to Your Baby and Yourself.
**My personal disclaimer: This is a reflection of MY experience, this is obviously not everyone's - so please do not make any of your life decisions based on my life experiences!