Friday, April 30, 2010

The Bottle

Eek! The bottle. Anjali is not feeling the bottle yet, and mama is going back to work part-time in 4 days. I cannot blame her for not liking the bottle. For one it's simply a foreign object to her. Two, the nipple is plastic and not warm flesh, and certainly very different than Anjali's mama. Three, all of the warm, cuddly and cozy associations with nursing are changed with the bottle. And certainly mama's scent and the complex exchange of hormones between mama and baby are missing.

Enter the bottle, and Anjali is asking, "Why is papa trying to feed me? What is this tube? This looks nothing like a breast! Where the hell is mama?!" [cry, scream, etc...]

The Bottles:
Granted, we have only been giving this effort for about a week, and we are told and have read it takes time and persistence. We have tried different bottles: Dr. Brown's Natural Flow by Hand-craft, Mimijumi which looks very much like a novelty you might find at Condom Nation or some related sex shop (and was quite pricey!), and we're currently trying the Tommee Tippee which seems to be less novelty than the Mimijumi. The regularly shaped bottles, such as the Dr. Brown's have failed miserably. She was taking the Mimijumi, but then something seemed defective about it. I would test it by holding it upside-down over my hand, and sometimes nothing would flow out, sometimes it would drip and other times it would just stream out rapidly. The past two days she has actually taken the Tommee Tippee briefly, but the problem overall is that Anjali is just playing with it in her mouth and doesn't seem to really be "latching" on or sucking on it, but rather just playing around with it. I do, however, see some milk in her mouth when she's doing this, but she only very briefly will close her mouth around it and look like she's drinking from it. Ultimately I end up cup or spoon feeding her. Spoon seems to be working out great.

The Feeding Session:
Prior to feeding sessions mama leaves the house while Anjali is sleeping, so Anjali doesn't so much as smell or sense that mama is in the house (If you could have the real deal why would you settle for less?!). Now, granted, we have been told not to try transitioning to the bottle when Anjali wakes up starving. But the whole timing of this has proven difficult.

So, Anjali up and as the bottle warms I potty and change her and get her bib on. Sometimes she's calm, and sometimes she's already crying in hunger. When she is crying I try to calm her by talking and singing to her and generally acting goofy. This seems to work.

Holding her sideways on my lap evokes a cry right away, so I have taken to facing her front on my lap while I lean back on the couch. This works better. Yesterday I had her like this and she took the bottle for 3-5 minutes before getting fed up and wailing. However, like I said, she wasn't really drinking it seems. It's also clear she is hungry, smells the milk and yet is not getting the appropriate delivery. Hearing her cries and seeing her tears evokes horrible emotions for me. I feel so bad I cannot give her what she wants. And when she doesn't calm after 5, 10, 15 minutes, it even gets frustrating for me. I try to keep calm, to talk to her, sing to her, hold her, bounce her as I sit on the yoga ball and sooth her. And breathe, because she obviously senses if I get frustrated. It is just a visceral reaction I feel and I want to do everything I can to sooth her frustration...And mine, because there's almost this anger that builds in me because I am frustrated too that she won't simply take what she wants (milk) from whatever method of delivery. Yesterday I released some tension by simply tensing up every muscle in my body for a few seconds and then releasing. I did this several times and it helped me remain calm after she had a 15 minute crying bout.

Anyway, when she's calm I go for the cup or spoon. The spoon seems to be working out. The spoon we're currently using is a medicine spoon (like this one) . I hold it up to her mouth just resting on her bottom lip and she laps it up with her tongue and upper mouth. In fact, I even found her using her hands to guide my hand and spoon to her. The spoon is a bit messy; hence the bib. But she is most certainly drinking it. She is not getting as much as she would with mama, but she seems satisfied after a certain point and is certainly not upset.

Mama is also a fan of the spoon. She wants to ditch the bottle altogether because when she's been around for one of my feeding attempts and hears Anjali cry for even a minute she absolutely hates it. I don't blame her; I hate it too. However, I am not 100% about ditching the bottle altogether. Originally the plan was try the bottle and if not working give up after 10 minutes. Calm Anjali down and try the cup or spoon. Now mama is trying to use the spoon intermixed in some of her normal nursing to remove any bad associations Anjali may have with the whole bottle or cup or spoon feeding. I am thinking that when I feed her I should exclusively use the spoon for a while, so she has good associations between papa and feeding. Then, maybe eventually try introducing the bottle as well...But stopping when the crying starts.

I am confident that Anjali is eating, at least from the spoon at this point. Persistence and calm are definitely key. If mama could get through those first 2-3 weeks (actually, those first 4-5 weeks) to get nursing down, I can certainly persist here.

Also, if Anjali never takes the bottle and only uses cup or spoon when mama is at work, is this such a bad thing? We think not. Bottles perhaps are just the most accepted method, but not necessarily the one for us. And not using a bottle will help Anjali make a quicker transition to using a cup or spoon herself as an older infant into child- and adult-hood.

In the meantime, I will be driving to mama's work for her lunchtime so Anjali and mama can be together, enjoy the most needed company and so they can nurse. In this way I am confident we can make it through those days when mama is at work, even if Anjali is only getting about an ounce of milk during her feedings with papa.

Stay tuned...


TPS-SheilaP said...

Oh, family. Know this family is with you and has been there. Is there now. Radha just left today for the week and Mamuma will have Uma during work days. Ugh.

Anyway, spoon it up, baby! Nothing wrong with that at all! She will shift her food to however to needs to be. She won't starve at all. Uma eats an ounce at the most when feeding w daddy, and sometimes she eats nothing. She is chubby and healthy and happy....much of the time.

Daddy, BLESS YOU for doing the hard work and bringing her at lunch. It makes all the difference. (I'm looking at a week without it so I'll let you know about life that way afterwards.) I know it's hard to hear her cry. Radha says I haven't even heard her real ferocious cry when I'm not around. All I can say is that I am so deeply grateful, for him and for you, doing that work. It makes our families better. Allows the mamas to breathe a little bit easier through their own struggles. So, keep on breathing deep. :)

JeremyD said...

Thanks for the words of support. they are very much appreciated. I am confident that all will be well despite this transition.
Good luck in this week without Radha.

Nancy said...

Jeremy, hang in there! You are right about it not mattering exactly how Anjali gets nourished as long as she gets it. Of course, you'd like for her to be happy about it, and my guess is that you are also right about it becoming easier. If the spoon works, that's great!

When Luke went on his hunger strike, we used a medicine syringe. I wonder if something like that might work for you. It seemed faster than the cup, which was plain impossible to use with a one-week-old baby. Also, if you are thinking about trying the bottle again, the syringe seemed like a first step towards the bottle for Luke. He didn't have to suck to get the milk, but after a few days of it, he wanted to suck it out. The bottle was pretty easy for him after using the syringe.

We got our baby syringe at CVS for free when we asked the pharmacist. If you get one, just be aware that the writing on it rubbed off, and so you might want to rub it all off and sterilize it before using it so Anjali doesn't ingest yucky gluey ink.

Let me know if I can be of any help.

Those crazy tear-filled hunger sessions are not fun!


JeremyD said...

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for the support. It's good to know other people we know are in this learning process too.

So far we're thinking of continuing with the spoon as it is working out quite well. We may try to re-introduce the bottle as we get this Mama-back-at-work thing down.

Certainly the bottle is a bit more convenient for travel...But the spoon is seemingly one extra step (pour bottled milk into spoon, then let Anjali lap it up!). I will become adept at this skill very soon (already am).
Thanks for the syringe tip...