I exclusively breastfed my eleven month old son for the first six to seven months of his life. It was a challenge but I appreciated every second while it lasted. I returned to work approximately eight weeks after giving birth for several reasons but mostly because my sister graciously offered to act as our live in nanny for awhile and I was confident in her ability to care for my newborn son. I felt as if I was hovering while she tried to take care of the baby and thought to myself "Might as well get my ass back to work".
I work in a male dominated industry but was fortunate to learn upon my return that there was a room that nursing mothers could use to pump. I met some wonderful women while we coordinated our schedules. However there were other challenges to overcome. Taking an hour out of an already packed day to pump three or four times was taxing. I would regularly work on my laptop at 2:00 a.m. on Saturday nights to ensure that I was caught up.
Traveling was an adventure. The first trip I took upon my return was to Rochester, NY with three male coworkers. It is approximately a seven-hour drive. I was nervous that I would be making the drive much more tedious then it already was but I was lucky that my coworkers really liked to stop for snacks and didn't have large bladders. A major issue was pumping in public rest areas. The anticipation of a stranger knocking made me nervous, the fear of a failing lock terrified me, and the thought that my coworkers were waiting idly for me embarrassed me.
I preserved through the challenges of working full-time and traveling while exclusively breastfeeding and learned something important:
Then the unthinkable happened. I got pregnant like the world's biggest idiot. I was an idiot because had I known that my supply would disappear I would have done everything possible to ensure that it never happened. Hindsight is 20/20 and it is now four months later. I chose to make the switch to formula and it was a difficult decision for me. However due to the short span of time that he would need to consume the formula I decided that constantly beating myself up over the situation was not worth it. I did my best and that is all that anyone can do.
I have begun a countdown. There are fifteen more days until my son is one year old and I will never (God willing) have to buy formula again. My husband and I hated everything about it; the shady marketing practices (the recent chocolate toddler formula fiasco did not help), financially supporting a company that has hurt women and their children, and feeding our son something that we could not make ourselves at home.
I cannot wait for it to be over.
I will not say "Thank God for the formula or my baby would not have survived". That is not true in my case. It is definitely the case for many women but not me. My child would not have starved. I would have milked strange lactating women myself if I had to. I would have compensated them for their troubles of course but thankfully I did not have to resort to any extreme measures.
In my opinion there is absolutely nothing wrong with formula use when it is necessary. My issues with formula are the way with which it is marketed, the damage it has caused in underdeveloped nations, and the way lazy women use it as a cop out. Some lactivisits will bring up booby traps and society's ails and I agree wholeheartedly but selfish women do exist. They are more concerned with their physical appearance (mistakenly so), sexual relationships (mistakenly so), and personal convenience than the health and well-being of their children.
I have known them. I am not one of them and every time I dumped a scoop into a bottle I had to remind myself. I tried to exclusively breastfeed for as long as humanly possible and for a time I succeeded.
In three months I will breastfeed again and in fifteen days I will never have to give my son formula again. The countdown is on.