Before becoming supermomish, I thought I would be supermom. How naive of me. I didn't think I would do everything that's considered "best" at the current time - but at least most of them. Not only is that not true, I didn't even stick to the ONE thing I thought was a sure bet. Breastfeeding. Admittedly, I was a little high and mighty about this one. I branded moms who didn't do it "selfish" and "uneducated", because there's so much information out there about the benefits to your baby. I feel bad for this now. REALLY bad.
I tried. I totally tried. My son was exclusively breastfed for 6 weeks, then occasionally supplemented with formula for a few weeks, then round-the-clock supplemented for a few weeks (by the doctor's orders, he wasn't gaining enough weight), and at around 3 months old he decided he'd had enough. I had issues with supply - sometime around 6 or 7 weeks I couldn't keep up with his appetite anymore. I tried it all - pumping, drinking more water, fenugreek seed tablets, mother's milk tea, nursing for hours at a time, drinking a beer every few days - nothing worked!! I don't know what was causing the problem, exactly...but at his 2 month appointment my son was an entire pound lighter than he should have been. I was fighting SO hard to keep it going, but not only was he underweight, he was miserable. He was crying all the time, he was never satisfied after a feeding. And stress? Wow. The wondering how many ounces he got, how much supply I actually had (when it felt like a few drops), trying to build it back up, how hungry he was, am I causing him harm, what is wrong with meeee?! Towards the end I would pump for an hour to an hour & 1/2 and only come up with 1/2 oz from each side. And the pumping wouldn't even encourage my supply - I never got more than 1/2 oz each side. I quickly learned why some moms choose formula!
When I realized I had to give it up (and really, I did HAVE to - my son was miserable and he was telling me what he wanted - as soon as I listened and stopped forcing the boob on him, he was a new baby!), I was depressed. I had major breakdowns to my husband about feeling like a failure and what people would think of me for not even making it to the minimum recommendation of 6 months. He was so encouraging - and let me see that most of the guilt I felt was because of the way society places judgement on moms. And usually, it's from other moms. It took a couple weeks, but I eventually got over it. Aside from having to wash bottles (well, nipples...we use drop-ins, but still boo!), our lives are much easier now. My baby is always happy, always full, and growing exactly as he should. Do I wish I could have done it longer? Yes. But I've come to terms with it, and I've also learned a lesson in humility about putting expectations on people when their situation could call for the choice they make. It may not be the one they WANTED to make. Perhaps that's why I only made it to 3 months? There's a reason for everything.
And ya know....breastfeeding was no walk in the park, even when it was good. Your boobs take about 6 weeks to get used to it - until then my nipples ALWAYS hurt. I only got to sleep 2 hours at a time at night because that's the longest the breastmilk would last for my baby. And while visitors were here I'd have to cover up with a blanket, which made both my son & I miserably uncomfortable (we live in the south [for now], its HOT). Not to mention, I felt tethered to the house because I wasn't comfortable nursing in public. Using bottles & formula has truly saved our sanity!
I know that it's not best for my baby, "technically". But it is what was best for HIM - he showed me. And I hope that next time, I have better luck. The difference is that next time, I'm not holding myself to any unrealistic time lines that may not fit with my baby. And I will not feel guilty turning to formula if my baby is not happy with my breastmilk supply. Nor will I try to make anyone else feel guilty. This little 15 pound man has taught me more in 4 months than I ever thought possible.