I can't breastfeed. Not fully, anyway. I mean, I have all the mechanisms, the nipples are there and connected to the milk ducts. The milk ducts are present and whole and connected to the glandular tissue... but that's where we run into troubles. I just do not have enough glandular tissue thanks to Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT) and likely my PCOS plays into the issue (I know, not ALL women with PCOS have troubles with breastfeeding, some even have extra milk to spare, but many women with PCOS struggle with supply, just the nature of the beast).
I have worked through immense guilt because of this. With my first, I had no idea my PCOS could cause troubles. I had never heard of IGT. I just assumed the hospital screwed things up for us while my son was in the NICU and I never was able to regain what I had lost despite working my butt off for it.
I suspected IGT with my third, but went for it anyway, only to have her diagnosed with failure to thrive.
I have done it all. And I'm doing even more in preparation for my third. But my hopes aren't high. I don't truly believe I'll be able to fully breastfeed this baby either.
I have to go to formula for my babies sometimes. I work my everlasting butt off tracking down donor milk, but the donors aren't always there. When I went to buy a can of formula for my daughter for the first time (she was a little over six months old), I bawled the whole way to and from the store. I can't imagine the mess I looked standing in the checkout, sniffling and red eyed. May people choose formula. Many people don't feel bad when breastfeeding doesn't work and they switch to formula. Babies are just fine on formula. *I* was formula fed. So why do I care so much? Because I've done all the research. Because I KNOW what goes into formula and the possible health side effects. I know the benefits of breastfeeding beyond optimal nutrition. No one can make me feel guiltier than I make myself feel, and there is just nothing I can do to change my situation. So, I've worked hard on coming to peace with my setbacks. I have two incredibly healthy, bright kids in my life. My daughter, according to our family doctor, is advanced with her milestones.
So when I'm scrolling through my news feed and I see post after post about the benefits of breastfeeding from the pages I've chosen to subscribe to, I don't get angry. I don't feel judged. I didn't make the choice not to breastfeed. The choice was made for me and it has been painful. Occasionally I wince when I see those posts. Sometimes I scroll past without reading. But the fact being out there that breastfeeding is normal and healthy and far more beneficial than formula feeding doesn't make me feel like the person who shared that post, or researched that information, is judging me in my specific situation or, more personally, *me* for not being biologically capable of breastfeeding my children.
I get irritated every time an admin of a page (myself included) needs to post a disclaimer that information shared on our respective pages is not intended to judge or shame anyone, only to educate.
Recently, someone posted on Lactastic Mommy a comment along the lines of, "Why are you people always judging people who don't breastfeed?". I was taken aback. It's one of the most non-judgmental pages I know. The admin herself offered me her phone number and messaged me privately regularly, offering support while I struggled to breastfeed my daughter. She herself has formula fed. I'm sure someone just popped on a pro-breastfeeding page and made a troll-y comment, but at the end of the day, they picked the really wrong page to do that. And truly, most every breastfeeding page I subscribe to, is informational and supportive, not judgmental.
If you choose to formula feed, you would do well to educate yourself on why you might try breastfeeding down the line. But your choice to formula feed, even if done in the ignorant belief that formula truly is similar to breast milk, it's a choice you made and you ought to own it. If you feel guilt over a choice you've made, maybe you should evaluate for yourself WHY you feel guilt over that choice, why you feel offended by learning information about why that might not have been the best choice, don't jump to a judgy place.
So post on, breastfeeding enthusiasts and activists. I'm right there with you!