My hands were clenched in fists of rage…
-Don McClean’s American Pie
It was early in the morning and scrolling through my Facebook feed, when I came across an article written by Mayim Bialik of The Big Bang Theory and Blossom heyday on Kveller. If you haven’t read it and want to you can read the original article, here.
While I truly do not want to restate the article itself, please note that I have always had a soft spot for Mayim, as I did indeed faithfully watch Blossom weekly as a fan of that show being a teen similar in her age at the time this show ran. Back then it was like I was hanging out with a good friend in my home when I viewed.
Plus, I still am crushing on her nowadays as the by-the-book and science-laced girlfriend, Amy Farrah Fowler of quirky, Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory.
So, I clicked on the link to see what the article was referring to, as I was curious to what my ‘bestie’ (Mayim’s, Amy Farrah Fowler has coined this term perfectly) was dishing.
While I was reading, my hands were indeed clenched and rage (“Get Ready to Be Mad” – The first line from her article – You are damn right!) was bubbling to the surface (Thus, the aforementioned Don McClean mention).
As with any dear friend, I sincerely have to agree to disagree with the essence of her words or overall message and had to compose my thoughts in a letter you will find below, that has very little to do with this war against breastfeeding versus formula feeding nor the viral Similac commercial she is railing against here, but much more about a time when I was a new mom and also these outside factors that do come into play when I had to make this terribly, difficult decision to not breastfeed (I am still laden with this guilt many years after the fact).
Without further ado my letter:
Sorry, but as much as you claim scientific studies have proven that breast milk and formula aren’t the same and that you aren’t trying to put down those who had to formula feed for forces outside of their control, your words still cut deep to this mother, who considered you a friend for years now.
See, I was a mom, who did formula feed for reasons outside of my control.
Let me set the scene for you, because as I read your words, I was instantly transported back almost 6 years ago, right after I gave birth to my first daughter, Emma.
Before I gave birth mind you, I was all for breast feeding having bought into all the scientific studies being an educated woman with a master’s degree in math education. I, instinctively, am wired to see logic and science in through all my educational training, but then the unthinkable happened to me after I did indeed give birth.
Emma was allergic to both lactose and soy proteins, too.
I didn’t know this, of course, when I registered for the latest and greatest Medella breast pump that was suggested
pushed upon me when registering at Babies R Us for my baby registry or when I read up all about what breast feeding entailed beforehand that I could find.
I truly was naive, indeed following what science dictated, as well as what was spoon fed to me at this time.
Then, all of my previous notions came crashing down, when I did indeed give birth to my daughter late, Friday night in July 2009 and everything changed in the blink of an eye.
It was very early the next morning. I was jumping out of my skin with excitement to see and hold her again, when I had just had my first daughter finally brought back to me newly cleaned up from her earlier delivery where I had previously having bonded with the appropriate body to chest time in the delivery room. This beautiful and perfect, little baby girl now all swaddled in this striped pink and blue blanket in a pink beanie hat to match was handed over to me.
The first person to approach me, at this time, was a hospital lactation consultant as my baby had trouble latching from the first moments after delivery only hours earlier.
She was to make all this better and get me breastfeeding like a champ in no time (her words).
It was all business though and I wasn’t even allowed to enjoy those early morning moments with my little girl.
For about 20 minutes of trying, my baby screamed bloody murder and no matter what position this lactation consultant tried in her book of tricks, she wouldn’t latch.
I was told, she would come back in about an hour, because my baby just might not yet be hungry.
This went on (off and on) for about 9 hours of my baby fighting profusely and the consultant conceding defeat each time, only to return more determined.
The last straw came when this same consultant got a bit rough with my baby, because in her words, “Babies are like chickens and pretty resilient!”
My husband took one look at our precious baby girl’s tiny, little head, which now had the lactation’s hands imprinted telling me, “Get a bottle and call it a day!”
Once I did give in and do this (mind you the nursing staff must have been on skeleton crew that night as I had to walk down to the nursery and get a bottle of formula myself only having pushed out my daughter less then 12 hours earlier by this point), she guzzled down the whole 2 oz bottle.
She was indeed hungry and there was my first failed attempt at breastfeeding with a baby that stubbornly wouldn’t latch.
bullied strongly advised by the same lactation nurse to try to have my pump brought in so I could pump (at the very least) as breast is still best and to try to limit formula as much as possible.
All of this mind you occurred while, I was completely mentally and physically exhausted from labor, delivery and all else that comes with having a baby only hours earlier, as well as at a time when I should have been bonding and enjoying the earliest moments of my first born child’s life.
But I continued to do as I was told by a hospital consultant that knew better (I was only a new mom who knew nothing) being paid for her expertise and fast forward to the first night of bringing home my two day old baby, who screamed all night from 11 pm to 3 am non-stop all the while using expressed milk from my pump and trying not to supplement with formula, even though my milk wasn’t completely in and at full supply.
This went on each and every night for the first few weeks of her life with us getting very little, if at all sleep.
Finally, she was about a month old and my husband’s colleague mentioned to him in passing that she may be actually allergic to lactose (mind you the hospital nor my pediatrician at the time ever even thought to share this notion with us). However, his co-worker proceeded to share that Similac Alimentum formula, which is a hypo-allergenic formula not containing the lactose protein, as an alternative that helped save him and his wife many sleepless nights.
I still will never forget the first night, we tried this formula and she actually didn’t scream after a feeding for the first time ever. It was a miracle in plain English for our ears and tired eyes.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect and she still cried at times (What baby doesn’t cry at all?), but she definitely wasn’t screaming out in pain anymore.
By the way, I am simply one mom, who had outside forces contribute to ‘breast not being best’ for us and this is just my story from my past experience as a first time mom to a little girl, who had issues with lactose.
I know there are many other stories, as when I shared this on my Facebook page this same morning after reading and raging, I got all sorts of responses from fellow moms, who had their own own outside forces’ tale to share and tell.
I am in no way sticking up for Similac, their highly debated/criticized commercial or any formula company or even knocking those moms, who can and are able to breastfeed in sharing this, Ms. Bialik. I again honestly couldn’t care less about the video, you again were slamming to make your point.
I only care here about my own, past experience, where breast milk (or any lactose protein) physically made my baby sick with gut wrenching pain and being a mom I didn’t want to see my baby suffer (what mom would?).
Bottom line, I did what was best for my once hurting baby then (and will always now too as she is growing up) and will not be apologizing to you or anyone else anytime soon nor will I be buying what you may have thought you were trying to convey in your article. You also said you didn’t want to open up any old wounds, well check-mate and on the record you did!I will always do what is best for even now as she is growing up…
This isn’t about slamming a formula company, because selling formula doesn’t undermine breastfeeding for moms like myself who cannot breastfeed a child allergic to breast milk. Again, sometimes the ends have to justify the means. What should I have done? Let my baby suffer with each feeding just so I could give her the ‘best with my breast’?
Trust me when I say, I know the bottom line for any company (Similac included) is the god almighty dollar (This former business major knows that a profit is what it is all about and am again not here to defend Similac), but maybe the next time before you speak will remember (or even walk a mile in someone else’s shoes) this mother’s words that those outside forces for many moms (myself included) that make them have to turn to formula that for us (and again myself included), because breast might not always be the best.
Your bestie, who agrees to disagree on this.