Last week The Honest Company approached me and asked if I wanted join them in a conversation about one of the most intimate and important experiences in a family’s life: feeding their newborn baby. Without hesitation, I said yes. Honest presents judgement free stories on its blog covering moms from every walk of life. Today I share my story and a letter to parents in hopes to end the judgement and stigma that comes with the personal choices families make to feed their baby.
Before I dive into my raw and real experience, I’d like to say I’m not here to argue breast isn’t best. Instead, I’m here to shed some light on why breast wasn’t exactly best for my family under our circumstances. I would never encourage or discourage a mother from breastfeeding, pumping, or formula feeding. I’m 100% in favor of supporting moms by advising them to do what they feel is best for their baby and family. It’s my hope in sharing my story that a mommy in need, a mommy who feels like a failure when it comes to feeding her infant, will know she’s not alone.
Congratulations on your beautiful ray of light. You’ve just started one of the most incredible chapters in your life. With all new roles, this one comes with a period of learning. Actually, there’s a good chance you’ll never stop learning – and you’ll grow stronger because of it.
I was where you are only nine short months ago. I was living (and continue to live) a life that no amount of reading, watching videos or joining Facebook groups could have prepared me for.
I’m a mom who had a baby that was unable to latch – and there was nothing that could have prepared me for it. Most of my reading and most of my encounters with medical professionals, peers and family prepared me for breastfeeding my baby. No one ever mentioned failure. Of course, there was the option to choose other methods, though these methods were hardly addressed or explained to me.
As a new mom, I was afraid of wronging my son and I was afraid of not giving him the best. Through pressure from myself and the fear of being judged, I sacrificed my sanity and well-being to make breastfeeding work.
I could talk to you about the visits I had with lactation consultants, months I spent attached to a breast pump, suck training, syringe feeding, jaundice, formula and nipple shields. I could also talk to you about the the guilt, anxiety, frustration and heartache that came with the decisions I had to make to keep my son fed and nourished. However, I’m here to talk to you as a mom on the flip side of all of that. I’m the mom that has done it all – and every step of the way I felt some type of pressure, stress or guilt.
I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if one, some or all of these options work for you and your family. Sometimes, as much as we prepare, life has a different plan and pushes us in a different direction than we initially imagined.
Whatever direction life has pushed you in when it comes to feeding your child, whether it’s what you expected or what you’ve had to resort to, as long as you are nourishing your child, keeping them fed and loving them endlessly, you as a parent are doing your job.
The best you can give your child is accepting your circumstances and making it work. Show them you can overcome adversity, adjust to change and go with the flow.
If there’s one thing I learned from crying on the bathroom floor at three in the morning from emotional and physical exhaustion, it’s that my choices were driven by love, not logic.
In all your parenting triumphs and struggles, there is someone else out there who gets it – and as one of them, I want to say I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for doing your absolute best.
In closing, I want to introduce you to my nine month old son, Jack.
See his smile? It’s not a result or being fed formula or breast milk, bottle or boob, his smile is a result of love. For for first week of his life he was fed breast milk by a syringe. For the first three months of his life, he was fed through a bottle filled with breast milk I pumped around the clock. From months three through four, he exclusively breast fed after finally latching completely out of the blue. From months four through six, he was fed both formula and breast milk as I struggled to maintain my supply. And lastly from months six and onward, he’s been formula fed (along with purees of his favourite Italian dishes) after my supply complexity dried up.
My biggest goal as a parent is to raise Jack to always be compassionate, kind and gentle. How he was fed as an infant will have never come up on first dates, university applications or job interviews. It has no indication of the type of person he is or will grow up to be.
Together, lets stop making moms feel isolated, hopeless and judged as they navigate uncharted water and raise their families. Lets answer questions rather than offer advice, lets offer support rather than sympathy, and lets be the generation of moms who end the mom war.
We’re all in this together, we may just be doing it a little differently.
Wishing you sleep + happiness,