And now, a not-so-special message from Elecare

Two words: Marketing fail! I recently received the following (clearly heartfelt) email from a representative of Elecare.

Dear Amber,

I’ve been following your blog and have enjoyed keeping up with your notes about Stella.  I’m glad to see that EleCare®* has been helpful, and I’d love to hear more of your story.

What was your journey with Stella? Share your experiences and success story at or email me. Your story could help other families enjoy more and worry less. You can read some of their stories on the EleCare site at

I’d also like to offer you a 1-time discount code for 20% off an EleCare purchase.** Just enter Q23LXDFPT when checking out at to save. And if you have a friend who received a doctor recommendation for EleCare, they can use discount code15NEW to get 15% off their 1st order:

Finally, I wanted to let you know that we’ve recently added delicious recipes and ways for your child to enjoy EleCare to the site  I’d love to hear which is Stella’s favorite.


Anna @EleCare

*EleCare should be used under medical supervision.  **Discount only redeemable at, not redeemable for cash or equivalent, good only in U.S.A., cannot be combined with other offers/ promotions, no adjustments to prior purchases, not applicable to employees of Abbott Laboratories.”

So let me get this straight, “Anna @Elecare.” You say you’ve been following my blog, but judging by your vacuous email and its questions, you clearly have not read any of it, except maybe the part where your keyword search highlighted the word “Elecare.” You want me to share our painful and eventually triumphant feeding journey–all that hard-earned wisdom–with you so as to provide free content, another “success story,” for your website. And in exchange for my time and energy and sharing, you’ll give me a “1-time discount code for 20% off an EleCare purchase” for my almost-three-year-old who, as my blog states in several entries, was weaned off of Elecare about two years ago.

This email is insulting because it lies in order to feign connection with me, and because it seriously devalues my time and experiences.

You’d love to hear more of my story? Our feeding saga is laid out here in its entirety. If you followed this blog, as you say you do, you’d know that. You’d also know that my hobbies include ripping apart stupid copy. So, please don’t be shocked at my delight in telling you how much your message and approach sucked.

Of course, Elecare was an important part of my daughter’s recovery. Its hypoallergenic calories allowed her gut to heal, after major damage caused by my breast milk (I’ll take this opportunity to say RIP to my 500 ounces of pumped, frozen milk that became landfill). By taking away Stella’s pain, Elecare helped end her feeding aversion. While I support breastfeeding and wished to have done it for much longer, I have nothing against formula. To be honest, my journey made me realize that what is truly unhealthy are the over-the-top delusions and divisive piousness about breastfeeding, because if I had listened to certain voices and adhered to the “breastfeed at all costs” message that is so prevalent in circles like mine, Stella would’ve been in much, much, much bigger trouble. So, dude! I was in your corner! I could’ve been a good ally to you, Anna/Elecare. But instead, you just pissed me off with your manufactured email marketing bullshit, and the lame attempt to pass it off as a genuine, individualized communication. The moms you call customers deserve more respect.

How’s this “note” working for you? Honestly, who calls blog posts “notes?” No one with a pulse. Do robots (or Vice Presidents of Marketing who think they are creative) write your boring-ass copy?

From a former online marketing manager turned advertising copywriter/mother of a baby who had a feeding issue requiring your product, in a breathless, indignant, old-timey voice: For shame!

Cow’s milk and other assorted beverages

"Where the HELL is my brie???"

"Where the HELL is my brie???"

I have somehow neglected to mention that Stella is now enjoying dairy. Holy cow! Yep, it appears that Stella has outgrown her cow’s milk protein intolerance. Or, who knows, maybe she never had it and something else in my milk was bothering her–like toxic waste. Toxic waste from my boobs. We may never know. I’m just thrilled that she can enjoy cheese!

We successfully weaned Stella off of Elecare and onto Nestle Good Start with Natural Cultures (it’s stage 2, for nine- to 24-month-olds, which just means it has more calcium, phosphorus and iron). This is a standard though supposedly gentle cow’s milk based formula, and probiotics are included so we no longer have to add them to each bottle. We now get twice as much formula for half as much money. No exaggeration whatsoever. Hello savings account, we’ve missed you! After a while on this stuff, we’ll try cow’s milk, a cost-effective transition that will allow us to retire in style at the age of 50.

