Dear Diary, One day my mother told me, You propped your chin up on your little fist and refused. That’s her breastfeeding story. It is captured in one sentence. I was a formula fed baby, and as far as I can tell, I’m perfectly fine. When I was growing up, my mom, who by the way was a pediatrician, preached Breast is Best to her patients. But she let her patients’ parents choose formula or breast milk, or maybe even both. She stockpiled formula in her office for the moms who had chosen to bottle feed. When moms ask me about my breastfeeding experience, I usually ask, Which one do you want to hear about first? By the time I had my first child, I just figured, he’d be just like I me when presented with the breast. He’d prop up his chin, and tell me no. I had already decided on a formula for babies with allergies right from the start, because of my family history, so I was all set–or so I thought. In the beginning, he got the colostrum, and after that, refused to nurse. I figured he was good to get that, so everything was going according to plan. My milk came in, and it was unbearably painful. My best friend ran out to the store a few days after I got him home and bought me a little hand pump just to relieve some of the pressure. By then, he was already settled into formula. I wasn’t exactly handy with the pump, and the age of the Internet wasn’t in full swing, so I didn’t have a ton of resources to help me. It made a total mess, and got all over my shirt. To my surprise, my little one turned his head, and started sucking on my shirt. This first time mom was totally freaked out. I called my mom, and she told me that there were support groups like La Leche League if I wanted to breastfeed. But I didn’t want to breastfeed. I hadn’t planned to do any of that! I looked around online for what I could find. I didn’t find much, so I just went back to plan A. Mealtime was great, and my mom, then retired, loved that she could feed her first grandchild without relying on me. With my second baby, I planned to breastfeed exclusively. It was six years later–I was older, married, and felt like I had enough information and support to nurse. That’s until he latched on for the first time. My eyes crossed, my knees shook, and it took all I had not to shove him off my breast by his face. I figured, maybe he wasn’t latched on correctly. The lactation consultant came and told me that he was latched on perfectly fine–meanwhile, I felt as though I was coming apart at each feeding. Someone told me that he was a toe-curler. Eventually I ended up with all kinds of creams, some sort of infection or something, and just general overwhelming discomfort. Then I got pregnant again, and my milk started drying up almost immediately. I was already sneaking in formula, so it was a win-win for me. He didn’t care where the milk came from or what it was made of–as long as he ate. He still loves to eat just about everything. Third time’s a charm. This time, I was ready. I had my creams, lotions, potions, cabbage, breast pump, bottles–all that! I was ready for battle. She came out ready to nurse, and I tossed all my backup plans. It was perfect. First time out, she latched on, and besides the usual cramping at the beginning, it was actually wonderful. I stared at her, she stared at me. I chatted with her at meal times, and she smiled back at me with her eyes. It was pleasant and effortless for the both of us. My mom was pretty impressed with my choice to breastfeed my daughter. I wonder if she thought that our relationship would have been closer if she had insisted that I unprop my chin and drink from the breast she offered me. I guess we’ll never know, but with my daughter, I wouldn’t change those thirteen months of closeness for anything! The three experiences that I have had with breastfeeding are as different as the three children I have. I’ve formula fed, breastfed part time, and breastfed exclusively. All of the kids are fine, and I feel no guilt about my choices. It is just one of the many decisions that we have to make as mothers. We just have to make the decision that is right for ourselves, our babies, and our families–no one else. So if your little one rolls her eyes at your breast and prefers the bottle, would never take a bottle, or couldn’t care less either way, trust yourself, trust your instincts, relax, and everything will be just fine. I promise! Eva Greene Wilson is the Editor and owner of Soca Mom, an award winning website for Caribbean parents. Eva graduated Magna Cum Laude from North Carolina A & T State University with a degree in Marketing. She has been writing and telling stories since she was a child and has used her talent as a storyteller to entertain and educate the readers of her blog since 2011. Eva’s work has been featured on BlogHer.com, and republished in print and online in b3 Caribbean Magazine and Outlish Magazine. She is the author of Anancy’s Family Reunion, a new and imaginative take on Anancy folklore that reintroduces a new generation of children to a character deeply rooted in African and Caribbean oral tradition. This busy wife and mother was honored with two Black Weblog Awards in 2012, Best New Blog and Best Parenting Blog. She sponsors two offline groups for Caribbean parents in Washington, DC and Brooklyn, NY, and hosts the annual Anancy Festival in Washington, DC with the Institute for Caribbean Studies. You can follow her on Twitter and tweet using #ChocolateMilk. Or, if you prefer email, send her some love at firstname.lastname@example.org 4 Responses Sherrie August 4, 2014 Breastfeeding was pretty much the same for my first two..they preferred pump milk in a bottle not from me so I did that for about 6 months for both then switch to formula. .then came baby girl who exclusively breastfed no bottle at all for 22 months…wow yes exhausting. ..but they all seem to be fine as well…mommas have to do what keep peace in their minds and homes Reply Eva August 4, 2014 Peaceful mind, peaceful house… sounds perfect to me! Thank you for sharing your story! Reply Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama August 4, 2014 I was also a formula fed baby and both my children ended up being formula due to medical circumstances out of my control. I am a big advocate for both, whatever keeps the children fed! Reply Eva August 5, 2014 You’re right, Nellie! Bottom line is that they are fed and loved. 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