I Gave My Exclusively Breastfed Daughter Formula and This is What Happened

I was so determined to make it through her first year of life without ever needing to supplement.”

Today was hard.

No, today was more than hard.

Today beat me. And it beat me badly. It was just one of those days. I woke up and immediately things were going awry.

First, I woke up in a sweat from a nightmare so horrifying I had even been crying in my sleep.

Second, I went to the bathroom to discover an old friend had paid me a visit. Sigh. Twenty-one glorious months without Aunt Flo coming to town was now a thing of the past.

Next, I walked out of the bedroom and was suddenly reminded of all the things I put off doing the night before to instead binge-watch Downton Abbey.

Dishes in the sink. Laundry to be folded. Counters to be wiped. And since we just moved into our house a week ago — a ton of unpacking to be done. Not to mention, we are currently suffering through plumbing issues and A/C malfunctions.

All of these things already set us up for a difficult day, but none of these inconveniences is what truly did us in.

Long story short, my daughter cried a lot. And I cried even more.

I don’t blame her. She is teething, fighting a cold, and trying to adjust to the move. Her nap schedule has been anything but consistent over the last few weeks. In her mind, napping is for the birds anyway. She is learning to walk and climb, and she’s been all about the solid food lately. She has a lot going on. So I get why she was a cranky pants all day today.

I started the weaning process about two weeks ago. I simply dropped one of my pumping sessions before bed and began feeding her more solids throughout the day. But then a week ago, I came down with a sinus infection — which means I have been taking antibiotics. So, on top of my milk supply decreasing due to weaning, my supply took an even bigger hit because of the infection and medication. I quickly started running out of stored breast milk, and before I knew it, I six ounces left.

I tell you this because it helps give context to the events that took place during today’s afternoon nap time.

You know, the thing that did us in today.

I nursed my daughter in the rocking chair as usual. Lights off, sound machine on, boob out. She started fussing while nursing, which is unusual for her (even while teething). I tried switching sides, changing positions, and massaging my boobs to encourage milk flow.

No dice.

Her fussing quickly escalated to screaming — which is even more unlike her.

I quickly went to the kitchen and warmed up the last bag of frozen breast milk we had stored in the freezer. She guzzled it down in less than a minute. No joke.

Yet, the screaming continued. She kept reaching for the bottle — clearly trying to tell me she wanted more.

She was still hungry.

I remembered I had four more ounces of breast milk in the fridge that I randomly pumped yesterday (and thank goodness I did). I quickly warmed it up, and she guzzled that down, too.

Finally, she was satisfied. I don’t know what I would have done if she wasn’t. She’s been exclusively breastfed her entire life, so we don’t even have formula in the house.

I laid her down thinking all was well now and she would drift off to sleep in no time.

Nope. Wrong.

Not even two minutes passed before she was standing up. She looked directly into the monitor camera and began wailing. I scooped her up and brought her back into the family room to hang out for awhile.

Instead of playing happily as she usually does, she whined and cried to be held. As soon as I picked her up, she squirmed and fussed to be put down.

We played this fun game for an hour.

Needless to say, I was tired and she was tired. We both needed a break.

I texted my husband (while both me and my daughter were sobbing), begging him to come home. And about 45 minutes later, he did.

God bless that amazing man.

But man, did I felt like a failure.

I was overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted. The worst part? I struggled to feed our daughter today. My trusty-boobs-of-liquid-gold quit on me.

After wallowing in self-pity for awhile (typical for me), I swallowed my pride. I decided to order formula to be delivered to our house in case we needed it for bedtime. (Yes, I use the Shipt app to order all of our groceries and other items we need throughout the week because that’s one less thing on my plate).

Honestly, ordering that formula seemed to shove the knife of failure deeper into my chest. I was so determined to make it through her first year of life without ever needing to supplement. For whatever reason, there was some sort of stigma about feeding my daughter formula instead of breast milk.

I saw it as second-best.

I don’t exactly know why I felt that way. I have always been an advocate for “fed is best,” and am always encouraging other nursing moms to feel comfortable supplementing with formula if they need to. I suppose it has something to do with feeling as though my body failed me and my daughter. Like it was something I did or even something I could have prevented.

Either way, I now feel silly for ever thinking those thoughts.

We ended up using the formula at bedtime tonight — and I am so glad we did. She happily sucked all nine ounces of it down, and drifted to sleep soundly.

As I sit here on the sofa watching my sweet girl sleep on the baby monitor, I no longer feel guilty.

I no longer feel like a failure.

I no longer feel like I fed her something that is second-best.

I feel relieved. I feel happy. I feel like a good mom.


2 thoughts on “I Gave My Exclusively Breastfed Daughter Formula and This is What Happened”

  1. That’s the right mentality! From day one with both my boys I used formula at nighttime for the same reasons. Our pediatrician was a big supporter of it as formula has nutritional benefits that breastmilk lacks. Yay to more sleep for everyone 👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

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