Being a new mom is hard.
There, I said it. Now once we get past that everyone-knows-it-but-sometimes-won’t-admit-it statement, we can acknowledge that being a new mom is also joyful, wonderful, enlightening, and pretty dang awesome! Becoming a mother has simultaneously been the most exciting yet most daunting thing I have ever done in my entire life. It hasn’t come without blunder, anxiety, and fear; or any shortness of laughter and happiness for that matter.
When you are thrown into an entirely new world that centers around your very own tiny person, there is a lot to learn very quickly and that can become overwhelming at times, especially in today’s day and age where everyone loves to give unsolicited advice on any topic regarding children. Everyone has a different opinion on what is best for children; let me say right now, you do you, honey! I’m here to hopefully give some hope to a struggling mama that is completely sleep deprived, and at her wit’s end with a colicky, exhausted, hungry, newborn baby.
Breastfeeding didn’t work for me and that’s okay.
I’m not ashamed of it. Well, now I’m not. I was to begin with though. I hid my travel formula container on outings and tried not to be in public when it was time for my baby to eat. I’d feed him in the car instead of inside because I didn’t want people to see my shaky formula powder spills or the side-eye from people (yes, that really does happen). I didn’t want people to know that I had given up on breastfeeding my child three weeks in. I didn’t want to relive the incident in the NICU where a lactation consultant berated me for not pumping for my child while I sat there feeding him formula. I didn’t want to be ‘less than’ other mothers or labeled as a bad one when I had just started this journey.
Let me tell you right now, you are not a bad mom. Honestly, it really just stinks that even has to be said. You are NOT a bad mom if you formula feed your child. Don’t let anyone make you feel inadequate because of it. A full baby is a happy baby and a happy baby makes a happy mama. The end. That’s all there is to it! Don’t feel like you have to justify your reasoning for using formula instead of breastfeeding. Medical necessity or lifestyle choice, it simply doesn’t matter.
Formula saved my sanity and I’m thankful for that.
I struggled with the transition to Mom. The fourth trimester is real and not talked about enough. The hormones are CrAzY. Postpartum issues such as anxiety and depression are also very, very real and sometimes swept under the rug to be dealt with another day or they’re put under there in hopes no one ever sees them. I was the latter. I struggled wholeheartedly for the first few months after my baby entered this world, for a variety of reasons, and formula was a light at the end of the tunnel for me. I switched to formula a month in to my child’s life and it was the absolute best decision I could have made for both of us.
I was able to somehow gain more control when I felt like my life was spinning like a top. I was able to know how much my baby was eating every few hours and let go of the anxiety the NICU created about ounces per feeding. I was able to not wake up every two hours to hook myself to a breast pump. I was able to somehow feel better and be more present for my newborn a week after I stopped breastfeeding and pumping than I ever was in his first month of life. I was able to let go of the crying (and by crying, I mean my crying) spells at 2am when I was trying to soothe a colicky baby.
Formula eased my anxieties, simplified my life, and helped pull me out of a bout of postpartum depression.
But what was even better, and what helped truly pull me out of the dark hole I was in, was that my son began to thrive. He wasn’t colicky. I didn’t cry over spilling gas drops or gripe water in the middle of the night. He didn’t cry for hours on end. He was actually sleeping for lengths longer than an hour. He was finally happy! My son was healthy, I was finally beginning to feel like myself again, and we were able to settle into a routine that worked for our little family that included dad being able to take over some middle of the night feeds.
Do what works for YOU.
If that’s breastfeeding, pumping, formula, or a mix of all three then great! I’ll stand up for a mama wanting to breastfeed her child in a restaurant just like I’ll stand up for the mama that is mixing her formula at the dinner table. You have to do what works best for you and not what people try to force you to do or make you feel like you have to due to guilt. This is simply written in hopes that it can help a mama at her wit’s end over this. It is okay to put your mental health first. It is okay to figure out what helps you the most. You have to do your best to be all there when taking care of a new baby. They need you.