From Baby Blues to Formula: A New Mom’s Survival Story

I will never forget the day that my baby blues kicked in. My son was 11 days old. I was recovering from a c-section must slower than I wanted. My nipples were completely destroyed and suddenly, now inverted. Umm, weird? I was pumping every three hours. I kept getting mastitis. My son was developing horrible reflux. Not the pretty picture I had signed up for. We’ve all been there to some degree. On this eleventh day (I’m not sure why that day is ingrained into my brain so hard), I cried. All. Day. Long. I literally couldn’t stop. My mom and MIL tried to get me to go out to eat and get some fresh air. Yup, cried there too. The days before and after were a tad better, but not a whole lot.

Guilt. I had an insane bombardment of guilt, frustration and even confusion when my first was born. Why is this so hard? Why can’t I nurse? Why isn’t this whole motherhood thing coming naturally to me? Why do I suck at this so bad?! I remember one day specifically when my son would not stop crying. I walked around the house in my gross yellow robe and greasy brown hair trying new rooms to console or simply distract my baby. Finally, he fell asleep while I was rocking him in his glider, in his own cozy little room. I was overcome by sense of peace and yet tears began to pour onto that yellow robe. I knew that nursing wasn’t for me. It just wasn’t.

Bye-Bye Breastmilk
For me, getting mastitis over and over was the hidden key to getting my happiness back. I desperately wanted to start enjoying this whole motherhood business. I was allergic to the mastitis antibiotic and my son couldn’t ingest the other drug. I had to pump and dump. Seriously, all that work for nothing? Finally, after about 5 weeks of misery, I quit. I let my milk dry up. At first, the guilt was so immense that I was apprehensive to tell anyone besides my own mother. But let me tell you something, that day that my milk was finally gone was the happiest day I had experienced since the first moments my son was born. As utterly depressing as that sounds, it’s the truth.

Judgement and Acceptance
I admit that I felt judged by a couple of my dear friends who easily breastfed. They didn’t do it maliciously. They didn’t attack me. But it happened. I still love them, but looking back, I just wish they would have supported me. My best friend embarked into motherhood four years earlier than me.  She saw me at my worst. Although she breastfed naturally, she understood how heartbroken I had become. I am grateful that she verbally told me that it was OK to stop, and that I was not the failure I thought I was. That support was huge in the journey of me accepting myself as a new mom. Another friend from college said awkwardly, “Oh I’m sure that formula is great for him!” Looking back, her stumbled attempt to help me through this was hilarious, but helped me more than she’ll ever realize.

It’s Going to be OK.
Everyone knows that breast milk is best. Not all mothers can accomplish this task, though. Formula moms, know that it’s OK. Your baby is going to be OK. You’re going to be OK. Breast feeding moms, kudos to you. That is some hard, hard work. It just wasn’t for me and that’s OK. Forgiving myself was the best gift I ever gave my son. I fell in love with him and with us. His belly laugh could cure anyone and he turned into a happy, dare I say, easy baby.  I finally became the mom I envisioned. It was a tough, but in the scheme of things, short road to get there. And with the support of strong women and my husband, I got there.

Did you have baby blues or nursing woes? How did you overcome them?

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6 Responses to From Baby Blues to Formula: A New Mom’s Survival Story

  1. Mary C
    Mary C January 26, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

    This is so beautiful and honest and real, Angela. Thank you for sharing your struggles along the journey! And I feel you. Breastfeeding is an easy thing for some moms, and others of us get mastitis 13 times over three babies and learn to despise their boobs. Just sayin’.

    Moms need to hear this. Especially new moms who are coping with guilt. I wish you had had this post to read then. ❤

    • Angela Repke
      Angela Repke January 30, 2017 at 2:26 pm #

      Thank you, Mary! And yes, mastitis is a real pain I the a$$!!!

  2. Angela January 30, 2017 at 11:48 am #

    I am so glad I read this! Thank you for sharing your story. I’m an RN on a post partum unit and I thought I was so prepared to breastfeed my babies, after all I taught new moms how to breastfeed! WRONG! My 1st was super fussy and colicky and her crying fits seemed worse while trying to bf so I gave up after 8 weeks. My second is 8 weeks now. He spent 2 weeks in the NICU so I pumped like a mad woman to keep up so he only had breastmilk! He desperately needed it being in the NICU and I was going to make it at least 6 months this time since I was experienced. WRONG AGAIN! He had some oral aversion and was used to a bottle so I struggled and was miserable and depressed. I finally gave in- much easier this time since my other formula baby is perfect, at 4 weeks. I had enormous guilt with both babies, especially returning to work where all my friends asked how pumping was going, etc. I had to accept nursing wasn’t for me. The crying and fussing baby, crying momma, nursing, pumping, bottling, washing parts was too much for me. I was much more sane and happier when my milk dried up also. It’s just hard to accept that it’s okay! It’s what’s best for me and my family. It’s just nice to know I’m not alone 🙂

  3. Angela Repke
    Angela Repke January 30, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! The guilt can be suffocating, but we are not alone. I so glad to hear you are now a happy mom of 2! Congrats to you!

  4. Rebekah February 4, 2017 at 11:31 am #

    Thanks for sharing your story, Angela! In learning to find the best way to feed my daughter, a friend told me “you can fill bottles with guit or with love.” Here’s to love and life-filled bottles for these little ones! God bless you!

  5. Angela
    Angela February 6, 2017 at 9:19 pm #

    Hi Rebekah, I just LOVE that quote and it couldn’t be more true. Thank you for sharing!