Let me start off by saying my dad is going to hate that I’ve written a post about my breastfeeding journey. Now in his 70’s, a father of two children who were only ever bottle fed, he’s sure I’ve been brainwashed by some flower power mommy hippy cult, and that he himself needs therapy to deal with the repercussions of having to watch me feeding his grandson in the same vicinity as him.
Perhaps he wasn’t prepared for all the breastfeeding exposure because I wasn’t prepared for it either. I’ve always had a relaxed approach to nursing, telling myself and my family “if it works, great, if it doesn’t, great.” A Libra, I pride myself on being pretty balanced about most decisions in life, and while I hoped breastfeeding would come naturally, I was ready and content with feeding my sons formula if that’s the way the cookie crumbled. I was raised on formula and I didn’t turn out too shabby if I do say so myself!
I was lucky in that from the minute both of my sons entered this world (both via C section due to a breech for #1 and failed VBAC for #2) they latched easily and I had a very healthy supply (Niagra Falls style).
I nursed my first, Eddie, for 6 months while on maternity leave. My husband was eager to get in on the feeding fun, so I was pumping and bottle feeding by 4 weeks. Overall it was a rather uneventful nursing “journey” - and I use quotations because I’m not sure it’s the most accurate descriptor. It doesn’t quite convey the hormonal tornado you swirl around in while in a state of apocalyptic zombie level exhaustion as you’re quite literally tethered to your baby for months on end. But sure, we’ll go with journey, and by all accounts mine was a pretty standard mix of beautiful highs and seemingly center of the earth level lows.
When I returned to work I enjoyed nursing him in the mornings and evenings, but pumping wasn’t sustainable. I commuted to work in NYC on my bike, and worked at a tech startup, neither of which were very pump-friendly. Eddie was weaned by 7 months and happily moved over to formula.
For Owen, born on Valentine’s Day this year, I decided to take an extended maternity leave (or at least that’s what I called quitting my job entirely). I was excited to spend more time at home with my boys, and I was happy that I would be able to extend my time nursing Owen since I’d be home with him all the time. As with my first, Owen latched easily and we were off!
Two and a half months went by and I exclusively breastfed. It was exhausting, but the second time around I felt more confident to feed on demand, and loved not having to pump regularly. Well, the diaper hit the fan around month three, when I booked tickets to go on a girls reunion trip with my best college girlfriends.
I offered Owen a bottle the same day I booked my plane tickets, and he completely rejected it.
He screamed and pulled his head away as if I was offering him a hot poker. I was shocked. I had heard about nipple confusion, and babies who would prefer the bottle, but I never expected complete bottle rejection!! I was devastated, and thrown into a panic, because I would clearly have to choose between starving my child or never seeing anyone I care about socially again for what felt like decades.
So I googled, and read dozens of posts from stressed out mamas from all over dealing with the same struggle. They recommended different bottles, so I tried them all:
The Nanobebe. Shaped like a boob (or at least a really nice fake boob), but so wide it was awkward to feed him, and he couldn’t grasp it himself. He also didn’t care for the nipple and it got a hard NO.
The Como Tomo. First kid loved these, but no latch with number two.
Nuk Simply Natural. So close! We had a few latches, a few ounces go down in between gut-wrenching earth-shattering screaming, but it was more of a surrender feeding (as in, “ok mom I’m so hungry I’ll eat an ounce but not because I’m enjoying it so continue feeling horrible”)
More bottles, more crazy stunts (feed him in the rocker, in the dark, with mom out of the house, when he’s not quite starving but juuuuuust hungry enough - cause that’s easy to figure out!!), but I wasn’t making any progress. Finally I reached out to a good friend who also trained as a doula, and she recommended me Minbie.
It arrived. The trip was one week away. I took it out of the box and immediately felt a pang of hope: this actually looked like a nipple. Washed and sterilized, I sat in the nursing chair. I offered the bottle, and HOLY CRAP HALLELUJAH HE LATCHED! He latched on just like it was mommy, and I cried tears of joy! I called my girlfriends to tell them I’d see them soon, and my doula friend who recommended me the bottle. A huge weight had been lifted.
Since that trip (and BOY was it a great trip) we’ve seamlessly integrated the Minbie into our routine. Owen’s still mostly breastfed, but now my husband can feed him and I can feel comfortable leaving him. I’ve started doing some consulting work, which wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t found a bottle solution.
Gina, New Mom