I knew Will was weaning himself. He’d been sleeping through the night for months and during the day he had gradually lost interest. He was eating three solid meals a day and snacks in between. He was more than happy to drink out of a sippy cup. His main concern during the day had become keeping up with his older brother.
I reached a point where the morning and night feeds were the only ones I was bothering with. The mornings were actually the worst time for me as far as being able to stop and enjoy it because mornings were (and still are) chaotic in our house. But that was the next feed Will dropped. As soon as he could hear his brother’s voice at the breakfast table, that’s where he wanted to be.
I wanted to keep the nighttime feed. I LOVED the nighttime feed! It was the part of my day I looked forward to most. My little boy would come to me fresh from the bath, flannel jammies on, and we would cuddle up on a chair in his room. I would cradle him to my chest and he would drink, smiling up at me. Sometimes he would play with my hair; sometimes he would touch my face and smile. There were jokes that passed between us, that only another mother feeding their child could relate to. I might make kissy sounds or pretend I was going to bite his fingers. He would stop sucking, jerk his hand away and giggle, begin drinking again, and start the game all over.
Eventually he would nod off to sleep but I would continue to feed him as long as he was still sucking. Partly because I worried about him waking up hungry and partly because I enjoyed watching him sleep. I would kiss his forehead and rub my cheek in his soft hair. I would count his eyelashes and breathe in his babyish smell. I would reminisce about holding him as a newborn and marvel at the little boy he was becoming.
Then came the last night. He was exhausted from our busy day. He drank for just a moment then pushed me away. He started feeling around for his pacifier and pointed to his bed. Something inside me shattered. I knew it was time.
He was ready. I was not, but I knew this was not my choice. What’s a mother to do? You hold your child’s hand as he moves into the next phase of his life knowing he still needs you, utterly and completely needs you… Just not for this one thing.
I choked up as I thought of the milestones ahead of us… I suddenly envisioned letting go of his hand and watching him run away from me and into the arms of a teacher.
He’s not even two, I reminded myself. Slow down Mama. Live for right now.
The next night we read a book. Will sucked on his pacifier and nodded off to sleep in my arms. And that was that.
He never took a bottle again.
I had a wonderful bottle-feeding experience with my second son. I’m currently having a wonderful breastfeeding experience with my third son. As a mother who has experienced both I feel qualified in saying: they were both special. After reading this post, how could one disagree? They are a little different; they are a little the same. There have been aspects of each I loved, aspects of each I didn’t always love. But they were both as wonderful.
If there is one thing I could tell my son about that time it would be this: my Darling Boy, I adored feeding you, every moment. There is nothing – NOTHING – I would change about that time we had together. It helped to form the bond that is still strong today. I know you are on your way to becoming an incredible human being… Because from day one you always knew how much I loved you.
This story appeared originally on The Fearless Formula Feeder blog, where I knew it would have a big impact. Thanks to Suzanne who wrote me this incredible introduction:
I don’t want to give anything away about her story, so all I will say is this: we all have so much more in common than we think. These commonalities are like a spider’s web – so seemingly thin, but incredibly strong. It we could drop the rest of this bullshit and hang onto these threads of sameness… well, it could change the experience of new moms. And to stick with the spider web analogy, maybe we could also catch some seriously annoying bugs in the process, rendering them powerless, instead of letting them fly around and inject people with their poison.
Happy Friday, fearless ones,
My story DID have a big impact! Why? Well I believe that there is so much emphasis on the bonding experience of breastfeeding, the bonding experience bottle feeding mothers have with their babies is overlooked or even dismissed. Here are some of the comments that touched my heart:
Choked up. Thank you! Thanks for the affirming reminder connection love and nurturing really has little to do with the logistics of feeding.
Definitely surprised me. I love how she poignantly reminds us with her story that bonding is so, so much more than the mechanics of how nourishment is delivered. Thank you for sharing.
I literally started crying while reading this. I’ve been told I’m supposed to get my 1 year old off the bottle now, cup only, but I can’t give up the final night feed. If it’s cool to breastfeed at that age, then I don’t see why I should remove that quality time just because I use a bottle. I love it. I love watching him play with his hair while he drinks and occasionally stop drinking to look up and chuckle at me. It’s a precious time.
Now can you see that We DO all have so much in common? We ALL love our babies, so much, and however we choose to feed them, it comes from a place of love.
If you are looking for a supportive Facebook page that includes mothers feeding in all different ways, you can follow the Fearless Formula Feeder here.