Nov 30, 2010  •  In Baby, Claire, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

Last Week, I…

Quit breastfeeding.

Had to choose between quitting cold turkey and gradually quitting (by cutting out one pumping/nursing session every couple of days). Decided that engorgement pain is preferable to the razor-sharp pain from thrush I get every time my right breast is emptied. Smelled like cabbage soup as I stuffed my bra with cold cabbage leaves to help with the engorgement. Drank sage tea and Coke to help kill my milk supply. Regretted quitting more than once as my breasts became rock-hard and throbbed with pain. Leaked through numerous nursing pads, bras, and shirts.

Felt overwhelming guilt for not providing the best available nutrition for my child. Felt further burdened by “lactivists” online who likened formula to poison, who informed me that if I were not ready to make sacrifices for my child, I shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place.

Realized these women know squat about my life or my family.

Did research and discovered that while breastmilk is best, it is only marginally better. Most studies that tout the benefits of breastmilk (or formula, for that matter) are so flawed/biased that there really is no conclusive evidence that children who are formula-fed are any less smart or healthy, or vice-versa. Correlation ≠ causation.

Realized that some of the healthiest, smartest, and most talented people I know were formula-fed as babies. People who are Ivy League graduates, have great jobs, hold MBAs and PhDs, are at top physical shapes and rarely get sick.

Cried tears of relief as I put away my pumping supplies.

Shed a few more tears the first day that Claire went 100% formula. Told her how sorry I was and that I had failed her as a mommy, that she must be patient as I will most likely fail her many more times in the future. Watched as she happily sucked away at her bottle of Similac Sensitive and looked at me as if to say, “I forgive you.”

Bonded more with my daughter in 5 days than I had with her in the entire past month. Was able to hold her tight (despite the painful engorgement in my chest) and not dread my next nursing/pumping session.

Realized that I had been associating my baby with pain, and that was now a thing of the past.

Gorged on Thanksgiving dinner without worrying about whether a dish had dairy, seafood, beans, broccoli, and all the other foods I had cut from my diet.

Had my first glass of wine in over 11 months and enjoyed every last drop.

Still experience guilt time to time. Am dreading Claire’s 3rd month checkup this Friday when the pediatrician is sure to ask if I am still breastfeeding. Have been reading sites such as Fearless Formula Feeder for encouragement and support.

Hopes that no one will judge me for this decision. After all, doesn’t a happy mommy help lead to a happy baby?

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41 Responses to “Last Week, I…”

  1. Teresa says:

    Only you know what's best for you so don't let anyone make you feel guilty.

  2. Jenn says:

    I think you made the right decision, and I'm very impressed that you made it this far with the pain you've been experiencing, it sounded awful!

  3. Turtle says:

    good for you. Way to re-evaluate and make a choice that was right for your family. One of many in a long series of parenting choices ahead. Enjoy relaxing with your daughter.

  4. Amanda says:

    Yes! My sister in law did the same thing, and it could not have been a better decision for her. Like you, she had so much pain. And she also didn't produce enough milk, and was constantly anxious about whether my niece was being sufficiently fed. Breast feeding is great for some, but ultimately how can you bond with your child or enjoy the intimate act of feeding if you can only associate it with pain? Kudos to you for doing what you know in your heart is right. Claire will love you all the more for your strength and dedication to your relationship.

  5. Liesal says:

    You did what's best for you and your family and made an informed decision. No problem with that!

  6. Kat says:

    What a brave decision! I am the most all-natural chemical free etc etc person you will come across but I strongly believe that your well being is of the highest importance. I have seen many childhoods suffer via depressed/in pain mothers and I would hate to see you go that way. Well done on making such a hard decision and stay so strong. Feed her beautiful healthy things as she grows, let her explore the world and she will be just fine! ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  7. Shell says:

    Good for you! Sounds like the stress of it has been leaving, and that is wonderful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Juliette says:

    Congrats Jenny!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm so jealous of your freedom! It's going to be a pain in the butt trying to wean A from the boob. I would have already switched A to formula because babies who are formula fed are always bigger/fatter. A is always in the 3-6th percentile and I'm constantly worried about her gaining weight. All the other babies in our play group are big bouncing formula fed boys and I'm get so envious of the little ones drinking merrily out of their bottles. A won't take the bottle or formula to save her life so I'll be breastfeeding for awhile. I've tried giving her SO many different kinds of formula but she refuses it. At least by 12 months I can give her cow's milk and start the weaning process.

    Anyway, I hope your boobies feel better soon!

  9. Felicia says:

    Never feel guilty for doing what is best for your family!

  10. looch says:

    Yes, a happy mom = a happy baby, so I am glad you made the decision that was right for you!

  11. Nadine says:

    Happy mommy = Happy Baby. Only you know what works for you. You made the right choice for you and your family. Don't let the lactivist tell you that fomula is poison, or make you feel guilty. I think they take it one step too far, and they irritate me to no end. Now go enjoy mommy-hood!

  12. Lauren says:

    When I have kids, I plan to exclusively breastfeed as long as possible.

    Which is what you did. Rock on, lady.

  13. Nani says:

    I can't beleve people said those things, people are assholes. seriously. I think yor doing great! you made the best choice for you and your little one and that's what matters period.

  14. marasimon says:

    You did what you had to do to stay sane, I think it was a wise decision and you didn't fail your darling daughter in any way! Some women don't breast feed at all and go right to formula, you gave it your best effort and now you will be a happier mom and therefore a better mom to your daughter (who is so effing cute I can't stand it!)

