I woke up this morning with something heavy on my heart. I'm not even sure why. Have you ever felt urged to do something so strongly that you almost can't control it? And no, I'm talking about that chocolate cake in the fridge whispering to you to eat it. That is pretty much how it this morning. So, I'm going to give in and share with you.
We read a lot about the benefits of breast feeding. In fact, its almost so overwhelming at this point that it makes anyone who does not breast feed feel like they are failing as a mother if they do not. So, this is to all my formula feeding mommies....
Look at this beautiful clan.
Notice a few things. They are happy. They are healthy. They have 10 fingers. They have 10 toes. They have 2 eyes and 1 nose. They aren't obese. As far as God and I are concerned, they are perfect little boys.
Can you tell how they were fed as infants? Can you tell if they are all breast fed or all formula fed, or a combination? No. No, you can't.
Here is what you can't see. They are brilliant. Well, okay maybe that is just me being overly proud of my boys. But, they are incredibly smart and that has been proven on tests. They have personalities that won't quit. Just look at the oldest and youngest and you can see that. They are loving. They are caring. They fight like crazy little men with sibling rivalry that never ends. But they are exception little creatures that were given to me as a gift from God.
When I was blessed with this little men, God didn't tell me that I had to feed them a certain way or they wouldn't turn out OK. No, in fact, everything is in God's plan. And exactly how they were fed was exactly how he wanted them fed. You know how I know this? Because God made me a mom. And more importantly, He made me their mom. He gave me the knowledge and intuition to know when things were going well and we were on the right track and when they weren't. He chose me for these men; not my sister; not the crunchy lady on my message boards; not Mary Poppins. Me. It is my job and duty to do my best for them because I trust God and His decisions, even if I don't always understand them.
So here is my story.
Every one of those sweet boys was both formula bed and breast fed. That decision was made for me when I was created. I remember reading all the books and message boards. I remember doing my research and I was going to breast feed exclusively. I had my pump. I had my bottles. I was prepared when C1 arrived, or so I thought.
Breast feeding is hard. There really isn't any better way to put it, especially the first time. So many new experiences. So many things I wasn't good at, but really had never had any opportunities to learn them. This was baby #1. I made (and still make) errors with him every day as we learn how to grow together. But the feeding, OH the feeding, had to be the hardest. I learned the swaddle. I learned how to soothe my gassy child. I learned how to diaper and point "everything" down so I wasn't being sprayed in the face. We were working through every new mom challenge in every area but breast feeding.
I fed every 2-3 hours and let him nurse for 30-40 minutes. He didn't seem hungry after that. He was satisfied and had the silly milk comma grin to show for it. That time was precious. But, He wasn't gaining weight. And on top of all the other new mom concerns, I was finding myself in the doctor office every 2 days for weight checks. Then the dreaded word formula was uttered from my doctor's mouth. You see the doctor knew something I didn't. Well i knew it, but I wasn't ready to claim defeat. He knew that for my child's brain to develop properly, he had to gain weight. Weight led to a healthy fat build up which would help him fuel his brain development and help him maintain his core temperature. So against everyone's preaching, i listened to my doctor. I supplemented with formula.
And, I beat myself up over it. I was a horrible mom. How could I fail this new born boy already? I felt defeated. My message boards weren't helping. My family support tried to help by offering suggestions to up my milk supply, but that didn't help. More than anything, i needed the emotional support to accept this new reality. My son needed to gain weight. And, formula was the only answer that proved to work. So I prayed for support.
Here's the reality of it all. He did gain weight, gradually. And, yes my milk supply dwindled, so his formula in take increased. He was breast fed, as were my other boys for 8 weeks. Then we moved exclusively to formula. I simply couldn't not produce the necessary milk to sustain his life. And once I let go of the guilt, I was OK. We were OK. I had to make a decision that was in the best interest of my child. Had I not, he would have had developmental delays, abnormalities or worse, he would have died from malnutrition. Centuries ago, children did die from malnutrition because not all women are able to breast feed and there wasn't formula to provide nourishment. Thankfully my children live in this century.
Now listen closely to this part. I am a strong breast feeding advocate. I do think it is great for everyone to try, but there are always exceptions to every rule and no one should be shamed because of their choices. We don't always know the history behind them or the reasons. So we are qualified to judge. I didn't lose the bond with my son because he nursed less. He isn't disease or illness prone because he drank formula. He didn't have a large occurrence of ear infections. He isn't obese. And if he becomes obese, it isn't because of the formula. He is genetically predisposed to it. He isn't ignorant. In fact, he is quite the opposite. He is gifted and talented in so many ways. All four of my beautiful boys are healthy and smart. I know this isn't always the case, but it isn't the formula's fault. And no one should feel shamed for feed their children formula.
Once I let go and took care of my son, the weight on my shoulder's was lifted. I was in God's control and that meant everything was going to be great. He would take care of us both. We were happy. We were bonding. And even though he knows how to push every button I have, I still love that little boys with all my heart.
This is for all mothers, breast feeding or formula feeding. You are a strong women. You are a great mothers. You are making choices for your children that must be made for their betterment. And you should be proud of those choices. Stand firm and be the best mother you can be! Do not let anyone belittle you because of your choices. And please, please, please, do not judge or belittle others because of their's. If you don't understand a choice, take the time to listen and hear their side of things. You might be surprised to find out that in the same situation, you might have made the same decision.
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