Before my second son was born, I made a plan. A plan that I swore I would not change. This plan felt a bit selfish, but I knew in my heart it wasn't. My plan was necessary for my health and my newborn's wellbeing.
I was going to bottle feed my newborn baby boy so I could continue taking my antidepressant medication postpartum. I had done the research and talked to my doctor and I could not breastfeed on the antidepressant I knew worked best for me.
After having debilitating postpartum depression with my first son, I knew that I needed to be proactive in taking care of myself. If I wanted to be a loving, happy mom that could physically and mentally take the best care of my child, I needed my medicine. If I was battling depression, I wouldn't be able to do that.
But this plan of bottle feeding was easier said than done, at least in my head. Every article, birthing expert and lactation consultant went on and on and on about how breastfeeding is the best for your child. The baby will have less allergies, more bonding time with mom, and a better chance of getting into Harvard on a full scholarship. And then there's the upside of mom losing the baby weight faster (which is actually a harmful message and not true ).
I thought that when I told the nurses in the hospital that I was going to bottle feed, they would try to talk me out of it. They would pummel me with the benefits of breastfeeding. I wasn't ready to tell them the reason why I was choosing to bottle feed. I didn't want to come across as an unfit mother that had a mental illness (because, sadly, there is still a stigma associated with that).
Then the day came. I checked into the hospital for my planned C-section. As I answered the multitude of questions they had, they moved onto the one question that terrified me. They asked if I wanted to breastfeed or bottle feed. My head started spinning, my heart dropped, and I second guessed my decision for the 100th time. Luckily, I blurted out "bottle feed" before I could change my mind. The nurse didn't even pause, just said okay, made a few clicks of her mouse and went on with the questioning. Relief took over my body and I finally relaxed. I could be excited about meeting the newest member of my family now.
After a couple weeks, things were going as well as possible after having a baby. My husband could pitch in on the night shift and despite the fact that I just had a human surgically removed from my uterus, I felt good, both mentally and physically.
I decided to share my experience and journey online, so many women stood up and cheered, thanking me for telling my story. It was empowering to know that I was helping women that had been too ashamed or scared of judgement to say something. Except for one woman who disagreed with me and had no problem telling me so, in not the best way possible. She messaged me, saying that I was selfish and a horrible mother for choosing myself over my son's health and development. In her eyes, I was choosing myself over my newborn son.
And that made me feel like an awful mother. I read that message and cried.
Once my tears dried up, I reached deep into my mom heart, and messaged her back. I wasn't going to let her speak to me like that, even if it was via Facebook Messenger. I had to let her know that her words hurt. And I let her know that I wasn't choosing myself over my baby. I was choosing myself for my baby.
I swore from that point on I would advocate for any woman that bottle feeds their child, no matter the reason. We all know what is best for us, our bodies and our children. And I will no longer feel guilt or shame for that. Power on, mamas. We've got this.