That said, we need to figure out next steps re: Stella and beverages. She is currently (still) enjoying three bottles a day and takes only a couple of ounces of water at best from a sippy cup in-between. She uses these easy-to-grip shorties or, less often, these taller straw cups–both are The First Years’ “Take and Toss” and cost just $3.49 for several (and no, they don’t know I exist and have not paid me to mention them to you and my other reader). My theory is that it’s just too boring. She prefers to sip from our fancy un-capped glasses, especially if we are drinking fizzy water or citrus or other adventurous (by one-year-old standards) juices.  (Put it in a sippy cup and it’s suddenly repulsive–I tried!) Actually, she prefers to dunk her hand into our glasses, until her arm is submerged up to her elbow, then bring her hand back up to the surface and splash around as if enjoying a flavored, appendage-only bath. She’s been using a straw for a couple months now. I’m always amazed at how, after sipping icy-cold something-or-other from the straw with a very concerned and pained expression, she stops, recovers, then quickly gestures (points) for more. I can’t help but blame it on Cody and his genetic predisposition toward compulsive enjoyment of  “new and exciting” beverages–anything that just landed on the shelves, anything with “Extreme” in the name, any ridiculous and frightening combination of flavors. He sees these products as dares, and he’s always IN. See? Stella views our beverages the same way.

Last night, during our weekly trip to PCC, Cody bought a single can of Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer. While clearly named by a copywriter after me own heart, Cody’s ruthless palette immediately declared, “not watermelon-ny enough,” and moved on. Whenever he uses our car (we are one-car martyrs), a can of some never-before-seen concoction typically involving mango is left behind. Labels fall into two categories: 1) starburst-covered design tragedies sporting titles like Extreme Lemon Ginger Caffeine Explosion (100% Unnatural!) and Lavender Pomegranate Infused Ginger Ale with a Kick of Narcotic Wasabi and 2) ultra-minimalist, too-chic designs touting gems like Dry Cucumber or Simply Kumquat.

This shared tendency will certainly complicate trips to the grocery store with Stella, and soon. While other kids demand candy, Stella will likely throw a fit over some imported sparkling juice with floral essence. For now, we linger in the chill air of the dairy case.

Goodnight, milk.

Stella wasn't sad to see the milk go. In fact, she was delighted.

Stella wasn't sad to see the milk go. In fact, she was delighted.

A couple of weeks ago, I threw out 341 ounces of frozen breastmilk. That was just the bottom shelf. I still need to clear out the top one.

It has been six months since the last of it was pumped, rendering my precious milk expired. At the beginning, every half ounce was sacred. Toward the end of my pumping days, I didn’t bother saving the milk. It sat out for hours, until I forced myself to pump again at which point I would dump the previous yield down the drain. I was so bitter. So exhausted. I’d had it with pumping. Stella had been diagnosed with cow’s milk protein intolerance and fed hypoallergenic formula through a tube for a good month, and still I pumped. The odds of returning to breastfeeding seemed grim at best. Still, it was hard to stop. I didn’t want to give up. I wanted her to have “the best.”

I’d been meaning to throw the milk out for some time now, but couldn’t let it go.

When I stopped breastfeeding, when Stella had her NG tube, I was an emotional wreck. But I was consumed with tube- and bottle-feeding my baby and completely focused on getting Stella over her feeding aversion. I never really allowed myself to think very deeply about the loss. So I never got to grieve my milk or my vision of breastfeeding and what it represented to me. I never really embraced the choice that I made–the only choice that seemed logical, the one that enabled Stella (and me) to thrive. I want to accept it completely and I’m not sure why it’s been so hard to do.

I’ve thought about this a lot lately, since dumping those 341 ounces. And perhaps the answer is simple. Formula-feeding is not what I wanted for Stella. I failed. Or that’s what it feels like. And a very small, insecure part of me wonders if there is simply something wrong with me. My milk made Stella sick. It didn’t protect or nourish her or do anything it was supposed to. I used to joke to myself, in the weeks just after Stella was born, that my breasts were being both destroyed and redeemed by breastfeeding. They were being stretched to the limit with the influx of milk, so I knew I could say goodbye to any perkiness. On the other hand, they’ve always been small and had really only been a source of ridicule from about fifth grade on, so I found it quite astounding that they had the amazing power to nourish my baby. To help her grow! For me, it was empowering. Unfortunately, that didn’t last.

