‘Why aren’t you breastfeeding?’ My voice clipped from the wind punched out of my gut.’: Mom urges ‘you don’t owe anyone an explanation for how you feed your baby’

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“I couldn’t breastfeed my first born.

I remember the first time I gave him his first bottle and I wept – with relief, with guilt – there were so many feelings.

I knew it was the right decision, but I went back and forth in my mind about it for a while.

I remember pulling out my bottle from my nappy bag while the other babies in a mom group were breastfeeding.

The pain was still raw and the guilt was still heavy.

I still felt this need to apologize to this tiny human with little hands fumbling at my chest while I fumbled for a bottle instead.

And every time someone would explain their bottle was breast milk and not formula, that guilt would wash over me again.

I spent nights awake pumping. Days nervous for when he woke. It took a long time for me to realize it was okay to put my mental health first.

One time at a mom fitness group (that I already felt out of place in), someone asked me why I wasn’t breastfeeding. A simple question. My voice clipped from the wind punched out of my gut.

I wanted to throw my plastic formula dispenser at her, but I explained myself instead.

I explained we tried for a long time, even though I still wondered if it was long enough. We just couldn’t make it work, but I wondered if it were just me. I justified. A thousand reasons. Never good enough.

I held it in, but cried the second I clipped the capsule in and started the car engine. I never went back to that fitness group. Maybe the question was harmless, maybe I just didn’t know how to answer it yet. Or maybe I didn’t owe anyone an explanation as to how I fed my baby.

Some moms can’t breastfeed, some choose not to, some adore breastfeeding but can feel incredibly touched out by it (I know that feeling, too). Both feeding journeys for me came with their challenges and both were beautiful.

He is 3 now, he’ll be 4 soon. It almost seems ridiculous how upset I was over the whole thing. But I’m writing this while I still remember, because it wasn’t ridiculous. I was allowed to be upset. As soon as I was able to let go, we could begin to watch each other grow.

However your journey works out, showing up for you is showing up for them. And you’re pretty amazing. They sure think so.”

Young mom proudly bottle feeds her son while they sit out at a breezy park
Courtesy of Jess Urlichs

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Urlichs. You can follow her journey on Facebook and InstagramSubmit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from Jessica here:

‘Yes, you are my second child, but my love for you is second to none. You’ve made me the mama I am proud to be.’: Mom shares touching ode to baby #2, ‘I’d move mountains for you in seconds’

‘Dear mom, there is so much I didn’t understand back then, but now I do.’: Woman pens sweet letter to mother after giving birth

‘I can’t decide if I want a baby! I’ll ruin my career,’ my friend messaged. I was brutally honest.’: Woman ‘mourns’ loss of life pre-motherhood, ‘I gave up a lot, but I gained so much more’

‘She is moving mountains, even when she loses her footing. She will never forget the pain of fatigue, but she’ll find herself aching to breathe in those cuddles again.’: Mom urges ‘you are enough’

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