Now that I've had a few weeks of bottle feeding under my belt, I keep comparing it to nursing. I've found that there are definite benefits and drawbacks to each. For example - going out in public. Sure, Violet looks all sweet and snuggly in this photo:
But in reality she was grabbing the nursing cover and thrashing around like a maniac the entire time we were trying to nurse. When she was a newborn nursing in public was no problem, but as she got older I felt like I was in a wrestling match. And although I became MUCH less self-conscious about nursing in public after my first few times doing it, call me crazy but I still didn't want to pull a Janet Jackson in the middle of a crowded restaurant.
On the other hand, I miss the convenience of nursing on-the-go. By the time we pack bottles, water, formula, and ice packs our diaper bag looks more bloated than Morgan Spurlock in Super Size Me:
Of course, nursing tops helped with the whole Janet Jackson thing, but boy are they expensive! I was just too cheap to buy a nursing wardrobe, especially after paying for maternity clothing. I just ended up wearing a nursing tank under my shirt most of the time, but I'm so happy that I don't have to plan my outfits around how 'easy access' they are any more.
One thing that I found very ironic is the fact that the entire time I was breastfeeding I felt like I was doing the best thing I could do for Violet - I mean, it's the food that Mother Nature intended for babies, right? But besides the immunity benefits, it turns out that it wasn't really best for my baby. Now that we are no longer nursing, Violet is such happier, healthier little girl. To compare Violet on formula to Violet on breast milk is like comparing Jekyll and Hyde.
Despite my attempts at constant nursing and an extreme elimination diet Violet was still not getting enough to eat and was reacting to the food that she did get. We didn't realize it for so long because we had nothing to compare it to - she is our first baby and we figured that she was just extra fussy. How ridiculous would you feel going to your pediatrician to tell them that your baby is fussy and poops a lot? I mean, she's a BABY. That's what they DO.
So unbeknownst to us my poor girl needlessly dealt with constant pain, hunger, and lack of sleep for over seven months. Now thanks to a prescription formula called Elecare Infant she sleeps through the night, puts herself to sleep, and (unless she is tired or poopy) is happy most of the time. And although most people will tell you that they love breastfeeding because it's FREE, I can't add that to my list of pros as our formula is one hundred percent paid for by insurance. Don't get me wrong - would I rather my daughter be healthy and foot the bill myself for regular old formula? Of course - in a heartbeat! But we look for the upside wherever we can these days.
Things I DO miss about nursing - the snuggle time, the convenience, and oddly enough, time to myself. Violet wasn't ever one to gaze lovingly into my eyes while nursing. In fact, she pretty much completely ignored me after she latched on. So I used that time to catch up on email, browse through my blogroll, and get lost in the rabbit hole that is Etsy. Now that she sucks down a bottle in five minutes flat, those days are long gone. And although I haven't noticed any ill effects yet, I know I'm going to miss burning that extra five hundred calories a day. I haven't seen a gym in 18 months, but easily lost all of my baby weight plus some. And trust me, I had a LOT of baby weight...
But the number one thing about bottle feeding? THE FREEDOM. The freedom to go where I want for as long as I want and eat what I want and drink what I want. Writing it down that way sounds really selfish, but everyone needs some time to themselves. Some babies will take a bottle of breastmilk so that mommy can have a girls' night out, but not my baby. So even if I would get the green light from the Hubster to leave the nest, I'd worry and I'd stress and I wouldn't enjoy myself at all anyway, so what was the point?
So I guess the real question is - would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Although in the end breast milk wasn't right for Violet, it IS a wonderful thing for most babies. My next baby will be breastfed and will hopefully not have the medical issues that poor V is dealing with. Will I eventually switch over to formula? Most likely yes. As a working mom it is one less stress that I will have to deal with. But until that point, we will nurse and we will nurse proudly. And although I've quoted it before, I will end with this quote from one of my favorite blogs - Becoming Sarah:
You just keep at it as long as you can, but remember: formula won’t kill your little girl and breast-milk won’t make her fly.
So to all of you of your nursing moms out there - what are your favorite things about breastfeeding? And on the flip side, what could you do without? And to all the bottle feeding mamas - what are your thoughts?
I know this can be a controversial and touchy topic for many, so please keep all comments respectful and kind.