While I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed & minutes after Marlowe was born, I held her tiny body against my chest & she latched on immediately. It was one of the most incredible experiences to have this special bond with her, so breastfeeding came really naturally (albeit the excruciating pain for the first two weeks) During her Maternal Health Centre visits, when the nurse would tell us that she is in the top percentile of the weight range, I would beam with pride. When friends saw her & compliment on her chubby little thighs, it made me feel like I was acing some sort of unwritten test.

Recently, everything changed. Marlowe turned 3 months, which also marked my halfway point of getting back to work. To prepare for this transition, I have slowly increased her use of the bottle, as well as formula feeding, which is far more challenging than I thought- mentally. You see, my breastmilk supply have slowly ceased. I had stopped pumping during the day because I don’t have the leisure to, and at the same time, Marlowe started sleeping through the night. Since I wasn’t waking up every couple of hours to feed her, my milk supply began to plummet. Although I would still wake to pump & build up my ‘collection’ of frozen breastmilk, it was as if my body knew I was lying & slowly stopped producing. So, I really need her to be able to accept the bottle & formula with ease if I were to leave her at home for long periods & also in the case I don’t have stored breastmilk anymore. Marlowe usually cries with distress before finally accepting the formula with defeat- and it tears me up inside.

Ironically, Marlowe is also going through a growth spurt and was requiring even more milk each day. I almost found myself resenting the times when she needed to be fed & completely refuses the formula- which I’d resort to using the stored breastmilk & I’d panic about how that would affect the supply when I’m back at work. The more stressed I became, the less I produced. I didn’t feel like myself and when G would try to comfort me, I felt that he just didn’t understand the pressure I was under. I felt like I couldn’t provide for my baby and that I was cruel for forcing formula on her. I envisioned Marlowe losing weight & the conversations I’d have to have with my mum & mum-in-law, in which I’d tell them that Marlowe wasn’t exclusively having breastmilk anymore and I’d start sobbing uncontrollably. Regardless of the fact that our family fully supports using formula and I know logically it’s perfectly normal, when I held Marlowe, I’d whisper in her ear how sorry I was.

One morning, after I’d been up all night attempting to pump with little result, I just thought to myself that I should focus on the amount of love I provide & giving Marlowe formula is not an indication that I’m a bad parent. And it was the first time that I decided to give myself a break. I hadn’t fully understood the kind of pressure that I was under, from a societal standpoint and the internal expectations I’d placed on myself. Being a new mom is really hard, but it made me realize that there will be plenty of other difficult situations like this that I’ll encounter, most of which won’t have as simple of a solution. And that as long as I remember what’s truly important – that Marlowe is loved & kept safe, that I can rest a little easier knowing that I’m doing my best and that my best is good enough.