My Experiences Are My Own And I Own Them!

I was talking to a friend recently about our experiences as mothers. We were discussing another woman we know who has had so many different stories about when she stopped breastfeeding her son. It seems like a strange thing to lie about, but for whatever reason this woman stopped breastfeeding sometime between 3 months and 18 months. It got me thinking about how can anyone take her seriously if she can’t be honest about how long she breastfed her child. Or if she breastfed her child. Or why she stopped breastfeeding her child.

I Have Experienced It All

As the mother of 4 children I have had a lot of different experiences in feeding my children. I have never felt the need to lie about my experiences. About why I chose what I did. Maybe I was more secure in my choices than this other mother. Maybe this other mother just lives to get reactions out of people by lying and exaggerating her life. Either way, rest assured, here, what you see is what you get!

How I chose to feed my oldest.

I was a young first time mother. When my oldest was born there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to use formula. I never had any intention of breastfeeding her at all. My mom didn’t breastfeed me or my brother and we were just fine. So she got formula from day one and not a drop of breast milk.

There were other reasons for that too. I was going back to work when she was 6 weeks old and my sister in law was going to be watching her. So I didn’t want to worry about her not wanting to take a bottle or the transition with that. And my sister in law had her own baby girl who is just six weeks older than my daughter. So I felt it would be easier for her to feed both babies every three hours or so instead of having to feed mine every hour or two. I didn’t think it would be fair to her for her day to consist of round the clock bottle warming and feeding. That was my choice.

People might have viewed these decisions as selfish and I wasn’t thinking of my child. I was told I was selfish. But to this day I know that this was what was best for my child and my family and I do not believe there have been any ill affects suffered at all. I was told that I shouldn’t knock something I hadn’t tried. To which I say, fair enough lets see what happens if I do breastfeed.

With my middle daughter I was in a different place.

By the time my middle daughter came along I was firmly planted in the stay at home mom scene. Things were different and I decided my reasons for not breastfeeding my oldest didn’t entirely apply. So I decided I would give this a try. And I did. When my middle daughter was born I was shown how to breastfeed her. She really wasn’t much interested in latching on. She had a lot of mucous after birth which they assured me was common.

She started to get better when my milk came in on day three, but that was short lived. By day four she was back to not latching. I was exhausted and engorged and she was screaming. I gave her a bottle. I tried to pump, but I only had a hand pump and while the milk was definitely there I couldn’t get more than half an ounce out. My husband and I discussed things and she seemed good with the formula and I felt well she got the good stuff in the colostrum anyways so we’ll just switch.

I vowed I would never ever go through that again either because the pain I experienced after 4 days of breastfeeding and getting actual milk to come in was awful. I decided breastfeeding just wasn’t for me. And that was fine. My kids were all healthy in spite of not having the wonderful breast milk. It worked for me. It worked for my children. It was my choice selfish or not I own it!

Then my son came along.

It was five years before we would add to our family. Throughout my pregnancy I was conflicted with breastfeed or not. My husband left it completely up to me. And then I found out that I had to have a c-section. That made my decision for me. I knew I wasn’t going to be the first to hold my son like I was when my girls were born. So I wanted to make sure that I had that bond with him. Not that the only way you can properly bond with a baby after a c-section is through breastfeeding, but I knew it definitely couldn’t hurt.

It wasn’t easy from the very beginning. He was jaundice and needed to be under the bilirubin lights. They wanted him to get formula too. So he would be allowed out of the lights for half an hour only ever couple of hours where I could nurse him and then hand him over to my husband to give a bottle. So in his first few days of life we had to supplement. And things went down from there.

We couldn’t get weight on him and by the time he was 3 months old we were admitted to the hospital with him for 5 days where they ran all sorts of tests and had me scared out of my mind. Finally they decided it was me, I wasn’t producing enough milk and he needed to be on a high calorie formula. And that abruptly ended our nursing relationship and also did not help him put on weight, but that’s another story in and of itself for another day.

When my youngest was born I vowed it would be different.

