The Breastfeeding Diaries: Erica from Whimsical September

December 3, 2014

 Hi everyone! My name is Erica and I blog over at Whimsical September. A few months days ago, before I started a big grocery shopping trip at Target, I went over to Customer Service and returned a swimsuit that I'd purchased in Tucson last weekend. The 28ish bucks went back on my Target RedCard, and I proceeded straight to the baby section to start my shopping. I picked up a tub of Similac Sensitive (the only brand that doesn't make her stomach upset) that will last Hadley six to seven days, and then I noticed the price was within a dollar of the swimsuit I'd just returned.

My next thought was this (please don't judge me) -
I could literally buy four new swimsuits every single month
for the price that I'm paying for formula. Oh my stars.

I've always known (because I've always heard) that formula is terribly expensive, but I was never worried about the cost of formula when I was pregnant because I knew that I'd breastfeed. I never did research on the pros and cons of breastfeeding because I was confident in my decision; it seemed like the obvious choice for me for a few reasons:

I was going to be a stay at home mom, so I'd have the time it requires.
Breastmilk is free free FREE!
It's the best I can give Hadley nutritionally (the human body is an amazing thing, right?).
We'd hopefully create "that bond" I'd heard moms speak of.
Basically, I couldn't think of any reason not to breastfeed.

I got my first dose of "breastfeeding reality" about 16 hours after Hadley was born. She wouldn't latch. The nurse tried helping me repeatedly, but Hadley was hungry and wasn't having it. The nurse brought in a hospital-grade breast pump for me to use so that I could at least feed Hadley until we got the breastfeeding thing down.

Over the course of my two-day stay in the hospital, I never had to use the pump again. Hadley was breastfeeding really well, and any time I had the slightest issue getting her set up, I'd buzz a nurse or lactation consultant to help me out. I absolutely, positively refused to go home and have trouble. I'd heard of so many women who desperately wanted to breastfeed and spent weeks with a consultant trying to get it down, so I was determined to "have it down" before going home. I left the hospital feeling very blessed that we were having such an easy go at breastfeeding. It didn't hurt a bit, and Hadley was a happy girl. High fives all around.

We got home from the hospital around 1 p.m., and by that night Hadley was flipped out. She refused to breastfeed and went absolutely loco every time I tried. My new-mama fatigue was setting in, so I grabbed my new breast pump out of the closet, quickly set it up, and went to town. Hadley took the bottle like a champ and passed out with a full belly.

 I was in love with this pump, and my journey with exclusive pumping had unknowingly begun.
Over the course of the next week, Hadley refused to breastfeed. I'd try and try, but seeing my pump sitting on the floor was such a guaranteed "out" from her crying. I visited a lactation consultant about a week after she was born, but nothing seemed to help.
My not-so-secret is that I really loved pumping. I loved it, so much that I didn't understand why more people didn't do it. I'd never heard of anybody exclusively pumping before, but once I started doing research on it, I realized there was a whole community of people just like me pumping for the same reasons I was. 
 Reasons I loved exclusively pumping:
  • She was still getting breast milk.
  • It was still free.
  • I could feed her a lot faster (this was a huge plus in the middle of the night).
  • Friends and family could help feed her (Jamie loved it).
  • I could run errands and always have a bottle ready to go.
 I love this picture from Christmas 2013 when Hadley's great-grandmother was feeding her. Priceless!

The only major drawback for me was that I was constantly worried that I wasn't creating that bond with Hadley that I'd always heard about. Truth be told, I didn't feel like I was missing out though. To make things even more complicated, I felt guilty that I didn't feel like I was missing out. It was weird. A new mama's rollercoaster of emotions is so dang wild!

I continued my love affair with my pump until our cross-country move from Tennessee to Arizona started staring us straight in the face. When she was just about four months old, about a week before our road trip, I decided that I was done. I was tired of the time it took to pump (in hindsight it was only about an hour a day spread out over 24 hours), and thinking about incorporating pumping/storing breast milk while driving across the country added an element of stress to our move that was really too much for me to handle mentally and physically.

