One of the things I have picked up on as a new mother is that each of our journeys and choices are unique to us, and that regardless of those choices, we share a common thread…we are mothers who love our children more than anything in the world, and we will do everything humanly possible to nurture them into wonderful people for the rest of our lives.
I was very afraid of being judged that I did not plan to breastfeed Stella. I completely understood the merits of it – the health factors, economic factors, the skin-on-skin bonding. Yet I had to do what felt right to me – and I chose very early on in my pregnancy not to breastfeed.
When Stella was born via emergency c-section, I could not wait to hold her in my arms. I watched as she was whisked off to the nursery and was counting the minutes until I was in the recovery room and could hold her and kiss her sweet face. The nurse handed her to me with a small two ounce Enfamil bottle, and our bonding moment began right there and then. She took to the bottle immediately and made the sweetest sounds as she took her first sips of nutrition. We continued with the Enfamil formula at home, and to this day, Stella is a thriving, healthy-as-can-be twenty-three pound bundle of joy.
There were a few times throughout the last nine months I wonder if I missed out on the opportunity to bond with her via breastfeeding. But truthfully, it has been very much of a bonding process with every bottle, every snuggle, every milestone and memory made. I am proud of my choice and stand behind it to this day.
At around three months old when it was time for me to go back to work, Stella hit a growth spurt. She wasn’t sleeping through the night yet, and I was desperate. I confided in my girlfriends, and they suggested I start putting a little bit of oatmeal in Stella’s night bottle. Of course I was afraid of the judgement, from other moms, the pediatrician….was I just being lazy? I tried feeding her oatmeal in the bowl, and she screamed and cried. One night I gave in and tried a scoop of oatmeal in her bottle. Miraculously, she slept through the night, and a new routine started for us. It worked!
Around four or five months, I had every intention of using a gift we received to make Stella’s homemade baby food purees. One weekend trip to Babies R Us, when I saw the variety of perfectly organic and healthy options from Earth’s Best, I picked up several cases of food. She absolutely loved them all, and it became a simple solution for us between feeding on the go, at home and at nursery school.
I did a lot of research on Baby-Led Weaning and kept up with several blogs and Instagram friends who were big supporters of BLW. One night around six months, I tried giving Stella some steamed veggies. She absolutely hated them! I couldn’t understand. How could so many of my friends’ children be eating all of these adventurous finger foods at the same age, and my baby didn’t like it at all?! We tried a few more times, but she just wanted her purees. The lightbulb went off again in my mind. Each child is different, each parenting decision is different, and we had to do what worked for us and for her.
Now at nine months, Stella is still taking four 8 oz. formula/oatmeal bottles per day, but we are branching out to turkey, cheese, vegetables, puffs, yogurt, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon … you name it, she’ll try it. She had to go at her own pace, and I am glad I let go and allowed our journey to unfold as it has. Each baby gets fed in all different ways, and each way gives you a happy, healthy baby. Isn’t that what ALL mothers want?