Throughout my pregnancy, I read just about every book, blog, and magazine article in existence that related to having and/or raising a baby. I knew what week my baby’s fingernails developed (week 11), what to eat during each trimester to properly nourish my child, and what schedule I would have in place for my newborn when I brought him home from the hospital… Ignorance was temporary bliss, at least.
And then reality hit.
I vividly remember my doctor’s words of advice during my four-week postpartum check-up. I was an emotional basket case, and my struggles with breastfeeding sent me plummeting straight over the edge. It’s a miracle my husband didn’t divorce me; it was that bad.
You see, I planned on breastfeeding Jack for at least a year. For whatever reason (society? self-imposed pressure?), the thought of feeding my child formula overwhelmed me with negative emotions. Shame, guilt, and feelings of inadequacy drowned what little logic I had left during those first few months at home with a newborn. I just knew that by feeding my son formula, I was setting him up for failure. He’d fail standardized tests. He’d suffer from some major ailment later in life. And worst of all, he wouldn’t love me like he would have had we bonded through breastfeeding.
On some level, I already understood the words of wisdom my doctor chose to share with me that day. “Expect the unexpected, learn to accept it, and move on,” she explained matter-of-factly, “because there is very little that will go according to plan while raising a child.”
I guess I just needed someone with a “M.D.” following their name to tell me what I already knew to be true. Her simple advice put a halt to my downward spiral and enabled me to truly enjoy my son for the first time ever. From conception onward, we are all guilty of trying to control our circumstances from time to time (ahem, some of us more than others). By fixating on my perceived shortcomings, I missed out on so much joy and love that I could have experienced during J’s first few weeks of life.
I’ve heard that your milk supply can differ from child to child, and I hope to breastfeed baby number two for at least a year, as well. I will make sure to have some formula on hand next time around however, because guess what? My formula-fed baby is the happiest, smartest, and sweetest six-month-old I know, and best of all, he sure does loves his mama.