Kids Motherhood

Love is Best

Written by Esther Vandersluis

“Breastfeeding is best for babies.”  This is what I see the 8 or more times I scoop out the powdered formula to make my daughter’s bottle each day.  This is what I have had to face since the day we drove home from the hospital.  I never knew how heart-wrenching those words could be.  Sometimes it feels like those words are laughing at me.  Sometimes it feels that I am being judged by all mothers.  But every time, it brings feelings of confidence in myself and my own love for my baby girl. 

 10 months ago my beautiful baby girl was born as healthy as ever.  Everything was perfect – except that it wasn’t.  For the first 24 hours of her precious life she would not eat.  We’ve all heard it and many of us have been there – baby won’t latch.  Nurse after nurse showed me multiple different ways of how to hold my baby girl, how to squeeze my breast, and simply how I was doing it wrong. 

It was my fault after all. 

24 hours passed.  Our beautiful baby girl would not stop screaming out of hunger, and was losing too much weight.  What was our choice?  The nurse only gave us one – she needed a bottle.  Fear of my baby’s survival pushed down any worries of baby girl never being able to latch.  “Yes, yes!  Give her the bottle!” My weariness and anxiety was overcoming me.

My dear girl was able to eat from the bottle, and all fears were gone, except for those that I had pushed down far – the ones of no more breastfeeding.  So began my journey of pumping, bottle feeding, supplementing, fighting to breastfeed, and lactation consultant after lactation consultant.  This was not how I expected motherhood to begin.

Hours upon hours of that dreadful pump sound filled my days resulting with only 2 ounces a time.  Hours upon hours of my own baby screaming because she could not receive the milk from my breasts.  Hours upon hours of warming and making bottles while feelings of failure and inadequacy as a mother filled my soul. 

I needed support.  I needed guidance.  So I read.  I read blogs and articles and forums.  Other moms could do it.  Other moms did it for months, some even a year!  I had to be able to do it.  I could do it.  I wouldn’t give up.  I was blinded by the strong desire to be the ‘perfect’ mother.

I pushed myself. I ignored my true inner feelings of the hope for the day that I would stop.  I dreaded every feeding.  I dreaded the cry of hunger from my own daughter.

How could I begin motherhood with dread, disappointment, and constant failure?  I felt disconnected from my own baby girl.  I felt hopeless.  Many questioned, “Why don’t you just stop?”  It was an option I would not consider for myself.  How could I stop without feeling like an inadequate mother? 

I needed to choose.  My reasons for continuing were for my own feelings of insecurity and inability to mother my own baby.  But what about my baby?  What was best for her?  And that’s when I realized.  In the midst of a pumping session while trying to console my daughter by rocking her chair with my foot as she cried for my arms, I realized she needed me.  She needed my love.  She didn’t need my pumping.

I gave up.  And the day I gave up a wave of relief washed over me.  I could hold my baby instead of spending 25 minutes pumping while she longed for me.  I could feed my baby with no 30 minutes of screams and fights at the breast beforehand.  I looked forward to feeding time, when I got to cuddle my daughter close, while looking down into her beautiful eyes as she sucked the bottle.  I had peace with my daughter for the first time after 5 weeks of frustration, stress, and anxiety.  I finally began to get to know my baby girl.

So, maybe to you, ‘Breast is Best,’ but to me, above all “Love is best.”  

About the author

Esther Vandersluis

Esther is a Canadian writing from Hamilton, Ontario. She is a stay-at-home to two incredibly sweet little girls, a wife to a very hard working husband, a writer and crafter in her ‘spare’ time, and a teacher at heart.

Most of all, she is a follower of Christ and is working on living in His joy through every task of motherhood. You can find her on Facebook where she writes about waking up each day with an attitude of joy and thankfulness while living a life of intention and purpose for Christ.

3 Comments

  • As a mother who was unable to breastfeed my daughter due to my own physical problem (inverted nipples), I understand your struggle – I tried and tried to make her suck what ever little she could get from me while supplementing with powder, while daily facing the comments and ‘suggestions’ from outside and within. Finally, after 4 months I became ill and had to completely stop – during that time I had to completely stop trying and started giving her some soft foods (extra cooked rice, dhal, mashed bananas, etc) – for the first time, my daughter became calm – I could actually enjoy my time with her without the constant struggle. Finally I realized exactly what you said – its not about the breastmilk, its about the love that she receives – and without breastfeeding, I was able to provide her the nutrition and most importantly the love that she needed more than anything else. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart! We need more women like you!

    • I’m sorry to hear about your struggle, Lydia. I have come to realize from writing this that there are so many more women out there who struggled and do struggle like us – feelings of shame, disappointment, and even embarrassment has seemed to keep so many of us quiet. If only we could encourage each other more in the personal choices that are best for us and for our babies.

      I am glad you were able to find peace when you stopped and experience the love that you could give your daughter! Thank you for your kind words!! 🙂

  • I love this! Thank you so much for sharing the link with me in the comments of my post on Sobramesa Stories! Love is best, and making sure your baby is nourished and healthy is the most important! Thanks again for sharing and being vulnerable with your story!