I thought I knew what to expect as a mom. I am the oldest of a big family, and there were a few years that I took care of some of my younger siblings. I had NO IDEA what being a mom was like. I have been through a crash course over the past 5 months as our little boy has joined our family.
I learned my first lesson in the first few weeks of our little boy’s life. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I know I am better off for it.
Do What Works For You
When my baby was born, I was set on breastfeeding him because of all of the wonderful benefits. Unfortunately, we had problems from the start. While we were in the hospital, the nurses had to do a glucose test on my baby because he was not eating much. They suggested supplementing with formula, and I broke into tears. The suggestion, that I was not able to give my son the nutrition that he needed, made me feel like a failure. The voices of so many people swirled around in my mind; “Breast is best.” “You’re going to breastfeed, right?” I was trying so hard, but it just wasn’t working. Why couldn’t I do something that was so “natural”?
Things got a little better over the next few days, but then, my little boy became jaundice. The doctors suggested he was not getting enough to eat. Looking back over the first days of my baby’s life, I could see that the doctor was right. So, we supplemented with formula. His jaundice improved, and I was elated.
Unfortunately, it still seemed like my son was not getting enough to eat. He was always hungry, and he was rather cranky. I was losing my mind up with a baby all hours, and it didn’t seem to satisfy him anyway. I became discouraged. I reached out to various resources including lactation consultants, but none of the advice seemed to help. My son was still hungry all the time, and I couldn’t seem to provide enough milk for him.
I spent the majority of my days agonizing over how to best help my son. I did not want to give up breastfeeding. After all, it was “the best” thing for my baby. I also knew that making sure my son received the food and nutrients he needed was the number one priority. My poor husband had to listen to me cry about this every day. He would tell me that it was okay to switch to formula if that is what I and the baby needed. Thank goodness for his support.
The turning point was when my mother-in-law came to meet our son. She is a person that I know I can confide in. I know, when I go to her, she will give me support and her honest opinion. While she was in town, we talked about my concerns, and I told her how much I had been struggling. She told me, “Fed is best”. She made sure I knew that, if anyone judged me for giving my baby formula, they were dumb and completely out of line. She applauded me for having the courage to do what was right for me and my child. She helped me to make the best decision for my son, myself, and my husband.
I knew the day that we switched to formula that it was the right choice. My son was no longer hungry all the time, and he was a happy little boy instead of being cranky all the time. We never had any more trouble with Jaundice, and he passed all his medical evaluations with flying colors. It has been five months now, and I have a healthy happy little boy. He spends the day babbling and playing. My husband loves that our son is bottle fed because I get to share the special bonding that happens during a feeding with my husband.
What did I learn from this experience? I learned that, as a mom (or dad), you know what is best for your child. I learned that, if I have done the research for myself, I do not need to listen to all the loud voices telling me what is best for my child.
If you can successfully breastfeed your child, and that is right for you, do it. If you can’t, do not feel guilty. Both breastfeeding and formula feeding parents are giving their child the nutrition that they need.
Have the courage to do what is right for your family. Don’t let others push you to do something that will jeopardize the health of your child or your own health.