Hi, I am Ashley, and I bottle feed. I have always been a breast-is-best supporter. Not a member of the La Leche League (LLLI), supporter, but I do feel if you have the milk, and are able, you should use it. If not for the nutrition of it, the cost. It is free…it doesn’t get much better then that. I actually never thought I would be saying “bottle-feeder” out loud, but circumstance led me a stray. Now, I can attest, the cost of formula is astronomical, but the convenience of the bottle sure is nice. There is a stigma that follows me every time I pull out my formula container, empty its contents into the pre-water filled bottle, and shake. But why? Well, because I live in Davis, because I was a former judger myself, and because everyone is probably staring at my F-size boobs wondering why the hell I am not using those to feed my very chubby (probably over-fed) boy. Sometimes I wish I had a sticker on my forehead that read “my son has FPIES and needs a special formula, so keep your judgments to yourself”. But who is really doing the judging? I think I am (well, and a few granola, no-bra wearing hippies, who still breast feed their 3 year-old). It was really hard for me to hear from the allergists, and my son’s doctor that breast was not best for him. When he was just 2-weeks old I started noticing symptoms. I first assumed acid reflux, because my daughter had it. Then I started researching colic, and was convinced that I would be hearing a crying baby for hours a day for the next 3 months. I only wish. The more painful his cries became, the more worried I became. After smelling his gut wrenching diapers, I knew this was not just colic. I brought him to the doctor and he tested his stool for blood, which he found LOTS of. Crazy, since you couldn’t see anything. He told me he was in excruciating pain and that he was most likely reacting to something in my breast milk. I cried so hard. I mean, it was MY milk that was causing his pain. He told me I should avoid eating the top 5 food allergens for a minimum of 2 weeks, and to put him on a special allergen free formula for the next three days to heal his gut. So being the type-A perfectionist that I am, and went for the top 7, and pumped to my heart’s content to ensure my poison free milk wouldn’t dry up. So, I stopped eating dairy, soy, gluten, peanuts, tree-nuts, fish, and eggs and pumped every 2 hours. Basically, I just ate potato chips, tortilla chips, and lots of tamales. I was on a corn-fed diet. Corn is on the top 10 list, but I had to eat something. I should say that breastfeeding with “the boy” was never easy. My nipple was not only inverted worse than before, but I had a 2-inch slit on my right one that would painfully bleed every time he nursed. This is when that lactation consultants business card comes in really handy. I called her and went in to her office. She assessed the boy while eating, and fondled my breast in the process (all necessary of course). She gave me this circular bulky plastic thing that allows air to the nipple that I was to wear in my bra to hopefully heal the cut. I never really wore it to be honest because it just made my boobs look too weird. I dealt with the pain, and eventually, I just got immune to it. After 3 months of the elimination diet and breastfeeding, Harlan was still having reactions. Weekly poo checks confirmed that the elimination wasn’t working. There was less blood, but still blood nonetheless. Finally, we had an appointment to see the allergists. He listened to my sob story, while sobbing, and he instantly knew what he had. Food Protein-Induced Entercolitus Syndrome (FPIES), a type of food allergy affecting the gastrointestinal tract. He recommend that I continue feeding him Nutramigen, which is that special formula I mentioned. The only weeks Harlan had clean poo (no blood) were the weeks he received formula only. Any time I introduced breast milk back in his diet, the painful cries began, and the blood was back. To continue breast-feeding would mean I was an ass. Why hurt, or possibly hurt, your child because you have some brain washed notion that breast is best? Well, I don’t. After many tearful conversations to the lactation consultant, she assured me, that I was making the right decision (which meant a lot coming from her…my guess is she is Vice President of the LLLI). I asked her about the loss of IQ points he will now suffer because he is not on the boob. She actually told me that it has recently been proven that the 14 point higher IQ theory has to do with digestion, not the actual milk. Apparently, breast-fed babies digest milk better, allowing their brains and inner workings to focus on other things, smart things I guess. She said Harlan was screwed from the beginning and he wouldn’t benefit from the boob anyway (we actually had a laugh about it). I don’t know what I would have done without her during all of this. I had her on speed dial. I will share something else I learned from her that I found quite interesting. In our earlier conversations, when I was exclusively nursing, I asked her what her take on pacifiers was. I assumed it would be negative since she thinks newborn babies should be living on the breast, literally.
She said, “It depends. Some babies are high-suck babies, and some babies are low-suck. Babies are wired to suck x amount of times per day. The low suck baby will only want to suck, say 100 times a day. The high-suck baby up to 1,000 (not sure on the exact numbers). You wouldn’t want the low-suck baby to waste their sucks on a pacifier, just like you wouldn’t want to deprive the high suck baby of the option.”
I was fascinated, intrigued and convinced I had myself 2 high suckers. In fact, she went on to say that your suck level continues with you through adulthood.
“The low suckers are the ones who chew gum for a couple of minutes and spit it out (me). The high suckers are the ones who have to chew gum, and chew the same piece for hours (my husband). I hated the pacifier as a child and spit it out, by the way. My husband, has to have something in his mouth 24/7 , as a child, I could only imagine what that was (he was not offered a paci). For all of you mothers who keep buying different pacifiers hoping one brand will magically work, save your money. Your baby is probably just a low sucker anyway.
Moral of the story, who is anyone to judge a bottle feeder? Circumstance happens, and some women do not share the blissful experience of breastfeeding. Do what works best for you and your child. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I just wish, someone would have told me just how hard breastfeeding really is, and even more so, that bottle-feeding is not a sin.