Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Regret and Resentment

If you are someone who looks down on those who formula feed or think less of them as a mother, this post is going to make you mad. I feel that the benefits of this post, to some, outweighs the potential that I might make someone mad. I know breast is best, but I feel like it's such an umbrella statement. Breast is best for baby's health and immune system, and so many other things, but breast is not best when you lose weeks, maybe even months of bonding time because all you can think of is, "How am I going to get this baby to breastfeed?"

A few weeks ago I posted an article from Spearmint Baby. The article was about sleep but one thing really continues to resonate with me. The author of the article basically poses the question, "Will you look back on this time with regret or resentment?" I think about that all the time. There are things we will regret for the rest of our lives but some things really stick with us and even haunt us.

I am often haunted by the fact that I let Makenzie have a formula bottle at only a few days old. I am haunted by the fact that perhaps I could have "manned up" and held and breastfed Makenzie while I was being stitched up for 2 hours with, at times, no local anesthesia. Perhaps the thing I resent the most is trying so hard to breastfeed. I look back at pictures and memories of the first 6 weeks and literally get a pit in my stomach. Not because it was difficult or stressful, not because of the lack of sleep but because I lost weeks of valuable time just enjoying Makenzie. Instead of cuddling my sweet baby and feeding her or even attempting to feed her. I fought her to breastfeed. She would get so mad and just scream. I was soooo stressed and she was so mad. I spent countless hours on the couch doing nothing but trying to breastfeed, sometimes in tears, sometimes frazzled. It pains me that I look back on those first few weeks with such horror.

I am so thankful that we still bonded so closely despite all of the turmoil but I am not one that believes that breastfeeding moms have a stronger bond with their baby. Makenzie and I had, and still have, sweet bonding times as she's in my arms drinking her bottle. I take in her every feature and pray for her and sing to her or massage her little hands. Now that she's older she stops drinking for a minute to say, "oooohhh" or to laugh or smile at me. Just because she has a bottle in her mouth and not my breast doesn't mean that we have bonded any less.

As I would do research to increase my milk supply, I would feel so much regret and frustration. The comments from the breastfeeding advocates are so strong and even hurtful to those of us who strive to feed our babies what's best but just aren't succeeding. Here I am making Makenzie's organic baby food and scrutinizing every food that goes into her body and yet I feed her human engineered milk. I know it sounds like an oxymoron but it is what it is. I am SO thankful that Makenzie has received a majority of her nutrition from breast milk but there are many moms that don't have that luxury or just haven't thought that exclusively pumping was option because it's not promoted by most lactation consultants or doctors.

All of this venting stems from this article that I read today. It totally made me realize how I was feeling about our feeding situation and the guilt regret that I feel towards the situation. I highly recommend that you read it whether you're a breastfeeding mom or not. It's enlightening for many situations not just breastfeeding. I hope that you understand that I know several moms that are struggling with the same or similar issues that I faced and my hope is that by me relating what I've learned they will see that they are not alone. I would have loved to have had someone I could relate to while I was going through such a trying time.

7 comments:

  1. Even though I do not have children yet, this is something I think about. I wonder how my body will work and if everything will work the way I want it to! I know that this is very hard for you, but I want to encourage you not to be so hard on yourself. It is so awesome that you want the best for your daughter and that you want her to have the most healthy things available for her. I deal with a lot of regret too over my wedding. I was so stressed around that time that I feel like I missed a lot of important things, when I look back I was stressed over nothing. At the time for me it didn't seem like nothing, but now I really see what the Lord was doing. Of course what you are going through is not nothing, it's something very important to you. From everything I read on your fb and your blog, I know you are doing such a great job as a mom. Don't let the enemy rob your memories from those first couple months with Kenzie. I know that the Lord is so pleased with the work you are doing as a parent. So my encouragement to you (and for myself) is do not live with any regret over the things of the past, give them to the Lord and ask Him to heal those things in your mind so that you can live guilt free. I hope I will finally learn this lesson some day, haha!! :-)

    P.s. Do not listen anyone who would give you a hard time over the choices that you have made, because they do not live in your shoes, you have to decide what works for you and your baby!

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  2. I came across your blog a few weeks ago and have enjoyed reading it. It is always reassuring to stumble upon other exclusively pumping mamas who have struggled with breastfeeding and ultimately made the choice to pump so they could actually ENJOY their babies instead of battling with breastfeeding.

    I have a 6 month old and for the first 6 weeks of her life I tried desperately to breastfeed but she was such an inefficient sucker that the feeding process was so exhausting and heartbreaking. The day I made the decision to EP was such a happy day!! Of course I felt guilty but I knew we would both be happier. I could actually bond with her and enjoy her instead of constantly struggling. I can't imagine our relationship to be any different now had I actually breastfed her. She is very happy and loves her mama :-)

    Reading your post and the article has definitely made me realize that I have regrets instead of guilt. Even thinking about hanging up the horns makes me have a sense of regret and it hasn't even happened yet!! I just need to tell myself that the sacrifice I have made by EP and providing my daughter with breast milk is very noble and when I eventually start feeding her formula, it will be okay.

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  3. I know how you feel. Same thing happened to me with Aubrey. I gave up breastfeeding her when she was only 3 weeks old. No one told me it did not have to be either or. So she was formula fed. I was riddled with guilt. Then Nick came along and I fought for 3 months and eventually it got easier. Garrett has been a pro from the start. Every baby is so different and you have to do what's best for each one individually. I can honestly say that when you get a group of 3 year olds together you can not tell who was breastfed and who was formula fed. Your next baby could be super easy for you to breastfeed. Be very proud of the fact that you have pumped for so long. That is super hard to do. I know I could never do it.

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  4. Thanks ladies. I appreciate the encouragement, tons! You know that we all have days that we feel like we're the only ones in the world who have these problems. It's nice to hear it's not just us.

    Sarah, I'm so glad that you found my blog and thank you for your comment. Before I post something I always try to decide if it's worth putting myself out there or if it's worth maybe making someone mad or uncomfortable. Your comment reassures me that we are all in this together and if I can find people that relate to me and vice versa then we are all better people for it. Thanks so much!

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  5. BTW, Sarah, I just went on your blog. Your baby girl is adorable!!! What a cutie!

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  6. I mentioned this issue in my blog recently. I think the whole "breast-feeding is the only right thing to do" campaign is just a bunch of bullies trying to force their ideas onto others. I chose formula when my boobs couldn't feed my son fast enough and I don't feel bad about it at all. But I've been to those forums & message boards for breast-feeding moms (or those who are trying to) and those women are mean extremist bullies who lynch moms who even think about using formula. One thing I mentioned in my blog was that I have 4 cousins who are by the same set of parents. The 2 that were breast-fed have a bunch of allergies. And the 2 that were formula-fed have no allergies. People need to stop making women feel guilty just because they choose to feed their babies formula. It's a personal choice, just like circumcision.

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  7. Great blog Alicia! I like that you said you bonded with Kenzie even though you didn't "breastfeed" I think that is so true I bottle fed Josiah my 2nd and bonded with him just as much as Elisha and Jedidiah. You can bond with your baby either way:)Each baby is different some breastfeed right away and some fight it. I know it can be so hard :( I do wish when I was first trying to breastfeed Josiah that there was more support for the struggling breastfeeding mother everything just said "breast is best" but never gave much encouragment to the ones struggling. So just know you aren't alone.

    You and Dirk are walking strongly with the Lord, and raising your daughter in a beautiful godly home and there is nothing better then that!

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