Friday, August 18, 2006

Bottled Up

Contrary to popular wisdom, which indicates that a four-month old should not experience separation anxiety, Natalie is very aware of who her moms are and she does not want any substitutes. Cait has not yet gone back to work, so Natalie hasn't had to endure too much Total Mom Deprivation, but we've been doing trial runs of leaving her with my mom, and that has been agonizing for everyone involved.

We thought it wouldn't be too difficult, as the baby is only four months old, AND she's known her grandmother since she was 8 hours old, AND she sees her grandmother several times a week. Plus, we dutifully introduced the bottle right when she was 3 weeks old (not too early, not too late) and she's had bottles several times a week without much or any fuss from both Cait and me ever since. But we'd never left her at my mom's house (except for the anniversary dinner, and we know how THAT ended), nor had my mom ever given her a bottle. BIG MISTAKES.

Wednesday morning, we left her with my mom and Cait came to work with me. The plan was, she'd have a bottle and a nap at Gram's and then Cait would take her home. Mid-morning, my mom called, frantic. Natalie would not, WOULD NOT take the bottle, had barely slept, and had been screaming hysterically for some time. Cait and I rushed to the house but Natalie was so distraught that she didn't register our presence or begin to calm down until the breast touched her mouth. After nursing, she was our smiley, happy baby again, so we decided Cait would stay with her to help ease the transition. The transition time with both Cait and my mom there worked quite well. I went back to work, Natalie napped, and when she woke up, she cheerfully took a bottle from Cait. "Look!" said my mom to my uncle. "Just look. It's the SAME bottle I was trying to give her." Shortly thereafter, the baby fell asleep. Cait came to join me at work again, and when Natalie woke up she played with my mom and then they walked over to meet us, whereupon she gleefully nursed again.

So we came up with a new strategy. Yesterday we let everyone have a day to recover, and this morning, Cait went with Natalie to my mom's, with the plan that she would stay there, but hang in the background so Natalie could get used to my mom taking care of her. We timed it so she was somewhat hungry and tired when she arrived, hoping that she'd be more interested in the bottle and the napping. Not so much. In fact, it was rather the opposite. She was hungry, but adamant that she wasn't going to eat for my mom, and the longer she went, the hungrier and tireder she got. She became so outraged that she wouldn't even take the bottle from Cait and fell asleep in frustration. After a brief nap Cait was able to give her the bottle and she sucked away willingly. About halfway through the bottle, they tried a handoff. Total failure. The second Natalie and the bottle were in my mom's arms, wails ensued. So Cait finished feeding her, she took a nap, and then Round 2 began. There was a brief flicker of success when my mom tried feeding her in the bouncy seat, but after a few minutes, Natalie wised up, screeched her disapproval, and quit drinking. When baby, grandma, and mom hit the breaking point, Cait finished feeding that bottle too. And then Natalie was quite willing to play and smile and have fun with Gram. But there will be No Feeding by anyone other than Authorized Personnel, evidently.

It appears that while we were successful in getting Natalie to take a bottle consistently, we also unwittingly established that the bottles are Cait's boobs.

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