To the Moms Who Can't Breastfeed During World Breastfeeding Week
I write this to you while my sweet 14-month-old daughter sleeps quietly across the room. Her and I have an unimaginable bond. She clings to me tightly when she’s anxious, she now walks to me, and she knows when she’s hungry I will always provide for her. Not because she suckles sweetly at my breast throughout the day while I rock her gently to sleep. But because I formula fed her from day one. When she took a bottle I would rock her and stroke her hair and face, always letting her know I am there and will always take care of her.
I struggled, even before she was born, from knowing I would never be able to breastfeed her. I have Crohn’s disease and receive monthly IV treatments of immunosuppressive medications. Though the medication was safe for pregnancy, my doctors said it was not safe for breastfeeding. So I came to terms with it and chose the best formula I could for her before she was born.
However, this week is World Breastfeeding Week, and my Facebook feed is covered with posts all about breastfeeding. Only one of these posts throughout the past week has said anything remotely comforting to moms who are unable to breastfeed, whether due to low-supply or for medical reasons. As I scroll through my feed and see babies latched on to their mothers, displaying a bond I cannot know, tears flood to my eyes. I remember the video my husband and I had to watch before we left the hospital with our daughter. Seven minutes were devoted to breastfeeding, and there was no way to fast forward. My eyes silently filled with tears I tried to hide from my husband before I no longer could. Unable to understand the hurt in my heart, he simply held me close and let me cry.
So, Mama, today I want to let you know it’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be sad that you were unable to breastfeed for whatever reason that may be. But I want you to know you are a great mom. You are a provider. That baby of yours knows you are there to protect them, provide for them and love them, always. Hold your baby close today knowing you have provided for them just as well as a breastfeeding mom. Love yourself for being the best mama you can be. And look in the mirror knowing you are a strong provider.
With all my love,
Follow this journey on growingupexpat.com.