As the oldest of six children, I watched my mom closely as she raised my younger siblings. I knew that I wanted to be a mom, so I soaked up everything that she did, in hopes that I would be an amazing mother like her someday. I watched as she diapered, bathed and fed these little human beings. It didn’t take long for me to want to be her little helper, and one of my responsibilities was making the bottles. My mom mostly formula fed us, occasionally breastfeeding at night. I remember waiting for that small pot of water to boil, while holding a screaming baby in my arms. I remember squirting the formula on my wrist to make sure the temperature was just right. Being able to help my mom out with this task brought me so much happiness.
So when it came time for me to have my own kids, formula feeding felt like the right choice.
I can honestly say that I have never had any desire to breastfeed. This totally goes against the popular belief that as a woman, I should have that longing to hold my child against me and nourish them with my own body. I guess I just don’t have that in me, those feelings just aren’t there. And that does not make me a bad mom. What I witnessed growing up was healthy and happy children no matter how they were fed, and as far as I’m concerned, my own mom is the expert that I wanted to listen to.
When I had my first child, I had such a negative experience in the hospital regarding my decision to not breastfeed. The nurses tried forcing information down my throat, clearly stating that I was a bad mother for opting out of breastfeeding, as if I wasn’t an emotional wreck to begin with. Here I was already being told that I was the worlds worst mom only a few hours into motherhood. Even my husband was put off by the blatant amount of disrespect for MY decision.
At my son’s first postpartum visit, the doctor continued to make me feel guilty. I even caved in, allowing the doctor to schedule a lactation consultant to come to the house that afternoon. I remember calling my husband sobbing, because I just didn’t feel comfortable. Those first few days of being home with a new baby are difficult for anyone, and the thought of this added pressure pushed me to the edge of emotional exhaustion. My husband supported me and told me to cancel the lactation consultation. Once I made that choice to be happy about my decision, I felt this weight lifted and I was able to enjoy being a mom.
When my other two children were born, I was much more vocal about not breastfeeding. I made it very clear to the nurses and midwives that I would be formula feeding my babies. I was prepared for a battle, however they respected my decision and fully supported me. Then this crazy idea came to me to actually try breastfeeding out. After 15 minutes of trying to get my son into position and then another minute of excruciating pain, I thought to myself “Yep, this really is not for me!”
But kudos to those moms that stick with it!
Looking back, I wish I had the confidence to stick up for myself in the hospital. With seven years of motherhood experience under my belt, I now know to shrug off the disapproving looks and comments from other moms. Breastfeeding may very well be the optimal way of feeding babies, but for me, and my own sanity, formula feeding is the right choice.
Chrissy Fralick is a high school English teacher, mama to three, and blogger. To read more on why she is NOT a bad mom and to discover her favorite beauty and fashion finds, follow along on her blog Shine Bright Little Mama.