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Why I Wish I'd Listened to My Gut Instead of My Newborn Son's Doctor

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When I read Heather Marcoux’s story, Why I Chose to Stop Breastfeeding & Give My Baby Formula Instead, I wanted to cry. But not for the reasons you’re thinking. My husband and I had agreed I would breastfeed due to both of us having allergies and not being able to afford formula.

Well, those first few days were a nightmare. I would breastfeed him, and he’d suck just a little, squishes his face up and then turn his head away from me. After about three days, he got where I had to wake him to feed him. But the same thing would happen. Suck, squish and turn. I believed my son was rejecting me on the most natural level. And my gut screamed that he wasn’t getting enough.

I called our doctor’s office. I was told a litany of things.

1. I’m a new mother. I don’t appreciate how much he’s getting.

2. The colostrum is good enough till your milk comes in.

3. He’ll eat when he gets hungry and…

4. Don’t supplement because formula was sweeter than breastmilk.

I disagreed with them. My husband said, “They’re the experts. Listen to them.” So I kept at it. By day five, I was frantically calling everyone in the medical field. All were reassuring me that everything was fine. The next day, his sixth day of life, his eyes started zig-zagging. I called the doctor’s office frantically crying. Screaming that my son was having a seizure.

They claimed newborns’ eyes were unfocused and sometimes do that. I was even asked what medical training did I have to suggest such a thing. I mentioned a dog I had that had seizures. As well as a friend. They still told me to leave it. I made six calls in three days. They were over me.

Upon arrival at the doctor’s office, he was immediately taking to the emergency room to be treated for a stroke, dehydration and seizures.

So when I read that Heather felt shamed for supplementing, whatever the reason, I feel for her. And I wonder about society. They have no right to judge how mothers feed their children.

And when she said that her husband said, “just stop.” I cried. I wish I had stopped. I wish I had had support and encouragement to stop.

I had had a rough pregnancy and a rough delivery. My son had gone through the wringer too. Neither one of us should have been breastfeeding. We should have been given a bottle immediately, no questions asked.

And I should have listened to that voice in my head and gut that was screaming, “Stop! He’s not getting enough.” Then life would have done a 360 for my son and me.

Originally published: May 20, 2021
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