That night, we gave her a bottle of formula. A big one. And she slept four consecutive hours. And so did we. It was as if we were alive in a way that we hadn’t been before. And the next day, my daughter and I played. And laughed. And snuggled. And bonded. And I didn’t once unwrap my bulging breasts from the bandage I had tied around my chest in an effort to dry up what little milk that had tried to come through. We began to establish a routine and together, the three of us, found our way as a family. It was one of my first major milestones in motherhood: realizing that sometimes, what is best for you isn’t what is best for everyone else.
I know that for the majority of young mothers out there, breast is best. And I appreciate and applaud your efforts and abilities. But my body doesn’t work that way. My milk ducts are severed and I can’t produce enough to feed my babies. That doesn’t make me a less than mother (even though, for a long time I felt extremely guilty). This guilt was exaserbated when a mommy-friend questioned and chastised me over my decision to give my daughter a bottle. I was told that I gave up on her. I opted for the easy way out. She offered her own milk stockpile because she was concerned about my daughter’s nutritional well being. Formula was poison she said. I politely declined her offer. We weren’t friends after that.
My daughter was healthy. And happy. Growing and blooming. We as a family were making it. There were so many other things for me to feel guilt about. Feeding my child wasn’t going to be one of them.
At some point, Mamas, you have to drown out the noise of all those well wishers with unsolicited advice and you have to do what you know is best. For your child. And your family. For us, it was formula. In a bottle. For eleven months. I didn’t even try to breastfeed my second baby. She immediately went to the bottle and I immediately bandaged my chest. Both of my girls are healthy. And smart. And thriving.
For us, breast was not best.