I'm not a breastfeeding mom, but I could recite ten struggles breastfeeding moms go through from worth of mouth alone. I hope at least some of them are urban myths, because they sound downright dreadful. However, there's a lot less written about the struggles only moms who don't breastfeed know. Stinky, smelly formula that you'll have to refinance your house in order to afford? Lugging around ten pounds of formula on every outing, just in case you run out? Yeah, I know those struggles and they are real.Perhaps less of a pain in the boob, so to speak, but real nonetheless.
As an adoptive mom, I didn't have much choice in the matter when it came to how we were going to feed our daughter. In theory, I could have started hormone treatment so that I could feed her myself, but seeing as we found out six hours before meeting her that we would be her parents that wasn't such a viable option in the end. Plus, adapting to life with a newborn only five weeks after we began our adoption licensing was probably enough of a shock to my system. No reason to add wacky hormone treatments into the mix. After all, we didn't even have a crib.
When the NICU nurses asked if I wanted to feed my daughter a little while after we met her, I burst into tears for the sixth time in a single hour. It was a holy experience even with that tiny two ounce plastic bottle of formula; a memory that is etched into my mind forever. We had many cozy feeding times together after that night; her eyes locking with mine as I told her how brave she was for coming into our world with such a splash. She'd hang on tight to my finger when that was all she could grasp. Later, she'd play with my hair and wave her little arm in the air (we used to call it her interpretive dance).
So, it's safe to say I loved formula feeding my daughter, but man; it sure did provide a long list of struggles I'm going to assume all non-breastfeeding mamas know all too well. Struggles that definitely include the following:
All The Extra Judgment
I'm an adoptive mom, so I had a reasonably good "excuse" for not breastfeeding my daughter. In fact, I never felt the need to apologize for formula feeding.
Still, I felt a few eyeballs on us when we'd whip out the formula dispenser and make bottles out in public. The fact that our daughter is at least a few shades darker than us kept anyone from making any comments, I'm sure, but I usually spent those public bottle feedings readying my response to anyone brave enough to take me on.
Making Bottles In The Dark
Those late night/early morning bottle feedings meant either trying to mix a bottle in the dark with a screaming child in the next room, or trying to heat up a pre-mixed bottle in the dark with a screaming child in the next room. Turning on the lights at that hour just adds insult to injury (and makes it much harder to fall back asleep).
Making Bottles While Holding Your Baby
Just because it was difficult to mix a bottle and hold a baby doesn't mean I didn't try, though. Trying to mix a bottle while holding a crying infant is only a little easier than trying to mix a bottle while holding a 9-month-old who's trying to stick her fingers into the formula canister, or swiping the nipple off the counter and thus rendering it totally unsterile.
The Smell Coming From Every Formula Bottle
Formula is stinky stuff. God forbid you leave it in the bottle for more than a few hours because, well, then it's knock-you-over smelly. We once lost a bottle under the couch for a few weeks and you'd think my husband had to open a septic tank with all the complaining I endured.
Dry formula can also be really sticky, especially in humid climates. Just about every day during our daughter's first year of life, you'd find me scrubbing congealed formula off the counters and the floor, all from spills the night before.
How Expensive Formula Is
Formula is so expensive, and it's such a bummer when you have to pour unused formula down the drain because your child hasn't finished a bottle or it's been sitting out too long. Just about every week I would Google generic formula versus brand name formula but I just couldn't get up the nerve to make the switch and potentially scar my baby (probably not) for the sake of a few dollars a week.
I'm pretty sure my second baby is going to have to tough it out, though.
All The Extra Dish Washing
There is no way to keep those stupid bottle brushes from spraying you with icky formula water when you're cleaning bottles, either. When we had a foster baby in addition to our infant daughter, we'd often run a dishwasher with only bottles just to keep from having to hand wash them all.
Running Out Of Formula At The Most Inconvenient Time
We flew quite frequently with our daughter, from the time she was a 2-month-old baby, and each and every time I brought an entire canister of formula. You know, just in case. If you run out in an airport, what on earth are you to do?
I, personally, never wanted to find out, so we lugged several pounds of formula just about everywhere we went.
You Have So Much Extra Equipment
One of the first times we took our daughter further than the grocery store or a quick downtown jaunt, involved an hour long drive to a state park in the boonies of Texas. I packed up that little formula dispenser with enough for four bottles, then packed up all the bottles filled with sterilized baby water.
Then, of course, I promptly forgot the formula on the counter. Cue a wailing 2-month-old baby just as we're pulling up to the state park that was conveniently about an hour away from a grocery store in any direction. Cue giant mama tears as I tried to feed her plain water to calm her down until we returned home with our tails between our legs.
You Don't Burn Calories When You Feed Your Baby
Gotta get your exercise elsewhere, my friends, and in those early days I definitely felt like I spent all of my time sitting and trying to get my daughter to drink just a few ounces. If only I could have been burning as many calories as an hour gym workout instead of consuming an equal number of calories in Hershey's kisses to fight off the sleep deprivation fatigue.