I ran away from my baby this morning. Apart from labor, it was arguably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I literally ran out the door and didn’t look back, screams echoing out of the house as I went.
I’ll back up a little bit. We waited until 9 weeks to introduce a bottle to Juniper, instead of the recommended 4-6 week mark. Now she’s old enough to know she wants the real thing and won’t take a bottle. In my head, there was a logical reason to waiting: I wanted to establish a good breastfeeding relationship before introducing a foreign boob substitute. In my heart though, I knew I was putting it off because I didn’t want anyone (or anything) to replace that special bond we had. I wanted to remain her sole source for food– and for comfort.
I use breastfeeding as the first fix for anything that’s upsetting her. Hungry baby? Breastfeed. Fussy baby? Breastfeed. Tired baby? Breastfeed to sleep. Bonked her head? Breastfeed to comfort. Unexplainable crying? Breastfeed. It’s a move that was born out of love, but has since become a bad habit. It shuts Trevor out from being able to calm his child, and it tethers me to her 24/7.
So we decided to get serious about our bottle training. When Juni started fussing for her mid-morning meal, I handed her to Trevor and tried to keep busy as the fussiness turned to crying. And the crying turned to screaming. I cranked the music, mad-cleaned the kitchen, and did everything I could to distract myself from my primal inner dialogue of OH MY GOD MY BABY IS BEING TORTURED AND NEEDS ME!!!! Finally, after my third attempt to kidnap my baby from my husband, Trevor lovingly kicked me out of the house and told me to go for a run. I ran.
It wasn’t until about the mile mark that my shoulders dropped, my jaw and fists unclenched, and I felt like Tess again instead of just Mom. I breathed deeply. Juni would not let herself starve. No one was torturing her. She was being held and comforted by her dad. She was going to be just fine for the next 30 minutes.
I got back home a little while later feeling infinitely better. I’d been able to give my body some time away from the baby to move and breathe and not be needed. Trevor got a chance to play solo parent for a window of time. And Juni got the chance to figure out how to suck on a bottle, which she finally took to after tiring herself out from fighting it.
I’m not sure if we will ever get to a place where she takes a bottle happily, but we did break out of some parent role comfort zones today. And all three of us are better off for it.