Breastfeeding had always been intriguing to me. I had heard so many different breastfeeding stories throughout my pregnancy that I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was scared that my baby wouldn’t latch, that my nipples would be so sore and tender that I wouldn’t be able to continue with feedings, that my baby would be tongue-tied, or that my nipples wouldn’t be big enough for the baby to have a comfortable feeding. All those questions kept lingering in my head before my due date. That’s when I decided to take a breastfeeding course at the hospital where they would teach me everything I needed to know in order to have a successful experience. I read all about it, saw all the videos, and educated myself as much as I could until I felt comfortable enough to breastfeed.
My beautiful baby was born and guess what? She was a pro! I was a pro! It was as if it was meant to be. Such an epic moment! She began breastfeeding right away and I felt like a winner! I was so proud to have accomplished what many claimed to be one of the hardest and most stressful moments of motherhood. Yes. My nipples were incredibly sore but that feeling went away after a week or so.
Feeding Julianna was always a special bonding time. It never seemed like a chore or an obligation. I would always feel as if I couldn’t get enough. I loved looking straight into her eyes as she gently and slowly caressed my breast. She looked so innocent and I loved that. I had such a huge pride because I was providing her with the best nutrition that there is. I knew that it would build her immune system and that it would keep her strong. My primary goal was to breastfeed her for as long as I could. I made sure to watch my diet and be as proactive as I could to maintain my milk levels high.
After breastfeeding my daughter for almost 9 months, my health was compromised with a terrible infection. I was rushed to the hospital and the doctors had no other choice than to prescribe very strong antibiotics that could not be used during breastfeeding. I was utterly shocked and broken hearted by this because it left ME no choice but to immediately stop breastfeeding. Like some would say, I had to endure the emotional pain without any anesthesia. I cried my eyeballs out because I felt like in some way, I was depriving my daughter of what she ought to have. I felt like I was letting her down.
After some days of grieving, I realized that bottle-feeding her would be just as good and nutritious. It obviously never compares to the health benefits our natural milk provides to our child, but I knew that many children have also strived while being bottle fed. I came to peace with myself and began feeding her soy-based powdered milk mainly because she had a huge allergy for milk based formulas. She took this transition like a champ and she continues to be a beautiful, healthy, and extremely smart little girl.
Many times, some people don’t realize why we make the decisions we make. People sometimes judge easily without knowing the facts. When I made the transition, I had people approach me with questions or negative remarks such as: “why would you feed her formula if you can breastfeed?”, or “oh it sucks you can’t breastfeed anymore. Hopefully she won’t get sick”, or “You should have breastfed your baby until she was at least 1”. Sometimes I felt anger and resentment towards these comments. They had no idea what I went through, what I experienced, and the reasons behind my difficult decision. It wasn’t my obligation to justify myself either.
For this reason, I want to support Holly Leppard, creator of Mother of All Curves, where she relates her story about being judged for bottle-feeding her baby because of her health condition. She began this beautiful campaign called #dontjudgejustfeed in order to create awareness and so we can be compassionate and sympathetic with other moms out in the world that have chosen to bottle-feed or breastfeed their baby. All in all, I think that respect should always guide our paths while allowing ourselves to be more tolerable to other parenting styles or personal decisions. I strongly believe, and I know that we can be be supportive of each other in this motherhood journey.
We are a team of strong women and I know we can make a difference!