For the first 6 months or so I was pretty much redundant when it came to feeding Littlest View From a Daddy. With Mrs VFAD nursing our newest addition, it meant that I needed to take on other key roles that are essential when a little human arrives in the house: changing nappies, getting the washing sorted, taking charge of the family meals etc. I was more than happy to plump the cushions and get the drinks for Mrs VFAD when she needed them (and boy does she drink when she’s nursing – water I might add, nothing harder) but it did mean that I couldn’t really help out when the baby needed food. And, anyone who has been in charge of a new born knows that when a new one needs feeding, they need feeding. Signs of this will begin with little whines maybe some nuzzling or fist chewing but delayed satiation will soon manifest itself in loud ear piercing screams and this cry is very distinguishable from the usual wailing. It’s the type of crying that sets you on edge, increases your heart rate and makes you move with a certain degree of speed that’s not often seen at 2am or 3am or 4am or every other hour of the 24 hour clock for that matter in the early days at least. You do what you can, but when you can’t provide the goods, you can end up feeling at a bit of a loss. This has slowly started to pass though now that Littlest VFAD is settled into a routine and is well into her journey of weaning. I knew it would settle down, as this was the second go at parenting a new one for me but this knowledge doesn’t always help when a tired mom needs a break from cluster feeding or when she needs to get to an appointment.
‘There’s a solution!’ I hear you say. What? O you mean the bottle? Yep – I thought that too but in the same way as her sister refused with such vigour that the windows nearly rattled when her protests of resistance began, Littlest VFAD was, shall we say, a tad reluctant to try the bottle too and that certainly brought fraught experiences. The first time we tried it, we knew that Mrs VFAD would need to be out of the house so if feeding was essential, we couldn’t give in and turn back to the boob. We also knew that sometimes you have to try different teats and bottles to get the right fit for baby (it’s all to do with the shape of the teat resembling a synthetic nipple and all that #frown). So, we were prepped: Mom was going to be out; milk was expressed and set to be warmed in all the appropriate containers and the bottles were sterilised. Should all be fine. Mrs VFAD had waved to us as she’d driven off up the road with a smile that carried endearment and a hint of relief. I thought that I had detected a glint of malice in her eye (for all of the night and early morning feeds that I haven’t been party to) but it could have just been the sun. I suspect that she would more than happily have driven 5 minutes up the road, parked up and fallen into a deep sleep if she could have rather than have made her way to the restaurant for the nice meal, such was the sleep deprivation that baby had induced over the previous sixth months. Mrs VFAD would quickly tell you, it was all fine and that it’s a nice tired (if there can be such a thing) but she would also say it’s like a blanket of tired that sits heavily on you some days too.
Anyway, after an hour or so, feeding time approached and I was set. The nuzzling began, the sounds comparable to a guinea pig calling for its greens were to be heard. In I came with the bottle. The muslin cloth placed over my shoulder – warrior dad style to wipe my brow and catch any spills. But it was no good. The nuzzling turned to full on body jerks; legs kicking; arms flailing. Then the tears started rolling (hers not mine). My heart racing and no amount of rocking, singing Christmas carols (my go to songs in moments of mania) could settle her or encourage her to take the bottle. Eventually she wore herself out. The text had been sent to return ASAP. Baby wasn’t fed and I was defeated. The boob was king. So, we knocked the bottle on the head for the time being at least.
But persevere we did and one evening she took it with no hassle. Conditions were calm. Nothing was riding on her opting out. It didn’t matter really – there would be time to try again. The only difference was that rather than me trying this time, Mrs VFAD gave it a go and it worked. Maybe it was the positioning (upright face outwards from mom – not the usual lying down and facing inwards). Maybe it was the relaxed approach? Maybe it was that the expressed milk was now formula? Whatever it was, it worked. So, I think what I’m trying to say is that if at first you don’t succeed, try not to stress too much. Eventually, you and baby will arrive at a point where they are ready and all the anxiety and feelings of failure will lessen and you’ll find a new harmony. Don’t give up.
Reflections on boob to bottle:
- Do what you can for a feeding momma when only the boob will do
- Take on other jobs where you can get involved and start your bonding with baby even if this means you find yourself changing a serious number of nappies
- Don’t panic if it doesn’t happen the first time – you are not a failure
- Try different solutions – there are hundreds of bottles and teats on the market
- Give yourselves time. It might not happen the first time but in all likelihood it’ll happen…. eventually