03/19/2012 07:02 pm ET Updated May 19, 2012

Formula feeding: Getting over the breast AND the guilt

Before having my first child, I took all the prenatal classes I could find. After years of infertility and miscarriages, I was determined to get it right. I knew to bring the baby to the breast rather than the breast to the baby. I knew how to swaddle and how to change a diaper. I was determined to go all natural in delivery, and I had my birth plan written out. The cute pink clothes were organized by fabric and size in my cute little Noah's Ark nursery. I was set.

And then she was born.

Delivered at 9 pounds, 2 ounces and 10 days early via c-section, my not-so-little angel ripped into my life with her own plans.

Two hours after delivery, she was put in the NICU because she was not breathing right. Five lactation cunsultants later, we also discovered that she had no sucking reflex. The formula started flowing and my plans went out the window.

I spent the next six months pumping for an acid reflux baby. My days looked something like this:

  • 45 minutes pumping
  • 45 minutes feeding
  • 15 minutes cleaning up acid reflux vomit
  • 30 minutes rest
  • And repeat

It took her ten months to regain her high birth weight, but I was absolutely determined to continue pumping no matter my exhaustion level out of sheer guilt of failing her if I stopped. I had been brainwashed into thinking nursing was good and therefore the bottle was bad. Though I could not control the fact that she had to drink from a bottle, I was determined to make sure that MY milk went into it.

The truth is, she was a healthier baby when she went to rice-laden soy formula per the pediatrician's request. That is why my second child started formula when he was diagnosed with acid reflux at four weeks old.

And my third child never touched my breast.

While I am still pro-breastfeeding, I believe that women should have the right to choose whether formula or nursing is best for them without the guilt and judgement of other moms. Raising a child is filled with lots of very personal decisions and each mother should be entitled to decide what is best for her, her child, and her family.

I have three healthy, active, happy kids and I was a healthy, happy, well-rested mom because I elected to use formula. And looking back, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Are there any other formula feeding mommies out there? Tell us about your experience. Did you have any guilt for not nursing? If so, how did you get past it?