In the end, my only decision was to make no decision. I approached the situation like a science experiment. I would let my daughter lead the way, not push her to latch if she couldn’t, and not go to any heroics. I would let whatever happened, happen organically. No expectations.
I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know what I hoped. I did know one thing, though. My daughter might not end up getting as much breastmilk as her brother had, but she would get something else Leo never got, in those first months: a real mother, one who be focused on her, rather than the number of ounces dripping out of a Medela pump.
Labor went quickly, the second time around. Singing along with Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days,” about happiness hitting like a bullet to the head, I pushed through one contraction, and laughed my daughter Lucy into this world.
The nurse handed her over and I laid her on my bare chest. I wasn’t thinking; I was in a state of pure emotion, pure instinct. Lucy looked up at me with sleepy, calm, newborn eyes, and latched on. Perfectly.
I breastfed my daughter for three blissful days. I nursed her until the nerve pain started; until the first fuzzy shadows of postpartum depression began creeping into my peripheral vision; until the pump started talking to me, whispering yousuckyousuckyousuck, just like last time. But this time, I knew I didn’t suck. I knew she’d thrive on formula like my son had. This time, the decision would be mine, and not made for me by fate, or the formula company, or the breastfeeding police.
And in the end, she was fed. And in the end, she was loved. And in the end, that’s really all that matters.
The foregoing is adapted from Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, And Why It Shouldn’t, by Suzanne Barston. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from University of California Press, 2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA.
Suzanne Barston is the former editor-in-chief of a regional parenting magazine who now works as a freelance writer, a social media advisor for a parenting website, a blogger, and the mother of two-year-old daughter and four-year-old son. Consequently, she is battling an addiction to caffeinated beverages, and often leaves the house with Yo Gabba Gabba stickers mysteriously adhered to her backside. Her blog, FearlessFormulaFeeder.com, provides support, perspective, and community for bottle-feeding parents in more than 50 countries.