While I was pregnant I had a lot of people ask me if I was going to breastfeed. My answer, based on years of horror stories about low supply, bad latch, pain, fatigue, clogged ducts, mastitis, and just plain incompatibility, was always: “I’m going to try.” When it happened that my son and I were both lucky to find breastfeeding as easy and natural as I wish it could be for everyone, I thought we’d dodged that particular bullet and could happily close the book on the issue, dust off our hands, and move on to worrying about other things, like, oh my god, one day I’m going to have to give him the keys to my car and let him go out driving, alone, on the roads, where he could get hurt! It turns out, however, that my relief was premature and I have a little more handwringing to devote to breastfeeding before I proceed to installing a GPS device in my car to track my boy’s every movement. Motherhood: Let the worrying begin (and never end)!
My problem is this: Breastfeeding continues to go well, but so well that my eight-week-old won’t take a bottle, not no way, not no how. At this point the situation isn’t dire–sure, it would be a luxury to hand him to someone else when he cries at that telltale “feed me” pitch–but as each day passes I’m less and less concerned about just getting a break now and more and more nervous that my kid will starve to death because he won’t drink from a bottle while I’m ten miles away at the office shuffling paperwork and trying to ignore the donuts in the breakroom. I go back to work in less than a month, so the clock is officially ticking on getting my breast-bound baby to take a bottle.
This all started when I read in The Nursing Mother’s Companion that it’s best to introduce babies to the bottle at around four weeks old. Too bad I got to that chapter three weeks late, eh? But better late than never, yes siree, and so for the last few days we’ve been trying to substitute one feeding per day with the Dreaded Bottle but alas have had little success. At best he’s taken half an ounce in half an hour, and most of that ended up pooled in his neck folds. We’ve tried different bottles, different nipples, different positions, different times of day. I’ve had Daddy feed him while I stood outside the room, I’ve had Daddy feed him while I hovered and instructed (pretending I know what to do, which I DON’T; where were my bottle-feeding consultants and bottle-feeding classes at the hospital, huh?), and I’ve even tried giving him the bottle myself. Reinforcements are coming at the end of the week (read: Grandma!), and my fingers are crossed.
The good news, I guess, is that the baby doesn’t hate the bottle, he just doesn’t know what to do with it. As with the Dreaded Pacifier, he gets that synthetic nipple in his mouth, works it around with his tongue, jams it from cheekpouch to cheekpouch, tries to pitooey it onto the floor, all the while gazing at his audience with a puzzled expression, eyebrows at a quizzical slant, and never gets the hang of just sucking on the darned thing. It’s easy to blame the baby when he’s the one with the problem, but it’s also possible that his bumbling parents are doing something wrong.
Has anyone else been here, done this, and come out the other side wiser? Any tips, tricks, or techniques you can share to get us through it? What was it for you: Magic bottles? Miracle nipples? Time and practice? Spells and incantations? Even just a sympathetic pat on the back will help at this point–just no hugs, as you can see there’s an infant attached to my chest.