The One Motherhood Milestone That Didn’t Make Me Sob Like a Baby

updated Sep 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

When my son cut his first tooth, I burst into tears.

Let me be clear: I wasn’t always like this. I used to be a rational person who could look at a beautiful experience and say, “Aah, how lucky I am to have had this time. Now let me close the chapter.”

Motherhood has unhinged me.

I cried when we changed out his newborn clothes for 0-3 month onesies (yes, they are different sizes and yes, that totally shocked me). I pretended to have something in my eye during his first haircut. The one milestone I didn’t feel misty about, however, was when we started switching my baby from formula to whole milk.

(Image credit: mihai’s place)

Formula vs. Breastfeeding

There is a lot of hubbub about formula feeding versus breastfeeding. If you prefer formula, if you can’t breastfeed, or if you choose to do a mixture of the two options, the bottom line is fed is best. I was lucky to be surrounded by supportive doctors, family, and friends who all believe this and repeatedly told me as much.

I wanted to breastfeed for a number of reasons. When I had to supplement my son with formula in the hospital, I thought nothing of it. I know a lot of moms supplement early on and then go on to breastfeed exclusively or primarily for a year or more.

I didn’t turn out to be one of those moms.

I desperately wanted to be one. I pumped (seemingly endlessly) from the first night my son was born, mere hours after delivering him. I fed him colostrum from a tiny cup so he would get all the benefits. I drank bone broth and ate oatmeal until I felt like I would explode. I struggled for a long time, supplementing with formula all the while. After a period of time, I realized I was going to need to switch to entirely formula. That’s when I cried. I knew, logically, that formula would provide him with excellent nutrition and health benefits, but I felt like I was missing out on an experience I had counted on having with my child.

Luckily, those sad feelings dissipated and my son happily drank formula and continued to grow and thrive, until the point where his doctor said we could start to transition him to whole milk.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Making the Switch from Formula to Milk

I braced myself for allthefeelings when I started lowering the ratio of formula to milk in his four daily bottles but, when I first poured that thick, creamy milk into his bottle … nothing happened. No twinge of nostalgia. No pang of remembering him as a tiny, toothless newborn. Nada.

As I kept increasing his milk and decreasing his formula, I not only didn’t feel sad — I actually felt happy. I love seeing him drink a real-life drink for people (milk isn’t my favorite, but hot chocolate’s no slouch); he seems to like the taste much more than formula and it’s cheaper, to boot.

I don’t know how I would have felt if it were nursing or breastmilk instead of formula I was cutting out. I think nursing is a beautiful bond and I will always regret not being able to share it with my child. However, I’m also sad I can’t still hold him in my arms while he sleeps for hours during the day. I’m bummed out I can’t relive the day he first saw bubbles or magically capture the look on his face when we take him swimming.

One thing I’m not nostalgic about is cutting out the formula. Bring on the milk, the water, and the finger food that will now give him sustenance. Food is such a big part of my family’s life and I’m pumped to share it with our youngest member.

Formula was, for us, a lifeline. Indispensable. It literally kept my son alive and helped him thrive for months. Any mom who is feeding her kid, through her milk, formula, donated milk, or any combination of the above is doing a fantastic job.

I wanted to breastfeed, but I couldn’t. So, I fed my kid formula. Besides having a healthy, happy baby, I also have at least one milestone (moving to milk), I’m not going to cry about.