I swear this isn’t a lactation blog, really, I have other things to talk about. But here we go again…
Dedicated to my dear friend Ann
Dear Supplementing Mom,
I see you. I see you posting in Facebook groups desperately looking for some advice to boost your milk supply. You’ve scoured KellyMom and plumbed the depths of Google and tried everything. Maybe it was a tongue tie discovered too late, maybe your body had trouble recovering from a traumatic delivery, maybe there’s no damn discernible reason other than that life doesn’t work out the way we want all the time. But you’ve heard breast is best and you’ve wanted so badly to give your baby best.
But here you are in the store, staring down the formula aisle with a pit in your stomach and a bad taste in your mouth. You are doing what you need to do to provide your baby with the nutrition he or she needs to grow, and honestly, the breastfeeding/health community has often failed to support you before and after this tough decision.
First, I think you are a total goddess. You are amazing. You do the hardest thing every damn day for that little person. It’s really easy to pat yourself on the back for accomplishing your goal. You know what’s really hard? Sacrificing the ideal because in this case the compromise is the heavy lifter who can get the job done. For those of us who were afforded all the necessary resources and happenstance to succeed as breastfeeders we don’t have to confront what would happen if we couldn’t make our ideal a reality for our child (in this category, trust me it’s coming for us in something else). For those who decide to quit and formula feed entirely there can be a relief, to no longer feel that pressure to make breastfeeding work.
Those of you that supplement will straddle that conflict and struggle we feel on a daily basis. You give your baby the best your body will allow under the circumstances, and then where your body quits you do the right thing and get help. You don’t make it an all or nothing scenario. To acknowledge your limits, accept help, and continue to do the best for yourself and your baby is incredibly hard and incredibly honorable.
You are amazing. Your child is lucky to have you as a mom. And those of us who’ve had success with breastfeeding will one day find that we can’t always have what we want, even for our children who we love above everything else. If there’s any guilt, hurt, or regret lingering from your decision to supplement would you kindly look it in the eyes and tell it to fuck off? From me? You’ve got more important shit to do Mama.
Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost,
No birth, identity, form—no object of the world.
Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing;
Appearance must not foil, nor shifted sphere confuse thy brain.
Ample are time and space—ample the fields of Nature.
The body, sluggish, aged, cold—the embers left from earlier fires,
The light in the eye grown dim, shall duly flame again;
The sun now low in the west rises for mornings and for noons continual;
To frozen clods ever the spring’s invisible law returns,
With grass and flowers and summer fruits and corn.
-Walt Whitman, Continuities