Order Soon for Christmas Delivery!🎄 ➔

It has taken me almost a decade to write this, but right now, somewhere, someone needs to hear it. New moms, if you can’t breastfeed, you’re not broken. As a matter of fact, you just made a life—you’re a superhero.

Before my first child was born, my husband and I attended every new-parent class, read the books, and prepared ourselves in the ways responsible parents do. I even remember asking one of the instructors—quite smugly—if there really were women who couldn’t breastfeed, or if they were just not doing it right. She confirmed my naive theory. “I’ll be great at this,” I thought.

RELATED: I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me This About Breastfeeding

When my son was born, I didn’t produce colostrum . . . or very little. The nurses, one by one, came into my room trying to hand-express the non-existent “liquid gold.” They assured me my son must be getting enough since he was properly latched . . . or so they thought. I trusted them implicitly. After all, what did I know? My son was constantly crying. But babies cry, right?

His weight kept going down, but, again, they assured me this was normal. They would not give me any formula even when I asked for it. I don’t fault them for that because all of the research was pointing—is pointing—to the fact that babies are healthier, stronger, smarter, and better when given breastmilk.

But sometimes that’s just not possible.

After struggling—and failing—to satisfy this precious, new life I held in my arms, I arrived at my follow-up pediatrician appointment frightened. His weight had gone down significantly, and the lactation consultant rushed to get formula. She explained to me that breastfeeding was not for everyone. I cried tears of relief as I saw my child drinking the formula, knowing he was finally getting what he needed.

RELATED: I Couldn’t Breastfeed My Baby but I’m Not a Failure

The next few months were a blur of pumping breastmilk (I still couldn’t give up on the idea of breastfeeding), giving formula, and weighing. Pump/feed/make a formula bottle/weigh. Pump/feed/formula/weigh. Pump/feed/formula/weigh. I couldn’t tell you one milestone, one giggle, one smile, one memory from that time. It was frantic. I was sleep-deprived, disappointed in my body’s shortcomings, and empty inside.

When I finally quit pumping and accepted the idea of having a formula-fed child, a magical thing happened . . . my motherhood began.

My mind quit spinning, and I relished each beautiful and fleeting baby moment. I breathed him in. I let go of everything I had been told, and I let myself trust my instincts.

I remember reading something that said breastfeeding was how mothers bonded with their children and the bond of mothers who bottle-fed their children was not the same. Well, I disagree. When I started exclusively bottle-feeding my son, it was the first time I was able to actually look deeply into his eyes while he was feeding. There was nothing like those moments, and there never will be.

RELATED: The Raw Truth About Breastfeeding

When we switched to formula feeding, my husband started helping more. He didn’t know what to do when I was struggling with breastfeeding, and he felt helpless. Now, he could help our family by going to the store to buy formula, mixing bottles, and even feeding our son while I caught up on my sleep. Seeing to our son’s needs became a team effort, and I watched their bond grow stronger.

It wasn’t until many years later that doctors discovered my son’s tongue-tie. When they asked me if he had had a difficult time breastfeeding, I wanted to weep. The raw feelings of being a new mom still live within me, deep down in a place of empathy.

Moms, if it’s not working, it’s OK. It really is.

He or she is going to grow up strong and healthy and smart and wonderful because you are their mom. When our children are seniors in high school and we see all of them standing on that stage, we won’t know who was fed formula or breastmilk, who walked at 12 months and who took longer, who talked first, who used a pacifier, or who needed a cranial helmet. Absolutely none of that will matter. What will matter is they are children who feel loved, supported, and secure . . . and, mama, you’ve got that.

Originally published on the author’s blog

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Meghan Riney

Meghan Riney is a Dallas-based writer and mother of three young boys. Follow her at thebeautyfilledlife.com for articles about motherhood, food, beauty, home, and more!

Don’t Fear the Gap

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Baby lying on mother's chest, black-and-white photo

I was afraid of the gap. You know, the one where you have some kids and then wait several years to have another? That gap. When we moved here, we kept all the baby things because we weren’t ready to say we were done but weren’t ready to start over. Moving to the farm brought wayyy more chores than our neighborhood home and adding a tiny human to that mix felt a bit crazy. RELATED: I’ll Always Want Another Baby There were months of back and forth . . . talk of barefoot baby feet stomping all over this place...

Keep Reading

Having a Late Preterm Baby Is Hard Too

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother holding infant, color photo

I see you, mama, who holds her breath while they bag your brand-new baby. Asking “is she okay?” and being met with “everything is fine” when you know that everything is not fine. The baby who was due in just a few weeks. The baby, who just a few hours earlier, you joked “wanted to surprise us early.” The baby who was fine on the monitors just minutes before. I see you, mama, when they tell you they are transporting your baby to the NICU. The baby you held for five minutes before they took her to the nursery for...

