Annabelle, a friend of mine for just about 20 years, used a mix of her milk and formula to create the optimal feeding plan for her son. She worried her approach might threaten bonding with her son and draw reproach from others. Two years later, her son is thoroughly smitten with his mama.

For more of Annabelle’s nursing story, read on.

Q: When your son was an infant, how did you feed him?

A: A somewhat unusual medley–breast milk at first, although I began supplementing with a bottle of formula for his early morning feeding at about six weeks. The supplementation very slowly increased until he was fully formula-only at seven months. What was unusual was that he wasn’t nursing per se–by his eighth week or so I pumped exclusively. He would have extraordinarily long feeding sessions (I’m talking up to two hours) and a large appetite. Both combined to make nursing a fraught experience, thus the decision to pump. Because I couldn’t quite pump enough to keep him sated (although at the beginning I could pump a great deal–he was just freakishly hungry), I began supplementing early.

Q: Did you ever feel judged or scorned because of your method? For example, did a friend or relative criticize you?

A: Ironically, I felt judged in the opposite direction by my mother-in-law, who thought that it was crazy that I wasn’t giving him more formula. I also self-judged about the pumping, because it seemed a really odd approach. I didn’t tell many people about it or about the extent that I did it. Therefore, I really didn’t talk about it much–probably purposely so that I wouldn’t have to hear other people’s opinions. I even downplayed it to his pediatrician. I thought I would be judged as someone who wouldn’t emotionally bond with her child. Which is hilarious, because my son is so attached to me two years on that he’d probably crawl back into my womb if he could. 🙂

Q: If you did experience judgment, explain how it affected you emotionally.

A: I was irritated more than anything else (after all, it was my mother-in-law). It just amazes my that everyone has an opinion on this matter.

Q: Based on your experiences, what would you tell first-time moms as they seek to feed their babies?

Do whatever works best for you–it will all turn out fine in the end.

Annabelle is a librarian, a writer, and perhaps the most well-read person I know. She recently launched a blog with that same moniker: “Well-Read: Books. Reviews. Shenanigans.”

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