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Failing

Giselle Bundchen is such a bitch.  Not because she’s tall and thin and rich and beautiful.  (And really, that last one is debatable.  Stu – smart, smart man that he is – said Giselle is way too skinny.  Yay, Stu!!  Good husband.)

No, this week, Giselle got her name in my bitch book because of something she said two years ago.  Remember this?

According to Giselle, any woman who gives her baby formula, for whatever reason, is basically poisoning her kid and breaking the law of the universe that says one boob fits all.  So to speak.

It was a bitchy thing to say, and her lame backtracking was just as bad, but I didn’t really dwell on it until this week.  This week, it hit home hard.  And I decided that Giselle needs to shut up all over again.

Really though, it’s not Giselle I’m mad at.  It’s me.

Amira was doing all good until a month ago.  We went to the doctor, got her all shot up with her vaccinations, and had her weighed.  She came in at the 3rd percentile for weight.  That’s right.  Not 30th.  3rd.  So the doctor said she needs to gain weight faster, and that I should feed, feed, feed her and bring her back in a month for another weigh-in.  It’s like Weight Watchers for babies, but the scale should be going up, not down.

So over the course of the month, I feed Amira as I always have – whenever she asks for it, and as much as she wants (or so I thought), and I think we’re doing okay.  I notice that I don’t have as much breast milk as I used to, but the internet machine tells me that my body has just adapted to Amira’s needs, and doesn’t need to make more than that.  And during this time, Amira’s getting fussier, and I wonder if she’s teething.

We go back to the doctor a couple of days ago, where we find out that Amira has fallen below the 3rd percentile for weight.  It’s not that she didn’t gain any weight, she just didn’t gain enough.  The doctor asked me if Amira has been fussy.

Me: Yeah, I think she’s teething.

Doc: No, she’s hungry.

She may as well have just ripped my heart out of my chest right then and there.  She’s hungry.  So all this fussing has been because I haven’t been producing enough milk to keep her full.  I could have just died.

The doctor suggested I try herbal supplements before turning to a prescription to increase my milk supply.  She suggested I use the breast milk I pumped and stored in the freezer to top up my baby after each feeding.  Those precious drops of liquid gold that I’ve been saving in case of an emergency.  Well, this is an emergency.

She suggested I consider supplementing with formula, and indicated that if I run out of frozen breast milk, and my supply doesn’t increase, that’s what I’ll have to do.  And that’s when Giselle’s comments came back to me.

Bitch.

I’ve done everything I can to keep Amira fed naturally.  I’ve gotten up countless times in the middle of the night.  I’ve fed her in our home and others, in restaurants and on park benches.  I got up in the middle of the night to pump excess milk so I would have a stockpile in the freezer.  I’ve resisted giving her formula – even when others told me it would help her sleep longer through the night – because I’m her mother.  Feeding her is my job.  It’s the most natural thing in the world.  I know lots of women have trouble breastfeeding, or choose not to for their own reasons.  But this was never a choice for me.  Even in the throes of my pregnancy, when I was most apathetic about it, still, I knew I would breastfeed her.  Because I’m her mother, and that’s my job.

And now I’m failing.

I’m failing at the most natural thing in the world.  At the thing all mothers in the animal kingdom do for their children.  I can’t just feed my daughter the way I’m supposed to. Now it’s “take these herbs” and “pump at this time” and “top up after this feeding” and maybe give her the formula.

Oh, the formula.  I don’t want to.  I’ll fight it tooth and nail.  But if I have to, I have to.  What can I do?  Maybe Giselle can come over and fix all my breastfeeding woes so that Amira will eat with no problem the way Giselle’s son apparently did.

I’m not here to judge what other women do with their children.  We’re all doing the best we can.  Besides, I’m way too busy judging myself.  And worrying about how Giselle and her friends are judging me.  And wishing she had just kept her tall, thin, rich, beautiful, bitchy trap shut.

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11 thoughts on “Failing

  1. Hi Fa. I’ve watched you over the last couple days and I don’t like what I see. I can’t watch you feeling guilty because you’re not producing enough milk. I can’t watch you crying silently thinking I don’t hear it in your voice. I see you try so hard to feed Amira and Amira’s decision not to take more than she wants. You can’t force it down. So my beloved daughter, just like you I’m up in the middle of the night worrying about you. Amira will be fine with whatever milk she gets because that milk will be fed with all the love you can give her. You’re an amazing mum so stop judging yourself. Keep trying what you’re trying. In the end it will be alll good. I love you.

  2. Giselle as “beautiful” is highly debatable. There’s something about her features I don’t find aesthetically pleasing like say, other supermodels. Miranda Kerr, on the other hand, MAMA CRUSHIN’

    • I miss Cindy Crawford. Naturally beautiful. Curvy and athletic. Models don’t do it for me anymore. But I’ll never just skim a picture of Halle Berry, Thandie Newton or Kate Winslet. Wow, I feel like I just aged myself!

  3. Your post made me cry – and then reading your mom’s response to your post made me cry again.

    You are not failing. I will say it 100 times and then another 100 times if you still don’t get it.

    The “breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world” thing has done nothing but make generations of women feel like failures and I’m so tired of it – it has to stop. If it was so “natural” and easy then why was formua ever invented in the first place?? It is not horrible, it is not evil, it’s JUST formula. Some babies get nothing but formula and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them – what’s wrong is the way we mothers get into our own heads about it.

    If you’re not happy, Amira’s not happy. Simple as that. Give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack, and know that love is what you both need, more than breastmilk and unrealisticly high standards.

    You are doing an amazing job with that little girl – you grew her in your body, gave birth to her, fed her around the clock for the last three months, and loved her with all of your heart.

    That certainly doesn’t sound like a failure to me.

    • It’s pretty amazing how we can reserve all our love, generosity and understanding for others, and all our judgement for ourselves.

      I know others who didn’t (and currently, who don’t) breastfeed, and my only response – the one from my heart – is, “You just do what you need to do. Being a mom is a hard thing. You’re doing fine.” But of course, my conversation with myself is totally different.

      And speaking of formula-fed only babies – Stu and his brother were both fed only formula. And I think they’re a-okay. 🙂

      Thanks for your kind words.

  4. Hey, honey – be free to care for Amira how Amira needs to be cared for. You as parents are taking the care you need as much as we prefer breastfeeding – be free! You are not a failure – there is just a breakdown against the possibility of weight gain with existing plan. I love you!
    Kathy

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  6. You. Are. Not. Failing. While breastfeeding seems like it should come naturally, it doesn’t. You are a new mom. Amira is a new baby. You both have to learn a new skill which you may or may not quite get the hang of. It’s not a failure if you can’t continue breastfeeding. It’s a challenge that has another solution. Please don’t beat yourself up. xoxo

  7. Amira definitely looked very healthy to me the last time I saw her… Has your doctor taken into account the fact that you are also likely in the 3rd percentile for weight? Perhaps Amira is also destined to be tiny? Also, the current percentiles are based on babes that are mostly formula fed and they tend to gain weight faster then breastfed babies… my pediatrician no longer uses those norms for that reason.

    I know so many new mom’s struggling with the same issue right now! Olivia was less that 1% in utero because of pregnancy complications and I also felt horribly guilty!!! If it helps, research has shown that supplementing with formula does not negate any of the benefits of breastfeeding (especially in terms of intellectual development). I did a lot of reading when I was struggling with the same thing!

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