Keep Reading

Dear Loss Mom, Grieve Your Baby In Heaven Without Guilt

In: Baby, Grief, Loss

My third baby was due on October 19, 2019. Instead, she was born into heaven on March 24, 2019. Not only do I grieve her more in October than in other months because of her due date, but I also grieve for so many other parents who have also lost their children.  RELATED: A Letter To My Mama From Your Baby In Heaven Pregnancy loss is such a strange journey to walk through. I’m years into it, and there are still days when the grief hits and the tears come and I can’t breathe. On other days, I am so...

Keep Reading

1-Year-Olds Are Wonderful

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
1 year old baby smiling

Newborns—who doesn’t love them?  The captivating scent of a brand new baby, their fragile little bodies laying so delicately on your chest. Everything that comes with a newborn baby is just absolute magic. But have you ever had a 1-year-old? I used to think the newborn phase was my favorite, nothing could ever be better than having such a tiny helpless little human rely on you for absolutely everything. I could hold my newborn for hours, soaking in every tiny little detail before it became nothing but a beautifully distant memory. But I’ve realized it’s 1-year-olds who have a special...

Keep Reading

Here In the Struggle of Motherhood Are Tender Moments I’m Afraid to Miss

In: Baby, Motherhood
Baby in mother's arms looking up

I didn’t realize the fear I would feel going into the operating room. My hands trembled and felt as if they were not in my control. The delivery I had planned had gone up in flames and a C-section became my only option. My baby’s heart rate was dropping, and the life I dreamed of flashed before my eyes.  This was not the way it was supposed to go. When I arrived at the hospital that Wednesday evening the nurses boasted about how well my baby boy was doing, how strong he was, how active he was, and how good...

Keep Reading

There’s Light At the End of a Hard Pregnancy

In: Baby, Motherhood
Newborn lying on blanket, color photo

That little pink positive mark hit me. Hard.  The pregnancy test revealed the news that I guiltily hoped was negative. The idea of another pregnancy—the hormones, the weight gain, the lack of sanity and sleep—seemed to overcome me. HOW? HOW could I possibly do this AGAIN?  Full of shock, I broke the news to my husband. I was like a broken record, repeating to him with tears, “Are we going to be okay?” He tried to reassure me, but I felt the uncertainty, the darkness.  In the next months, I was depressed. Focused on trying to make it through the...

Keep Reading

Every Time I Put You Down, You Grow a Little More

In: Baby, Motherhood
Black and white photo of baby sleeping with pacifier in his mouth

You’re six months old today.  Everything about you is so much bigger now—including the personality that’s showing through. But today? I want to soak in the littleness.  It’s a weekend, so I get to put you down for your naps. Your daddy took your brother to the store, so it’s just you and me.  It’s quiet. You have my full attention with no distractions.  As we rock, your eyes start to roll back in your head. You sigh and put your hand on my chest—as if to make sure I’m still here.  Sweet little one, this is the only place...

Keep Reading

This is the World of a Preemie Mom

In: Baby, Motherhood
Preemie baby foot with monitor attached

You came into this world much before your time. Your daddy and I weren’t ready for you, but that didn’t matter—you were determined to make your entrance at 27 weeks gestation. The first time I laid eyes on you, I was taken aback. You were wrapped in clear plastic bags with wires sticking out from all sides of you. You were so small and fragile—990 grams and 983 grams—the size of a pineapple I might buy at the grocery store. Your daddy took pictures of you, but I wasn’t sure if I would show them to anyone. You didn’t look...

Keep Reading

Secondary Infertility Took Me By Surprise

In: Baby, Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother holding toddler by open door

Selfish. Unfair. Guilt stricken. Shameful. Those were just a few of the words that regularly stabbed my lamenting heart as I longed for a second child. Yes, I was grateful for my healthy, beautiful boy who made my dream of motherhood come true, but why did I not feel complete—was he not enough? Was I doing this motherhood thing all wrong and didn’t deserve a second child? Why did I long to give him a sibling so badly knowing millions were aching for their first—how could I be so insensitive? So many questions, so many buts and so many whys....

Keep Reading

I Used to Feel Shame for Having PPD, but Now I Just Feel like a Mother

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mom holding toddler by window

I had my first son when I was 23 years old. My husband and I named him Isaac, which means laughter. The first few months of his life brought me anything but laughter. It felt as if for the first five weeks, my son cried constantly. It seemed if he wasn’t crying then he was sleeping. It was a really stressful time for me. I cried, he cried, and in the end, we’d both be so exhausted we’d fall asleep. I remember telling myself “I can’t do this” over and over and over again. Eventually, those thoughts manifested into actions....

Keep Reading