Thursday, June 18, 2009

Flying Solo

So for the first couple months, my daughter has been exclusively nursing. We started mixing in a bottle here and there, but it was usually still human milk that she was sucking down. Only recently have we started to give her a bottle or two of formula in preparation for an overnight trip my wife needed to make for her job. Yes, this was going to be my first full day and night ALONE with our child. My wife trusts me more than I trust myself.

I was not exactly comfortable being left alone with my daughter for an entire day and night. You see, babies who are nursed tend to like boobs. I have learned this much. Olive is a great sleeper, but 90% of nights, she falls asleep after getting a big meal from my wife in the darkness of our bedroom. Even more, my wife has mastered the lay-down-and-feed method so the baby is already in a recline position. As she nods off, all my wife needs to do is remove the feeding tube (i.e. breast) and move our daughter 18 inches into her cradle. It is a little more complicated for me.

First, I lack functioning mammorary glands. Definitely a point against me in the baby world. Second, Olive has never had more than two bottles in a day….I was going to have to give her about 12 in a row. Third, those bottle were going to be, at least partially filled with formula (which, according to most books and websites you read, or health professionals you talk to, is virtually the equivalent of feeding your child bottles of molten lava or a mixture of bacon fat, high fructose corn syrup, and cocaine. The guilt trip that women who choose not to breast feed are put on is ridiculous. My wife nurses, and I’m sure that it is quite healthy for our baby, but I really don’t think that giving a baby formula is the same as this. Anyway, that is a subject for another blog). Fourth, my wife is the one who wakes up at 4:00 AM to give Olive her early morning feeding, and the one who puts her back to bed until 7:00 AM. Most nights I recognize these events only as part of the dream I’m having about Abe Lincoln. I’d be lieing if I said I wasn’t a little afraid that I was going to stumble over to my daughter in the middle of the night, and mistakenly try to feed her a bottle of shampoo. So, I think my worry going into the day was at least partially well-placed.

Luckily, Olive did not try to latch on to my non-functioning man nipples. That solved one point of possible baby frustration. Also, our daughter takes a bottle like a champ. Apparently, other babies can go through something called “nipple confusion”. Olive seems to realize that whatever nipple we put in her mouth, whether real or manufactured, will contain food. Interestingly enough, she also doesn’t care what kind of food she is getting. She reacts almost exactly the same to a bottle made of breast milk, formula, or a combination of the two. I could probably fill a bottle with green tea and she would suck it down.

Even without mommy, Olive went to sleep well. I managed to shake myself out of slumber at 3:30 to give her a bottle and she fell right back to sleep afterwards. A few days later and my daughter is still alive, so I think I passed my first solo test with flying colors. I realize now that we get nervous about things before there is a real reason to get nervous. Will my baby take a bottle? Can my baby fall asleep without nursing? Will I be able to watch the Red Sox with a baby in the room? Will I be lashed by a rampaging team of lactation consultants for giving my baby formula? Sometimes we just need to go ahead with the view that everything will be okay, and take it from there. One whole day and one whole night with just baby and daddy – and nothing happened that I needed to worry about. She slept. I slept. She ate. I ate. The Red Sox won. All was right in the world.

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