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Formula Island



Your Breast Days Are Ahead Of You

-At 5pm on the night of September 22nd, 2019, I waddled into the maternity ward of Shady Grove Hospital in Rockville, Maryland to be induced. This was my first child and I was nervous AF at the experience ahead of me. I kept thinking to myself, “Sure, this is going to hurt a lot and you may poop on the table in front of a bunch of people; but women have been giving birth while squatting in fields for hundreds of years, so you can give birth in a hospital with lots of drugs.”  

I got set up in my room, had a nursing student mess up the IV and fill my arm with saline (real talk: that may have actually been the most painful part of the whole experience if I am being honest) and had the night shift nurse come in to introduce herself and answer my questions. I’m sure I had 500 questions at the time, but it’s her response to the following statement that sticks out. I informed Miss Night Shift Nurse that I would not be breastfeeding, so do not send a lactation consultant to my room. The nurse looked me dead in the face and asked, “Why not?” I went into a lengthy apologetic explanation about all the reasons I was choosing not to breastfeed, when I could have simply said, “Because I don’t want to KAREN.”

In Defense Of The Bottle

This was neither the first time, nor the last time I had to explain myself, and it got to a point that I was becoming preemptively defensive of my decision. I found myself explaining to anyone who asked, and even a few people who really did not give a fuck (my hair stylist literally said, ‘hunny I only care what you do with your hair not your tits.”)

I do not come from a family of women who breastfed. I was not breastfed, my brothers weren’t breastfed, my cousins and their children weren’t breastfed, so it was never something I was exposed to. We all turned out alright…mostly. What I was exposed to was friends who had tried to breastfeed and felt like failures when they couldn’t. Common complaints included bleeding nips, babies who wouldn’t latch, poor milk production, clogged ducts, infections, leaking, and on and on. I had a friend who wasn’t producing enough milk see a lactation consultant who told her just to keep her shirt off and hold the baby to her breast literally all day. She said, “No thank you, ma’am.”

I’m sure there are great lactation consultants, as I am sure there are a few that push breastfeeding at any cost. I’m not going to open that can of worms here because honestly I have never seen a lactation consultant and I do not have any personal experience. If I did see a LC the only question I would have might be, “How do I mix the formula without getting it all over my god dammed counter top?” You know that shit is sticky.

Sure there are a TON of success stories, and women who loved the BF experience, and you know what, ROCK ON. I’m not here to say you shouldn’t breast feed. WHIP THEM OUT here, WHIP THEM OUT there, WHIP THEM OUT anywhere! I’m here to say, please stop asking those of us who choose not to, ‘Why?’

No, But Seriously ‘Why?

To cull the curiosity of those of you who are wondering ‘Why?’ and since I put this ish on the table I’ll give you my reasons.

  1. I didn’t want to.

  2. It’s none of your business.

  3. I experienced depression in my first trimester, and knew that lack of sleep exacerbates postpartum depression. Formula feeding allowed my husband to split the feeding duties 50/50 so we could both get sleep….kinda.

  4. I didn’t want to

After I gave birth to my beautiful little princess peanut love bug I joined a moms support group. There were only two of us in that group who weren’t breastfeeding. I was one, and the other was a mom who had her child via surrogate. I started referring to us as being alone on Formula Island.  A lot of moms join me on Formula Island after they realize breastfeeding isn’t for them, but I have not met many moms who actively decided to not attempt breastfeeding at all.

The Aftermath

NO ONE, NOT A SINGLE FUCKING SOUL INCLUDING MY DOCTORS, told me what it would be like to not breastfeed.  Just because I decided I wasn’t going to breastfeed, doesn’t mean my body was like, ‘That’s cool Jenna we respect your decision and won’t make milk then.’ My milk still came in a week after giving birth, and oh my god was it a nightmare.  I had giant, veiny, rock hard, porn star tits that swelled to triple their normal size. My husband loved it, but it was 10 days of pain, and swelling, and leaking, and crying in the shower, and stupid people and the internet telling me to put frozen cabbage leaves on my chest, and me listening to stupid people and the internet, and then smelling like wet cabbage and still being in pain.

Oh also that nipple piercing I got when I was 18 and drunk, then took out when I was 21 and drunk (lost it somewhere in Adams Morgan. RIP Janet Jackson from the Super Bowl replica nip ring) worked like a faucet. I leaked out of the piercing hole for 2 FUCKING months.

All that being said motherhood is magical, but it’s also hard, emotional, crazy, and gross, so let us all stick together and stop this cult of breastfeeding. Make the decision for yourself, and no one else.

If you want to join me on Formula Island, the weather is nice this time of year! Lastly, in case you want to know, I did not poop on the table <high five>.

-Jenna

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