Sadness in Target


Two boys went to Target with me today to get some shopping done before chemotherapy tomorrow.  It helps to be prepared.

When we were in the baby section buying formula for George I had a minor emotional crisis.  There were several other moms in the same aisle, and at least two of them were obviously nursing mothers (you can tell when they’re wearing an Expressiva Nursingwear shirt from last year or when they’re debating brands of breastmilk storage bags.)

I was embarrased to be looking for George’s brand of artificial baby formula to put in my cart.  I was momentarily relieved when Target was all out (until I realized that I was going to have to go to another store and face this again…) 

Well, one thing led to another and I ended up in tears.  I DON’T want to buy formula because I WANT to nurse my baby but I can’t because I have breast cancer which also means I have to have chemotherapy tomorrow and I DON’T want to have chemotherapy tomorrow because I DON’T want to feel bad and because I DON’T want to be unable to manage my household independently.   But mostly I want to be able to nurse my baby again. 

You know, it took me four months, two lactation consultants and a speech therapist to be able to nurse George.  Between his prematurity and his Downs, he had kind of a rough start.  But once we got it worked out, he soared from below the 3rd percentile in weight to solidly 25th.  He grew and he got stronger and healthier and happier every day.  Then breast cancer happened.

So I ordered two cases of Nutramigen via the internet.  It’s easier that way.


28 thoughts on “Sadness in Target

  1. Elizabet, I know that kind of sadness. Although my health is OK, I could not fully nurse two of my 6 children. I did everything possible, but they just didn’t thrive on my milk alone or got very sick from it. I even went on such an elimination diet, that in the end I almost ate only rice, but it didn’t help. I had to use Nutramigen and other expensive hydrolized formulas and still am with this baby – but all I want to nurse her and not give her this yucky disgusting stuff. But then I do have to look at it from the other angle. It’s what’s best for her that’s most important. If something in my milk is the culprit, then I have to find the second-best =(. I am sorry you have to go through this. My prayers are with you.

  2. You’ll be in my prayers today~
    I was unable (for health reasons) to nurse some of my babies. I wanted a T-shirt to wear at all times explaining myself. Eventually, I embraced the situation, but I still mourned the loss of breastfeeding. I know exactly what you mean!

  3. Elizabeth,

    I only had to go through what you are going through for 3 days and I can tell you it was HELL. I had been cardioverted due to an abnormal heart rythmn and put on a medication that I was told (by 2 different lactation consultants) would be toxic for my baby. I thought it would be no problem and even dreamed of my husband getting up for night feedings…then reality set in. I was hospitalized and my 2 month old baby went home with my husband…. I was never going to nurse her again….I had nursed with no problem whatsoever 4 other children from the moment they were born. I no longer knew how to relate to my baby. How would I continue to bond with her??? I cried the 3 days I was in the hospital and all night the night I was release. I no longer knew how to sooth my baby and I was completely engorged…and to top it off husband was the only one who could console her….how could this be?? I felt like a fish out of water. I suddenly had no idea how to care for or comfort my child. I was an emotional wreck…I never knew how much a part of my life and parenting nursing was…until it was gone… Thankfully, this only lasted 3 days–my baby caught a cold and I took her in to the pediatrician who said that the evidence wasn’t conclusive about the medication I was on–but if it were his baby–he’d want his wife to continue breastfeeding. I will pray that God gives you peace with this difficult cross. You are in my prayers. God bless you!!

  4. I understand your pain about not being able to nurse – I wasn’t able to nurse my 4 children and the comments that I got really stung….no one knew how hard I had tried….

    You’re in my prayers…..

  5. I,too, am faced with cancer – colonrectal. I’ve been at chemotherapy every other week since February. We homeschool and I’m grateful that two of my older children who are still at home are helping me with the 15 and ten year old. It’s hard to keep going especially on those weeks with chemo, but I am learning to be content and it is a very hard lesson to learn when you feel miserable.
    Treasure the joy of cuddling with your little one as you feed him. Snuggle and pretend that the nourishment is coming directly from you which it is.

    God bless you as you love your children while going through a very hard time.

