My Life as a Formula-Feeding Mommy
Submitted by lorimac_PC
"Mommy guilt? What is that? I'll never let anyone guilt me into questioning my parenting decisions." I remember saying these words while talking to an old friend. My 12-week-pregnant mind could not wrap around the fact that people would actually judge me based on my parenting decisions. I had never heard of "mommy guilt" and was quite astonished that there was even such a phrase.
Something very strange begins to happen when you enter your second trimester of pregnancy. As it becomes more obvious you are in "the motherly way" complete strangers feel the need to ask you very personal questions. The first such invasive question I received was: "Are you going to breastfeed?" At the time, I had not decided what I would be doing and I didn't have a good answer.
At my monthly Dr. appointment, I brought the subject up to my doctor. He treats my
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) with high estrogen birth control pills while I am not pregnant or trying to conceive. I respond well to this treatment and his advice was to begin them again as soon as possible after the birth. He advised that due to the birth control it would be harmful to breastfeed and that I should probably choose formula.
I left his office that day relived that my decision was made. After all, I was formula fed and I am healthy and happy. Formula had nurtured millions of children; it can't be all that bad ... can it?
Soon after, I began to notice that when I answered the nursing question with "we are choosing formula" the reactions began to grow negative. I got everything from, "You are lazy!" to "Don't you care about your child?" It opened my naive eyes to the dark side of motherhood: Mommy guilt.
I agonized over my decision for months. Finally, the day came to welcome our first child into the world. As soon as he was born, I could feel and immediate bond with this precious child that I had fed and nourished for 9 months. With a few struggles, I gave up and let them give him formula at the hospital. I was so happy to hold my child and feed him knowing he was getting nourished without all the worry and anguish I was feeling earlier. I would hold my child skin on skin and even though his food wasn't made by me, he was looking into my eyes and somehow he knew that his mommy would always provide for and take care of him.
How could I keep this experience to myself? My husband has equal part in the rearing of this child. I carried him for 9 months. I was afforded that time of bonding with the life we had created, and my husband will never have that opportunity. I felt he deserved to ability to bond with our son by holding him close and feeding him. I will forever cherish the memory of my husband crying as he fed and bonded with our first born son.
Does it cross my mind when my little man gets an ear infection, that maybe if I had nursed he wouldn't have it? Sometimes it does. However, I feel no guilt that I chose the path that was right for our family. My child is healthy, happy and loved beyond all imagination. I bonded with my child right away by cuddling him and looking into his eyes while feeding him. Bonding also came while taking care of him at night, calming him after a bad dream and cheering him on while he took his first steps. Insisting that I somehow didn't bond with my son because his milk did not come from my body is erroneous and unfair.
We all try our hardest to be the "perfect" parent; however most of us do not live up to it. Breastfeeding is the best, but so is organic food and limited T.V. We all do things as parents that may not be the absolute best for our children, like giving them chicken nuggets for lunch instead of organic pasta or allowing them to play video games instead of playing with them outside. Thankfully you do not have to be a perfect parent to raise a happy, healthy and well adjusted child.