the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Madison still won’t take a bottle. (Without a fight, anyway.)

There are many things that I had hoped my daughter would inherit from me. My passion for the things that I love and people I care about, my determination and competitiveness, my love of animals, and my enjoyment of sports, among other things. While it’s still going to be some time before we see if those traits got passed along, it’s apparent that she’s gotten something else. I have a very keen sense of what I want, and if I can’t get it, nothing else will do. In Madison’s case, she wants the boob, not the bottle.

What? You want me to take a bottle? I don't think so...

I distinctly remember an episode of Empty Nest that perfectly illustrates my point. Does anyone remember that show? It must have been around the same time as Golden Girls… it was a show about a dad who lived with his two grown daughters. In this episode, the dad was telling his daughter about a desk that he had wanted when he was a boy. He wanted a specific one that had everything that he needed, but was given a different yet similar one as a gift. It had everything that he had wanted, except one thing – there were no cubbyholes. He wanted cubbyholes. And so, he was never happy with it. For some reason, I really related to that. When I want something, it has to be exactly that. I can’t settle for something less.

Little Miss Madison may only be 3 months old, but already she’s decided that she won’t settle for anything less than the real thing. Very occasionally, she will actually take the bottle, but never without a fight. Normally, it takes up to 45 minutes to get her to drink just 2 ounces from a bottle, when usually she breastfeeds for 10-15 minutes and drinks twice that amount. She’ll cry, scream, arch her back, turn her head away, just about anything to get away from that offensive fake nipple. She’d rather not eat at all than take a bottle.

This is a real challenge for me. It was really important to me that she be breastfed because all the research shows it’s so much better for babies. So, I was determined to make it work no matter what. Even in the early days when I was bleary eyed, exhausted and in tears at 3AM trying to get Madison to latch properly, then pumping to help increase my milk supply (a process that would take 30-40 minutes all in), there was no way I was going to give up and just give her formula because it was going to be easier. With all that struggle to get breastfeeding well-established, I never thought in a million years that we would be having the opposite problem. Everything I read said that bottle feeding was supposed to be so much easier for babies. Now I face the problem of being tied down to breastfeeding.

Although I’m back to playing coed hockey every Friday, we can never stay for food afterwards. We need to rush home so that I can feed Maddy and put her to bed. Grandmas and Aunties have tried diligently to get her to take a bottle, but she never takes the whole thing before they finally have to give up. It’s been really tough. As great as it is to even be able to get out at all, I really miss being able to go upstairs after a game and enjoy some wingies and a drink with the rest of the team. Sometimes I feel cut off from being able to have any independence at all. I feel jealous of other moms who have that freedom to go out for an afternoon or an evening since someone else can feed their baby.

I can only hope that eventually she takes to our little silicone friend. Luckily, the same stubbornness that drives her not to take it is rooted in me. I’m determined to keep trying, with one bottle every single day. We’ll see who wins out in the end.

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battling the bottle

It was extremely important to me that I would be able to breastfeed my baby. After all, there is so much research that shows the benefits of breastfeeding. There’s everything from passing on important antibodies to the baby, development of speech capabilities, less chance of childhood obesity and better emotional and intellectual development to benefits for mom like reducing risks of breast cancer and returning to pre-pregnancy weight.

A huge part of the reason I wanted to try to give birth naturally, with no medications if at all possible, was because of what I had learned in my prenatal classes. We took a Lamaze course, which emphasizes movement and breathing to aid in a natural childbirth. They taught us that often, medications slow down labour even though they reduce pain, and that starting with one med usually means you’ll need even more interventions. It’s possible that baby may be affected by the meds and can interfere with breastfeeding. As far as I know, the only pain medication that does not have any effect on baby or on breastfeeding is the Entonox, the laughing gas, since it passes in and out of your system very quickly. Therefore, it was the only medication I was very willing to take during my labour, even though I still wanted to see if I could do without it.

We were lucky that even though we had a rough start with breastfeeding, as most mothers and babies do, breastfeeding was well established by about 4 weeks. (All babies lose weight at the start, up to 10% of their birth weight, but Maddy was losing TOO much weight.) Now it was time to introduce the bottle so that I would not be tied down to breastfeeding 24/7. The timing for introducing the bottle is pretty delicate. Do it too early, and it could interfere with breastfeeding since getting milk from the bottle is easier than from the breast. Do it too late, and baby may refuse it because she’s too attached to your breast. I’ve read that the timeline for starting baby on the bottle is no earlier than 4 weeks, and no later than 6.

We started right in the middle, at just after 5 weeks, but I’m afraid we might have waited too long. I was just so concerned about nipple confusion that I really wanted to make sure Maddy was 100% set at breastfeeding. We have had a lot of challenges introducing the bottle, from pumping enough milk to getting baby to take the bottle from others.

No one really tells you that feeding a pump is so much harder than feeding your baby! It’s like you have to fool your body into thinking it’s a real feed.Some of the suggestions I’ve come across for pumping more milk are to be in a relaxed and quiet place and to think of your baby, maybe even look at a picture of her while pumping. Warming your breast with a hot shower or warm cloth, mixed with massage and picturing streams of milk, can also help stimulate milk letdown. I’ve tried all of these things and still had a lot of trouble getting more than 1/2 an ounce in a single pumping session of about 10-20 minutes. It can become really frustrating, not to mention time consuming, when you only get 2 oz of milk, enough for one bottle, after pumping all day long! Two days ago, I found the solution to getting more milk while pumping: Do it in the morning with baby on your lap. The hormone that makes your body produce milk is most abundant at night, so your breasts should be quite full at your first morning feed. This morning, I was able to get just over 2.5 oz in a single session! That means I don’t have to pump any more for the rest of the day, freeing me up to do other things and relieving me of a lot of stress worrying about getting enough milk for her daily bottle.

Now, the other challenge we’ve had is getting Maddy to take a bottle from anyone other than mom. It kind of defeats the purpose of the bottle if I’m the only one that can give it to her! Now that I’m back at hockey, and would also like to have the occasional night out or glass of wine (I DO love my Riesling!), I really need Madison to accept a bottle of expressed breast milk from whoever is taking care of her. We are giving her one bottle per day, usually from Dad, but a few others have tried with little or no success. In fact, the only person other than me who has had no problem getting Maddy to drink a bottle is Murray’s mom.

Some of the tips I’ve read about for getting baby to take a bottle are warming up the nipple so that it’s more like skin temperature, using a low-flow nipple, sitting baby more upright so that they don’t choke on the milk, having the person feeding her put something with mom’s scent on it over themselves (like draping a nightgown over their shoulder), and making sure that baby is not frantically hungry when they offer the bottle. It’s been frustrating for everyone who’s tried without success, and worrisome for me. For my mental health, I need to have some me time. I need to be able to go and play hockey, to have a date night, to go to the spa and do other errands that take more than the two hour window between feedings.

Last night, I think we had a breakthrough, though. We’ll have to test it again tonight to see if it works again. Murray suggested that it was my voice that would soothe her, so we tried having him hold her sideways, just like I hold her while breastfeeding, and while he held the bottle, I would talk to her like I do when I feed her. It worked like a charm! Dad had tried for a few minutes on his own without success, and as soon as we tried this method, she latched on to that bottle nipple and drank a full two ounces! It’s funny how at first ¬†we were so concerned about her taking to the breast, and now that is the easy part…

Tonight, we’ll have Auntie give her a bottle using this trick, and tomorrow it will be Lola (Filipino for Grandma) who gets to try her hand at it. I have a feeling my Mom will have no problems at all, since Lola seems to have the magic touch with all babies, but especially with her cherished granddaughter.

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