Before I had Wyatt I read everything I could get my hands on about breastfeeding. I watched videos. I went to classes. I bought a nursing pillow and nipple cream and stocked up on clothes that would make it easier to whip a boob out at a moments notice.
I was so ready.
But nothing prepared me for the reality of breastfeeding. It included pain, despair, latch issues, low milk supply, and exhaustion. I had one month before we had to move and I knew if we were going to have a chance I needed to dedicate that time to getting the breastfeeding under control. I could do it if I just tried hard enough. I pumped every three hours and drove 40 minutes to a support group every week for assistance. I was taking roughly thirty pills a day to try to boost my milk supply. I mastered the art of holding a baby up to my boob with one arm while I syringe-fed him formula with the other in what was almost always a futile attempt at getting him to latch. It never did work. I wasn’t going to be a breast-feeder.
I literally sobbed in the kitchen as I made up bottles of formula for the baby, because it wasn’t breast milk. It wasn’t good enough. In those moments the fact I was feeding Wyatt formula felt devastating. Was I sad all the time? No. I was enjoying my new baby and being a mom. But there was that dark cloud I couldn’t quite shake. Thankfully I got over it. But now, I’m kind of pissed.
I’m pissed because I never should have had to feel that way in the first place. No one should. But there’s a group of (mostly) women out there who don’t think you’re doing your best if you’re not breastfeeding. This isn’t a rant against women who breastfeed. I wanted to be one of them. This is a rant against breastfeeding zealots. The people who tell you formula is poison. The ones who tell you if you’d just tried hard enough breastfeeding would have worked. The ones who feel superior because their kid eats from the breast and not from a bottle. These are the people who were in my head every time I made a bottle. Every time I couldn’t get Wyatt to latch. Every time I sleepily dragged myself over to the breast pump.
I’m particularly bothered by the term “breast is best” that is so freely thrown around. Frankly, it’s offensive. Let’s get something straight, breast isn’t always best. In a perfect world without jobs and stresses and lack of knowledge and faulty anatomy we’d all probably blissfully breastfeed our babies. But that’s not the real world. My breasts were not best for Wyatt. For reasons I don’t understand, we couldn’t make it work. Did I do things wrong? I have no doubt I did. I was tired and alone and stressed. If I have another baby, will I do things differently? Yes. Will I beat myself up if it doesn’t work again? Not a chance.
There is simply nothing second best about making sure your baby is happy and healthy. If you get there through breastfeeding, that is fantastic. If you don’t, it’s still fantastic.
This is my happy, healthy, ridiculously cute, formula fed baby:
I don’t think he’s getting the second best of anything.