I had my first therapy session since about two weeks before the baby was born. At that point, I was feeling pretty good about everything and optimistic about how the baby’s birth was going to go. My therapist had been a great support to me over the course of the last year. I started seeing her after I had completed the IVF stimulations and was feeling a lot of uncertainty. Since then, she has been a solid outlet for me to sort through my thoughts, vent, and just be vulnerable without judgment. But today, I kind of got the sense that she was judging me. I get that it is her goal, and well, job, to guard my mental health. But she reminded me of what I had said to her months ago about breast-feeding: I told her that I was going to try my best to breast-feed and make this work because that was what I ultimately wanted. But if it did not work, then I was not going to kill myself over it, and I would formula feed in the way that it made the most sense, so with the type of formula that best fit my baby and my own beliefs. That is to say, there was no way in hell I was going to feed my baby with corn syrup laced formula.
Well, what I said to her then still holds: I am trying my best to breast-feed and make this work. It is just not breast-feeding in the way that I had originally imagined. Breast-feeding includes nursing as well as feeding breastmilk via a bottle. A lot of people are not aware of this, and it seems really silly to me. If you are feeding breastmilk via a bottle, how is that not breast-feeding? Where the hell did that milk come from? I told her that when I first mentioned this to her, I specifically thought about breast-feeding directly on the breast. I honestly did not realize that exclusive pumping was a thing. I originally thought that women only pump milk when they were away from their children and needed to give them something to eat via a bottle. It’s because I had never meant a mom who exclusively pumped and was open about it. I was learning as I was going, and because I was lactating and had a decent supply at this point, I wanted to continue this for as long as possible. She pressed me and asked where this pressure was coming from: was it because of all the blogs or the news or the lactation consultant or even Chris? Yes, I am sure that the constant saying of “breast is best“ is probably pushing me along. I am also sure that everything I have heard from the news and all the lactation consultants is also pushing me along. But what I am most sure about is that I am putting all of the pressure on myself. I know that if I were to switch my baby to formula tomorrow and have it be exclusively formula, I would likely ignore any judgment from anyone and just do my thing. I know all of my friends would be supportive… I am not totally sure my family would be supportive but… well, whatever. But the point is that all of the pressure that matters the most to me is the pressure that I have put on myself. I want this journey to work really badly. Exclusive pumping is tough as hell, and in someways, it is even harder than nursing because you spend so much time with an electric breast pump, an animate object, versus your own baby. So a lot of the struggle is mental. It’s also a physical struggle because you cannot physically be with your baby and interacting with her in probably the way that you want to, which is feeding her from the breast. And some days are harder than others. But I am going to make this work for as long as possible, and I told her this.
She kept on insisting to me that breastmilk was not that much better than formula other than the live antibodies. But I do not agree with that. The corn syrup argument holds. I am also not certain that my baby should be eating palm oil so early on in her life and clogging her arteries… Which are teeny tiny, should I add. And yes, there are many brands of formula in this country that have palm oil. It just doesn’t make sense to me how these companies decide to put all these random pieces of crap into infant formula. That makes me angry, and I should not be feeding my child something that makes me angry.
At the end of the day, she was probably grilling me because she wanted to make sure that I was certain about my chosen path, but I am. I need the support of the people around me, both in word and in action. And if there was anyone who is not going to support my decision, I did not need to have them in my life, and that included her. She said she would be supportive of whatever decision I made, and whatever decision I made, my baby would be happy on whatever I chose to feed her with, but I really didn’t feel supported during this conversation. And that made me sad given how supportive if she has been to date.