Before I had Val people would always ask me "are you going to breastfeed?" and not like it is any of their business (receptionist at the nail salon) but yes, I had planned to breastfeed. It didn't work with Marlo, because she was so early, and ultimately I ended up just pumping for 14 weeks with her. Val ended up being full cooked, so this time I was determine to get that "perfect latch" and breastfeed my little lady. I was warned early on that if I wanted to exclusively breastfeed, I shouldn't introduce a bottle until 4-6 weeks so as not to cause "nipple confusion."
To my surprise she latched like a champ on her first try (and we have had zero problems every since.) So we followed orders (from doctors and lactation consultants) and didn't introduce the bottle until 5 weeks. And damn were we confused when Val just stuck out her tongue and refused to latch onto that silicone nipple. What is happening here? Why isn't she taking this into her mouth? Parental confusion is more like it.
We bought every kind of bottle out there, and tried again for days on end...and not once did she take the nipple into her mouth and actually drink. I was baffled. I had a few friends that said their kid never took a bottle, but there was no way my kid was going to be one of those! If she didn't take a bottle that would mean I would be her sole source of food for God knows how long and that scared the crap out of me.
At 11 weeks old we were told about "bottle bootcamp." The idea is that mom pumps first thing in the morning and the dad stays at home with bottle-refusing-babe all day long consistently trying to get the baby to take the bottle. Mom leaves the house so that baby does not "smell" milk in mom's boobs. Mom comes back just to pump, but while at the house she does not go in the same room as baby. Mom is not allowed to be within 20 feet of baby for 36 hours (or so I was told). Do not make eye contact with your baby, or else! Dad must persist through screams and sobs and force bottle into babies mouth. Baby might not take bottle for hours, but will ultimately because baby is so hungry they have no choice. As long as they have a wet diaper every 6-8 hours they are fine, says the doctors office, but if it comes to 8 hours with no wet diaper, you need to breastfeed the baby. After 36 hours of torture, be sure to give baby at least one bottle a day to remind them of the silicone goodness.
We did this twice. The first time she didn't eat from 5 AM until 2 PM. My poor husband toughed it out those 36 hours but was able to get her eating from the bottle for 2 days straight...until I started to breastfeed her right at that 36 hour mark. She was back on that sweet boob train and wouldn't look twice at a bottle. We tried every trick in the book, and every position in the book and she refused it. All that work for nothing!
Another month went by and we tried it again when she was 3 months old. This time she didn't go quite so long starving herself at the start, and we had her on the bottle for a full 48 hours. But then I introduced the boob again, and once again, she refused the bottle flat out. She was all boob, all the time.
Around 16 weeks I started to lose my mind a little. Val became a grazer - she was eating every hour practically, but only for about 3-5 minutes each time. This continued at night and the longest stretch of sleep I was getting was 2 hours. I was irritable, I was exhausted and I was attached to my baby for 24 hours a day for the most part. She was either sleeping in my arms (as she would only sleep for 30-45 minutes during the day, but I could get at least an hour if she was sleeping on me) or at the boob fountain. I needed a break, but there was nothing I could do because she couldn't take a bottle. I needed to be able to be away from her for more than an hour at a time, but I couldn't and it was driving me a little insane.
Don't get me wrong, I am head over heels about being a mom for a second time and Val is the bees knees. She is such a pleasant baby and an absolute joy, but every Mama needs a break now and then! Every Mama needs a little Dada time now and then too!
My husband was the one that brought up doing the bootcamp again, and I wasn't for it in the beginning, but I was convinced and gave him the green light: we started round three this past Saturday.
And apparently the stars were aligned because Val gave me the best birthday present I could ask for...she took the bottle like a champ! There was no crying, there was no screaming of any sort - she just opened up and threw it back. I have even been able to breastfeed her in the mornings and she happily goes back to the bottle!! And at night....4-5 hour stretches!!!! I am a new woman.
Now I should mention that I made the decision to start phasing out the boob all together. I breastfed her for four months, which is a huge accomplishment in my eyes, and longer than I was able to give Marlo breast milk. So we actually started introducing some formula in the bottles (with pumped milk for now) and I don't know if that did the trick or what, but I am not analyzing it as I don't want to jinx what we have going.
I feel like I have my life back. I didn't love breastfeeding, but I didn't hate it. I was never sore or had any supply issues, so I have nothing like that to complain about. But now I can enjoy multiple cocktails guilt free, I can go out to dinner with my girlfriends, I can go away for the weekend with my husband (take note husband!!) I know this decision is totally a selfish one, but I was not in a good place emotionally or physically last week and needed to make a change.
Thankfully Val was picking up what I was dropping and took the bottle without a fight.
Val I promise to get you a pony when you grow up!! (it will be mine and little if you catch my drift :)