Confessions of a Formula-feeding Mum or My Breastfeeding Experience

Sixtine is formula-fed. Discuss.

Breast-feeding vs formula-feeding seems to be a very hot subject lately. I want to tell you the story of my breastfeeding experience.

I became a mum on the seventeenth of October, at 9.08am. My body was naturally ready to feed my baby. Me, not so much. I never really gave a big thought about breastfeeding. I had breasts, I would produce milk, breastfeed my daughter and all would be well in the world. When Sissi was born and they had made sure she was fine, they put her on my chest. And we cuddled. It was a very special moment. She was so little. This skin-to-skin experience was amazing and I will always remember it. Then they put her to my breast. And she started to suck. It felt different but in a positive way, and I felt happy and empowered to be able to provide for my daughter. It wasn’t always easy to find the right position to feed her, but the nurses and lactation consultant were there to help. I started to feel confused after a few hours when different opinions were voiced and that the lactaction consultant told me that if baby was awake, she was hungry which led to a 6-hour (I may be exaggerating but slightly – I was tired so my memory is a little foggy) feeding (on and off) or at least, she was on the breast for those six hours. She was not sleeping, so she was hungry?

We returned home and the real challenge started. Oh dear…! I was beyond exhausted and baby was eating every 2 hours. I wasn’t always confident in the way I was doing it (is she getting any, is she latched on properly…) and it started to hurt. It went from mildy painful to oh-my-god-she-will-probably-wake-up-in-ten-minutes-please-don’t-wake-up-yet.

I loved the emotional aspect of breastfeeding but it wasn’t comfortable for me at all. It hurt a lot. I was always wet. And was somehow disturbed by that new function on a physical aspect: nipple hurting when seeing baby, extreme leakage, wet bed, shirts, everything…

It became very stressful, and extremely painful as in tears and ahh-ohhhs, and sobbs and crying so much one night I had to call a friend. I couldn’t keep my calm and told her how hard it was for me (she was still breastfeeding and I felt comfortable “confessing” myself. She’s not the judgemental type. That helps.) and she advised phoning Public Health which I did.

A nurse came in and checked me out. I felt very vulnerable at that time. Labor and delivery, an episiotomy and breasts in fire, anything she would have said would have made me cry. Even the word “sandwich”. Anyways, she checked my nipples and said: “no one could breastfeed with nipples like that.” It made me feel better because I thought I was being a “baby”. I saw a Dr who prescribed a cream Dr. something (can’t remember – baby brain anyone?), nipple shells, I was all geared up. The plan was to pump for a couple day until my nipples would get better so I could go back to breastfeeding Sixtine. I did feel better. Much better. So I decided to give it another try. My mum was home with me for the first two weeks of baby Sixtine’s life and saw how I was struggling and really highly suggested I formula-feed her seeing me in such pain. When I put Sixtine to the breast after two days off, I said to my mum: “I am scared, she is gonna bite me.” She answered: “You are scared of your own child” and laughed it off. I tried and she made a funny face. A look that said: “don’t want it”. After a couple more times, I assumed she didn’t like being on the breast anymore and I felt hurt but relieved. I decided then to pump my milk and give her expressed milk in a bottle. It worked wonders ! Didn’t hurt at all (anyone has noticed how big nipples get after pumping !?) and I felt good about the fact that she was still getting expressed milk. I was very good at it and was even able to freeze some. After a bit, I wasn’t home much and wasn’t able to pump as much as I used to and ended up producing less milk which made me wonder if I should buy my own pump or stop pumping completely. (The pump I was using was borrowed to the Public Health.)

I decided to stop. Formula was introduced once the frozen breastmilk ran out. I felt guilty at first and slowly, I started feeling somewhat ok with it. I think the feeding choice is a very personal one and I wish it wasn’t looked up or down so much.

My baby got a month and a half of breastmilk and I just want to hear: it is ok, you did your best.

