When (baby) formula frees you

Yesterday, I caught up with a neighbor friend whose baby is 5.5 months old. I hadn’t seen her or properly spoken with her since her baby was about one month old, so I wasn’t sure how she was doing or how her pumping journey was going. Similar to Kaia, her baby just wasn’t able to suck well and was also a bit on the smaller side at birth, so she had to resort to pumping quite frequently early on. She knew my journey was still in progress, and so she leaned on me for a lot of advice and tips. She told me that while on a trip visiting family in Utah and Colorado at the four month mark, she finally just decided she couldn’t do it anymore, so she weaned herself off pumping quickly to dry up and switched 100 percent to formula. She said she already wasn’t able to provide even half of her baby’s needs with pumping, so she didn’t see a point to continue. And though she has just gotten comfortable with her baby being exclusively formula fed now, she still has pangs of guilt every now and then, especially since she still hasn’t gone back to work and won’t until January.

“I feel so liberated, though, so free!” my friend said. “I felt guilt, but I have so much more free time to just enjoy her and do other things and not be stuck connected to a pump. I can leave the house and feed her anytime, anywhere! I can hold her just for the sake of holding her. I feel like I can have a life again!”

I hear this a lot from moms who make the switch to exclusive formula feeding, that it’s freeing, liberating, gives you agency over your life and your body. It gives you more time to bond with your baby. I get all that, and last January, I momentarily even thought about just stopping. But I’m still happy I kept up pumping. It definitely has been a sacrifice, and my life certainly has not been that free because of this chosen journey, but my baby will only be a baby once, and so I have no regrets that I went this route. But what this also means for me is that whenever I do finally wean off the pump and completely stop breastfeeding, it will definitely warrant a celebration of some sort. It will be the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, plus open the doors to new ways to bond with Kaia.

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