I wrote about our attempt to give her a dairy-based formula. I never followed up on how it went. Let’s just say that the switch was not successful. Her intake started to drop slightly and she developed a couple of red splotches on her face.  We were very quick to switch back to hypoallergenic Elecare,  so we can’t be 100% sure if the milk protein was really bothering her or not. But my gut tells me something was off. It helps a little bit with the recurring thought that maybe, if I’d kept avoiding dairy and soy for just a little while longer, and kept trying to feed her, she’d have come around to enjoy nursing, and get the benefits of breastmilk without all the pain she’d been experiencing. Of course, that’s simplistic thinking, and dismissive of the severity of the issues we faced at that time. But the idea lingers.

So. yes. I’ve been reluctant to throw out my milk. I kept hoping that maybe someday, I could give her some.  My brain kept whispering, annoyingly, “You know, you could add a bit to each of her bottles and she’ll get the benefits!” But it’s clear now that, no, she will never have my milk again.

Every time I read about yet another benefit of breastmilk, I cringe. Each time I read some judgmental comment or article by some zealot who equates formula with poison, I seethe. (For that reason, I can no longer read Mothering magazine.)

Perhaps that’s why I painstakingly calculated the total number of ounces. I needed some proof, some evidence of how hard I tried. I will get the final number soon, when I gather the courage to toss the rest. Maybe then I can finally let go.

Simply thick. But thankful.

Stella is currently enjoying a concert by Daddy as I assess the day’s progress. Today’s bottle feeding went pretty well. Not on the same level as yesterday, but there was a major bright spot: she polished off an entire bottle at her last feeding!

A probable explanation for today’s dip in overall intake, besides the fact that we tried to feed her during an appointment (she usually seems too distracted to eat when we are in an unfamiliar place), is that we used our last packet of Simply Thick last night, having failed to order more in time. This lapse on our part was simply, well, thick. At first we were unconvinced of the effectiveness of thickening. But this weekend, we finally found a thickener-to-formula ratio and nipple combination that seemed to be working, then promptly ran out of thickener. This morning’s feedings were left “thin, “so not surprisingly, she didn’t take as much from those bottles. However, this afternoon our wonderful occupational therapist, Robin Glass, hooked us up with a couple packets to tide us over until our delivery arrives (which should be tomorrow). With the proper balance restored, Stella proceeded to down a full feeding of 115 mls in no time flat. 

The thickener doesn’t just make the formula easier to swallow. It also helps with Stella’s reflux as it’s heavier and doesn’t come back up as easily. Stella usually sounds pretty phlegmy due to her reflux–there’s a rattling in her throat. In the short time since we’ve thickened her feedings, Stella’s breathing sounds more clear, perhaps an indication that her reflux is being kept at bay.

I’m so used to having to set up a pump or gravity feed when she’s had enough of the bottle, I almost don’t know what to do with myself when she finishes one. But inevitably, I wind up dancing around the house with Stella in my arms. (I almost always put on Christmas music when I feed Stella these days, to keep the mood cheerful and mellow.)

Robin Glass isn’t the only person to whom we owe thanks. A few days ago, we found out that Stella’s formula costs $43 per 14-ounce can. In four weeks, we’d rung up a formula bill of close to $1,000! On top of that, insurance was refusing to cover the formula, pump, and various other feeding supplies that Stella currently requires. After Cody spoke with the insurance company, we’d pretty much given up and were about to apply (probably in vain) for financial aid from Seattle Children’s Home Care, from which we order Stella’s supplies every other week or so. At the same time, as back-up, we did some quick online research and discovered that Elecare is offered online by the manufacturer at a slightly better price.  However, to our amazement, a representative of Home Care named Skylar somehow convinced the insurance company to cover everything! We are so grateful and plan to send a little holiday gift Skylar’s way.

With no appointments tomorrow, Stella and I can take it easy and simply enjoy the day together. We’ll go for our walk, take care of some household chores (with Stella in her beloved Baby Bjorn), and hopefully do some dancing as well.