My son has been on some amount of formula since the day he was born. It wasn’t a part of our “plan.” I remember coming home from the hospital with the urge to just set the “plan” on fire. I tore the papers to shreds furiously while my husband laughed.
Breastfeeding turned out not to be the magical, life changing act I believed it to be. I had an atypical and emergency c-section. Because I had lost so much blood during surgery, my milk wasn’t able to come in for 12 days. I remember pumping around the clock every 2 hours, even at night, feeling udderly hopeless and frustrated. Puns aside, I wish someone would have told me it might be like this.
So our son survived on mostly formula for the first two weeks of his life. And it wasn’t the good stuff. We’re talking Similac, the crap they give everyone in the hospital that has unnecessary ingredients like maltodextrin and corn syrup and, when compared to European baby formulas, too much sugar for a baby.
I felt so defeated. I had all these aspirations as a new mother. I intended to deliver naturally, to nourish him on my own, and to not give him a Binky ‘till we had established that beautiful, amazing breastfeeding relationship my husband swore to protect.
But, as you’ll find with caring for children, nothing ever goes according to plan.
The experience was far from what they taught us in our childbirth education classes. My water broke with a gush — like a scene from the movies where the woman is in complete shock because she’s flooded the precious hardwood floors she had just Swiffered and the husband comedically retorts “oh, you must have just pissed yourself” only to walk around the bed and realize the predicament. Of course, he then fumbled to find the paper towels and clean up the mess before we left for the hospital.
It was 27 hours of labor with 3 hours of pushing and no sleep for 48 hours. It was not the delivery every woman wants. I never saw my son being born. I didn’t get to hold him first or witness the crawl that a baby makes on its mother’s chest during the “golden hour.” I was unconscious.
And yet, the moment I laid eyes on my son, all those details ceased to matter. Loving him and being his mother was simply enough for me.
If I could rewrite the birth plan today, it would read “in the event of any complications, feel free to completely disregard how anal-retentive I sound, focus on feeding my child, and let me recover.” I think all mothers deserve such grace and compassion after the ridiculously hard process that is labor and delivery.
Truthfully, the experience never goes quite like you hope it will.