My son is over 4 months now and in his life he has had a bottle twice.
The first two times he was less than a week old.
At the time I didn’t know that introducing a bottle could cause some nipple confusion-thankfully it didn’t for him. Also at the time I hadn’t fallen in love with breast feeding yet. I was still in the “I am so freaking tired I don’t know what day it is, what time it is, what planet I’m on…” stage of having a newborn.
Fast forward to about a week ago and he is 4 months old and the dreaded monster called “4 month sleep regression” has hit our house. Coupled with the beginnings of teething. Lord help.
Malachai has always been an easy baby and boob always fixed everything. Literally everything. Until it didn’t. And I found myself not knowing how to help him because the one thing I knew could fix whatever issue he was having, wasn’t working.
He’d been grumpy all day which is very it of character. He usually looks like this all day long.
I knew he wasn’t having a good day. Which means neither was mom. I knew his mouth was hurting him because he didn’t want to nurse, I noticed his latch had changed too. He hadn’t eaten in a long time and when I offered he would yell at me and turn away.
His fussing turned into straight crying-wet eyes, tomato face, scream, pouty lip, whimpers. He never cries like that ever.
I’d tried everything. Stripping him naked. Holding him skin to skin. Rocking. Singing. Doing his favorite things. Have him his favorite toy. Tried to offer the breast in different positions. Dyllan was even holding him once and I bent down with my boob out and Malachai said nope.
When it was coming up on 2 hours of pissed off Malachai I knew he was over tired at this point (it was the time he usually goes to sleep for the night) his mouth hurt and I knew he was hungry.
So I did something I’d never done. Pumped into a bottle just to see what would happen. I honest to God didn’t think he would take it because he won’t take pacifiers and he’d only had a bottle 2 times.
I pumped 3 ounces and he started sucking away. I was shocked. I was glad he wasn’t crying, but it broke my heart.
Usually I can calm him down but this time I couldn’t. To me, the bottle did it.
When you go from “boob fixes everything under the sun” to him not wanting it then accepting a bottle… It was a hard pill to swallow.
Before when boob fixed everything, it was a great feeling when he would fuss and I felt his little body relax in my arms when I nursed him. He’d go to sleep in my arms or he’d smile, relaxed and trusting me to fix it for him. And trusting that I will be there to make it better. I felt proud, I felt successful and felt like a good mom for fixing it and making him feel better.
That day I couldn’t make him feel better and I felt like I failed. The boob failed. It had never failed before. I felt betrayed by the bottle.
I couldn’t feed him with a bottle, it upset me too much so Dyllan did it for me and I went to finish my cry.
Breast feeding has been empowering for me and I love it (though I have moments when I hate it) and for some reason, him taking the bottle hit me hard. I did “fix it” with the bottle, but not the way I wanted to, not the way I felt was right. I didn’t want him to develope a preference to the bottle and forget me. Silly, irrational fear, but it was my real emotion.
I struggled with bonding with my baby while I was pregnant and breast feeding helped me fall in love, it’s very special and sacred to me. It’s how I feel bonded and close to him. That’s why It bugs me when people tell women to “just give him a bottle.” You don’t know what breast feeding means to that woman, you don’t know how hard she worked for that relationship. (Shields, nicu stay, latch issues, mastitis, low supply etc) In that moment I felt like I couldn’t fix it, I failed, he didn’t want me and over all just felt like shit.
I haven’t offered a bottle anymore because I know how it makes me feel.
Mom-ing is full of this feeling sometimes and mom-ing also sucks sometimes but it also has beautiful moments and is fun. We just can’t dwell on the rough parts or we will miss the beautiful parts.
He’s still my chunky breast fed boob loving baby.