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The Irony of Parenthood

April 24, 2012

One of the greatest ironies of parenthood is that you often find yourself the one undoing your own hard work. Case in point: We are now attempting to wean Peach off her bottle.

When Peach was an infant, we breastfed her. She had some formula at the hospital during the days she was in the NICU (to help fight her jaundice) but until 6 months she was predominantly breastfed. However, she didn’t seem to like it much. Actually, to be more accurate, she didn’t seem to like eating much.

Breastfeeding was such a struggle that we ended up meeting with two lactation consultants in person, and had multiple conversations with other lactation consultants by phone and through e-mail. In the end, we all came up empty-handed as to why Peach resisted eating/breastfeeding so much. Finally, even the lactation consultants gave up and advised me to pump and feed Peach breastmilk with a bottle, even with the knowledge that pumping can significantly decrease milk production.

I don’t really know why I continued.

Maybe it was my stubborness? My desire to bring something to the table to combat the complete helplessness I felt at Peach’s colic? My hunger to connect with this screaming, beautiful baby of mine in some way or form as she cried endlessly?

Or maybe a combination of all of the above.

We didn’t introduce a bottle until about 6 weeks old. When we did, I thought the bottle would bring a whole different realm of ease into our lives. We decided that we would start by having TG give her a bottle at bedtime with pumped breastmilk. However, we found that Peach didn’t like bottles any more than breastfeeding. If she drank 2oz, we did a dance of celebration. Usually, we were lucky to get 1oz into her. So, in the end, I continued to predominantly nurse Peach but, as she grew older, we supplemented with a bottle feeding here and there.

Feeding Peach involved what seemed like some sort of other-world ritual. She hated being held when she was fed, especially cradled in the crook of your arms, so we would lay her on her Fisher Price Rock ‘N Play and feed her there. We would have to keep the lights dim and the room devoid of any distractions, and would sing quietly to her while she drank. This was the only way to have her eat. It seemed crazy to us, as we had decided long ago that we would never be the type of parents who wait on their child hand and foot. It was better to teach them to join the family, to nap and eat on the go if necessary, and to be comfortable in all types of environments, than to have the world revolve around the baby.

Another irony of parenthood is that you will often find yourselves doing the exact opposite of what you had so fervently planned. Especially when colic comes into play.

During those days when Peach would eat 1-2oz per feeding (even at the age of 4 months), I had a hard time imagining her doing anything otherwise.

I don’t know how it happened, but one day Peach started feeding with much more ease. One day, she downed 7oz in one go while we were at church. I ran over to my mom on the other side of the room and started squeeling with excitement. It didn’t happen often at first, but gradually Peach started increasing her milk intake. It took months, but finally we got to the point where she was drinking between 24-26oz of milk per day!! I never thought it would happen. We had gotten so used to struggling with even 10oz of milk per day, 24oz seemed impossible.

And then.

Peach turned one. And it was time to switch her to milk.

Amazingly, that went a lot more smoothly than we had feared. We began by offering her a mix of 75% formula and 25% milk. Gradually, every few days, we adjusted the percentage to 50-50%, 25-75%, and finally 100% whole milk. We offered her an 8 oz bottle three times a day (when she woke up, at 2:30pm before her 3:30pm nap, and before she went to bed). It still took her about 2-3 tries to finish the botlte (usually within an hour), but she drank the milk and that was what mattered to us.

And then.

Our pediatrician highly recommended that we wean her off the bottle by 15 months. By then, the bottle would begin to affect her jaw structure and the health of her teeth. Typically, it is recommended to wean the baby off the bottle by 12 months, but by 15 months we were beginning to stretch it.

So here we are, yet again unraveling our work. It’s time to show Peach that we are moving on from the bottle, and we have a whole world of exciting straw cups to choose from!

Except she’s a smartie pants and she is not quite buying into the straw cup with milk excitement. She is pleased as punch to drink her water from the straw cup, no problem, but milk belongs in the bottle mom! You worked so hard to get me here, and you kept telling me how delicious milk in the bottle is! Don’t let that doctor fool you!

sigh

So here we are. On day 2 of the transition. We are offering less milk in the bottle followed up by milk in the straw cup. At this point, Peach drinks all the milk in her bottle – and then stops right there. The milk continues to sit in the straw cup. I suppose the next step will be to eliminate the bottle altogether and give her only the one straw cup option, but I have to admit I am dragging my feet a bit. I will do it in the next day or so, but I am not looking forward to it at all.

After this whole debacle, I can’t even imagine the joys of potty-training.

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