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I wanted to breastfeed but felt relief that formula was an option, too

Formula isn't the enemy and in fact, I'm thankful that we have had it as an option. It has allowed me to take a little pressure off myself.

I wanted to breastfeed but felt relief that formula was an option, too

I finally did it.

Last week, after months of quickly walking by the aisle in Target—refusing to make eye contact with it—I accepted the inevitable and bought it.

Formula.

Now, I really, truly know and understand there is nothing wrong with using formula and everyone has different reasons for how they feed their babies. But for me, this was all so complicated.

I'd always wanted to breastfeed. To me, it was part of this "motherhood experience" I was supposed to have. My mom still talks about how wonderful breastfeeding was for her and will recount how she held onto our nighttime feeding for so long because she didn't want to give it up. I want that, I always thought.

My first baby and I didn't get along on the breastfeeding front. We couldn't get the latch right and, at 6 weeks old, my daughter developed a hemangioma on her lower lip, which further complicated our struggles. She screamed and cried through feedings. I cried (and wanted to scream) through feedings. It wasn't pretty.

But three months into motherhood I was back to work and pumping most of the day anyway, so by the time my baby was 5 months old I made the switch to exclusively pumping. I felt defeated but took solace in the fact that I was still her main food source.

Eventually my supply couldn't keep up with my growing girl and I began supplementing with formula around nine months. Defeat crept back in yet again, but I continued to pump until my baby's first birthday.

Baby number two was a completely different experience. She latched like a pro immediately and I finally understood what it meant to enjoy breastfeeding.

While on maternity leave, I still pumped about once a day to build my freezer supply for when I went back to work. As the weeks went by, my husband began to gripe about the lack of freezer space. The more he complained, the more satisfied I felt. Look how much milk I was producing for my baby!

At one point I suggested buying a separate freezer because where would all the milk go? It was such a point of pride for me. I was determined to make it the full year without having to supplement.

Baby number two is 9 months old now and between working full-time, having to occasionally travel, and feeding my hungry girl—my freezer supply has taken quite a hit. I'm at the point—again–– where I can't keep up. And this time I've been in straight up denial.

This time it's different. It's not a feeling of failure, but rather frustration. When I'm home with my baby on weekends, I can nurse on demand and she's completely satisfied. I've realized the breast pump doesn't empty me in the same way she does. She's far more efficient and can get more milk out on her own. Pumping multiple times a day just doesn't have the same result. So I'm frustrated and conflicted.

Frustrated that being a working mother means being away all day and being unable to feed my child directly from my breast, but conflicted because I want to work and provide for my family.

Frustrated that my body can't produce the same amount of milk with a breast pump, but conflicted because, how amazing that it knows the difference.

Frustrated that I have to now rely on an outside food source to nourish my child, but conflicted because how wonderful it is to have another option.

Underneath the frustration and conflict is also a tinge of sadness. This is most likely my last baby, which means it's my last chance to enjoy breastfeeding. There is no next time.

Every month that we get closer to her first birthday I know breastfeeding will taper off and I'll be moving into a new phase of life. The frustration, conflict and sadness will likely still be there, but I need to remember that everything I've done along the way is the best I can do for my child.

She's happy and thriving (and has beautiful, delightful baby rolls if I do say so myself).

The other morning, when I was doing my bottle prep for the babysitter, I made two bottles from pumped breast milk and one bottle of formula. For the first morning in a while, I didn't have to dip into my freezer supply.

I realized that I built up this ridiculous anxiety around introducing formula to my daughter for no good reason, because the emotion I felt right there in that moment was relief.

Formula isn't the enemy and in fact, I'm thankful that we have had it as an option. It has allowed me to take a little pressure off myself.

Maybe my next trip down that particular aisle at Target will be one of acceptance and appreciation. And then again...maybe it won't be that just yet. But either way—I'm going to do my best to move through each phase of motherhood with a little more grace for myself and pride in what I've been able to do as a mom.

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My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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