There is a bottle of formula sitting on my kitchen counter currently mocking me. I bought it last week, when I was having a weak moment. I know I sound like I should be at some sort AA meeting… “Hello my name is Caz and I bottle fed my first baby”. I am currently breast feeding my second , my son.
When you become pregnant, your body, especially your ever expanding wast line becomes a public talking point. You are inundated with questions left, right and center. From how do you plan on having the baby, how long you taking off work and the age old and most popular question I got asked was “how you planning to feed you baby?”
When I was pregnant with my daughter I didn’t have an answer for this question, to be honest I was quite naive and hadn’t done much research on the subject. My Mum had bottle fed both my sister and myself and had made very clear she didn’t see the issue of bottle feeding. My hormones on the other hand wanted to make this decision for me. I ended up head to toe covered in excema. Not the little itchy type, more the open cuts covered head to toe kind. So decision was made “I would bottled feed” when the time came to it.
In some ways thank goodness I did, my daughter had major reflux, the type where it was standard practice for her to bring up a complete bottle and was a nightmare to wind. Bottle feeding came with other negatives, I ended up with PND (post natal depression) don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the fact I bottle fed that I ended up that way but I found it really hard to bond with my daughter. I felt I’ve carried her for 8 months 3 weeks and 4 days, I’ve given birth to her spending 3 days in labour, and then was I really needed anymore? As everyone wanted a go at feeding her and I plodded along smiling away allowing it to happen.
It took me a long time to get my head around the fact that I was needed, and to be honest I still have days wondering should I have been stronger and tried breast feed, would she of had such bad reflux, would she have had such bad excema, would she have had a better bond with me. I know that’s a lot of “what ifs.” Its a guilt I will have to either come to terms with or live with.
When I became pregnant with my second baby, my son. The questions started pretty much once I broke out the stretchy trousers. (Now working in retail with a lot of women they keep coming and coming) That age old questions yet again seemed to be the talking point. This time I was tempted to tell these lovely people and strangers where to go. But before you think I went crazed pregnant lady on them. I did my research, I had the Mummy support network this time. It also helped my hormones played ball this time and didn’t spend 9 months covered in excema cuts and sores which was also a bonus.
I had a plan, who doesn’t love a good plan?? I was determined I would breast feed this time. I read about how helped with bonding. How it could possibly keep PND at bay. How I wouldn’t spend hours sterilizing bottles and teats and measuring formula out. This to me sounded pretty amazing especially when this time I would have a 3 year old to run around after. The classes I took told you about how it would mean the baby would have less chance of having excema, less likely to have issues with wind. I mean this sounds amazing right?
But breast feeding is hard…. so so hard. I salute the Mummy’s out there who have breast fed in any sort of a way. A fed baby is best sort of baby, I know but a fed baby is hard, Bottle feeding comes with its own sorts of problems and worries and so does breast feeding more than any class or book will ever tell you about.
FIRST WEEK FEEDING – Kept trying and trying till it came together.
I am not saying I am some sort of expert I’m only 4 months into this journey. My husband will tell you I have been ready to throw in the towel and grab that bottle of formula that sits there mocking on a weekly if not daily basis.
Firstly you have no clue if the baby is having enough. If only your boobs came with measures or an alarm when they’d had enough. Then you think your getting somewhere and mother nature throws in a growth spurt to screw with your head. When hear all your friends babies are now “sleeping through” your sat thinking how come i’m still getting up every 2 hours and spending every night burning holes into the back of my partners head because he is fast asleep and I’ve been up feeding for the last 40 mins and see no end in sight.
Don’t get me wrong he does offer help but unless mother nature allows him grow boobs there not much he can do, lets be honest. Who you kidding? The more the baby cries, the more my boobs seem to have a mind of there own. My son likes to toy with me as well he has done a few nights untill 5am but I’ve never slept till then because my milk alarm clocks are wondering why they haven’t had there usual party at 1am, 3am, 5 am and a quick mock at 6 am so I have be up for the toddler at 7am!
After all this you may wonder why I haven’t grabbed that bottle of formula and been done with it. I’ve had enough of people asking me why I’m still breast feeding. The questions, why not just give him a bottle? That and every time he cries is because he wants Mummy because he is breast fed not interested in anyone else “yes I’ve had that said to me” . ” Why don’t you bottle feed then you can give him to someone else?”. When I sit there countless nights “googling” to make sure I’m doing this “Right” that not missing something in the instructions why this boy just wont sleep.
I text my partner at least once a week wondering if hes getting enough after been held hostage on the sofa for over an hour feeding, knowing that the toddler gets out in 20 min from nursery and soon I will have to stop the milk monster and it will begin again in 2 hours but could possibly be sooner whenever he decides, normally just when i’m standing waiting to collect the toddler. I’ve even continued when I was told that the villain PND has returned. That was the hardest pill to swallow, the books, the classes all told me it would help prevent it, that was the day I actually went out bought the formula when I was told, to be honest I knew it had for a few weeks but I was in denial and thought lack of sleep was giving me all the symptoms. I felt I had worked this hard now my mind was failing me and how could it not give me a break. Was it not there with me when I sat for hours researching and reading countless blogs. Even when one night in the midst of exhaustion, the argument with my husband. That he wont settle for him because he only wants Mummy. That was hard to listen to, when all I’ve wanted / craved for is to have a bond with my son from early on, which I found so hard with my daughter.
So here I am 4 months in with the goal of 6 months and I’m going keep that goal not because the websites, the books the blogs all say “breast is best” but because I’ve worked hard to breast feed, it may not go to plan all the time but i’m trying. I may be ready give up at least once a week normally around 5 am when I’ve not actually been to sleep yet. That bottle of formula will sit there mocking me every time I feel like I want to give up. If your reading this wondering why I keep going, its because all those reasons above, my son wants me, not anyone else, but me. I can stop him crying, I can make him fall asleep “most nights for short period but still”. He looks for me when he is being carried by someone else. He smiles when he catches my eye. It was the bond I longed for with my daughter and took so long to get. Breast feeding has given me that bond. That whatever I am doing I have to sit down and feed him I cant give him to someone else “to have a go” for whatever length of time its lasts he thinks the world starts and ends with mummy.
Two pieces of advice I got when I started this journey. “this will not last forever” this has been my mantra during the darkest points and “never give up breast feeding when your having a bad day always wait a few days if you still feel that way then you have your answer”
So to conclude, four months into this crazy journey, I still have my “L” plates on. I think however you choose to feed your baby its god dam hard. To all the Mummy’s out there that breast/bottle and all of the above I salute you, with it being your first, second or sixth baby. It never gets any easier they sadly don’t come with a instruction manuals and maybe I do need to go with the flow more but until then late night googling will help me keep control of my mummy “worries” until then.
If this your make you smile, nod or even cracks a smile when your having one those dark days then my ramblings have done there job.