Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bottle Service

We've got a kid who will take a bottle, like a champ, anytime, from anyone.  I've heard all babies are different, so we take no credit whatsoever for this fortunate coincidence, and instead consider it a blessing that PJ took a bottle without a struggle.   However... maybe we did do something right?  Here's how it went for us.

air drying all my pump stuff after sterilizing it on the stove.

Knowing I was going to have to go back to work in late October (after 12 weeks), I started pumping at home in mid-September.  This accomplished a few things: established a really steadfast milk supply; built up a frozen stash; got me used to pumping before it was crucial; and gave us the opportunity to introduce a bottle to PJ casually, well before we were under pressure to do so.

(I'm actually pumping right now as I type the first draft of this post... TMI?)

I bought a great portable pump (Ameda Purely Yours, highly recommend it) and really had no trouble getting into the whole pumping routine.  It's a little awkward at first, I mean, you've got an electric pump suctioned to your boobs.  It's kind of hilarious.  But it totally works.  Let me be clear... I hate pumping.  I try not to complain about it much (well there was that time last week that I forgot my milk storage bags and had to pump-and-dump at work... threw a pretty big tantrum that night about pumping).  But I do it for the baby, obviously, and I'm super thankful that I am able to pump so that my child gets all breast-milk, all the time.  Did I mention I hate pumping? I would much rather be nursing than pumping any day, but such is life!


When I first started, I would pump just once a day at night time.  PJ would go to sleep around 7pm (ish), so I would pump around 10pm (ish) before I went to bed knowing she wouldn't wake up hungry for another couple of hours.  There were a few nights where she surprised us and slept longer than expected and I would wake up in the middle of the night to a sleeping baby, and I would pump again just to relieve the pressure.  (I don't really do that anymore, but it really helped keep the sheets dry a couple months ago).   That's what worked for me to build up a small frozen stash.

Daddy gives Penny Jane her very first bottle, 8 weeks old.
Bottle Feeding

It was really important to me that bottle-feeding PJ not be a source of added stress for our family when it came time for me to go back to work.  I wanted to try it out well before stay-at-home-mom doomsday came, just in case we ran into any issues.  The first time (image left), at eight weeks old, she was NOT into it.  In retrospect, I think she might have been over-tired, the milk too cool for her liking, and the bottle nipple just not the right size for her mouth. It was a little bit discouraging, but we simply said "we'll try again another day."

After that, I purchased some wide-nipple bottles.  [It is incredible the variety of bottles that are out there, I was overwhelmed at the store.]  I went with Nuk to be consistent with the pacifiers that she likes, this seemed logical to me.

She took her second bottle from my mom about a week later, and ever since then, she has taken bottles without complaint.  Phew!  We gave her a bottle once or twice a week before I went back to work a few weeks later, just to keep her used to it.

The Emotions

I myself have never given her a bottle (why would I?... I've got the boobs) so Dan, Nana, Grammie or babysitter Amanda would have to share their techniques if I was going to post about that.

But I've been in the room to watch her take a bottle, and the grandmas have sent me plenty of mid-bottle picture texts since I went back to work. Little Penny seems to like it just as much as nursing... if not more. She can look around as much as she wants, and she doesn't have to work as hard to gulp it down. From a baby's perspective the whole drinking-from-a-bottle thing is a pretty good gig.

Gah. This is so hard for me. I felt quite relieved when I knew that she'd be perfectly able to be fed by other people. Ahh the flexibility it gave me to go places alone and not have to rush home before she got hungry again. Ahh the peace of mind knowing that when I went back to work we wouldn't have a feeding crisis. But oh how I felt sad too. It was the end of the era of just me and Penny, where she needed me and me only.

Long before ever leaving her with a babysitter, or setting her down to sleep in her crib; before dropping her off for the first day of kindergarten; before letting her spend the night at a friend's house; sending her off to college... Watching someone else feed her a bottle was like I was 'letting go' of her in the first small way of her life. I cried about it later when I was by myself.


I think I've mentioned before that we haven't put Penny on a Schedule (with a capital S). This is a blessing (her Schedule doesn't control our lives) and a curse (my pumping regiment doesn't always parallel her feeding times on days I go to work). Right now I take one day at a time, I think once we have a better routine, she will naturally settle into a schedule of her own.

Just one day at a time.  Pumping as I go...

My little pumping station in the "Lactation Room" at work.
(I've also pumped in the car,  at other people's houses, and even in bed)

You might also like my post on Breast Feeding: Expressing Myself and Other Lactational Matters

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