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Of Choices and Happy Babies

I know people wonder. Or perhaps they don't - I haven't hidden it. There are very blatant pictures on here of me bottle feeding Adam. And if you have been an accidentallykle reader long enough, you may remember the breastfeeding issues I had with Emily, and you might wonder, again, whether I tried again this time? Whether I bothered. Well, here is what happened.

While I was pregnant with Adam, I was determined not to breastfeed. I know now that the reason was that I was so upset at not being able to breastfeed Emily, a part of me didn't want to feel that failure again. Another part of me was very (very!!) angry at the "breastapo" members I encountered in real life, on twitter, everywhere who tried to make me feel like less of a mother because I formula fed Emily. I guess I felt that I would be making a statement by outright choosing not to breastfeed this time.

Then during the last month of the pregnancy, things began to change. I'm not quite sure why though I suspect it has to do with the "natural birth" drive I was on. I thought it may have been that I expected it of myself because it would be strange to want a natural birth so much but then not want to breastfeed. But it wasn't that. I genuinely did want to breastfeed Adam.

But I prepared backup just in case, this time. I took a Cow & Gate starter pack with me to the hospital (brought down from the UK, they don't exist in Malta) - I wasn't going to be caught out like I was with Emily when she refused to feed.

But Adam didn't refuse to feed. Oh he fed, and he fed well. He loved it. He had all the patience that Emily never had. He was confirmation that even when I thought Emily was feeding well, she hadn't been. Adam fed and fed and fed. He latched on well, impressed all the midwives who came by to check on me. And I loved it.

Then came the cracked nipples and I was in tears through every feed. Toe-curling pain. David begged me to stop and put myself out of my misery. I wouldn't for a while but eventually the pain became too much to handle and knowing there was an alternative at hand, I gave in.

Two days later I started breastfeeding again. My nipples had healed, all was well, and I began to get a glimpse of that dreamy oxytocin breastfeeding feeling that everyone talks about. I bought a breastfeeding scarf, I began looking at clothes that I could feed easily with, I was going to do this. There was no reason not to. He loved it, I loved it.

But Emily still didn't. She needed me. She needed dinner. She needed bathing. And Adam chose her bathtime and bedtime to need whopping two hour feeds. Everyone said it would get better. But I couldn't watch Emily be more and more pushed aside "just" because Adam needed feeding, not knowing how long it would last. And those old, familiar feelings resurfaced. Anxiety, stress, dreading feeds. I felt pressured and I hated every bit of it all.

I spoke to the midwife about possibly combination feeding. She said I shouldn't do it, as it would affect my milk supply. This is my one regret: I wish I didn't listen. I wish I had known more, I wish I asked more (and I asked plenty, but unfortunately not about combination feeding). I carried on exclusively breastfeeding for another day and then gave up completely, feeling like I had no choice but to go entirely one way or entirely the other. There was, supposedly, no middle ground. Again, I wish now that I didn't listen. I know that people successfully combination feed for months - I didn't stop to ask why that couldn't be the case with me.

But things did get easier with bottle feeding. Adam still has seemingly neverending feeds over Emily's bedtime (sometimes up to 11oz/325ml), but it's easier to deal with when it involves a bottle. David deals with one feed a night, meaning I can get some more sleep. And bonding - I still feel I am able to bond with my children more over a bottle than a breast. Maybe I'm strange, or maybe I was just never quite cut out to breastfeed.

Either way, Adam is well fed and just as happy as Emily was and is. Whether he will be as healthy as she is will be seen, but I am quite certain - judging by Emily's good health - that it has nothing to do with whether he was breastfed or not.

They are happy, they are loved, they are my everything. What milk they are fed is completely irrelevant.

Related: Encouragement for Formula Feeding Moms (recommended reading)

8 comments:

  1. Hun, in the past i always read your tweets about b/f & f/f both Emily and Adam. Ive never shared my views, one reason because of all the b/f backlash you got with Emily. I was so new to social media at the time and didnt want to get upset over my decisions on feeding Lewis. Now i will voice my opinion....

    I formula fed BOTH of my children, neither of them ever was given/attempted at breastfeeding. I feel this was the best ever decision i made for both of my children, they were happy, content and most of all healthy.

    One day i will blog about my decisions and perhaps get hit with the backlash of the "breast is best" crew but i will always stand by my decision and i will always know i did what was best all round.

    *high five to ya girlie!*

    Love to you all
    xx

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    1. Thank you so much for writing this Bex. I'd love to read your blogpost, but only whenever and if ever you're ready. Ultimately, we don't need to explain ourselves. The only reason I wrote this post is because I felt encouraged by that letter (the one I link to at the end) and finally, I think, I can hold my head up high about it all and tell people where to go if they try to make me feel bad about it! Thanks again xxx

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    2. I just read that link and commented, what a wonderful piece!! I will blog about it, i feel that so many people put negative opinions out about formula feeding children and new mums feel pressured into breastfeeding which i absolutely hate! Its beyond wrong! I actually feed i can be quite opinionated about this subject as i believe firmly i have done beyond the best for my children and i'm most of all proud!

      x

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  2. You know I'm all for breastfeeding and God knows I've annoyed the hell out of you and other readers with my posts about the matter. However, I agree with what you said in your comment to Rebecca. Nobody should have to explain themselves or try to justify their choices. I'll always encourage new mums to breastfeed because I truly believe in all the benefits (and, btw, Robin got sick a heck of a lot, even though she was exclusively breastfed till she started eating). BUT that's my choice and it's worked out fine for me and my children. Nobody lives with you 24/7, so nobody will know what challenges you face every day (and especially night). Besides, I find your concern for Emily's wellbeing is the best reason to have switched to formula. It was easier for me because Maia was old enough to understand the need to wait and Robin was also a very fast drinker (never longer than 10 minutes a feed). So, good for you. And please, don't you ever feel you have to justify your choices with anyone.

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  3. We combination fed for about 3 months at the start and then once I was back at work so definitely can be done. But you're so right that it's always such a complicated choice about the whole family including your own health and breast feeding, whatever the benefits, can't take precedence over everything else in life.

    I would love to see you at this week's Baby Shower link up, Alice x

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  4. Thank you so much for linking up at the Friday Baby Shower - look forward to seeing you at this week's party, Alice x

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  5. Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference to the people who know and care about you and surely that, along with you being happy with your choice is all that matters. Never listen to anyone who thinks they have the right to tell you how to look after your child.

    I was lucky in that there are no midwives here once you leave hospital and no check ups to go to etc so no one ever told me what to do with the little one and it was so refreshing. I breastfed him very successfully from the start, he was a little guzzler like Adam, but I started combination feeding to allow the man and the 11 year old to get in on the act with the feeds (not that they did that often of course) and my supply was never affected, it adjusts to suit what the baby needs whether that's more or less than before. I think even with so called health professionals you have to take what they say with a pinch of salt sometimes and just go with your gut instinct. x

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