Parenting is a hard job. I don’t want anyone to think otherwise. You’re worried about this little being, and you can’t treat them like you sometimes treat yourself. You must make sure they eat, and sleep – or at least try to sleep, and have clean bottoms.
I know that there was nothing that I loved more than seeing my children collapse in a fit of giggles at something that Mr. Houseful or I did, and nothing hurt my heart more than not being able to figure out what was bothering them. When I had Nathaniel, I was young. Well, both Mr. Houseful and I were 20 and we thought that each and every child that we had would be as easy as Nate. He nursed until he was almost two, slept like he had been here before, and had an interest in EVERYTHING. We seemingly always had to make sure he wasn’t into anything too horrid whenever the house became too quiet. I kind of hate that I was set up in that manner, because I feel like if I had not been, I wouldn’t have fought so hard against the issues that we had in our subsequent pregnancies.
The ladybug’s pregnancy and birth were pretty straightforward, as were the Twizzlers. With the ladybug I had a natural birth, and nursed for about 15 months before being told that I wasn’t nourishing her enough. I fought long and hard against it. Drank supplemental teas, ate pounds and pounds of fatty foods (healthy ones – calm down) in order to get my milk supply up. I cried long into nights about my failure as a mother, and looked at Mr. Houseful like he was crazy when he suggested using formula. FORMULA! Then I thought that my children’s pediatrician had lost HER mind when she suggested the same thing. She assured me that while she totally respected my desire to breastfeed exclusively; she was worried about the ladybug not gaining enough weight. I look back at the time and I’m able to fully admit that she was right. My stubbornness could have caused some serious issues with my daughter when what was really needed was for nutrients to get into her system, and my inability to produce those nutrients should have been the end all and be all of switching it up.
When the same thing happened with the Twizzlers – this time, ten months in – I wasn’t as stubborn, but I still gave some pushback. I mean, I was the mother that had a freezer FULL of milk with her first child, and now I was struggling to produce small amounts for my twins. This time, with the suggestion of my pediatrician, we started on a formula supplementation, and even went with our local store brand as well. We were able to swing into our local Target and buy Up & Up, or go to Walmart and buy Parent’s Choice. When you have you heart set on breastfeeding, it’s hard to know where to turn when you have need to rely on formula. I didn’t research, but with the help of our pediatrician, I became okay with picking out store brands over brand name formulas. Store brand infant formulas provide the same complete nutrition as name brand infant formulas while also supporting growth and development of my babies. I say all of this to say that we all survived. While I still believe that breast is best, and will always support nursing mothers, I know that sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way you see it in your head. With all of that research, I found that all US infant formulas have to meet or exceed brand name formulas standards with the FDA. Let’s not forget the savings that we were able to create: up to $6000 over a full year of needing to purchase. That’s quite a bit of money that could be put into an educational savings account, or maybe splurging on a sitter for the first date night that we would have.
Having to bottle-feed produced some unexpected moments in those early months, with the ladybug and the twizzlers that I didn’t have with Nathaniel. Mr. Houseful was able to interact a bit more with them, and could even wake up for those late night or early morning feedings (depending on who you asked). While I still longed for the ability to snuggle as I nursed, I could have the same feeling, just not the same conduit. It took a long time for my headspace to get right, and I can even admit that it came long after bottle-feeding stopped. It’s amazing how hindsight provides a clarity that seems evasive while you are going through a situation.
I’m sure everyone is aware of how the trifecta ended up. As active and inquisitive as ever, and they are completely aware that they were nursed and still ask plenty of questions about mama’s milk and how it comes out. Enough to even catch me off guard. Sometimes they’ll even ask about babies being bottle-fed, and I’ll let them know that they did both!
Essentially, I want to encourage moms not to cut off their noses to spite their face. If you don’t get that, it means don’t be so stubborn in a personal stance that you end up hurting someone else. Like I said, if my stubbornness were allowed to grow, and I didn’t have Mr. Houseful’s gentle reminders about the health of the children being more important than my personal beliefs, we may have had a different outcome. I’m sure that I would have seen the light of day after a while, but it may have taken a little bit more time.
Don’t be as stubborn as me. Learn the value of formula in certain situations, and don’t be taken aback at using the store brand in place of those pricier name brands. Until then, happy feeding!
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