If you were to come to my home and open my freezer, you would notice I have a lot of interesting and stereotypical freezer items: frozen vegetables, fish, teething rings, etc., However, one thing that is definitely NOT in my freezer is breast milk. As a new mom, this would be not only normal, but expected in any freezer.
I’m going to be completely honest, in the early days of nursing and pumping, scrolling through my social media accounts caused me great anxiety. I was severely jealous of all the beautifully filled freezers of milk that seemed to appear all over my news feed. It seemed like everyone (but me) had an over abundance of the milky substance worth its weight in gold and were all too happy to share it all over social media. It was all anyone was posting.
Let me say, that while pregnant I had NO idea what I wanted to do when it came to feeding my baby. I was not resolute in that I would absolutely breastfeed. Formula, pumping, breastfeeding….I was honestly open to all of it. Prior to becoming pregnant, I always said I would never nurse my baby. Then, my son was born and my tune changed. After I started breastfeeding, I then developed a set of expectations based in part on the recommendations of others and in part on what I saw all around me. Even while pregnant people told me that we would need a lot of freezer space for all of the extra milk so we purchased another freezer for our garage (just in case that is what we decided to do and because, from what I had heard, ‘over supply’ was a very common problem).
So, imagine my surprise (and shock and disappointment) when the fountains of milk failed to appear.
I am not an “over-supplier.” I do not have a stash.
Being a work outside the home mom, I nurse and pump. My reality is that when I pump I normally only get one ounce. One. Sometimes, three to four if i’m lucky and the heaven’s open and smile on me, and yet, sometimes something goes array and I get less than half an ounce. Given this, you can see how I struggled to build my supply. It also isn’t for lack of trying. I would wake up to pump in the middle of the night, exhausted from the lack of sleep, to get DROPS and be extremely discouraged and upset. I had so much guilt and would wonder if perhaps I was just pumping at the wrong times. So I would change my schedule. I thought maybe I should try harder. So I did more of it. What was wrong with me? Why was I the ONLY ONE unable to produce more?
I will be extremely honest, I was hesitant to write this post because a couple of my fellow mommy blogging friends have written such amazing articles about topics similar. However, I think it is important to let you know that it is okay and you are NOT alone. You are normal. You are perfect. And you’re a rockstar mom for everything you’re doing.
January 18, 2017 was THE day. The day I had to supplement with formula, I cried. I couldn’t even bring myself to give it to him. In fact, I had to LEAVE to get my mind off of it. The root of the problem was that I felt as though I had failed and I was greatly comparing my drops of milk to the freezers stocked full. I wanted badly to hear someone else say “me too…I struggle too!”
I would like to show the picture of my son after he had the formula for the first time…you know the stuff I cried about because I felt like the worst mom on the planet (but seriously).
…He did NOT even notice the difference. He actually liked it.
I found formula is not the enemy. Formula has nothing to do with failing and taking care of your baby. NOT letting them starve will never equate to failing. Period.
As a brand new mom I found that society puts a lot of pressure on women to breastfeed and, don’t get me wrong, it IS great for your baby. BUT if you can’t or choose not breastfeed for whatever reason please know that you are still a great mom, I promise you are – don’t roll your eyes–I know I did the same thing! Being a mom is hard work. It is a lot of pressure in general and it can feel very defeating when things don’t go according to “our plan.” Hey, according to “my plan” I would sleep a straight 4 hours at night and that doesn’t seem to happen either! This is all part of the beautiful/sometimes challenging journey of motherhood and we are all in this together!