I had to travel to four cities to find formula. American parents are desperate | Blair Hayse

HHow have I spent a recent afternoon? I spent it traveling to four different cities to find a can of formula for my baby. Gone are the days of simply having to rush to the local market, located a few kilometers from my home, to grab the formula. Instead, I have to budget about six hours to find the specialty formula my daughter needs.

The recent formula shortage has caused a significant crisis for me as a mother and my baby. My youngest daughter was born with serious health issues that forced her to stay in the NICU for about a month and was sent home with monitors. Due to her complications, breastfeeding was a ruled out option early on and pumping stopped about two months after she was born. She was placed on a specialist formula to help with her nutritional support and reflux issues. It’s been a long road and even now, a year later, we’re attending therapy twice a week. She is 13 months small and weighs what most babies half her age weigh. The need for extra nutritional support kept her on formula longer than most of her age. The extra nutrient formula has been hard to find.

A few weeks ago I had been to two cities before I found him. Yet on this recent Thursday afternoon, I traveled to every big formula retailer I could find in four different cities. The simple math here lets me know that scarcity is becoming a bigger issue with each passing week. I was beginning to lose hope and worry about how much more money I was going to shell out before I found any. Most of the shelves were empty in every store I walked into, proving that I wasn’t the only parent trying to help her baby survive this formula shortage crisis.

Finally, I laid eyes on her formula canister in the first store I stopped in the Fourth City. However, underneath the formula was a neatly typed sign letting me know that I was limited to only buying three per visit due to shortages. While I appreciate being able to buy more than one, it still limits me for the next time she needs more. Just the thought of next time sends me into anxiety mode:

“How long do I have to travel to find more? »

“What if I can’t find it at all?” »

These questions worry me as a mother and trigger a short range of panicked emotions. This made me look for alternatives to formula milk if I couldn’t find any. Can I buy breast milk from donation centers? Is goat’s milk even okay to give to a baby as a replacement for formula? I spend my time researching these things, things I never thought I would explore. This is my fourth child and I’ve never had to worry about finding formula to feed any of them until now.

Sadly, my now typical Thursday afternoon formula shopping is a reality for many parents with newborns now. Worrying about the next time they will need more formula. How long might it take them to find more and if they will be able to find any. They spread the word to all their family and friends so they can look for them in other cities, being ready to ship or hand-deliver the form if needed. Knowing that you can’t wait until the baby is about to run out because you’re not sure you can find him any faster. I constantly ask my husband how much formula we have at least twice a day because I’m afraid I won’t be up to it before I shop again. All of these are now daily worries and aggravating problems for new parents.

As I type this I just gave my daughter a bottle and enjoyed her falling asleep in my arms. Innocent to the crisis around how to get more formula for his survival. She’s resting peacefully and I worry because that’s what us moms do. I’m determined to do everything I can to keep his formula in my pantry. However, the “what ifs” still torment me. I don’t know if I’ll see the end of the formula shortage anytime soon. Hope seems pretty bleak at this point, and now it’s just a survival mode. I survive one more week, I survive one more box of formula, and I survive one more bottle. I try not to let panic set in and cling to the hope of finding what I need to feed my baby. Sometimes I can’t understand that I have to care about it in our current global times.

To all the parents who are fighting with me against the formula shortage crisis, I see you and we will get through this. Hopefully this ends sooner rather than later.

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