If you’ve read some of my prior posts, you’ll know that Teapot and I had a rough start to our breastfeeding journey. Well, today, we went to the grocery store and donated just about all of our leftover formula stash to the food bank. Gathering up the stock, I felt strange. I didn’t expect to feel sad, but I did. Not about donating the formula – heck, no. Teapot’s dad and I were glad that we remembered to give it away well before the expiry date. I think seeing those yellow bottles reminded me of the start of nursing and how hard it was, and how I struggled with feeling so guilty that I couldn’t give Teapot breastmilk exclusively early on in her life.
I remember buzzing for the nurse in the hospital a couple of days after delivering because neither Teapot’s dad nor I could comfort Teapot, and she’d been screaming for what seemed like an eternity. The nurse gently suggested the idea of formula, because my milk was taking its sweet time to come in and Teapot’s weight had already started dropping. I remember Teapot’s dad offering up the bottle and Teapot drinking its contents so fast and so hungrily, and I remember being grateful that now we knew what was wrong, and terrible because what was wrong was me.
I remember buying two huge flats of formula and hurrying out into the parking lot where Teapot’s dad was waiting and scanning, scanning for our car, where was the damned car. I felt so many eyes on me, staring at my purchase and judging.
I remember nursing and nursing and nursing. And then when I couldn’t stand it any more, I remember pumping as fast as Teapot’s dad could feed her and then finally allowing him to open a bottle of formula to top her up after we’d been struggling along for an hour – sometimes more.
I remember so many people asking me if I was breastfeeding her and me having to say, “Yes, for the most part.”
I remember being grateful that we could afford formula, because holy crap that shit is expensive, and grateful that Teapot had something to eat. And I was sad, too, every time we had to buy more. Sometimes I would look at the amount of formula we’d have to top her up with each day and think, I just need to make x mls more. Sometimes it was just 30mls. Sometimes it was 90mls. I googled how to boost production. I drank litres of milk, ate a whole bag of almonds, made oatmeal every day. I considered asking my mom to make fish soup.
I remember talking/texting/emailing all of my friends that had children and asking them about supplementation. And while none of them had needed to give formula for more than a few days, or at all, they all reassured me that I was doing what was best for Teapot. Food was food was food, whether it came from my body or from the store. And I remember nodding in agreement and thinking darkly that I was broken.
Eventually, my body caught up with Teapot’s needs – thanks to nursing as much as I could, pumping, getting enough rest, eating properly and staying hydrated. We stopped having to supplement around the 3.5 month mark – and then Teapot starting refusing the bottle, which is a whole other post! I look back now and I wish I could have seen through the haze of hormones and unrealistic expectations to have been kinder to myself. Recovering from major abdominal surgery, dealing with sleep deprivation – it all takes a toll. And besides, Teapot got fed. She’s growing and she’s strong and happy. Ultimately, that’s the goal.
So we ended up with the above stash just sitting under a chair in a box in Teapot’s room. Teapot’s dad noticed the impending expiry dates and I knew that we weren’t going to be using it. So off you go, formula stash. I hope you feed a bunch of hungry babies and help them grow big and strong.