  6. Oh, my prayers are with you. I ask God to give you and your family hope and comfort at this time and that someday you can look back and see Light in Darkness.

    I tried to nurse both of my children that lived (my first child died right after he was born). Since my two living children were C-section, it was too difficult and painful to nurse and with both, they began to lose too much weight continue.

    But both were still adorable and wonderful babies and are now amazingly wonderful adults. 🙂

  7. Elizabeth,

    I’m so sorry. I wasn’t able to bf my first at all, though not due to health issues. I recall feeling like a complete and utter failure, and I made DH buy the formula because I was too embarrassed. I did bf my next two children, and although it was a wonderful experience and I still would have bf’d DS1 if I could have….really, at this point it doesn’t even matter. They’re all healthy and thriving. DS1 had more colds his first year, and while the BF kids had fewer colds as infants, they got slammed once they went to preschool while DS1 was fine. I’m sure that wasn’t 100% due to bf, but it’s an interesting coincidence if not.

    Anyway, just wanted to say I understand the ache and shame you feel in that formula aisle, and I wish I could take it away…but I promise it will fade eventually.

    You are a true inspiration in your focus on your son’s every need during this time. I hope the chemo goes as well as can be expected.

  8. Dear Elizabeth,

    I was not able to successfully nurse my oldest child for very long (about 4 months only). I felt very sad about it, and the formula did cause some issues for her, such as constipation. She is now a wonderful 20-year-old woman, though, and knows that her mother loves her, whether or not she breastfed for a long time. God sees our children through when we can’t do something in the “ideal” way. May God bless you and grant you healing. You are in my prayers.

    Marla Lynch

  9. When my third was 6 months I found out I had a benign brain tumor. He had been exclusively nursed, and I was facing surgery/recovery half way across the country. I remember that same feeling–standing in Wal-mart, staring at the formula choices, and feeling embarassed and angry. I too left that first time without buying anything. And I think you have to mourn that loss–I know I did. But he’s three now and he’s fine, and he has no idea the sadness I went through. I remember though–and my thoughts are with you.

  10. Elizabeth, I can understand how reluctant you are to use formula. It would about kill me too. I have heard of the Armenians feeding their babies on goats milk, mashed bananas and olive oil. I don’t know how practicable it would be for you recovering from chemo, but I thought I’d mention it in case you felt like researching it further, even if only to suppliment the formula. Sometimes there are other options out there that are known in other countries that aren’t as commercially dependant as ours. I had to quit nursing my 2nd at 1 year in order to take caprillic acid and he did well on the goats milk. We will pray for you. This has got to be hard. I hope you don’t mind me posting a comment, I linked to your blog through another blogger at real learning. God bless you and your lovely family. ~Gloria~

  11. I cried in the aisle at Target the first time I bought baby formula, and I DIDN’T have breast cancer. I cannot even imagine how you are feeling right now. I will pray for you. Please know that your baby will thrive on formula. It may not be “the best,” but it’s the very best YOU can give right now, and it’s *more* than good enough to meet his needs, and that’s what counts. He will be fine. You just worry about taking care of yourself so he can have a mom. God be with you ….

  12. Elizabeth,

    George is blessed to have a Mama who loves him so much. You already know how amazing your body is – look what it has already accomplished. Get healthy and strong, that’s the best thing for you and for your family.

    I know it doesn’t make the hurt of not nursing your baby go away right now. I struggled with having to wean two of my babes early for treatment of a chronic illness I have battled for 10+ years. I put it off as long as I could, it was heartbreaking to accept. But we are so much more than our breasts. It’s the heart that beats beneath them, and he soul that animates us that is infinitely more precious.

    I’m so sorry you are going through this. Sending you thoughts of love and lots of prayers.


  13. I am sorry for your sadness… as a mother who used formula for no. 1 and nursed no. 2, I can honestly say, that WHATEVER choice you make, is done with the pure love of a mother. I hope you get in plenty of snuggles with that baby 🙂 and I am praying for you.

