I Wish It Were As Simple As Breastmilk vs. Formula

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I wish it were as simple as breastmilk vs. formula, but for me and my babies, it is anything but.

I’ve always known I wanted to breastfeed for as long as my babies wanted. I didn’t have any real expectations or hold breastfeeding to a superior status. I just had a strong mom instinct towards it. So, in true Enneagram 6 fashion, I did (and still do) all the research to ensure that our breastfeeding journey could be as successful as possible. Now a few babies into this motherhood thing I do not regret this choice one little bit.

HOWEVER, I never expected that some of those little cherubs would not even take a bottle of breastmilk, let alone formula.

I struggled with some postpartum mental issues after a couple of the babies, and to this day, colicky babies can trigger me. But the biggest waning of my mental health comes with the overwhelm of being the 100% sole caretaker who can keep the baby alive.

As much as I feel deeply about breastfeeding my children and the strong connection it brings, I sometimes wish my husband could just heat up a bottle – breastmilk OR formula – and feed the baby. I especially wish this in the middle of the night when he’s slumbering peacefully, and I’m fielding screeches only subdued by boobs. I wish I were able to leave the baby for longer than two hours without the inevitable tingle of a letdown and knowing I have to skedaddle ASAP. It’s gut-wrenching to have to walk away in the middle of the much-needed self-care of being out with girlfriends enjoying fellowship. I wish the hundreds of ounces of frozen breastmilk I worked tirelessly for would be happily accepted. I wish I had some freedom with my body.

I also wish I didn’t have to feel ostracized. Because I don’t feel like I fall on one of the two sides (breastfeeding vs. formula), I tend just to want to hide in the shadows of what I’m going through. I’ve heard criticism from both parties:

You need to just give her a bottle of formula – she’ll figure it out eventually, and she’s probably over your breastmilk;

or

Feeding your baby is a miracle and you should just be grateful you can do it and stop complaining. 

I also love to hate the good ol’ Kris Jenner: You’re doing great, sweetie.

I often catch myself getting jealous when I see a friend, family member, or stranger on the internet giving their baby a bottle. My emotions range from envy to sadness to rage. I try to remember that my baby is happy and healthy, and I’m doing the best I can. It’s just so dang hard some days.

People often ask me if I’ve tried this or that. Yes, we’ve tried all the bottles. Yes, we tried different people feeding in different positions and locations. Yes, we’ve talked to the doctor. Yes, we’ve done every silly little trick you can muster. No, it doesn’t matter.

I wish it was simple. If only I could make, or even have, the choice between breastfeeding and formula. And I wish others, especially other mothers, would just support instead of condemn. Oftentimes, a simple You’re not alone or What can I do to help, seriously? would go a long way to make me feel seen.

I know I’ll look back and think, Those were the days. The day will come when I miss these precious moments—the moments I get one-on-one time with my baby—when my body does a superhuman feat of providing literal life for another being. I also know that it’s exhausting. The mental load I carry for being the default parent (for this and so many other parts of parenthood) is draining, to say the least.

As moms, we make a million minuscule and massive decisions for our family on the daily. Sometimes, we have choices galore; sometimes, it’s out of our hands. No matter what though, we do what is best for our own babies. Whether you’re on the side of breastmilk or formula or somewhere in between… you are not alone, and I see you.

For now, I’ll choose to appreciate my body for what it’s been through and what it continues to do day in and day out and be hopeful that, one day, a cup of milk will (somewhat) take my place.

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