Thursday, February 5, 2009

(Internal) Bottle Battle

I heard back from Learning Center Online last week, and they are ready to get me started, but we have to figure out how to find me ten essentially Peeper-free hours a week to do it.

Ten hours per week – at $10/hour – doesn’t sound very helpful (especially given that I can make $30 - $60 / hour doing website development, on my own schedule, with Peeper in my lap, or at my breast, or squawking all she wants), but that ten hours will get me insurance.

Between not paying what I am now for insurance and the money I’ll actually bring home after insurance (much cheaper than now) and taxes, it should be a net gain of almost $600/month, which is pretty significant.

Our preference, of course, is do it while Shrike is home so she can handle Peeper in the other room. The catch is that, until summer, most of the hours are evenings or weekends, so we’re going to have to cram all ten into Saturday morning before she goes to work, and Sunday and Monday, her days off, so that's a lot of hours in a day.

In a perfect world, I'd have her just bring her to me to nurse, but I can't have her audible in the background, so that’s really not likely to be an option. I'm thinking of setting up to work 2 hours, have an hour off, then work 2 more, but it’s still likely that she’s going to need to eat somewhere in there.

Which means that it’s time to reintroduce the bottle.

And I absolutely hate the thought.

In my rational mind (such as it is), I know that, at almost fifteen weeks old, and after almost ten weeks of breastfeeding – almost nine since her last bottle – a handful of bottles a week is not likely to mess up her nursing.

The other thing that I know, rationally, is that having the bottle option available will allow me to be away from Peeper for more than an hour or so, which will be good for everyone.

It will allow me to do the Learning Center Online hours, of course, but it will also allow me to get a break from the 24/7 parenting that I’m doing right now.

As much as I’d rather be doing nothing else right now (and I mean nothing else – not just nothing instead of, but nothing as well as, either) it’s still grueling, and I could use a break sometimes.

Shrike being able to feed her will mean that they will be able to have a lot more one-on-one time, which will go a long way toward getting her back to where she’s as used to, and as happy, hanging out with her as with me, so I can get even mini-breaks, like an uninterrupted bath or nap.

More importantly, it will also go a long way toward getting them back to the level of attachment that they had back in the early weeks, when she was doing essentially all the feeding.

Of course, back then, I was the odd mom out, so I have an idea what this is like for Shrike right now.

If we could just get to the point where Peeper is as bonded with Shrike as she was then, while still being as bonded with me as she is now, we will have one very happy little family.

And one very lucky little girl.

Of course, having people other than Shrike being able to feed her will mean that Shrike and I will be able to be away from Peeper together for more than an hour or so, which will give us a chance to have some grown-up time, which will definitely be good for us.

It will also give Peeper a chance to spend more time with Shrike’s parents and her sister (our first-string babysitters), whom I know are anxious for that to happen.

But I still absolutely hate the thought.

It’s completely irrational, I know.

I totally get, and totally agree, that all those things I just said are good things: me being able to get a break is a good thing, Peeper and Shrike reconnecting is a good thing, me and Shrike reconnecting is a good thing, Peeper bonding more with her extended family is a good thing.

But I cannot get past the bottle thing.

I don't think I really fear them anymore; I just hate them.

Oh yeah, and I hate that fucking pump, too. And, although I do have a good bit of milk in the freezer from the bad old days, I'm going to have to start pumping again.

All the awful things about the first six weeks of Peeper's life (and, of course, things weren't all awful at all, but for me at least, there was a lot of awful stuff) are, in my mind, all connected to the bottles and the pump.

Bottle / Pump = Failure / Rejection / Pain

Why it can't = Challenge / Perseverance / Overcoming, I don't know, but it doesn't.

Now, I know damn well that this is a totally different situation.

I know that Peeper and I have more than proven that we're capable of successful breastfeeding exclusively - in the nearly nine weeks that she's not touched a bottle, she's increased her weight by almost fifty percent, we're obviously doing something right.

I know that giving her the occasional bye-bye-bottle (that's how I've decided to think of them, because they will only happen when Peeper and I are bye-bye from each other) is completely different from exclusively pumping, or even from supplementing out of nutritional necessity.

I know that this is not a last resort to address a problem, it's a conscious choice that will make our lives better and more convenient.

Except that I really don't feel like it's my choice.

I feel like the Learning Center Online opportunity - and, in particular, the insurance that it will get me - is really giving us no choice but to move forward with the bottles now, rather than later.

And I am not ready.

I'm going to do it.

I have to.

But I'm not ready.

We do have a plan, though. We've actually already sort of begun the process.

On Monday, Peeper, Shrike and her sister went out to lunch, while I stayed home. I nursed her right before they left, and a soon as they got back. She slept most of the time they were gone, and was pretty chilled out the rest of the time.

Me? Well, I survived.

