I never planned on using formula to feed my baby. My initial plan involved breastfeeding, it's just that my body, mental health, and milk supply had other plans. Like so many, I ended up going the bottle route. I pumped breast milk into the bottles when I could, but ultimately my baby thrived on formula. So believe me when I say I know, firsthand, all about the things every formula-feeding mom dreams of doing. At the top of my list? Oh, that would be burning bottles in a raging pit of fire because, honestly, by the time my girl was old enough to feed herself I never wanted to see that damn bottle again. Ever.
Five years later, though, and when I was pregnant with my youngest, I went straight to the bottle. I wouldn't say I loved the whole bottle-feeding process (in fact, I freakin' hated it), but I also knew I couldn't go through the emotional and mental torment of trying to breastfeed again. Attempting to nurse created far more issues than I ever anticipated, and while the bottle had its own dumb problems, breastfeeding just wasn't for me and I didn't need the added pressure when there was a perfectly suitable alternative.
If I've learned one thing as a mom, it's that parenthood is all about managing your expectations. It's about having an idea of how things are going to go, then adjusting accordingly when plans inevitably change. So, no, I didn't get to breastfeed the way I wanted, but I did get to feed two healthy children formula so that I could watch them grow and learn and thrive. So it wasn't all bad, by any means, but there were definitely some things I dreamed of doing while feeding my babies formula, too.
Just because I ended up on the bottle doesn't mean I didn't long for breastfeeding to work out. It pained me to make that decision to switch to formula, not just because of how society pressures women, but because I, personally, wanted to know what that so-called "special bond" felt like. I'd heard about it from other breastfeeding moms but, for me and my daughter, I never felt it. Actually, I started to resent the process altogether. Breastfeeding isn't for everyone, but it doesn't mean I didn't mourn the fact that it wasn't for me.
Teaching Her Newborn To Feed Themselves
All the bottle mixing in the middle for the night, or on the go, was for the birds. I wanted to sleep, my partner wanted to sleep, and even when my daughter was hungry I knew she was tired. Mixing up a fresh bottle was so time-consuming, I'd have loved to give my baby a how-to crash course in feeding herself, so she could do all the work and I could finally get some much-needed sleep. Kids need to learn independence, right?
Hiring A Master Mixer
OK, so if my newborn baby can't mix her own bottle, maybe I could hire someone who specializes in it? This person would have to get the water-to-formula ratio down, all while maintaining a sunny disposition in the middle of the night. The job pays nothing, and, if anything, will drain the life from your soul. Don't all line up for an interview at once.
Not Lugging Around All The Supplies
If you've never bottle-fed (especially when on vacation or even with a small trip to the store), it's like packing for a 3-week trip overseas. There's bottles, lids, formulas, measuring cups, bibs, wipes, towels — the whole freaking kitchen. There's no "get-up-and-go" when your baby relies on a bottle.
Having More Money
I'm sorry, but buying formula every two weeks is really expensive. As a young mother who made very little money, feeding my daughter was a priority that ripped a hole in my family's finances.
Going A Day Without Opinions
When it comes to bottle or breast, everyone has an opinion. No matter which side of the aisle you're on, just know this: it's no one's business.
I dreaded every time I had to feed my daughter in public because I could feel the scowls and judgments. Every feeding involved me thinking to myself, "I'm taking care of my baby the best I'm able at the moment, so if you're anti-bottle, look away and please keep those eye rolls to yourself."
A Day Without Measuring Cups
Bottle-feeding was such a big part of our life for so long, I couldn't wait for my daughter to get beyond them. When she moved onto sippy cups, I felt so free — almost as if measuring, mixing, and shaking all those months restrained me from living (not the breastfeeding wouldn't have, but in a different way).
I had a lot of dreams when I bottle-fed my baby. Ironically, now that's she's almost 11-years-old and independent as hell, I kind of wish I could go back. Motherhood, right?