Thursday, September 1, 2016

Formula Fed Baby and Mom Shaming

I am not ashamed that I formula feed.

When my son was born, I exclusively breastfed him until he was two months old. He fed often and slept well. I didn't mind feeding often too much because I knew I was doing right by my child. He was scrawny though. I look back at pictures and see his lack of baby chub.

We had our 2-month vaccinations appointment and doctor's check up in the same week and my little boy was the same weight at his appointments than he was at birth. I cried when the doctor told me to switch to formula so that he would gain some weight. I broke right down sobbing. Thank goodness my husband was there to comfort me because I was a wreck. I wanted so badly for things to work. My milk was plentiful, for sure, but the amount of fat needed for my boy to grow wasn't.

I then would hear from others about how they or someone they knew were basically milk cows. They could breastfeed so well, their babies were gaining exponentially, and their supply was so great, they could feed their children and probably donate too. I'm sorry, but the last thing I wanted to hear was that I was a failure at what a woman is supposed to be able to do and having it shoved down my throat. That's basically what they were saying to me with their words although in sure they didn't know it.
   "When I pumped, there would be a thick layer of fat on the top. Almost more fat than anything else."
   "My friend's kids got so chubby, it was hard to find clothes that fit them."
   "My daughter-in-law could probably feed triplets and still have plent left over with her supply."

My fake-smiled reply was simply, "That's good," all while I'm dying on the inside. I'm not sure if they were trying to make me feel better but it sure didn't feel like it. I knew their intentions weren't to hurt me but they didn't know that it cut deep! Obviously almost four years later, I still remember the comments so they did make an impact. Remember that next time that before you make a comment, look at it from her perspective.

Anyway, let me just say that my son was a happy baby. He ate well, he slept through the night from two weeks old, and he wasn't a fussy baby. He was a great baby and we were so proud of him. He was just skinny.

We switched to formula and almost immediately, he started gaining weight. I was sad but also happy that there was an option for moms like me. I just wanted to do right by my babe and have a healthy child. Praise the Lord there was someone who developed formula. I don't want to think about what I would have done without the options we have available today! *Side note: my grandpa was a twin and was actually fed powdered milk to supplement feeds because of weight gain! I'm thankful for that, otherwise, I might not even be here!

Fast forward to this week. My little girl is just over two months old, the same age as my son when we switched over. It's been a similar story with my girl except we have been giving her formula from the beginning so we wouldn't have a repeat of last time. She is gaining slowly but very well and sleeping great too. The only drawback is that my supply is a bit lower so we've decided to switch completely to formula. I was hesitant to exclusively formula feed, mostly because of the expense and (annoyance of bottle cleaning) but I know it's in the best interest of my little girl.

I know what to expect. I know that I may get comments that I won't appreciate. Mom-shaming is what they call it and it's all too real. No mom should be shamed for making decisions for their child that are sometimes out of their control.

To the mom who breast feeds, good for you! That's awesome and I hope you continue to do it for as long as you can. Way to be a great mom!!

To the mom who formula feeds, good for you! You're feeding your child the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy. Way to be a great mom!!

To the mom who feels like she can't do it and it's about to crumble around her, don't give up. There's hope for you and your babe(s) too. Don't be afraid to ask for help!!

To the mom shamers, shame on you!! There is no perfect mom. There are seemingly perfect Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram moms but that's only one side of the story. The green grass side of the story. But we all have weeds in our backyard. There's plenty that happens behind closed doors and you're not above reproach. Instead of shaming, let's think before we talk (or type!!).

Support your fellow mom. She's doing the best she can and she might be struggling with it. Love her. Take her out for coffee or buy her a flower. Let's remember that no one is perfect and that we all want what's best for our families - whatever that may look like.

Being a mom is hard. Making important decisions that may or may not affect your child's future is intimidating, even as a second-time mom. I don't know if anyone will even read this but I'm glad that I can look back and say that I know I did the best I could for my kids. They deserve the world and will inherit it one day but while they're young, it's up to us parents to make the hard decisions.

Good for you, moms. You make the world go 'round!!

P.S. By the way, my husband is amazing. With both of our kids, he has been 100% supportive on any feeding decisions and has been there for the meltdowns and struggles. I appreciate him so much as a man and husband but his actions as a father have made him that much more attractive to me. I love you J!