I had every intention on breastfeeding when I was pregnant with my first child. But here I am, two kids later, and I don’t feel bad (and won’t apologize) for bottle feeding both of them. Sometimes breastfeeding just doesn’t work out for some mothers. There are so many reasons, some by choice and some not, so I’ve never been one to judge another mother when I see her bottle feeding her baby. I didn’t tolerate anyone judging me, either.
When I did try to breastfeed my first child, it went south . . . fast. I was bullied into a C-section by my assh*le obstetrician and was pumped with so many drugs that I needed help holding my own baby. So, when it came time to try breastfeeding for the first time, the nurse held my firstborn to my boob. It was not the romantic picture I had signed up for. From that moment on, I failed at nursing. My nipples cracked, bled, and became engorged. Pumping didn’t help. I got mastitis more times than I could count those first few weeks. My son developed reflux, and we both cried, sometimes all day long.
I felt so much damn guilt for not being able to breastfeed that the baby blues took over what should have been the happiest time of my life. I told myself I couldn’t give my baby the proper nutrients he needed, and I beat myself up over it so badly. No matter what anyone told me, I felt like a failure. The bombardment of guilt crushed me as a new mother. I was not the carefree, natural parent I had envisioned myself to be.
Then one day, something magical happened. When my firstborn was inconsolable, I paced the entire house wondering how to calm him. We sat in his glider in his nursery, my greasy hair in a bun on the top of my head, and I gently patted him on the back — finally, he fell asleep. As we rocked together, I began to cry, but this time peace swept over me. I decided in that moment that I was going to quit breastfeeding. Neither he nor I could take it anymore. I owed it to him to try something else.
It was the smartest decision I could have made. Up until that point, I hadn’t enjoyed him at all, but after my boobs became mine again, I jumped into motherhood like a badass. My son became one those easygoing babies in no time — one that slept like a champ and belly-laughed for strangers. He no longer felt the stress of his mother, and the clouds finally parted on our days together.
When our second child was born and the nurse tried to get me to breastfeed, I politely declined and said, “I’m going to bottle feed.” And you know what? She didn’t judge me. No one did (at least, not to my face). You never know what journey a woman has been on when it comes to breastfeeding, and you should trust that she knows what’s best for her family, her baby, and her sanity. Instead of judging, you should applaud her for not choosing guilt to swallow her happiness as a new mother.
There’s no denying the benefits of breast milk for your baby, but not all mothers can do it. Formula moms, know that it’s OK. Your baby is going to be OK. You’re going to be OK. Forgiving myself was the best gift I ever gave my son. I fell in love with him, and with us. I finally became the mom I envisioned. It was tough, but it was right. So, no, I won’t apologize for bottle feeding my kids. I chose to be a happy mother for them, and that’s good enough.