My right to choose
I was raised by a brilliant mother who truly inspired me. Since I can remember, all I wanted was to have babies “one day”. I thought that when the time came to have them it would come easily and naturally to me. But my journey presented choices that took me down a path I did not expect.
I couldn’t get him to latch
My gorgeous first born, Grayson was born through Cesarean. I remember being so terrified to leave the hospital because I was worried about how I was going to feed him. We just couldn't get breastfeeding right between us. As hard as he tried, as much as I did what I could, we just couldn't get it. The only time he managed was with the help of a particular nurse. When she was on duty at the hospital she would manoeuvre my breast into all sorts of positions, all the while moving his tiny little lips to latch. I was so grateful whenever she came on duty. I would immediately call her to help us.
I felt like a failure but I had to make sure that he ate
Obviously I couldn't bring the nurse home with us so I had to figure it out. My mother and two sisters-in-law did their best to help. By then, I didn't care who grabbed my breasts as long as Grayson could eat!
The longer this went on the more stressed out I became. In turn, Grayson picked up on my stress and so the cycle continued. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. I got some formula, made him a bottle and that was that. He ate. He was fed. He was happy. I was happy. I chose that was best for us.
My heart's desire was to still breastfeed so I carried on pumping and trying to get him to latch where I could but by 2 months old he was fully on formula. At first I felt like a failure when I made the switch. However, in hindsight, I realise that my choice was for him to have what he needed. Whether it be breastmilk or formula, all that matters is that he didn't go hungry.
And then round 2 began
I fell pregnant with Harvey within a year after Grayson’s brith. At first I was very excited but once the elation subsided, fear settled in. I was dreading having to go through that breastfeeding ordeal again. The fear didn’t last long though because the clever little poppet took to breastfeeding like a duck to water. I’m sure that a large part of the reason was because of how much more relaxed I felt after his birth. I was definitely more settled in as a mom and more confident in myself.
Harvey breastfed happily for 3 months but he was a very hungry boy and my milk became less and less. I was pumping significantly less milk each time. After 3 months I made the choice to also switch him to formula. A part of me regrets this because I would do anything to have those feeding moments back where I would just stare at his perfect face and stroke his little cheeks.
He couldn’t keep his bottle down
The transition wasn’t smooth. Harvey became quite colicky during the switch from breastmilk to formula milk. He couldn't keep the bottles down at first and often spat them all up. There was a time where we all walked around with little towels over our shoulders, guests included! The spitting up happened at all hours of the day and night but the colicky crying spells mostly only happened at night. The only remedy was to just hold him and to sing to him or rock him. I also remember keeping him upright a lot and not burping him too much.
We couldn’t access specialised formula to help him
With all his spitting up, I was worried that he might not be getting enough in terms of feeds but I'm grateful that he stayed on track with his weight. Living in Zimbabwe we couldn’t go the specialised formula route because we had limited access to supply so we did our best to support him with all the recommended methods. These included smaller and more regular feeds, a soothing feeding environment and some homeopathic remedies. The colic eventually stopped after a month. If I had to do it again I would have definitely chosen to move him on to a specialised formula.
I had to fight off guilt and expectations
Having two babies so close to each other was a tough time for our family, especially with so many sleepless nights due to Harvey’s condition.
I made it through by tag teaming with my husband and my mom. I’m forever grateful for my close family bonds and support, especially at times when the frantic crying continued for hours. You tend to question yourself a lot as a mother in times like that. There are guilt feelings, expectations set by society and tremendous tiredness which also clouds your own judgment.
Ultimately I chose #fedisbest and that is good enough
All I can say to the other moms out there, whether you breastfeed or formula feed - it's your personal choice. Don't let anyone judge you or make you feel anything less than you are, an incredible mother! We all have moments of guilt, whether that be giving formula milk instead of breastmilk, when we have a lazy lie in one day or when we sneak in an episode of our favourite series instead of pushing them on the swings. We just need to remember that we are heroes to these little people and there has to be some balance in order to keep our own sanity. Ultimately, you get to choose what is best for you and your little ones.
Janna and her family: from left son Grayson, 5 years old, husband Warren, daughter Erin, 16 years old and son Harvey, 3 years old.
MyMilkClub is about sharing experiences and supporting each other. We launched the #mymilkjourney series to share stories from other mamas about their experiences on their milk journey. If you have a flair for writing and would like to share your story get in touch
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. MyMilkClub reserves the right to its opinions and fully supports the notion of promotion that breast is best in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) infant feeding guidelines. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life, and continued breastfeeding with complementary foods for up to two years of age. Breast milk is the best food for infants. Good maternal nutrition is essential to prepare and maintain breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not possible, an infant formula may be used according to the advice of registered health professionals. Preparation and storage of any infant formula should be performed as directed on the tin in order not to pose any health hazards.