  14. I have not been able to stop thinking about you or this post since I came across it via Elizabeth’s website yesterday. My heart broke into pieces reading it because I know the sadness all to well of which you speak. I do not have cancer, but I was unable to nurse two of my four kids due to thyroid disease, and the two I did nurse came under tremendous sacrifice and heartache. I had to supplment them (heavily) for five months until they were able to nurse alone. So, I understand your grief in Target. I used to hate having to get formula, especially when one of my kids needed the special kind because of a milk intolerance (one of the main reason in my continuing to try to nurse, even if it was just a little bit). I remember bursting into tears whenever I saw someone nursing a newborn, because that’s what I wanted to do. Nurse my newborn without the fuss of bottles and so forth. I cannot imagine the added cross of cancer on top of all this. Please, please know that even though I don’t know you, I am praying for you. You are not alone in this. You have many here for you lifting you up in your grief and sorrow. God Bless you…

  15. no matter how grateful we may feel for all the benefits of modern life in America (you are getting treatment for your cancer, your child will survive and thrive on artificial formula)there is still that sense of loss because you are not able to nurse your baby. There is nothing wrong with grieving that loss. I hope it has helped you a bit to share your story and know that other mothers are sympathizing and praying for you. On this feast of OL of Guadalulpe I will keep you in my prayers that your chemo will go well and that your children and family will be OK. ((hug)) to you.

  16. I used Sally Fallon’s recipe and made homemade formula, it made me feel so much better, you have to be able to get raw milk, but the rest of the ingredients are easy to come by at a good health food store. I think or com will help you find the closest source of raw milk. Let me know if you are considering this, it really is easy, and SOOOOO much better for the babies!


  17. Elizabeth,
    I can only imagine how frustrating and heartbreaking your situation is, especially in the middle of someplace like Target! I have a son with autism and he is very limited in what he will eat…sometimes I feel like I should send a note to preschool with him explaining why I am sending spray cheese and crackers, scooby doo fruit snacks, and marshmallows and Pediasure for lunch. Pretty much every day. My other kids are eating fruit and whole grains and organic milk. So it just about kills me to let him eat spray cheese! I have to remind myself every day that for him, it’s most important to just EAT. If he has to get his nutrition from Pediasure for today, that’s the way it goes. It doesn’t make it easier but I hope you know deep down in your heart that you are doing the very best for George. The most important thing is that his mommy is around for a long, long time!

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  19. Elizabeth,
    This is my first time having to give formula to one of my own too (many problems none life-threatening). I feel like I need to explain it to everyone so they understand that this is not what I would have chosen, it was what was chosen for me. I am grateful that I have formula to turn too. I’m grateful too that if you give him formula you may get the chemo which will give him a mother to enable you to be a grandmother to his children. I will offer up my gut-wrenching feelings of loss when I feel it for you and your family and pray for you often.
    God Bless you.

  20. I too had to give up nursing because of breast cancer surgery and chemo. Yes, it was terrible but 14 years later, my son is still very attached to me and has a wonderful disposition. You can do it!
    I know the feelings and the frustration and the anger. Life just isn’t fair!
    But by God’s grace you will meet each day and your children’s needs. (Even with other’s help)
    And I came to realize that it was my children that ultimately kept me going. They and my husband brought joy to the “ordinary”.
    God Bless you. I will keep you in prayer!

  21. Elizabeth, I clicked on your blog after reading an entry at “In the Heart of My Home”. I was diagnosed with BC at age 35 when my daughter was 16 months old. I was still nursing her, and I will never forget that last time I nursed her before going in for mastectomy. It has been a journey, but I’m still here and planning her 13th birthday party in a few months. I will add you to my prayer list. I really understand that hurt you felt in Target. I’m not sure why we must go through this, but God has been very good to me, and I’ve found many blessings along the way. God Bless!

  22. Elizabeth – prayers are going out for you and your baby and your whole family. You are truly an amazing mother and our family and everyone I know will hold you constantly in our prayers.

  23. Praying for you to find some peace.I had to wean my son at 5 months,way before either of us was ready because the medication and surgery I needed for thyroid tumours.It takes time.I will be praying for your family

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