I felt so robbed and cheated out of my experience with my son that I was bound and determined to make it work with my youngest. I refused to allow her to have ANY artificial nipples until we established breastfeeding. No pacifiers and no bottles. And I had to be strong and firm in my stance.

Not even an hour after she was born they were concerned about her sugar and wanted to give her formula. I was fine with the formula, but I said you better give it to her in a dropper or spoon or something because she is not getting a bottle. The nurse said we could try something, but she didn’t have much confidence it would work. Little did she know that my daughter was the perfect one to do this on because I think she was more determined than anyone, including me, to actually nurse. She had a good strong suck and took to it right away. So that was a positive we had going for us. She got the formula in while nursing at my breast and she never needed another drop of formula after that.

I refused pacifiers even when they wanted to give her one when they took blood. It was probably six weeks before I let her suck on anything but me (finger or nipple). And the first two months were not at all easy. I had cracked and bleeding nipples and times of engorgement of course, but I stuck it out because it was what I really wanted. Not because I thought it was something I had to try so I could say I tried it. Not because I felt I had to because I am a stay at home mom now. Because it was something I really wanted to do.

No Regrets

Do I have any regrets in my choices of feeding my children? I think I can answer that with a no. Looking at my oldest two who had either all formula or mostly formula to start out life I certainly can’t say either one of them is better off than the other or their brother or baby sister because they received more breast milk. I am upset with how things played out with my son, but he’s 4 and he’s doing great. I believe that was the hardest on me though because it wasn’t my choice to stop. I was made to stop and still things didn’t improve for him. That is a hard pill to swallow.

But even though I have experienced not giving one drop of breast milk, to only colostrum, to three months, and now to a year plus I would never feel the need to tell anyone it went down any different than that. Because I clearly learned and grew from each experience I had before. I was in a different place in my life and I could never look down on another mother for making similar choices that I made. I will share my experiences and choices with pride and let women make their own decisions on what’s best for their family and their child.

I will however look down on a mother who lies about her choices because that is not helpful to anyone. And if “mom wars” really do exist, then I believe it’s those dishonest people who fuel the fires of those so called “mom wars”.

Do you own your experiences as a mother? Are you confident enough in your choices to say I did this and I learned and grew because of it?
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Comments

  1. I am a formula feeding mom from day one for both of my girls and I talk freely about it if someone asks.  I personally don't care what anyone thinks and I don't get involved in the "mom wars" because most women are really doing what is best for them, their family and their children.  My mom breastfed all of us…and most of my friends breastfeed.  Not one of them ever said anything to me about formula feeding.  

    There are things that I do not agree with that I find risky but I am not a doctor and I am not anyone's child's doctor.  That is between the parents and their medical providers…not me.  

  2. Jenny,
    I totally agree with you.  It's not my place to tell anyone that no matter what your child should never get a drop or formula and I would never dream of telling anyone that.  But I really don't think people lying about their choices is the answer either.  Even if you are going to get a negative reaction from someone I just don't see any reason for that.  We can't be supportive of each other if we can't even be honest with one another.

  3. I agree.  I have no idea why people lie.  I find that when discussing csections also.  I had two csections and I never lie about it.  Nope I never went through childbirth and guess what I bonded with my children completely fine and they are fine.  Many people I know feel like failures… I never felt like that and I like to share my experiences so that other mom's understand what csections are like or what things I went through with formula feeding.  

  4. You know there's a certain group of people who get into these women's minds telling them that they are failures because of c-sections or that their c-sections were unnecessary.  It's so sad.  I had a c-section with my son and while many people love to tell me it was unnecessary and breach is just a variation of normal I highly believe that it saved my son's life.  And I would have myself cut open a million times if it meant that I could have the baby that I lost back in my arms.  I really don't believe that doctors are as cut happy as these people like to make them out to be.  My doctor didn't even want to do the c-section on me.  That's how not cut happy they are.  Bringing a baby into this world through your vagina or another way is not failing.  Failing would be not listening to the doctors and the baby dying.

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