I started researching formula and supplementing before I went cold turkey. I'll admit that the first time I gave Hadley formula, I cried. That may sound very silly, but it was the first time she was being nourished by something that my body hadn't created for her. I got over "that" quickly, and started falling in love with how simple formula feeding became.

Fast forward 4.5 months to today, and we're still going strong with formula. At a cost of $4-5 a day, our bank account has really taken a hit. I totally understand and accept that babies are expensive, but swallowing the formula costs has been difficult for me because I know that there was an alternative to formula that I decided to give up sooner than I technically "had to".

I've been doing a lot of thinking over the last few weeks about what I'll do with my next baby (whenever that may be). In my opinion, there are so many pros and cons to all three options: traditional breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, and formula feeding. Right now I'm leaning towards trying my hardest to breastfeed and not use that pump so quickly as an "out". If I do decide that exclusively pumping is my thing again, we'll definitely invest in a small deep freezer (we could use one anyway) so that I can stockpile the heck out of breast milk the first few months. I can't see myself pumping for a whole year, so realistically stock piling as much as I can in the beginning is very appealing to me. At the end of the day, if formula will help my sanity with baby #2, then formula we will do!

Many moms have some very strong opinions about this subject, and I have a very strong opinion too.
What is right for one mom and her baby
may not be right for the next.
I've been asked a few times by friends of mine what I suggest as far as feedings go since I've done all three of the aforementioned options. My advice in a nutshell would be to pick what you want to do that you think will work the best with your desires and your lifestyle (are you a SAH mom or working mom, etc.) and try your hardest to make it work. If the route you've picked doesn't work, try not to stress about having to do things differently. Focusing on doing what's best for you, your family, and your baby (whatever that route may be) should be top priority.

My motivation for writing about something so personal is the idea that my experience and my words may encourage a soon-to-be mom or new mom who is deeply struggling with this topic as I know so many do. Please feel free to share this post with anyone who you believe could use it.

Thanks for letting me share my heart on this one! I'm so far from a perfect mom (I really don't know what I'm doing 99% of the time), but I do feel like this is one issue I've learned a lot about due to trial and error. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this topic further (especially those who are considering exclusively pumping). 
Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries series at the top of my navigation bar. 

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3 Responses to “The Breastfeeding Diaries: Erica from Whimsical September”

  1. Preach! Girl, I'm with you on what is right for you might not be right for someone else. As momma's, we need to SUPPORT each other instead of fighting. I'm also with you on not knowing what I'm doing 99% of the time and I'd like support instead of criticism. I already judge the crap out of myself, I don't need other mom's doing it, too!

    I breastfed Hadley's first year of life (still do when she wants it- usually nap/bedtime...somehow we regressed haha!) But had to pump at work, at home for back up milk, etc. and HATED it! I hated being attached, cleaning the parts, and Heaven help me when I spilled freshly pumped milk.

    I have no idea how I'll breastfeed/pump next time around with a toddler running around keeping me busy. Who knows, maybe next time formula will be best for us then?! And hopefully I'll have some good support :) Thanks for your post!

  2. I am still breast feeding my 13 month old daughter & am expecting my second child in the summer. I've always just assumed I'd breast feed again because I'm a SAHM now. I hated pumping when I was working so I was having to feed, pump, clean pump parts, clean bottles at just about every feeding. It was just too much for me. I think it gave me a bad taste for pumping. I don't know what clicked as I read this, but I think I will seriously consider pumping for baby #2. The "bond" is great, to a degree. My hubby really wishes he could be more help with our daughter but because of that breastfed bond, Daddy usually doesn't cut it. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I'm right there with you girl! You did great!!! With my 1st I pumped for 7.5 months and now with my 2nd I made it 1 week shy of 4 months. We moved (lived in a hotel for a month) and it was soooo stressful. My supply took a hit and moving with a 2 year old and 4mo was hard enough, not to mention trying to pump.


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