The First Bottle

This weekend I fed Violet a bottle for the first time. Ever. She’s almost 10 months old, so that probably sounds completely crazy, but given that I’ve been nursing, I’ve always passed the bottle to someone else.

People were so incredibly supportive when I posted about my internal struggles with feeding Violet SnuggleMilk, so I wanted to share an update on what happened after I published that post.

With each comment and e-mail I exchanged regarding that post, I grew ever more aware of how fortunate I’ve been to have nursing be so easy, how many moms wrestle with this same exact situation, and the insane amount of judgment and guilt there is regarding breastfeeding and formula. Bit by bit, my shards of self-judgment started to fall away. By the time I cracked open the can of formula I had, there were no tears. Only pure and utter relief that I could top up the two 3.5 ounce bottles I had pumped for Violet for day care, up to the 5 ounces I thought she needed. I asked the teachers how she did with the bottles. She inhaled them.

This was a couple of weeks ago, and this past weekend I decided I wanted to start weaning. Until this weekend I’ve been nursing four times a day (minimally) – usually first thing in the morning, twice a day for snacktimes, and before bedtime. The goal? To say goodbye to my pump during the day. And finish nursing by next month, when Violet is about 11 months old. My body is pretty tired. Violet still doesn’t have teeth, but what she lacks in biting, she makes up for scratching me with her little claws. Those things aside, I do love the coziness of nursing, but I hate pumping. I’m so over it. And I'm attending BlissDom next month and would like to travel pump free. I've flown several times with my pump since Violet's birth and I'm so over traveling with my pump too.

I prepped a small bottle of formula – just 3 ounces. I was a little worried because Violet had never had straight formula so I didn’t want to overdo it. As I cuddled her into a nook in my arm, I was amazed to be looking at her face straight on for the first time in this situation/position (instead of looking at her profile, attached to my breast). Her eyes were so round, her face so chubby and happy and expectant. I had a brief moment of wondering, would she reject this bottle, coming from me?

No. We cuddled. I stroked her sweet face, just as I do when she’s nursing. I listened to the rhythm of her swallows, just as I do when she’s nursing. I wondered where the time has gone, just as I do when she’s nursing. She drank every last drop of that bottle. And all the others we presented to her during the weekend. And changing brands (I bought an organic brand to follow the samples we finished) didn’t phase her at all.

Because at the end of the day, it was just us – a mama and her baby feeding and cuddling. Thank you everyone who helped me transform what I knew intellectually into what I felt. I feel so much freer.