7QT–Why Formula Feeding Was the Best Choice for Me

Calf, Hand Rear, Bottle, Milk, Teat, Baby, Orphan

Happy Friday! Here are seven reasons I chose to formula-feed my third baby after breastfeeding the first two, and why it turned out to be a real life-saver. This obviously isn’t the right choice for everyone, and I have extreme admiration for people who stick with breastfeeding when the going gets tough. I do hope that this might be helpful for women who are on the fence or feeling bad about their decision to bottle-feed.

  1. More sleep. This wasn’t a luxury for me–it was a necessity. My baby really did sleep longer on formula, and I was able to let my husband give the baby a bottle in the middle of the night or while I was napping or cooking supper.
  2. Painless and easy! Again, many women are happy to make the sacrifice to breastfeed their children even when it’s difficult, but when life is already difficult enough for other reasons, there’s nothing wrong with making it easier on yourself. I had horrible pain and trouble breastfeeding my first. The second was better but still uncomfortable.
  3. Breastfeeding totally kills my libido, so bottle-feeding was a big boost for my marriage.
  4. Lots of women pick breastfeeding, in part, because it provides them with a few years of infertility to space their children. For me, though, that wasn’t worth it; sure, I’d probably be infertile for two years, but I couldn’t be sure, and meanwhile my fertility signs were so confusing that there was a ridiculous amount of abstinence and anxiety. Bottle-feeding made my cycle come back quickly, but then it was regular, so NFP was a lot easier.
  5. Bottle-feeding also made it easier to get out of the house and leave the baby with a babysitter, or just to get the baby out of my arms for a couple of minutes and with her Daddy or big brother or a comfy bouncy seat instead. At that particular time in my life, this was a Godsend.
  6. Bottle-feeding was not as hard as people made it sound. (I do know that I was lucky in this regard, because my baby didn’t need any special allergenic formulas or fancy bottles.) I thought I’d have to worry about the exact amount I mixed, and the exact time I fed the baby, and all sorts of expiration dates and holding times. In reality, it was as simple as breastfeeding. I took the advice of my midwife and never heated up the bottles, so the baby never expected them to be warm.
  7. As I write this, I realize that a lot of these sound like excuses. I can imagine myself, four years ago, saying “sure bottle-feeding is easier, and less painful, and gives you more sleep and freedom, but isn’t your baby’s health worth making sacrifices for?” That’s true, of course; but what I didn’t realize was that these principles are not absolute. My baby would be plenty healthy on formula, and there were times in my life when the extra benefits of breastfeeding were NOT worth the sacrifices. When you’re already weepy and depressed, bottle-feeding to get all the sleep you can is good for you and your family. By my third baby, I was confident and realistic enough to tune out the guilt and pressure and happily feed my baby the way that worked best for me. Here’s a nice little photo series that shows moms bonding with their babies over a bottle.  Head over to Kelly’s for the rest of the Seven Quick Takes!

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Sleep vs. Jesus

To tell the truth, I’ve never really gotten the point of fasting.  I know it’s supposed to help you detach from material things, but with me it tends to have the opposite effect: I spend my whole day thinking about food.  But I had a little insight into it a few weeks ago, when I was up late with the baby.

Being up by myself in the silence of the night makes all my anxieties louder, and I was praying for mercy when I suddenly felt the presence of Jesus.  Nothing really specific or profound–just a comforting presence.  Baby fell asleep, and I lay down in bed, feeling peaceful.  Then she started to fuss again.  My first reaction was “ah, I can get up with her and go out into the quiet living room and feel that presence again!”  But my second reaction was “or…I could stay here in this warm bed.”  I was pretty surprised at myself.  It wasn’t just some potential spiritual experience that was competing with comfort and sleep; it was something that had already happened, and it felt wonderful.  But it still had trouble overriding my desire for bed.

I’ve always been able to see that my weakness for too much food, or too much sleep, was a bad thing; but this was the first time I saw it clearly competing with my spiritual good.  Because I’ve formed the habit of lingering in bed, that habit kicks in even when I really want to get up and do something else.  If I “fast” from staying in bed–maybe by getting up immediately every morning, at St. Josemaria Escriva’s heroic minute–perhaps I’ll be able to build a habit of self-denial instead, and I’ll be ready next time Jesus comes.

Get to Sleep and Get to Heaven at the SAME TIME!

We have the flu, and even though I’m dead tired it takes a while to wind down and fall asleep at night.  Yesterday I remembered a trick someone taught me–something soothing to focus your mind on, so it will stop racing around and keeping you awake.  Go through the alphabet, and think of one thing for every letter that you’re grateful for.  I mentioned this to a friend one day, and she was aghast.  “You want me to come up with 26 things?   I have trouble even thinking of one thing I’m grateful for every day!”  Actually, so do I.  But for some reason, when the only condition is that it begins with “A”–rather than being some large, spiritual thing–I find it a lot easier.  Here’s an example:

A–I’m grateful I live in America.
B–I’m grateful for the giant box we got in the mail that the kids are enjoying so much.
C–I’m grateful I had chocolate for dessert.
D–I’m grateful for the nice dream I had last night.
E–I’m grateful for my wonderful best friend E.
F–I’m grateful we have enough food to eat.
G–I’m grateful for gardens.

And here’s a variant I thought of last night: for each letter, think of someone you need to pray for.  It doesn’t have to be long–just lift their name up to God.  This is great for neurotic, scrupulous people like me, whose nighttime thoughts race back and forth from “why can’t I fall asleep?  The baby will be up in 6 hours!” to “let me think of something soothing to put myself to sleep” to “but wait, I should use this free time for prayer!”  Well, here’s a way to pray and fall asleep at the same time.