Benjamin, Owen and I had a wonderful long weekend visiting my family. The drive from Boston to Delaware and back again were a bit tedious because we had to stop and nurse for several hours, but all in all Owen was an awesome little traveler.
He met lots of family who hadn’t made it up to Boston yet. It was so wonderful to have so many kids around, and so many hands to pass the babies off to. I wish we lived closer so we could see them all more often!
There were lots of other “firsts” as well — Owen’s first big spit up (prior to this we haven’t even used a burp cloth since nothing ever came back up — umm, learned our lesson there!), and his first time taking a bottle (!!!).
Since Owen is 5 weeks old now, we have been thinking a lot about introducing a bottle into our feeding routine. I have read that the ideal time to start this process is 4-6 weeks. Since we know I will be going back to work in January and Owen will be starting daycare, it’s important that he is able to be fed by someone other than me. And frankly, the thought of being able to sleep through one of my nightly feedings, and/or have the ability to be away from the house for more than 45 minutes (I could go to the gym! Or shopping! Or to a movie with friends!) makes me VERY excited.
I have been pumping for the last few weeks to begin to build a supply of milk for this purpose (and to increase my milk supply so I can continue to pump and feed him). With my Mom and one of my sisters (the mother of the two beautiful girls in the picture above, and also a doctor) available to help, I figured this weekend would be a perfect time to try the bottle for the first time. So I brought my pump along and pumped for the first few days we were there. I have also read that it can be helpful for the mom (and her milk bags!) to be out of the room and far, far away when you first try to give a bottle, since the baby can smell you and may want to be fed the way he is used to, rather than from the bottle. My sister also suggested that it’s best to try when Owen is very sleepy, so you can almost trick him into taking the bottle. So on Saturday night at the late night feeding time (around 10 or 11pm) when Owen began stirring in his sleep, Benjamin took him in the other room and I took the opportunity to pump. Lo and behold, he took the bottle with very little fussing!
Not only that, but he guzzled it down.
Ounce after ounce after ounce. He ate a little over 3 ounces! When Benjamin came back in our room beaming from ear to ear, I have to admit, I was conflicted. It was so… bittersweet. Of course I am glad that Owen took the bottle. It means freedom for me, and the beginning of a new era in which we are no longer chained to each other. But when I heard that he drank every last drop of milk that I had pumped in 2 days, I could feel the tears pricking my eyes. Part of me felt like all of a sudden he didn’t need me anymore. Not like he used to. I’m not the only one who can calm him anymore. I’m not the only one who can provide for him. Also, it is still very hard for me to find time to pump during the day, and it took me 3-4 pumpings to get that amount of milk. It’s like liquid gold. How can I possibly keep up with feeding him and storing milk for the future? In some way, pumping and letting someone else do the feeding almost felt like they were stealing from me.
I know there are lots of answers to these questions. And overall it is a wonderful thing that Owen is so easygoing and eats like a champ. This week I’m doing an experiment and trying my best to pump after every feeding, mostly just to stimulate my milk supply, and to see how much milk I can produce. At least I know that if he is still hungry after a feeding, he will take a bottle, so I can top him off with what I just pumped after the last feeding. And I’m still taking Fenugreek and eating oatmeal. I’m even coming around to the idea of supplementing just that night time feeding with a little bit of formula. I have options. We’ll figure it out. I guess I just wasn’t entirely prepared for the emotions that came along with this milestone.
The upside? When Owen was hungry in the car on the way home, I was able to pop a bottle in his mouth while we continued driving instead of stopping on the side of the road for 45 minutes while I nursed him. The downside? I could only pump 2 oz. before we left, so it barely lasted him one feeding, and it was gone in about 5 minutes.
It’s heartbreaking to watch that milk disappear so quickly without the added bonus of 45 minutes of snuggling with my baby. I’m sure I’ll sing a different tune when I can sleep more, or get out of the house, though. Right?