Breast is best, I agree. But for the first time I have a formula drinking bottle chugger…and I love it.
I breast fed all three of my children, and I had absolutely zero problems doing so. Zip. All three kids latched on like pros in the delivery rooms. No pain, great supply. My husband was completely supportive. I perfected both the “modest beneath a pink-patterned cover” and “nonchalant People’s Park boob flasher” nursing styles.
Charlie and Eve never experienced bottles. I was home with them and so was able to serve as their sole provider of milk. Breastfed exclusively for thirteen and fifteen months respectively, nary a drop of formula nor silicone nipple touched their lips.
Of course, nary a night went by that they were not up multiple times to chug my personally-made moo juice. It was exhausting.
Sure, I could have introduced bottles. But I had such an easy, blissful time nursing the babies the first three months that I missed the primo window for introducing a bottle after breastfeeding is firmly established (my pediatrician says around 4 weeks old for a full-term baby). I could have pumped so that Chris could lend a hand. But I hated the electric dairy contraption, had a tough time finding the time, never needed to leave them and oh yeah, I didn’t introduce bottles to the kids at all so there goes the milk delivery device.
For a few years there I eagerly awaited the Perfect Mom Award I believed I was going to be awarded for never giving Charlie or Eve a bottle or formula. Then I realized…no one gives a flying fart how I fed my babies.
The decision to introduce a bottle and formula to Alice was made completely on the fly. At five weeks old, around 5 p.m. one night, Alice was intermittently nursing and crying inconsolably. Was this colic? Neither of the first two kids had had that either (I know, I know, we have had it disgustingly easy). Full of that edgy anxiety that can come on during the postpartum period, I handed Alice to Chris. He could not soothe her either, and she became more agitated.
So I headed to the obscure kitchen cabinet where I had stashed, just in case, the Similac Advance gift pack from the hospital. Inside was a newborn flow bottle and a can of powdered formula. I followed the directions for sterilizing the bottle, added the formula and tepid filtered water, and handed to Chris.
Alice chugged down four ounces, heartily burped, and then slept for six hours solid.
I kept on nursing Alice throughout the day and sometimes night, but we instituted a big bottle of formula right before bed. We kept this one bottle a day until around six months of age, when Alice began waking throughout the night and using my breasts as her favorite teething ring. We introduced more bottles. As a mom constantly on the go carting the older kids to activities and to and from school, I preferred bottles’ convenience. Alice seemed equally happy snuggling with either my boob or a bottle of the powdered stuff.
In The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood, Vicki Iovine calls bottles and formula “…a giant slippery slope that could only end in the baby and I becoming formula junkies.” I finally understood what she meant.
Also, I do not get my period when I am nursing at all. Just one nip a day from baby and Aunt Flo is off on a cruise. This sounds cool at first. No mess! Parrrty! But in actuality, it means my hormones are stalled in PMS for months. Seriously.
Once my kids get a taste of rice cereal and Cuisinarted squash at six months of age, I no longer have those post-baby “reunited and it feels so good” happy endorphins flowing through my body. I also don’t have the nice and normal ebb and flow of regular hormones that ovulation and menstruation provide.
I am stuck, stuck I say!, in a horrible PMS that feels like I am on Annuale.
I have a husband and three kids. They don’t deserve to live with a nutjob while I am praying for my period like Margaret Simon, Nancy Wheeler, Gretchen Potter and Janie Loomis combined.
So, that’s the story of how my third baby was off the boob completely by eight months. She received five-seven months less than her siblings of that magical top reading group-achieving human lactose. But on formula and solid food meals, she takes two daily naps and sleeps 10-11 hours a night without interruption. No “cry it out”, no ear infections, no reptilian scales.
I had no problems nursing, plenty of support, plenty of milk, and still I chose to wean before one year of age.
And oh yeah, I got my period, returned to my normal neurotic but not psychotic self, and lost the last 10 pounds.
Alice loves her formula, and so do I.