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Breast is Best?

I am so sad to say I have quit breastfeeding sweet Tenley.  My body just was not cooperating this time around.  I tried everything I knew to do but my body just wasn't in it anymore.  I drank more water.  Took Fenugreek.  Got a prescription for a medicine that possibly could have helped.  I rested, ate.  Nothing was working. Tenley wasn't gaining weight like she should and she was super frustrated with me every time she tried to eat.  That in turn made me super frustrated.

I have loved every minute of breastfeeding all 4 of my babies.  I was so proud that those first 6 months they received every bit of nourishment from me.  Of course there were difficult times, not every day breastfeeding was smooth sailing, but it was always important and worth it to me!

Now, at 5 months old, Tenley is 100% formula fed.  It breaks my heart every time I mix up that powdery 'milk'.  I'm so thankful there is such a thing as formula to feed my baby but it doesn't make me like it any more.  It wasn't the plan I had for little Lou.

When I stand in the store picking out the tub of formula I'm buying, or when I'm in public shaking up a bottle of milk, I feel like I'm being judged.  "Why isn't she breastfeeding? What kind of mom is she?"  I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding and I'll offer any and all advice I have to help you in the journey but I have never once judged another mom for feeding her baby formula.  NEVER!  You do you, I'll do me.  But I 100% feel judged as a mom who is feeding her own baby that stuff. We are always hardest on ourselves, aren't we?

The guilt I feel about giving this up is overwhelming at times.  Just when I start to feel ok with this I stumble across a reminder of what I no longer have - my nursing cover in the diaper bag, a wayward storage bottle that got put in the wrong cupboard, Loulie burying her face in my chest looking for lunch.  Those times are heartbreaking.

I stumbled across this blog post on Facebook this weekend and it couldn't have come at a better time for me.  I wanted to share it with you because it is so true.

Annie Ferguson Muscato
Dear Stranger in Target,
You didn't need to tell me, "breast is best" as I was buying a can of baby formula, because I already know.
I know that my husband and I excitedly took the four hour breast feeding class when I was pregnant.
I know that my baby immediately did skin to skin and ate from my breast within an hour of her birth, because it was important to me.
I know that we saw a lactation consultant before we took her home, and again a few weeks later.
I know that we struggled at first. That some nights we both cried together. That my dear friends swore it would get better. I know they were right, and it did.
I know "breast is best" just like you do.
But, let me tell you what else I know.
I know that my baby began screaming after she ate. Writhing in pain. Inconsolable.
I know over the last month and a half I have exclusively pumped and tried slow flow bottles of breast milk, I have tried different positions, I have seen another lactation consultant.
I know I have held my child, my baby, while she screamed for hours- one day for eight hours straight.
I know we have been to see the pediatrician at least twice a week since she has been born.
I know that I tried cutting soy, and dairy, and leafy greens from my diet to make my milk more digestible for her.
I have pumped- and I'm still pumping- enough to have hundreds of ounces of breast milk in my freezer even though she will likely never be able to eat it.
All because "breast is best."
And then finally, we tried the hypoallergenic dairy protein free formula you saw me buying today. And the screaming lessened. And my baby started smiling. She started interacting. She started sleeping.
And I cried. Because I thought breast was best. I thought my body failed her. I thought she wouldn't be as healthy on formula.
I know you think I must not care or I'm lazy, or maybe you were genuinely trying to be helpful and thought no one had ever told me the benefits of breast feeding.
But, you are wrong. What I know that you don't is that breast ISN'T always best. I know happy, healthy baby is best. I know FED is best.
What I'm sure we both know is that parenting is hard. Really hard. That sometimes what we plan for and what we want just doesn't work out, but we are all here trying to do what's best for our babies.
So, dear stranger, next time you see someone buying formula, try to remember that mamas should support each other. Think about everything you might not know. Remind yourself that "fed is best" and smile because it means someone loves their baby enough to do what's best for them.
Another Mom Doing Her Best and a Happier Formula Fed Baby
P.S. Dear friends, please feel free to share this in the hopes the people who need the reminder see it. (And I will in turn promise not to bombard your wall with any more essays about parenting!)

Her situation is a little different than mine but it still rings true - "happy, healthy baby is best. Fed is best."  So I will repeat this, over and over to myself, until I start to feel less guilty about not giving Tenley what I tried so hard to provide. I will probably always be sad that I didn't make it to my magic number of 12 months.  I already miss the closeness that breastfeeding gives you.  Those were my moments that no one else could have with her.  Selfishly I got to have those feedings all to myself, I didn't have to share them because no one else could do what I could.  Could.  Now I can't.  I'm heartbroken, so very sad, and will never, ever again nurse one of my babies.  A chapter ended.

I miss her sweet little angel breath.  Now she smells like formula.  I miss having a free hand to pet her little head, hold and caress her little hand, pick at whatever there is to pick at.  I miss knowing that when she's hungry, no matter where we are, I can just go ahead and feed her without having to search for warm water.  I miss not having to pack formula and bottles whenever we leave the house.  I miss those buttered popcorn smelling poopy diapers.  I just miss it all.

The good news in all of this: Tenley is thriving.  She's getting chubby thighs, a rounder face, and it's all so very cute!  She is happy, content after feedings, napping and sleeping well, and HEALTHY.  What more could a mother want?  Besides being able to breastfeed her baby...


  1. AW. I am sorry to hear this for you. I don't understand your struggle completely but it was on this exact day a few years ago when I had to have a tubal ligation and ablation. I felt like my womanhood was taken away. My God given right to bear children was taken away. Any chance I might have to bear a child, to feel a kick, to was all taken away. So I feel like I sort of understand where you are coming from. It's hard. But just try to remember that you are doing what's best for her. She is thriving. She is growing. She is happy. It's easy to see the failure, to see the bad but remember the good too. You have an extremely beautiful little girl!!!

  2. Well, wish I could give you a hug and tell you it's going to get easier. It will get easier, but I just can't hug you. You did a good job mama. Baby Tenley got what she needed at an important time from you. It is sad now, but at least you had 5 months of that special time with her. I think milestones are hardest with the last child . . . she's a thriving, happy, healthy baby . . . that's what matters! Virtual hugs to you!

  3. This is what happened with me when I tried to breastfeed Bryan. Nothing was working and I just wasn't getting a good enough supply. I felt so guilty but fed is best and once I realized that, we were all much happier! You're doing a great job Mama!

  4. I feel ya momma. With Evan I couldn't even make it 3 months. I cried daily. I feel I never really got that bond with him like I did the other 2. I am sending hugs and always know as long as they are happy you should be happy too...

  5. Thanks for posting this. I had a similar struggle with my girl. I only lasted a month. You are doing great! When you're feeling down, just remember how happy that beautiful baby girl is.

  6. Oh momma. This post had me in tears.
    Breast is best. Until it isn't. And right now you are doing what's best!!
    Don't beat yourself up. You gave 150% to your breastfeeding journey, and there is no shame is going to formula. None. Zilch. Zero. Lou has a full belly, and a mommy who loves her fiercely. I'd say you're doing it all right.