Breast Is Best?

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Breast is best

During my pregnancy, this slogan was like saying, “the sky is blue,” or “the Earth is round.” It was an indisputable fact. As such, anything other than breastfeeding one’s baby is NOT the best. Like other parents, I was determined to provide the very best for my kids, so I planned to breastfeed. No question about it.

I had all the equipment that books and blogs suggested. I had a crystal clear vision of how I would use my breastmilk to nourish my little loves. We bought a double wide rocking chair so that I could feed them at the same time. I envisioned birds chirping overhead as my kids smilingly took to my breast on the first try, and friendly squirrels would pull a footstool up for my comfort. My babies and I would gaze into each others eyes and know we are soulmates. 

Breast is best! 

I was a weeping mess in the hospital after giving birth to twins via emergency C-section. I was unable to nurse the kids because my milk had not come in. The nurses were feeding my newborns formula. I was horrified. Formula is not best! Day One of their lives and I was already failing as a mom. I thought that maybe I wasn’t supposed to have babies. After all, it was really hard for me to get pregnant. And then my body was not adequately doing what all mammal mommies are supposed to be able to do.

Breast is best!! 

During the first couple of months after my twins were born, those three little words ricocheted around in my brain 24/7. It was deafening. And while perhaps not intended to be so, were heavy-laden with judgment. 

It turns out, nursing two kids at one time is actually difficult. My daughter was completely uninterested in latching. My son was a bit more amenable, but then I couldn’t produce much milk. So, I used a breast pump. I recall being tucked away in my bedroom, pumping milk with a whirring machine while my husband, my mom, or my mother-in-law were actually holding and bonding with my newborns. There were no loving gazes, no bonding, no friendly woodland creatures. 

Breast is best

I sought the help of a breastfeeding consultant through the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington. They were a wonderful resource and I highly recommend visiting with them about any breastfeeding questions, equipment recommendations, pump rentals, etc. But I still wasn’t producing enough to feed both children. I decided that we would transition to feeding the kids formula exclusively. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but once it was made I was immediately happier and more sane. 

This was the right choice for my family. Feeding my kids became lovely, tender times filled with smiles, lullabies, and gentle caresses. My memories of feeding them after the switch are not marked by angst, anger, and disappointment at myself, frustration with my babies, or fear that I was failing as a mother. Also, I wasn’t solely responsible for feeding the kids. My husband got to do half of the work, so he was able to bond with the kids in the same way. 

Breast is best, except when it’s not

Currently, I am a mom of healthy and happy five-year-old twins. They consistently hit their developmental milestones. They are social and loving. We have strong bonds. They have not turned into lizard people (yet). Although it took awhile to cease questioning our decision, I am very happy that we abandoned breastfeeding. It turns out that it wasn’t best for my family. 

I fully understand the many benefits of breastfeeding one’s child, and the difficulties. I fully understand the drawbacks of formula feeding, and its benefits. It is my wish that all new moms have access to this information so they can make the best decision for themselves and their families, and that they have confidence in that decision. As long as we are nourishing our kids, loving them, and doing our very best for them, this should be the measure of our parental success. 

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Julie is a proud born and bred Texan, but has called DC home since 2001. She studied at the University of Texas and then moved to DC to get her MPA at the George Washington University. Julie worked for ten years for a Member of Congress, where she loved working to impact public policy. In 2013, her world turned inside out when she gave birth to twins and decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Currently Julie lives in the H Street Corridor with her husband, two kids, and their increasingly grouchy senior dog, Presley. Yes, please: movie dates with her husband, trying new restaurants, exploring DC with her kids, last minute road trips, being outdoors, festivals (of any kind), girls’ night out, and a rainy day with “Pride and Prejudice.” No, thank you: hot and humid summers, mistreating animals, Legos (ouch!), public speaking, laundry, raw fish

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