Thursday, December 12, 2013

I See You Formula, I See You

It happens to all of us to some extent I'm sure, that internal dialogue telling you that it might be a good idea to have some formula on hand, you know just in case. Perhaps that dialogue even extends to friends and family. A well-intended comment from a parent or grand-parent here or a coy suggestion layered with snark from a "friend" there, circling around. I know it did for me.

 You see, I knew early in my pregnancy that I was to be a single Mom. That I was "ok" with. What I was not "ok" with, however, was the insinuation that I couldn't be the type of parent I wanted to be or provide the best because of that title. I wear it with honor. So as the well-intended or snarky comments enveloped me the more determined I became. I had decided that I would breastfeed, come hell or high-water. After all, breast is best and my Harper was to have nothing but.

I hadn't once considered actually purchasing formula. I just knew that if I had that "stuff" in my house I'd give-in at 3 AM when I was struggling. For me personally, formula represented defeat in a can. Not just breastfeeding defeat, but parenting defeat. Then one day that "defeat" showed up in the mail. And then another can and another, until I had a stack in my closet staring back at me each time I put away more baby items. How did they find me? It was like some big inside joke between the formula companies and all the nay sayers (as it turns out this happens to most pregnant woman, but that's a different post altogether). For whatever reason I just kept it all.

When my daughter arrived the breastfeeding challenges began. It was the happiest moment of my life, but I immediately felt that voice encircling me again saying, "You can't do this, you'll never be able to do this. You won't succeed". I can remember it being around 4 AM in my hospital room trying to help Harper latch. She struggled with my flat nipples. I felt like my body was failing me. The nurse came in, took one look at my breasts and said, "Oh you've got flat nipples. We'll try a shield, but you may have to go to formula." Then she offered me a breast shield, but it just wasn't working. My mom rolled over from her hospital chair-turned-bed and suggested I just try giving her a little formula. I know, you're thinking how unsupportive that is. Honestly, those were the best words she could have ever said to me. They fueled me. I was angry that this wasn't going the way I'd imagined. I looked down at my little girl and said, "Don't worry. Mama knows you're just learning, so am I. We can do this. We will do this."

From then on it was breastfeeding jaundice, weaning from the shield, cracked and bleeding nipples, thrush, chronic plugged ducts, and mastitis that taunted me at every turn (which I plan to discuss in more detail in future posts). Those days. Were. Hard. With each hurdle I'd pass that closet and glare at those cans. Again those cans represented so much more than just a dry powder. They were my nemesis during that time and I just had to keep on keepin' on.  I'd say, "I see you formula, I see you. And it's not going to work." Then I'd apply my nipple butter like I was Katniss in The Hunger Games doctoring my wounds with salve. I like to think I was in a bit of a survival of the fittest game myself, only I call it The Hungry Games and we won.

We've since donated the cans to a local charity as we are almost 9 months strong in to this whole breastfeeding thing and I feel a great deal of support and confidence now. So "F" you formula, we won, and you still live in a can.

How do you feel about having formula in the house during the early days? Is it necessary?

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