The entire time I was pregnant with my son, one of the things I looked forward to the most was breastfeeding. I’m a researcher by nature, so I’d done a phenomenal amount of reading on the subject. I knew it was the healthiest option when it came to feeding our baby. The thought of giving my boy processed anything, let alone food, made me nearly panic. It was certainly my goal to give him the best I could. I knew it would be painful at first, but worth it in the end. Every single breastfeeding mother I knew or had read about talked of the magnificent bond it created. I wanted that more than anything. The bond that I would have with my son was definitely what excited me to the point of hyperventilation. That’s the whole point in being a mom, right?


It was in my birth plan that I wanted a few minutes of time with my boy before they took him across the room to stamp his feet, weigh him, etc. (He never left our hospital room unless it was absolutely necessary.) I wanted to try to feed him as soon as possible. One very friendly nurse had advised me during my pregnancy, “Don’t let them take him away until you’ve tried to breastfeed.” I was determined and they didn’t mind complying.


Even then, my son wasn’t a fan. I’d never met a baby that, even as a newborn, did NOT like to lay down. He always preferred to be sitting up somehow. This was, most assuredly, the issue that cut our breastfeeding experience incredibly short. For about a month, I desperately tried. I can say that, at least. I tried VERY hard. He would latch, suck, let go, then cry. He would struggle and scream until I propped him up. He couldn’t stand the positioning. He would then happily take a bottle.


It, quite literally, broke my heart. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I bawled and told my husband that I was utterly sure that I was a failure. That was the one thing that I was supposed to be able to do as a new mother.


To make it worse, we didn’t have a breast pump. We really couldn’t afford to buy an electric one and what mother of a newborn has the time to hand-pump? It was all a massive mess.


When we FINALLY got an electric pump through our local health department, it was too late. I was lucky to pump an ounce each time. It simply made everything even more horrible. I tried everything I could (minus taking weird supplements that I wasn’t sure about) to get my supply back up and it just never happened for me. I wanted my son to drink breast milk, not pre-made, processed formula. Now I couldn’t breastfeed OR pump. I was doomed.


After that, I spent a lot of time moping. My boy started drinking Similac and I labeled myself “Worst Mother in History”. How would we have the rock-solid bond that I wanted so badly if we didn’t go through breastfeeding together?


Obviously, it was my wonderful husband who pulled me out of my funk. He pointed out that I was officially a “boy mom” and, regardless of how I was currently feeling, my son was already heading down the road towards being a spoiled rotten mama’s boy. That isn’t what I wanted for my son, but it did make me feel better, haha.


He reminded me that our co-sleeping was a bonding experience as well and that I should remember that even holding the bottle for the baby would make him associate me with food. Food equals love, you know.


My son is now eight months old and as healthy as can be. I was worried the formula would turn him into one of those overly globby babies that you see on TV, but that never happened. Instead he’s taller (or longer, however you choose to put it) than most babies his age and although he has a few adorable, chubby rolls, he’s mostly an especially sturdily built little guy. He may not look like he’ll be heavy, but when you pick him up, he’ll surprise you with how solid he is.


I’ve also never had the pleasure of knowing a happier tiny person. He smiles from sun up to sundown, even when he’s as sick as a dog. He spent a week in the hospital when he was six months old and the nurses were amazed at how bright his attitude was. He’s the most perfect boy and I tell everyone that.


As for the bond between us, I can say that not breastfeeding had wholly no affect on our relationship. My husband often calls me our son’s favorite person and I won’t argue with that. Sometimes he just sits and… Stares at me. When I catch him, he grins a huge grin that is precisely my favorite facial expression in the universe.


It’s clear that not breastfeeding didn’t cause my son any problems in life. I’m extremely glad that he did get the colostrum during those first couple of weeks and that’s a comfort on the days my heart still sinks a little at the thought of not being able to be the “all natural mom” that I still want to be. The most important thing is that my son is none the wiser. Mama feeds him every day with a smile on her face, mostly from a spoon these days, but with love, just the same.


Here’s what I’ll say to any new moms out there that are struggling with this like I did.

Pay attention to your child. Every time they see you, every time they hear your voice, they’re as happy as can be. Your voice was the loudest and most present thing in their existence before they are born. Your touch is the first comforting thing they feel in the “outside world”. I firmly believe the William Makepeace Thackeray quote. “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” No matter the circumstances, you are their mother. No one can replace a mom. Could anyone ever replace yours?


- This photo is of myself, my husband, and our son. The credit goes to S M Photography!

- This article was originally posted at my blog, Fruitful Euphoria.

Published by Kylee Ellis