Sunday, August 7, 2011

An update and a failure: all at 4am

It's 5 o'clock somewhere. Actually, it's 5 o'clock here (AM not PM, unfortunately). And I'm awake. I was so very helpful at the 3:30 feeding and gave the little man his bottle. Which meant I was left wide awake and unable to go back to sleep. I tried. I'm tired enough - I was sure it wouldn't be a problem. I was wrong. For those keeping track, that's only like the 9th time I've ever been wrong. Ever. Really!! Ok, maybe I've got a few more notches in the "I was wrong belt" then I admit.
Anyway, so the update: My sister is getting married in 6 days WOOOOT!!!! SO excited for the wedding. But I'll also be a tad busy so you might not hear much from me in until next week after I recover from the festivities.
and now for The Failure: This week was World Breastfeeding Week. AKA: Kerissa sucks as a mom week. Just this past Wednesday at the pediatrician I was told I need to "let it go" because breastfeeding is overrated. I heart my pediatrician. She never once laid the guilt trip on and fully supported me from day 1. She said that the few IQ points he would have gotten from breastfeeding is worth less than the many more he will gain from having a happy mom (which, now I am most of the time.).
This makes sense to me. But a lot of the time I feel so alone in that. I am pro breastfeeding, don't get me wrong. I'm all for "breast is best", which is probably why the guilt and sadness are still such a grey cloud for me 9 months later.
My kid has chronic ear infections, which he inherited from me - lucky boy!  I know that research says that breastfeeding can reduce the incidence of ear infections. So, even though I had the same problem as a kid, and even though we know people who breastfed and their kiddo's still had horrible ear infections, every time I blame myself.
I am forced to remind myself daily, as I wash bottles, that I can't do the one thing that was an "absolute" in having a baby. I knew it could be hard, I knew I could need a lot of help being successful, I didn't know that all of the things that went wrong would make it impossible. I tried pumping in the days when I was moaning in pain in the hospital. I tried pumping after the emergency surgery and had some great lactation consultants cheering me on. But my body basically gave up. I was making UP TO 1 ounce a day with several sessions of pumping when I wasn't in total agony.
The mental toll it was taking on me wasn't worth it. The pediatrician, week 5, said to me that with everything I was trying, and with it not working to stop worrying about it and just keep up with the formula. The trauma to my body was no doubt a major player in the issue, as was that I was in too much pain to pump every other hour 24/7.
I have a happy, (mostly) healthy kid who is a charmer. Yet I worry that every slight delay (He should be walking and talking by now!) means I took something valuable away from him. I feel guilt at every ear infection, every cough, every cold. I see the glares as I pour formula into a bottle when we are out and about. I feel forced to explain myself when other moms are talking about breastfeeding and how is it going for us now that he's older? Its not going. It never really was... but thank you for the reminder :)
So last week, last night, today, I feel like a failure. Trust me folks, I'm working on it in therapy. But it is one of the few things I'm not at least starting to getting past and I'm not sure why or how. I'm working through so much and it's hard but as I said a few posts below, I know I have to go through this - there is no way around it.
I just wish I was making progress in the breastfeeding arena. I don't want to feel like a failure and blame myself for the rest of my life for every sickness or problem that Gregory has. I don't think that's really fair to either of us. But at the same time, I'm not sure I can ever forgive myself for not FORCING it to work, for giving up too soon, for not trying harder in a time when I was in emotional and physical crisis... This is one thing that I don't know will ever change for me. The emotion is raw and the guilt is insanely huge.
There is a lot of support out there for moms like me who can't breastfeed; not by choice, but by force. There is also a lot of judgement from other moms and the natural birth community which only makes things worse. Would I change it if I could? In a heartbeat. But I can't. So I'll continue to work on letting it go and not feeling like a failure.

Yet I know it's going to take a long time to fill the hole in my heart that this "failure" has left.

Until next time: Hug a bottle feeding mom. :)


  1. Sorry this has been such a rough journey. I don't know if this is any comfort, but even the most dedicated breastfeeding moms get awful comments and judgement that makes them question their choice to breastfeed. You are not singled out. It doesn't matter what a mom does in the best interest of their family, they receive judgement and criticism from the peanut gallery. Many mothers deal with guilt and wonder about the silliest decisions (Hat and sleeves v sunscreen, co-sleep v crib, an m&m incentive to hush, rear-facing or front facing til age 2., blah blah blah.) I go through this about Lily and her heart defect, going back through time to trying figure out what I did to cause it. In my heart I know I didn't DO anything and it was just a weird and awful nightmare.
    I think that this battle is what make moms good moms. We are critically thinking about it. We have to take it all in and make the best choices for ourselves and our families. I think it was in Freakanomics that said something like good parent are the ones who would purchase a parenting book. Not that they actually purchased the book or even read it. Simply the act of thinking and reflecting on their parenting made them better parents. I think with all the effort you have put into this, you must be an good parent. It cruel and also a little funny, nobody warns you that once you conceive, others start judging you.
    I have taken comfort in the fact that this is hope for humanity. People care about and are invested in the next generation. Generally those people who "care" have a rude way of expressing themselves. Thankfully and strangely, there is more than one way to sheer a sheep. Everybody thinks their way is best. What all of them don't realize is that my great grandfather showed me the one true way to sheer a sheep, so......


  2. Hi Kerissa,

    I'm one of your mother-in-law's sewing friends (The Twisted Nuts) and I've been especially interested in how you're doing because I had horrible postpartum depression almost 23 years ago after my second baby when it was barely being recognized.

    As an old veteran, let me say: THIS TOO SHALL PASS AND THE KID WILL BE FINE, even though it may be hard to believe right now.

    As for breast feeding: I breast fed my first kid (no postpartum there) almost two years. Not a drop of formula or apple juice or candy hot dog or anyting bad passed his lips before age 2, yet he still had chronic ear infections and needed tubes at 10 months. He also developed a lot of seasonal allergies a few years later.

    Kid 2: Had to give up breast feeding at 6 months to go on anti-depressive and anti-anxiety meds and I was worried sick with guilt. I had been exhausted, depressed, couldn't get the milk to let down, couldn't pump, and felt like a total failure, then my mother insisted I go for professional help and I ended up on meds. Well, she has had NO ear problems, no allergies and rarely got colds.

    Both kids are in their 20s and doing great. You just never know, so don't beat yourself up over what you could have done "better." It sounds like you're a super responsible and educated mom, so you just have to remember to take care of yourself, too.

    Also, 9 months is EARLY for most kids to be walking and talking.

    Take care,

    Sherrie S.

  3. Thanks for the comments ladies! Oh and walking/talking by 9 months was a joke. He's hitting milestones just at the very last minute so I always worry about a delay. But he's on track, for now at least!

  4. Hi there,

    I stumbled upon your blog via Twitter and wanted to reach out to a fellow bottle-feeding mom. You are definitely not alone, and there is support out there for bottle-feeding moms, particularly those who have been so abused by other moms, other people, even health care professionals who make breastfeeding out to be the be-all and end-all of motherhood.

    I wholeheartedly recommend (in case you haven't found her blog already) the Fearless Formula Feeder blog at . FFF's blog was what initially helped me overcome a lot of the difficulty I faced not breastfeeding.

    I wrote an article about the ideas of "success" and "failure" for another group (the article is located here:!/note.php?note_id=156236767787618 in part in response to another bottle-feeding mom who was having a hard time as well. I don't know if it will help, but I hope it will.

    Hang in there, and be good to yourself. Your child wants *you,* not your milk, and doesn't give a care what anyone else thinks of you either way.