Will you be breastfeeding your baby? It’s something you get asked frequently when you’re pregnant.
Yes, my baby will be breastfed.
Throughout my pregnancy, I did lots of research on breastfeeding. I took a class at the hospital, asked my friends many questions, and did anything possible to educate myself on the topic. I read repeatedly that sometimes it doesn’t work out for mothers for various reasons, but I didn’t care. Not me. My baby will be breastfed.
My real breastfeeding journey began on March 27, 2019, which was the day my daughter was born. Brooklyn arrived three weeks early, which is considered term but she was a little thing – all 6 pounds of her. I was told 37-weekers can display preemie-like tendencies, making it more difficult to nurse. It’s fine, I said to myself. She’s healthy, which is all that matters. My baby will be breastfed.
In the hospital, my nurses called me the “colostrum queen.” Yes, I let that go to my head. Within hours of my little one’s arrival, I was filling up spoonful after spoonful of the magical stuff they call liquid gold. I thought, “this whole nursing thing is going to be a breeze.” Was she latching? No, she was too tired. Couldn’t keep her eyes open. Whatever, that’s okay. My baby will be breastfed.
Several days had passed, and Brooklyn still couldn’t latch. If she was able to muster up the energy to try, she would then start hysterically crying. It was a lot of work for her itty bitty self. “Why mom? Please don’t make me work hard for my food. I technically should still be in your belly. Just feed me the easy way or give me a Dairy Queen Blizzard.” That’s what I envisioned she was saying. So, fine. I turned to the “easy” way. We began offering her bottles, but I wasn’t worried. My baby will be breastfed.
As soon as we got home from the hospital, my milk came in. It was the confidence boost I needed. Okay, Brooklyn. Your real food has arrived. Time to eat, baby, because you will be breastfed.
For something that’s supposed to come so natural, breastfeeding is hard work. I spent the next several weeks in a vicious routine, hoping things would click. Every two to three hours: Offer breast. Baby doesn’t want the breast. Offer bottle. Baby drinks bottle. Burp baby. Pump. Baby sleeps. Clean pump parts. Baby wakes up. Do the damn thing again. Shower if you can. If you’ve been there then you know, it’s a tough way to live.
Words of encouragement kept me going. “Don’t worry, Katie, she’ll get there. You two will get there.” I have to, dammit, because my baby WILL be breastfed.
I worked with several postpartum lactation consultants. I purchased four types of nipple shields. I bought multiple nursing pillows. I switched to slow flow bottle nipples. I attempted mid-pumping feed tactics. I stretched feedings. I tried breastfeeding in every position known to mankind. None of that mattered. She wasn’t having it. She fussed anytime I attempted putting her on my boobs. I’m talking fierce tears would stream down her chubby cheeks. She just wanted that Dr. Brown’s bottle. PLEASE, BROOKLYN. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO BE BREASTFED?
I spent countless hours crying. I felt like such a failure. Totally defeated. Why wasn’t it working for Brooklyn and me? I wanted to connect on that level with her so badly. It’s such a powerful bond a nursing mother shares with her baby, and I longed for it desperately. It was around that time I started realizing something and it made me very sad: my baby may not be breastfed.
Week five. Brooklyn latched onto a shield and ate for about 10 minutes. I cried tears of joy. OMG! YOU DID IT, BROOKIE! I was incredibly proud of my little girl. Then, those tears were proceeded by hysteria. I was extremely exhausted. Tired of pumping, trying, waiting, wondering, hoping, and praying. I was over it. I looked down at my daughter and realized we were never going to share the true bond of breastfeeding. That was it. I was done. My baby will not be breastfed.
I officially quit trying and switched to formula. I’m sure there are some breastfeeding warriors out there who have similar stories and stuck it out much longer than I did. Hats off to those women. Exclusively pumping is truly a lifestyle, and it wasn’t for me.
Once I threw in the towel, devastation and guilt took over. My supply was so good, and I felt like I was just tossing money down the drain. At the same time, there was a huge sense of relief. I took a big breath and finally felt like myself for the first time in five weeks. The vicious cycle was over.
Then, I came across an old Instagram post by Bravo TV’s Cameran Eubanks about how she quit breastfeeding after three months. Her words resonated so deeply with how I was feeling at the time and it was the final boost of confidence I truly needed.
“I’m not quitting because my milk supply dried up or because I’m sick… I’m quitting because I’m just plain over it. By choice,” Cameran said. “I need some freedom back for my sanity and the bottle and formula will allow that. You are not a bad mother if you don’t like breastfeeding. A happy mama is the best gift you can give your baby.”
It was a hard decision for me to stop trying to breastfeed, but I think it was probably the best one I’ve made as a parent, so far. Switching to formula has allowed me to be a better version of myself for my daughter. It makes me sad to type this, but I feel like I missed out on enjoying the first five weeks of Brooklyn’s life. Sure, I soaked up the sweet newborn scent, melted over those cute coos, and relished in her soft snuggles, but something was missing. I wasn’t fully there as a human. Instead, I was frantically fixated on making breastfeeding work. I had lost my mojo.
As I write this, I’m now 4.5 months postpartum. I’m happy and my baby is happy. She’s also well-fed. No, she was never breastfed, but that’s okay. Some things just aren’t meant to be. Or maybe they are? God has a plan for everything. There is NOTHING wrong with formula and I love giving my daughter bottles – minus the fact that she eats at a sloth’s pace and often poops in the middle of a feeding.
If you’re going through something similar, no matter what the outcome is, I hope you know you are doing an amazing job. You are NOT a failure and you are not alone. Moms, especially new moms, are legit superheroes. Defenders of dirty diapers. Protectors of fallen pacifiers. Saviors of sleepless nights. Warriors with wipes. Serial soothers. Booger bodyguards. Terminators of tears.
It doesn’t matter if you bottle feed, pump, breastfeed, or do all three like a boss – fed is fabulous! End of story.
Why is there even a feeding debate? The only thing we should be debating when it comes to feeding our children is at what age can we first introduce Chick-fil-A. That’s the really important question, y’all.