Typically, you’re male. You have no breasts. You have no part in the feeding of the baby until much later. Typically your good lady wife and the baby wind themselves into a tight little relationship that is picture perfect. The baby is fed. Mamma is happy. And dad can cash in on the last few months of person-hood he has until the baby really starts needing two sets of arms and not just eating and sleeping. That’s how things should go. Formula is out of the question, as you both have read countless articles online about the benefits of breastfeeding and skin-on-skin time and bonding with your baby. And you doubtless have read other articles on the horrors of Formula and G.M.O. and David Wolfe and stuff. But what if things don’t go as planned? What if you find out that your wife’s body is just not meant to feed a child no matter how hard she tries? What do you do when after trying for two months your wife looks at you desperately and asks YOU what she should do?
My wife got a cesarean. Everything went great. We learned that if we would have tried a conventional birth it might have given us great difficulty. We were grateful. We were on cloud nine. Our new baby boy was healthy and hit all the hallmarks a baby should. We were set to go home at the prescribed time. The only hurdle that we were trying to get over was breastfeeding. My wife’s supply wasn’t there at all. The nurse assured us that sometimes milk doesn’t come in for a couple days, even a week or longer, that it is quite normal for a cesarean section mother since her body didn’t go through the normal process. This gave my wife instant anxiety. “Why cant I do this?” “Whats wrong with me” “I should be able to do this.” I don’t want to give too much information about my wife, but we will just say that she is not shaped in a way that is conducive to latching. This furthered the anxieties. She actually kept referring to that part of her body as “Broken”. It hurt me to hear her already so aggravated at herself for nothing. Our baby was healthy and fed and loved. In my mind everything was perfect. So we made back up plans to pump and keep trying to latch and we went home.
It wasn’t too long after we got home and settled in that I began to think that breastfeeding was not going to be viable. My wife’s milk was in, but our baby still couldn’t latch. Which lead us in to the next den of horror: Mastitis. I had weighed what I had thought beforehand. I had thought about finding breast milk donors and other options before formula. I had thought about the evil of formula and you know what? Feeding my child and making sure that he was full and happy was first and foremost. Everything else, every other care in my life went out the window when I knew that was going to be my safest and most reliable source of food for my child. When it came to tell her, let me tell you, she was not quite on board. So we entered this ongoing argument where she would get terribly upset that she and her body were not performing as nature had intended, I would try and console her and tell her that formula was not such a bad thing if it meant our boy would be fed, which made her upset in thinking that I was giving up, which spun me into the role of standing my ground while trying to be supportive and empathetic. Shakespeare would be green with envy at the drama. It was a nightmare. All of this turmoil had one root cause: The internet.
It finally struck me that pretty much all of my wife’s frustration and mine came from trying to overachieve the people on the internet who were actively lying about overachieving. My wife was sobbing daily. I felt helpless. And for what? What were we gaining by continuing this madness? I lived everyday trying to decide if I was doing the right thing still supporting my wife’s choice to breastfeed even though it was driving her insane and making her bedridden ill. It was time to face the music.
My wife stuck to her guns for a while before she gave in. Jackson was fed. It was more expensive, but it gave us peace of mind, which in those dark hours, was precious gold.
I came to the realization that my main goal wasn’t to make my wife give up. It wasn’t to make my wife see it my way. My goal wasn’t to convince her that my suggestion wasn’t the easy way out. My goal ended up being to show her that ‘internet Julie Andrews’ didn’t have all the answers. It was to show her that our baby and I needed her to be happy and healthy first and foremost. That her well being was sacred to both of us. My goal was to love her and show her that Jackson was going to love her no matter what. If reaching those goals meant that I quit? That I threw in the towel? That I am not a member of the instagram and pintrest parents with their perfect hair, clothes and bone structure? Gladly. With pleasure.
If you are facing this problem at home. Don’t be shy about it. Its common and people go through it all the time. If you’re a guy who doesn’t know how to approach the problem, just approach it with love and understanding. Quitting a thing that you have committed to is hard for some people. Don’t Let it get in the way of the happiness of your family. Our baby boy is a year old now. He’s happy healthy, and he loves his mamma.