We've started giving the boys formula.
Not all the time, they still mostly breastfeed, but every night before bed they get a bottle of about half of my expressed breast milk and half formula.
All the way back when I was pregnant women started saying to me, "Don't feel guilty if you can't breastfeed all the time. Don't feel bad if sometimes you have to give them formula."
But if you want to breastfeed exclusively then there's nothing anyone can say to keep you from feeling guilty.
The first time the boys got formula was in Montana when I stayed with my parents. The boys were on a weird schedule for about two days where they wanted to eat every 45 minutes. I wasn't eating, sleeping, or producing milk because my body was so stressed by their need to eat.
They would cry and I would cry and ask, "What do you want?! What more can I do?"
My mom, trying to be helpful, said "They're just hungry, and you can't make milk because you haven't slept. Maybe just once you give them formula and go to sleep and then feed them again in a few hours."
And I flipped out.
Give my babies formula? Was she joking?
When Travis called to say goodnight I yelled at him too. "My mom wants me to give the boys bottles!"
And he said, "Well... maybe you should. Just this once."
At which point in time I became not only hysterical, but also nonsensical.
"Jill started giving her baby a bottle just every once and a while and now she doesn't even breastfeed at all!" I sobbed.
Then I would sob louder and say, "God promised me that I could breastfeed, and he doesn't go back on his promises, so if I'm not making enough milk it's because I don't have enough faith!"
Then I would cry, "If I give them formula then just anyone off the street could feed them. All they need from me is milk! If I can't even give them milk then they don't need me anymore!"
And I would collapse into even greater hysterics sobbing because I felt like a serious failure. I kept repeating "I can't even feed my own children, what kind of a mother am I?"
And it's been like a month and I haven't wanted to admit that I'm giving them bottles, because it still feels a bit like failure.
But in the end, the boys were starving and I had nothing to give them, so we bought some Similac and they scarfed it down in mere minutes and then conked out to sleep for like 6 hours.
I slept, produced enough milk that I even had to pump, and felt all around better. (Although I was a bit disappointed that they accepted the formula so eagerly.)
Then on the ride home from Mt, we lost the nipple shields that I use when nursing and there was nowhere around to buy them. Without their shields the boys couldn't latch or eat, so we gave them formula again.
(I'm actually really grateful I went through my original meltdown with my parents, because I'm pretty sure I would have flipped out then too, except that I was with my father-in-law on a road trip... which would have been worse.)
Giving the boys formula was incredibly difficult, but it's actually been super helpful in the long run for several reasons:
1. I have been able to build up a supply of stored milk again, and I was completely out and couldn't give the boys bottles EVER, even of my own milk.
2. I think it helps the boys sleep better because formula digests more slowly than breastmilk so they stay full longer.
3. I also think it helps the boys sleep longer because they have a bit more of a routine at night. They always get a bottle before bed, but the breast at every other feeding.
4. I can leave. I don't usually WANT to leave, but it's nice to be able to say "I am going to run to the store, if the boys wake up and are hungry, give them bottles."
5. Travis and I were able to go on a date, because we knew that we had bottles for the babysitters to give the boys, which was wonderful.
6. We were able to go to church, which we hadn't done yet, because when the boys wake and are hungry they need food ASAP, and it's pretty much impossible for me to feed both the boys in the church bathroom.
7. It's been a relief for my body. Even though I pump after we bottle feed the boys, so I'm still producing milk at that time and whatever, it's nice that for a few short hours a day there isn't a baby hanging off of either side of me.
And even though it's cheaper, and I'm sure it's exactly the same, I still can't bring myself to buy powdered formula. We've been forking out the big bucks for the bottles of liquid formula, because it seems a bit less cruel to feed them something that looks like my milk.
As opposed to giving them something that I know is water mixed with dusty milk.
Anyway. I just thought I'd let you know that I am giving my boys formula.
I've been feeling guilty for not writing it.
Like I've been misleading my readers by allowing them to think I exclusively breastfeed.
There's a lot of guilt associated with breastfeeding, isn't there?
I hope that you don't feel guilty if you can't breastfeed, but - as I know all too well- it's a realization every woman needs to come to herself. So good luck.
And wish me luck as well.