In the two hours they were gone, I ate lunch, changed the litter box (maybe the second time I've done it since the embryo transfer?), emptied the trash cans and took the toter to the curb, emptied and refilled the dishwasher, put a load of clothes in the washer, put away a load of clean clothes, made the bed, and IMed with a Facebook (and real life) friend about it all.

(No wonder Shrike wants to be able to take Peeper and go more often!)

The next morning, I ran an errand while Shrike and Peeper stayed home. I was only gone about an hour, but it didn't go quite as smoothly. She was asleep when I left, and when she woke up, she cried until I got home. (And then some, actually.)

I know her lack of object permanence makes this moot, but I couldn't help feeling bad about having snuck out on her.

It was as though when she knew they'd left me at home, she was fine, but when she couldn't figure out why I wasn't coming when she cried, she was not so fine.

I know, I'm projecting a lot more rational thought on her than she's probably capable of, but I still felt kind of like a shit.

The next step in our plan is a big one. Saturday is my monthly Democratic breakfast, and I had planned to take Peeper with me, but I've decided to leave her home with Shrike.

And a bottle.

I had discussed this all (ad infinitum, ad nauseum) with DoulaK (and LadyKay and Dr T and, bless her heart, poor Shrike) and asked her opinion on what bottle to use, or if there was another practical option (not really, because, while Shrike might be willing, it's really too much to ask her mom or sister to finger feed or cup feed or anything like that).

She recommended the Adiri bottle (right), because it's very breast-like, and less likely to inspire thoughts of "Hey, this is much easier than those things Mama has!"

It looks great, and we might order some later, but I found some BreastFlow bottles (left) at Target, that seem to be very similar, available at Target and about a third the price.

We bought one of those, and a couple of their stage one / slow flow nipples.

After a couple of days of just glaring at them, as they sat on my desk in their boxes, a few minutes ago, I put them in the dishwasher to get ready for Saturday.

Before then, I need to either thaw a cube of breast milk (I froze it in ice cube trays - about 1 oz / cube - and then bagged them up by twos and threes.) and make sure it's still good (It ought to be fine for at least three months, or as long as six months. I think the oldest of it is probably from late November.) or I need to pump.

As much as I hate the idea, I am actually almost leaning toward pumping, just to get that over with, too (tear off the whole fucking band-aid at once, as it were) and because I'm a little unsure about the frozen milk being as good.

(On the other hand, if she doesn't find the goody-milk-in-a-bye-bye-bottle quite as yummy as the goody-from-Mama, I suppose that would be just fine by me.)

We need to make some plans for more Mommy and Peeper time next week, probably with a bottle or two along the way.

Then, the big test (short of me starting with Learning Center, for which I'm theoretically aiming at the beginning of March) will be next weekend, either Sunday or Monday when we're planning to leave Peeper with Shrike's parents so we can go out to dinner for Valentine's Day and our anniversaries. (Wedding February 10, 2001 / Met in real-life February 12, 1998)

As luck would have it, we have a $50 gift card - and a "buy one entree get one free" coupon - for a nice restaurant here in town, where we've often gone in the past for such occasions, so we can get dinner and a few meals worth of leftovers for nothing!

We had discussed taking Peeper with us, but I think that a date night is a really good goal to work toward, and a really good excuse to give ourselves (okay, who am I kidding - to give me) a deadline for making this happen.

Oh, and on that same trip to Target earlier this week, I also picked up a box of MilkScreen strips, because if Peeper's hitting the bottle that night, so am I.


  1. One suggestion: Maybe that first bottle needs to be when you are around, rather than gone for a couple of hours. If it goes okay, great, if not, she is not screaming until you get home.

    If she decides that she just won't take a bottle, and can't make it for two hours at a stretch yet, maybe you could do one hour on/one hour off with Sylvan for a while if absolutely necessary.

  2. Hmm, that's a good point.

    I don't want to be right there, because a> matter of principle - no bottles if the goodies are around, b> she'll know the goodies are around, and c> I just don't want to.

    But maybe I could be in the basement, setting up the laptop with the software for the tutoring.

    (My plan is to do it down there on the laptop, so she can't see me and I / students can't hear her. Also my computer is a mess and slow and the laptop is freshly wiped clean, as of Christmas.)

    Or, I could leave for a bit, but not go far and not get tied up in anything I can't extricate myself from, if Shrike calls to say I need to come home.

    I kind of prefer that option, so I'm not down there listening to her cry, if it's not going well.

    As to the two-hour thing, if we are out and about, especially she's in the wrap (especially if she's asleep) she will often go two hours between meals. She did fine for that long when they went to lunch the other day, and she's done it several times with me, when goody was available if she'd wanted it.

    I don't know, though, how well she'd do for two two-hour stretches, essentially back to back, two days in a row.

    We're just going to have to try it and see how it goes.


What say you?