(To the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies theme song)
Come and listen to a story ‘bout a mama lost her head
A doting child-bearer keeping all her babies fed,
Then one day an adoptive mommy too
So many wee ones what will she do?
Breast milk that is, liquid gold, Nature’s nectar.
Well the next thing you know one babe is bottle fed
Some folks said “Woman use the breast instead!”
Said “Bottle feedin’ is silly as can be”
But mama chose wisely this I guarantee.
Bottles, feeding that is. Healthy baby,thriving.
I have two babies. I chose to breastfeed one and formula/bottle feed the other. I could argue that the choice was made for me. But this much I know is true, my babies are loved equally and with the same fierce mama intensity.
When I was 17 weeks pregnant with my son Ezra I received a phone call on a Monday morning that our 2 year old daughter’s biological parents had delivered a baby girl the day before. I was asked if we would be willing to pick her up from the hospital when she was discharged and become her forever family. So with my 8 year old on the floor playing legos, my 2 year old tugging on my leg, my 10 month old on my hip and my baby in my belly I called my husband at work to pose the big question.
I had prepared my heart to hear, “Woman you are nuts!” But instead my amazing husband said “Another daughter? A sister for Naomi? Yes! Call and tell them yes!”
Two days later I found myself driving to the hospital to meet our daughter. I gazed into her eyes and fed her a bottle of formula. I counted her fingers and toes and giggled about how much she looked like her big sister. This was truly a gift because I was not Naomi’s mommy until Naomi was 6 months old. Holding Phoebe and bonding with her at 3 days old was amazing. I was very deliberate about being the ONE to feed her the first few months ,even the feedings that occurred every 2 hours during the night. This was sometimes a challenge with my growing belly and shrinking bladder.
She slept in our room in a bassinet beside my bed and I wore her in a wrap right on top of my baby bump. When I was around 34 weeks pregnant my sweet husband began taking over caring for Phoebe during the night. They shared a room and he got up to feed her whenever she peeped for a bottle.
To this day he is still the one that gets up with her if she needs some love in the middle of the night. He is a very attentive father. He is purposeful about his parenting and cares so deeply for our children. He is my greatest support in life. He also fully supports breastfeeding and my choices in the way I birth and the way I mother. When Ezra was born he caught him, handed him to me and asked “When is he going to latch on?” My lima bean latched on within 5 minutes of entering the world and has stayed latched on for the past 16 months.
I have breastfed Ezra in one arm while at the same time formula fed Phoebe in the other. Once Ezra was born I could have attempted to begin breastfeeding Phoebe or I could have pumped milk and given it to her in a bottle. These options seemed ideal but we did not finalize Phoebe’s adoption until she was 19 months old so they were not actual options but rather just romantic ideas in my head.
The truth is I do not know if I had the choice if I would have done it any differently.
When Ezra was born I had an 8 year old, 2 year old, 15 month old and a 4.5 month old. I had 4 children in diapers! My 8 year old became proficient at mixing bottles for me. Our family was in survival mode in our little incubator of love for the first year of the “twins” lives. I have no regrets in formula feeding my daughter and breastfeeding my son. Those were the choices that were right for our family given our circumstances.
Phoebe is now 20 months old and just weaned herself from the bottle last week. Ezra is 16 months and still nursing upon request. My son Zane is 9 he was breastfed and self-weaned when he was 2.5 years old. Naomi is 3 and was formula fed. Quinn is 2. He nursed until he was only 11 months old because my milk dried up when I was 5 months pregnant with Ezra.
My children are biological and adopted, breastfed and formula fed. My children are loved and adored, cherished and celebrated.
I implore you dear mothers to show grace and courtesy to one another in regards to feeding choices. There are a myriad of reasons a family may bottle/ formula feed their child. This is not a thing to be judged. Let’s continue to cultivate a community where we encourage one another in our motherhood journeys. A community where our hearts feel safe and we love one another.
This is a guest post by Holly, you can read her recent birth story here.
All pictures copyrighted by the BWF Blog or photographer.
Photography credit: Blooming Nest Photography