 

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The Emotional Journey Of Being A New Mum

I don’t know what it is but I have butterflies in my stomach today. Not the fun butterflies, the nervous ones. I feel somehow overwhelmed. Being a new mum has been a very emotional journey so far. I wrote about being “the perfect mum” a little while ago and really, I am not trying to be  perfect. But I want to be the best I can be for my daughter.  I feel that I didn’t give the best start to my daughter for these two particular reasons and it saddens me a lot.

  • Sixtine was born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. They had to quickly care for her, which didn’t allow us to have one on one time. She wasn’t put on my chest, still covered in blood and whatever it is called. They gave her to me all clean and wrapped in a blanket. Although I know it was what was best for her, it makes me sad that we didn’t experience that moment.
  • I didn’t breastfeed as long as I wish would have. It simply didn’t work for us. I was in extreme pain and had to pump for a couple days while my breasts would “recover”. In that short amount of time, the baby didn’t want to take the breasts again when it was offered to her. I felt somehow relieved because it was a very painful situation. I still remember crying a little before she was due to eat as I knew how excruciating the experience would be. I feel really bad about the fact that my baby didn’t get breast milk as long as she deserved. It took me a while to be at peace with the fact that she was now formula-fed and I am still not completely over it today. Some people’s comments have made it worse.

As for parenting style, I feel somewhat lost between what is generally done, generally told to do, and what I want to do. Between breastfeeding vs formula feeding, spoon-feeding vs baby-led weaning, cloth diapering vs disposables attachment parenting vs Montessori (although they share some values, they have differences ie. babywearing), pacifier, thumb sucking vs none, green baby vs regular products and so on, I find it hard to find my place. I take bits and pieces of whatever I feel comfortable doing but I sometime feel guilty for doing something because I read/hear it is not a good thing to do or no one I know does it this way. When really, I don’t see where’s the harm in doing it.

Let’s try to sum this up: I formula-feed my baby with love, she uses a pacifier but only at bed time and naps, I want to start baby-led weaning but I don’t see where is the harm in baby cereal, she has been sleeping in her own room since she was two months of age, but I enjoy a little morning sleep-in nap with my baby, we cloth diaper but I don’t mind using disposables on the go, we mainly use green products for her but I am a big L’oreal make-up fan…so what does that make me?

There is something strikely different between French parenting and English-speaking countries parenting. I can feel the difference, and I think this is where I am confused. I was raised in a French environment, stern but fair. Whatever this lady talked about in her Bringing Up Bebe is probably true to life, although I have yet to read it but the excerpts I read were pretty convincing. I am not saying that raising baby the French way is best but this is the only way I know. I am well-aware of the differences ( I was a nanny in London, UK, and I have been living in Canada for about 18 months), I find that English-speaking parents are more focused on their children, everything seems to revolve around them, whereas French parents aren’t as children-focused and the list is long but in the end, we just raise our kids with a main ingredient: love.

If you are a second, third-time (or more) mum, you probably must be thinking that I am going to have to learn to not care about what people think, and that I will get more confident with time. It is probably true – I just know that right this second, I am a very emotional first-timer trying to do the right thing.

Thank you for taking the time to read my ramble for I don’t have the butterflies anymore…

Baby Brain or How Pregnancy and Motherhood have made me absent-minded !

Truth in the rumor? New research claims that pregnant women do forget, but it’s because the brain is focusing on more important needs.

Until about a year ago, I thought I had a pretty good memory. Ask my husband. Then I got pregnant, became a mother and it went all away. I have become absent-minded. When I was about 6 months pregnant, we had an appointment with a private clinic to find out the sex of our baby. When we got there, about 10 minutes drive from home, I remembered I had apple crumble cooking in the oven. Oops.

Now, it is refrigerated apple juice in the cupboard, our milk in the baby’s bottle, or I will reach for her bottle instead of my own drink (ewww ! Have you ever tried baby formula?), forgetting to take my glasses off before stepping into the shower, overcooking food…and the list is long. I don’t know what it is. The research says it has to do with mother wanting to put her child’s needs first. It makes sense. I think being tired and super busy with baby/babies/children also adds to the absent-mindedness.

So ladies, and gentlemen, tell me, what did/does baby brain do to you? Can’t wait to hear your funny stories !