Friday, May 3, 2013
Bottle Boot Camp
The past week has been rough. If you read the "Hitting the Bottle" post you will remember that baby girl was still not taking a bottle and my maternity leave is rapidly coming to an end.
At our 2 month doctor's appointment we mentioned the "no bottle" issue to the pediatrician. We were anticipating her telling us "it's okay she will eventually get it" or "don't stress just keep trying." Instead she told us we were in trouble and if we wanted her to take a bottle we needed to start getting aggressive.
Her suggestion was to leave the baby all day with a grandmother. And I do mean LEAVE. She said that we should not be around, especially me.
The gist of the plan was to leave the baby with someone patient, familiar with feeding babies, and someone that could listen to crying for hours without giving in to nurse. Parents usually crack under the pressure.
After leaving the pediatrician's office I felt panicky. I guess I was pretty delusional. I had just thought that one day we would wake up and she would magically take the bottle. We were now facing the harsh reality that we had a baby that would need some additional training. I was not certain I could just leave my baby for this stressful but necessary time. I didn't want to put stress on a Grandma and I didn't want my daughter to think I had abandoned her when she was hungry. While on some level I knew that baby girl would not feel abandoned, I struggled to get past that hang up.
After going back and forth over the options I decided I wanted to be the one to work with her through the "bottle only" feeding period.
I did not fully realize how hard it was going to be.
We started at 2:00 PM on Sunday. She cried pretty much non-stop until 8:00 PM. They were full blown gut wrenching cries. She would look up at me with red-rimmed tear stained eyes, pleading.
It broke my heart. I cried, a bunch.
I was very close to giving in and nursing multiple times. It is extremely difficult to see your child cry. Usually there is nothing you can do to stop the discomfort. This time there was something very easy I could do to make it all stop...but I didn't.
I felt like a horrible Mom.
When she finally took the bottle it was a mix of emotions. First being great relief. The second caught me a bit off guard. It hit me that she may not go back to nursing. What if our experience was over? I felt an overwhelming sadness as I was not sure I was ready to let that special bonding go.
The tears continued to flow.
The next couple days were a mess. I did not want to offer nursing as an option until I felt like she was really getting the hang of the bottle. There was NO way I was going to go through the boot camp again.
It is really hard to bottle feed a breast milk baby. I found myself really tied down the next few days. She was still fighting the bottle so our feeding sessions would take up to an hour and a half. Then I would need to pump. After the pumping I would need to wash and sterilize nipples, bottle, and pump accessorizes. Pretty much by the time I finished with all of that it was time to feed again.
I hate the bottle. I hate the time it takes away from me being able to hold and play with my baby girl. I hate the cold feel of it against my skin as I tried to struggle with her hands and tongue to keep it in her mouth. I hate the way I have to hold her away from my body to get her to take the bottle.
I hate it.
True it does give us more flexibility. The husband and I are looking forward to our first date night in a long time. I will be able to go off to work confident that she will take the bottle from her caregivers.
I still hate it.
There is one redeeming quality to the bottle. One that almost makes it all worthwhile. With the bottle the husband does get to share in the special experience of feeding his little girl. True she is a fussy little thing right now but he still enjoys her looking into his eyes as he holds the bottle.
I hate it a bit less.
I am gradually introducing a few nursing sessions into each day. I am limiting these to the night feedings. Thankfully she did go back to nursing with no problem. That was a large relief for me.
I know that far too soon she will not be nursing and will eventually be graduating to sippy cups. When that time comes I will miss the bottle feedings.
But for now, you guessed it....I still hate the bottle.