Hard to believe but our baby girl is officially 3 months today! Our beautiful blue eyed, porcelain skinned baby girl has added so much more love to our family, which I didn’t even think was possible. From the moment she was born, all of my pregnancy questions had gone out the window only to be replaced with millions of postpartum uncertainties. And while I was just starting my second postpartum journey, I was owe too familiar with all of the fun that was ahead of me, but this time I had to balance it all with a little girl waiting for me at home. Even though I had no clue what the weeks and months that laid before me would hold, I was ready to find out because no matter what I had this sweet baby girl beside me.
As I’ve learned, having this idyllic view of how life will pan out probably isn’t the best way to approach any huge life moment that you have very little control over, but hey, you can’t blame a hopeful mom-to-be for dreaming of that delivery and postpartum recovery straight from the movies. But since life doesn’t always follow a romantically written screenplay, I quickly learned that not every chapter of my story would go as I planned. In those first few days post my second c-section, I nursed my delicate and precious baby, cherishing those moments, not knowing how long they would be enjoyed for. There are very few new baby moments that I’ve had my heart set on experiencing but nursing ranks up there in the top three. I wanted so badly to share that special bond with my girls, rocking them in their nursery, sharing those moments when the house falls quiet and all I would hear are the sweet sounds of my little one. With my first little girl our nursing journey was short and not without plenty of bumps in the road.
I remember all too clearly the first few weeks of my oldest daughter’s little life which was filled with countless weight checks at the pediatricians. My brand new baby was born at a perfectly healthy weight, but lost a significant amount before we left the hospital so after on demand feeding constantly and checking in on her weight gain every few days we were finally back to her starting weight. After so much struggling, we decided to supplement with formula soon after to help our little girl along and make sure she was getting all the food she needed. I remember filling many of these early postpartum days with constant rounds of feeding, pumping, cleaning, and supplementing, oh yeah and with a lot of pain in-between. Our nursing adventure wasn’t as peaceful and calm as I had hoped but honestly it didn’t matter to me at all as long as my little girl was healthy, with a full belly, and was growing, and that she was. Soon enough, our baby was exclusively fed formula and was better for it, heading straight to the top of the charts, growing like a weed.
As a new mom fresh off an unexpected c-section and a postpartum nursing journey that was cut short, my emotions, along with my hormones, were all over the place. No matter how I felt though, as long as my baby was healthy I truly was happy, but all of that relief couldn’t erase the disappointment I felt with my delivery along with my breastfeeding. To add insult to injury, I couldn’t help but feel like I was living in a “breast is best” world where everywhere I turned I saw why breast milk was better than formula, not a great message to be reminded of when I was a new formula mom.
Let’s face it, we live in a world where even the most personal decisions are open for public criticism. Partly this is our own fault, after all most of us have spent a majority of our adult years sharing the details of our lives on social media. But when it comes to sharing parts of your life that are as special as babies and parenting, all bets should be off and the only opinions offered should be supportive or helpful. Unfortunately that’s certainly not the case, and with so much judgement surrounding us it’s near impossible to not start judging ourselves just as harshly.
Not being able to breastfeed my daughter for very long was heartbreaking, add it on top of a less desirable c-section and I was one gigantic emotional wreck. And why? My little girl was being fed, she was healthy, she was thriving, there was nothing to be disappointed in, besides the obvious sadness because of the missed experience. I think what made my nursing struggles even more disappointing was the “breast is best” universe that surrounded me. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding and despise the criticism that mothers receive for it, but being a formula mom in a parenting world where the popularity of breastfeeding seemed to be exploding was anything but easy. Everywhere I turned there were Yahoo articles, Facebook posts, and Twitter headlines screaming about the benefits of breastfeeding and how much better off babies are that are fed this way. From lower obesity rates and higher IQs to better immune systems and overall lower risk of countless health problems, not to mention the emotional connection that mommy and baby can have, the benefits were undeniable and I couldn’t help but feel like I was depriving my precious baby of this amazing start to her life.
So I put my blinders on and ignored all of the proud breastfeeding mommy posts and pro-breastfeeding articles just so I could survive the emotional roller coaster of being a new mommy. As much as I wished that I too could enjoy that same experience as so many other mothers out there, I embraced my reality and gave my little girl the best I could offer. She was well taken care of in every way, no matter how she was fed, but most importantly I loved her just as much and wanted only the best for her just like any breastfeeding mommy. It took some time, but I realized that no matter how she arrived and whether or not I could breastfeed her, none of it mattered really as long as she was here and healthy and she was. I always knew all of that but remembering it was so much harder with my postpartum emotions flying all over the place and the explosion of breastfeeders around me.
By the time we found out we were expecting our second little girl I found myself in the exact same place I was during my first pregnancy, hoping that every dream I ever had about my delivery and postpartum experience would come true. As life would have it, I went round 2 with a c-section but this time around I am 3 months into nursing my beautiful Baby #2. I cannot explain how special this experience has been for me, and even though I wish so badly that I could’ve had the same one with our first little girl, I’m so grateful for these past few months. While it hasn’t been without some struggles, the same weight checks we’d done before now filled our second baby girl’s first few weeks (along with some jaundice challenges), some pain here and there, and some supply issues, I’m loving those peaceful moments that we share.
Seeing as I’ve now walked down both roads, I’m reminded even more to be empathetic to everyone’s parenting experiences. Judging someone or being judged shouldn’t be part of anyone’s parenting experience. Just recently I spotted a pleasant surprise campaign by Similac where they’re supporting that very message through Sisterhood Of Motherhood. A perfect campaign that I for one couldn’t be more in support of. In the spirit of reaching out to all mothers out there I plan on posting on some of my biggest questions or experiences while both breast and formula feeding. Feel free to comment and share any mommy topics you’d like to see appear on Gluten Free Mom To Be.