  15. Steph says:

    Good for you! A happy mommy IS best for baby!

    My girls were born at 30 weeks and spent 35 and 50 days in the NICU. I pumped as much as I could for the first two weeks, determined that if my body had failed to keep them safe inside of me long enough to develop and grow, my body could at least provide them with the *best* nourishment possible. But after two weeks my husband had to return to our home and work two hours away while I stayed in the Ronald McDonald House and visited my girls daily. I was quickly slipping into PPD and made the decision that it was best for everybody if I could be a happy, hopeful, and confident mommy instead of the blubbering mess I had become.

    Several of the hospital's LC's tried to convince me to stick it out, but I am confident every day that I made the right decision. My girls will be a year old on Dec 29 and they are so bright and happy. There is no lingering effect of their prematurity or of their formula feeds.

    Always do what is best for you and let the nay-sayers be damned!

  16. nellie w says:

    Good for you Jenny. You've got to do what's best for you and your family. I was formula-fed as were my brothers because my mother had to return to work full-time after giving birth. My mother told me that she didn't feel guilty and it's all circumstantial. These days, with the internet and forums, you can feel like your decisions are judged more, but really, it's what's best for you. Yay for that glass of wine!

  17. Donna says:

    On a side note, my hubby is in Chinese medicine and he said that mint tea will also decrease your supply so try that. ๐Ÿ™‚ Or I warmed thin mint cookies and ate those. hehe.

    You are a wonderful mother and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. At least, that's what I tell myself! Kiss Claire for me and snuggle with her while she slurps down that bottle of formula!

  18. LHR says:

    happy boobies + happy mommy = happy baby. i'm happy for you too.

  19. Kristin says:

    I'm sorry that you have been getting flack from people regarding your decision. I think the bonding that you have experienced with your daughter is evidence that this decision was the right one.

  20. AmandaT says:

    Echoing the sentiments of everyone: Hooray for making the best decision for you and your baby and your family! Way to be brave!!

    My best friend is very pregnant and I keep referring her to your site for help and humor and encouragement. This post is getting bookmarked for when she inevitably struggles with the same issues. Thank you.

  21. Mina says:

    hooray for making a decision that is best for you and claire! it sounded like the physical pain and emotional strain was definitely outweighing any benefits.

  22. annie says:

    like i told you during thanksgiving. ๐Ÿ™‚ NO WORRIES! formula is awesome! i'm so happy that you are taking steps to not be in pain anymore and have more time to spend with claire. ๐Ÿ™‚ listen to your body and live painfree. ๐Ÿ™‚ xo

  23. Amanda says:

    ANYONE that says you are a bad mother and shouldn't be a mother for not breastfeeding is a jerk. You tried your best, and gave it your all, 150% it made you sad, hurt, mad, and caused both you and your baby to miss out on some bonding. I'm SO glad to hear you are putting her on formula and bonding with your adorable daughter now, that is something way more important. It sounds like both you and Claire are doing much better, a happy mom is a happy baby. I can't wait to read more of your stories from a happy mom!!

  24. T.C. says:

    It's great to know you feel so much better now that Claire is formula-feeding. Like the airline oxygen mask announcements to put on your own mask before you put on your child's mask, you need to take care of your welfare first or you won't be able to sufficiently take care of Claire.

    I do have a suggestion if you are interested in continuing to feed Claire breast milk. Have you considered looking into breast milk banks? If your doctor is willing to write you a prescription, you can contact a bank and have them ship some breast milk to you. They usually cost around $3.00 per ounce, but some insurance companies will cover all or part of the cost (so check with your insurance provider). Whatever insurance doesn't cover, check if it can be covered under the 125 plans so you can pay with pre-tax monies instead of after-tax. If you have pay out-of-pocket fee for the breast milk, it could get expensive, so you could consider getting a small amount to "cut" the formula, just so it makes the formula easier to digest for Claire.

    I haven't ever used breast milk banks, but I am in the process of researching them to see if I can donate my excess breastmilk after my baby weans to solid foods. My decision to donate is based on knowing that my breastmilk may help mothers like you and babies like Claire.

  25. Julia S says:

    I'm so happy that you finally decided to quit. Once you started get mastitis and thrush, I knew it would be better for both of you to quit. More power to people who can deal with breastfeeding but when it starts to take effect on your health, then it's time for formula. I'm glad you did your research and learned the truth that these La Leche fanatics are not at who they say they are. The formula that they make these days is just as good as breastmilk and you don't have to worry about pain and scheduling. You can just concentrate on being a mommy to Claire and that's it. So congratulations!

  26. I'm so happy for you and you know, you aren't alone. Though I still breastfeed Mavi in the early morning 6am before he goes back to bed for another 2 hours, I've been feeding him formula and solids.

    Can I just tell you that I felt LIBERATED ever since I stopped breastfeeding. I feel you. and doesn't it feel great?!
    Glad you decided to do so. Your sanity is worth much more than what any body else says!

  27. Heather says:

    I'm so happy to hear you so happy! I bet that glass of wine was divine!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Catherine says:

    Don't let the Dr. make you feel bad. You did your best to the point of being in pain. It's not like you didn't try.

  29. jenny c. says:

    good for you! you need to be healthy and happy too.

  30. kimmie says:

    What a brave decision. Good for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

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