I have a 14 week baby boy, and I breastfed for the first week, but due to various issues I had to give up and give him formula instead. I was so sure I would succeed with him as I had failed with my daughter, but once again it went horribly wrong. But ever since then I've had the most awful guilt for not breastfeeding him, and I'm finding it very difficult to accept that I didn't manage to breastfeed. I'm constantly going over it in my head, wishing I had done things differently and worrying that I've compromised his future health. Whenever breastfeeding is mentioned online, or when a friend is successfully breastfeeding I just feel like a complete failure, and the guilt is renewed.
On top of all that I feel embarrassed to bottle feed him in public, and fear peoples' disapproval. It doesn't help that our homeschooling groups tend to have a lot of lactivist types, which makes me feel even worse. I've yet to go to a group since his birth for this reason.
How can I get over these feelings? I just feel like I've completely let down both of my children.
Just grieve it for now. Cry, feel bad when you need to. The baby I'm holding now was born at home but due to illness spent his first week in the NICU being poked, prodded, and pumped with antibiotics. It was hard (and still is) to accept the loss of his newest days. Time helped me, occasionally crying, sporadically worrying about his future health, and caressing his little feet that were once covered in tiny scabs from blood draws. I still am sad when I see new babies WITH their mamas but it's not as harsh as it was a year ago.
Be strong about your decision. Know your baby is getting nourishment. Hug him close when you grieve. Hold your head high even when you may not feel it. Hugs to you !!!!
Hope some of that makes sense!
Me: Sarah, married to: J, mommy to: C (8/10) and E (11/12)
I think it's okay to feel bad, but it's okay to be fine with it too. I gave up on breastfeeding around 6 weeks after many issues and many attempts to fix them. Logically I know that I exhausted every available avenue but emotionally I still kept thinking about "maybe there is something I could have done", you know? I felt like being part of the natural baby/birth community I should be breastfeeding and if I couldn't then I should feel bad about it. But frankly, it was a relief to stop, it let me spend less time stressing and worrying, and more time snuggling with my baby. I felt like I could do a lot more of the AP stuff with her than previously when I was so engrossed in the breastfeeding issues, there were lots of positives that came out of it.
I never felt like anyone made me feel bad for bottle feeding, and honestly I always tried to have a "breastfeeding type" experience even though it was with a bottle. We always snuggled to feed, spending that time together like we would have if I was BF-ing. And though lots of people say it, DD really is just fine even though she was mostly formula fed. She is strong, tall, healthy, bright, spirited, and attached. I don't think she was harmed by it and honestly while I think what they are fed as babies is important, it is just one part of the larger puzzle. Letting go of the guilt and enjoying your baby is the best you can do for him now, as well as continuing with the other aspects of a healthy lifestyle that you would have done anyway.
I don't know if that helps, I have trouble expressing myself on this issue, maybe because it is tangled up in so many powerful memories and emotions for me still. I'm expecting baby #2 in a few months so I may be in the same situation you are.
Sere234; that makes a lot of sense, I can imagine that having a baby in the NICU would definitely bring about the same sort of feelings, although I think you must have had it much worse than me having to be apart from him at the start; that must have been really tough.
Ola; what you have said is exactly how I feel concerning the natural parenting community! And you're right about the positives. One of the reasons I gave up was because I was incredibly miserable; I dreaded my son waking up and could not enjoy him at all. I could spend no time with my daughter, and when I announced that I was giving up, her face lit up. My partner also convinced me that I should stop because he saw the effect it was having on me. When I first stopped there was so much relief, and suddenly I could enjoy my baby boy for the first time.
But soon after the guilt came, and the very mention of breastfeeding brought me to tears. And I was so jealous of all the people who could do it, and it made me wonder why I can't when everyone else can. But on the positive side, I did buy the best formula I could; it's completely natural goats milk formula. But I still worry about his future health, and also his immune system as we're not vaccinating.
Thank you both for your responses, they are very helpful.
Your feelings are normal because you care. I was very judgmental when I saw moms bottlefeeding when I was pregnant with my first baby. Never did I imagine that in spite of my best efforts and lots of support, I would be bottlefeeding her. I just decided I was doing the best I could. I bonded through holding her in the breastfeeding position with the bottles and rarely let anyone else feed her the bottles (just as a nursing mom would be the only one feeding her baby). We bonded wonderfully. And now she's 13 years old and we have a great relationship and she's a very good person who is in touch with her feelings and the feelings of others. She has a great immune system and other than her Celiac Disease (which she inherited from her dad) she's a healthy kid with perfect attendance in school for years.
My second child was even more extreme, she had to be tube-fed until she was 6 years old. You can imagine my feelings of loss that I did not even get to hold her bottles for her. But again, I held her close and we bonded in other ways. And she also is a great kid and will be 10 next month.
The main thing is to be attached to your baby, respond to his cues, hold him a lot, talk and cuddle, and extend that bonding to other areas as he grows. And hold your head up high. You love your baby very much and you are doing the best you can. Your son will not hold it against you at all. He knows you love him and that's the most important thing by far.
- nettlesoup i know how you feel but for different reason i felt that way with my first dd cause i got sick and could not breastfeed her but was able to breastfeed my second son for awhile till i startede haven a low milk supply and my third son i breast feed him but it was make him sick so i had to stop he had a protien allgery so i could not have that bond with him that i so wanted so i would say cry when you want to cry because you try but for your own reason could not do it and it was hard on you and your baby from what i see in your post is know you can bond with your baby in a better way and plus i know how you feel about the guilt cause i, going thru that right now with my 6 week old cause i am haven to give her formula cause she got sick and my milk supply went way down i am try to get it back up but nothing seem to be helping with that so i have gotten to the point that i cry every time i feed her cause i feel like i cant provide her with what she needs