Our daughter switched from formula to milk today and this letter “Dear Similac” has been something I have been meaning to write.
Dear Similac Baby Formula,
Thank you for the past 13 months. I have to admit, I was extremely hesitant to ever bring you home. After all, I thought I would breastfeed for at least 24 months. I thought breastfeeding would be something that came so natural to me. I love to eat nutritious meals, I’ve done several Whole 30s, I purchase free range chicken and grass fed beef, so of course breastfeeding would come effortlessly to me. But, it didn’t and it took me a while to forgive myself.
My breastfeeding struggles came early. My daughter unexpectedly went into the NICU on the day we thought we were bringing her home. After crying for hours, I started pumping so that I could bring her a good supply while she was in the hospital. But, I was stressed. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was only pumping like a maniac so that I could fill the void of her presence in the bassinet beside my bed.
I ended up producing a good amount that night (I felt so proud) and drove it over to the hospital the next morning. Luckily, she didn’t stay in the hospital long and I brought her home the next day. But, I don’t know, something was still charged within me. Whenever my baby slept, I still felt like I should be pumping.
During the first week, I was producing great amounts. But it started to decline shortly after. All the advice I was getting said to stop pumping and focus on breastfeeding. I would try that for a little bit, but then get nervous about her not getting enough so I would pump afterwards to up my production. I met with a lactation consultant because I kept having this irrational fear that she wasnt eating enough. She was a preemie and I felt as though her weight gain depended on me in more than just a normal “I need to nourish my baby” type of way. For me it felt like life or death.
After a few weeks I noticed my production was not increasing and with some guidance from my pediatrician, I decided to start supplementing with formula. We did a lot of research on brands and one made by Similac felt right. The whole time I was supplementing I was still trying to increase my milk production. I tried everything – warm compress, massage, changing my diet, using a haakaa, essential oils, lactation cookies, lactation bars, drinking beer, etc. The issue was anxiety, and I did try to calm down, but I was in a vicious cycle. My body was never going to produce milk unless I relaxed, but I couldn’t relax because I felt like a failure.
The more I used formula, the more I did start to calm down. It made me realize that my baby was getting the nutrition she needed to develop. I still rode out my pumping journey the best I could and after 6 months of only pumping 1oz (total) per day, I finally unplugged the pump at 6 months postpartum. That was a huge relief. Our daughter has been exclusively formula fed since 6 months and she is a wonderful, sweet, strong baby! She is going to be 13 months soon, and I wish I could go back and tell my 1 month postpartum self that I was not a failure.
Formula and Love are the two main reasons our daughter is healthy. And now, our daughter is eating solids and has switched over to milk. I am really grateful to have had this option. I don’t feel as though I missed out on any bonding experience. My daughter thinks the absolute world of me. She always wants to be close to me, always touching me.
Eventually we would like to have another baby, and it is already a huge relief knowing that if breastfeeding doesn’t work out, there is still a great option out there.
- Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you or someone you know has been struggling with the decision to formula feed, and you want some encouragement, reach out to me on Instagram @spinachandbacon *