My poor starving boysRecently, a study found that formula-fed babies don't necessarily overeat, as had previously been thought -- many do know how to stop when they've had enough. It's good to know and I'm glad, but regardless of what this study or that study or a million other studies say, it wouldn't have changed the fact that my twin babies are formula-fed.
That's not to say that I didn't breastfeed at all. I did, for several months, but with my low milk supply, I needed to supplement with formula from the very beginning. Still, I kept at it -- I nursed and pumped like a madwoman, trying to squeeze out (no pun intended) whatever meager amount of breast milk I could. After three months though, I was barely getting four ounces a day, so I decided to move to formula only. And I don't feel one ounce of guilt about it.
Obviously, I know that breast is best, which is why I did it for as long as I could. And I loved it, I really did. Well, that's not entirely true. I wasn't crazy about tandem-feeding, which felt complicated and awkward, but I loved the rare moments when I got to feed just one of my baby sons at a time. Heaven. But, when they started wailing on my breast because they weren't getting enough milk, or I'd pump for 20 minutes just to get two ounces, I felt frustrated and sad and inadequate. I was so happy to be able to give them the breast milk that I had for the first few months of their new lives, but when I finally switched to formula, life got a whole lot easier. No, I didn't stop nursing because I had twins -- there are plenty of moms in my twins group who are still exclusively breastfeeding without issue. I simply just didn't make enough milk to feed my two babies. End of story.
Sure, many studies have proven just how much better breast milk is for babies. And I don't deny that! But this is my reality, these are my babies, and I'm not going to waste any time beating myself up because I can't nurse them anymore. Come on, I beat myself up enough as it is.
Mainly though, the proof is in the pudding, the "pudding" being my scrumptious, healthy baby boys. Knock on wood, they are growing and thriving and happy as can be. They've never been sick (even when Mommy has gotten sick herself), they are handling a variety of foods without issue, rolling all over the place, and babbling like two old biddies at a bridge game. Although they're average height and weight, they have big, pink chubby cheeks and roly-poly thighs that make them look pretty robust. No, I'm not going to feel badly about feeding them formula because I can't imagine them doing any better than they already are. Not to mention the fact that my brother and I were never breastfed and, growing up, we rarely had to stay home sick from school. Of course, maybe that's all just genetics, but how can I think that formula is so bad when I was weaned on it myself?
Study after study tells us what's "best" for our babies and, in an ideal world, we want to give it to them. But, I say, screw the studies! In real life, not lab life, babies thrive in all sorts of "less-than-ideal" environments, becoming happy, well-adjusted little people despite the fact that they weren't breastfed or spent too much time in the baby jumper or were sleep trained. Somehow, a lot of babies turn into remarkable children and adults, despite the fact that Mommy works full-time or they don't have a Daddy or a sibling or a backyard.
Want to know why? Because a baby who is loved and cared for is already getting the best. A baby with a happy Mommy and a happy Daddy (or two of each) is already getting the best. A baby whose family is making choices for him or her based on their lifestyle and what works for them is already getting the best. Love, care, patience, joy, affection. I don't think anything could be better for a baby than that.
Do you feel guilty about giving your babies formula?