Formula Shortage Opinionistas: Why Parents Aren’t Sucking Down The Platitudes.

My milk never came in. His little jaw ground. I could see his throat frantically attempting to swallow. But there was nothing there for him. I’d had a golden staph infection after an emergency cesarian: my milk had dried up.

I’d failed on my plans for a home birth, I’d failed on my plan to breast feed and now my baby was hungry.

The nurses brought me a baby bottle and a tin of formula. My baby gulped and gulped and gulped. Then finally he slept, peacefully.

The next time wasn’t so easy. Feeding took hours. He fell asleep after only swallowing a small portion of formula. He was exhausted. His mouth suckled, but he never seemed to get enough.

“I’ll show you a trick,” said an elderly midwife. “Take a needle. Heat the needle over the stove. Use it to widen the hole of the plastic teat.”

When my baby woke up he took to the modified plastic teat and drained the bottle.

While he slept contentedly, I read every article I could lay my hands on about baby formula.

When I went home from hospital I bought an expensive tin of organic formula from a health food shop. The local supermarket didn’t stock it. I didn’t care about the cost or that the shop was further from our house than main supermarket. I wanted the best.

One day when I went to pick up a tin from the health food shop, they’d run out. Their next shipment wasn’t due for a week. My baby needed to feed in the next hour.

I went down to the local supermarket and brought a tin of baby formula. Not my son’s usual brand. But it would have to do, unless I was willing to make a sleep-deprived drive across town to another store.

At first, all seemed fine. Then, during his nap, he had violent reflux. White vomit all over his little face and flannel jump suit. Red faced and screaming. The change in formula brands had upset his tummy.

I called my mother. “Give him time to adjust,” she advised. So I did. For three days, my son puked and screamed. He woke up early, hungry. He wasn’t sleeping for more than an hour and a half at a time.

“Maybe he needs a different formula?” So we went back to the supermarket. I prowled the shelves, looking at brands and their amazing claims for infant growth and development.

All I wanted was a food source that wouldn’t cause my son to constantly shit, be constipated or puke. That wouldn’t actively harm his development.

The “Gold” version of the brand I’d previously bought was more expensive. But maybe it’d settle his stomach? Obviously, it was in demand: the supermarket had secured the tins with electronic anti-theft devices.

It gave him explosive diarrhoea. I was beside myself from sleepless nights and days of listening to my son scream.

And then the health food shop called to say they had my usual brand back in stock.

After that incident, I took to bulk stockpiling baby formula. There was never less than ten tins in the cupboard: hundreds of dollars worth of product.

It wasn’t a wide-spread formula shortage. It was just a week of swapping formula because the local stockist was out of our usual brand. It was one of my worst experience of early parenthood.

So when smart-arsed mansplainers claim it’s no big deal parents can’t find their babies preferred formula, my response can only be: how the hell would you know?

If the closest you’ve come to buying food for a creature other than yourself in the last ten years is picking up a tin of dog food, then honestly, you’ve got no place giving new parents advice.

And while we’re at it, can all the lactivists out there claiming the formula shortage is the perfect time for women who haven’t breastfed in months — or ever — to relearn to breastfeed: please stop.

Yes we get it. Like indignant mansplainers on free market issues, you too think it’s your right to commandeer the crummy issue of formula shortages to tell parents how to feel and what to do. Nobody appreciates it.

Because really, who cares about the views of self-righteous ideologues when you’re on day three of sleep deprivation with a screaming, upset baby?

Parents won’t let the issue of infant formula shortages just fall off the agenda. They can’t. It’s just too difficult a situation for them not to address.

The screaming, hungry mouth in the background won’t just shut up because columnists claim the formula shortages aren’t really so bad, that parents can change brands of formulas, or maybe miraculously learn to lactate again.

If you’re of the opinion this issue is just going to slide away, then you’re a sucker. Gear up to accept that until the issue of supply and demand is met, then there’s going to be a lot of angry parents out there.

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