Yesterday afternoon I met up with my partner at a local bar. My Instagram feed had me craving a Bloody Mary, and Jesse never needs any arm twisting to get to the South Philly Tap Room. That morning he took our brand new foster daughter, Adira, to the farmer’s market while I made a quick trip to Ikea in search of a changing table and then set up shop in a coffee shop to spend two hours working on my novel.
By 3 p.m. we both deserved a drink, and as we sat down, Adira, who is only 8 weeks old, was also feeling pretty thirsty. Since Jesse had been on with her for several hours I was happy to feed her. Like lots of babies, Adira is happiest when she’s right up against us in a baby carrier (plus I wanted my hands free to my Bloody Mary), so I put her in our ring sling and got out the bottle from the diaper bag.
I know that breast milk is a magical elixir sent from God to make our babies into perfect specimens of humanity, and all who scorn it are doomed to the hellfire of eternal ear infections and playground stink-eye, but please allow me to sing the praises of formula. Thank you, Similac, for allowing me to nurture two different infants in the space of a year. Thank you for allowing me to share all feedings with my male partner. Thank you for never requiring that I teach a baby she must eat under a blanket, and for never requiring me to get acquainted with a breast pump. Thank you for allowing me to feel no guilt whatsoever about drinking that entire Bloody Mary.
I have nothing against breastfeeding. If you are reading this on your phone while you breastfeed, please know that I bow in homage to the awesome gift you’re giving your child. Rock on, mama/genderqueer parent. But as a foster mom, I have become a full-throated advocate for formula. Sometimes formula is the only choice (as in my case). Other times, it’s just the best option. For people who get little to no parental leave, who have trouble making enough milk, who can’t breastfeed because of a medication they’re on, and many many more, formula is the best way to feed their child.
Yesterday, Adira gulped down her formula, the bottle propped on my ample rack. I gazed into her eyes and told her that I loved her, that her Papa and I were going to keep her safe, teach her lots of fun things, and help her grow up into a strong wonderful adult. And I sipped my Bloody Mary, because after this week, which involved a new baby, a broken air conditioner, a leak that doused the clothes in my closet with rainwater, and a chest x-ray (everything’s fine, thank God) I deserved a drink, too.
Here’s to you, formula. Cheers!