Last weekend must have been one of the toughest weekends yet. Somehow, I’m thinking it will not be our last.
Having been completely taken aback by Spud’s reaction to the bottle earlier, I figured we should just continue with the re-introduction rather than waiting it out right before I am due to go back to work. What we discovered can be described as an almost scarily exhaustive and daunting experience and one I don’t wish upon other parents. It certainly was a rude awakening for us all. The “soft-approach” lasted for 3 days:
Day 1 (Thursday):
This marked the accidental discovery where Spud has totally rejected The Bottle. While I was out in the day, I received 2 frantic phone calls from the Nanny telling me that Spud has gone completely berserk on her and refused to feed. When I came home, she was extremely cranky and slept most of the time, still refusing the bottle when I tried it on her. I finally offered her the breast after a few more hours of trying. She has gone without a feed for 7 solids hours. We abandoned the plan to give her The Bottle for the rest of the evening. The search for what might be possible bottle type that she may accept continued with Google.
Day 2 (Friday):
We went out of our way to get her a new bottle, Adiri, with high hopes that she might take to it. After all, there were raving reviews on these Adiri bottles. They had won awards and had worked on the most stubborn babies. We were hopeful that this will work when we got home in the afternoon.
Our attempts were met with violent refusal. The moment the tip of the silicon teats touched her lips, she screamed bloody murder. Having the bottle near her was enough to send her into hysterical crying fits. Sneaking in the silicone teat while I was breastfeeding did not work. I swear her cries could have brought the whole apartment down! She was not tolerating the bottle at all.
Day 3 (Saturday):
Basically a repeat of Day 2, where I snuck the bottle at every single feeding. We even went out again to get several different types of nipples which turned out to be a lost cause. Every single time we attempted The Bottle on her, she threw a fit, screaming her lungs out. So much so that I think that if the neighbours had heard us, I am sure they think we must have been torturing our child to death.
We both got so mentally and emotionally exhausted by the evening that I eventually went back to breastfeeding.
Feeling lost, I decided to call my Mom for advice. Despite being apprehensive as we had a brunch session with Silver Bullet’s parents on the next day, we took the advice and prepared to steel ourselves for a full-on battle on the following day:
Day 4 (Sunday): The Hard Approach
Started the 1st feed of the day at 6 am by offering The Bottle, knowing full well she will again cry bloody murder. I was determined not to offer her the breast under any circumstances during the day and to keep on reinforcing the bottle at every cry for a feed. When she started wailing like there is no tomorrow, I comforted her and repeatedly gave her The Bottle.
Each time, it was met with another violent screaming and refusal to take The Bottle. I got so sick to my stomach as I felt so distressed watching her. It was painful to watch her screaming away in hunger, but I know we have to be persistent. Finally, after about 7 hours of hunger strike since 3 am, Spud finally took a suck and several more from The Bottle. You have NO IDEA how overwhelming it was all for me that I was bursting in tears when she finally took the bottle.
This happened while we were in the car just as we were about to reach our destination for brunch and so, I had to hysterically tell Silver Bullet in between tears to continue on driving so we won’t be losing the momentum. It was crazy, crazy moment when she finally relented. She must have been so hungry and tired that she crashed to sleep almost immediately for the next 2 hours.
While that was a start, subsequent attempts throughout the evening were again met with more violent rejections and ear piercing crying. Spud was still refusing to feed for hours on end. I really had to steel myself from giving in to her and was very determined not to offer her the breast.
Ironically, our attempt at bottle-feeding just prior to her bed time was successful. She slept till midnight and I braved another bottle-feed, much to Silver Bullet’s chagrin. Expecting yet another violent rejection, we were pleasantly surprised that she took the bottle without any fight and fell right to sleep. I decided to breastfeed her when she woke up for another night feed 3 hours later.
Day 5 (Monday):
Bottle-only day feeding continued on. Spud continued with her hunger strike for 3 and half hours. Eventually by mid morning and 3 feeds later, she appeared to have accepted the bottle.
She then decided to throw another curve ball at noon where she pretty much threw a fit and cried for 2 solid hours, refusing to feed again. While I was completely drained out, we kept on trying till she finally succumbed after 3 half hours later. I literally bawled my eye out again from exhaustion and decided to get away and went for an hour of foot massage.
The rest of the day went by pretty smoothly. She even let her Oma bottle fed her for a little bit. (Although I remained on the edge, expecting more violent rejections).
We braved another bottle-battle before her bedtime, which she accepted. Her night feed was a combination of bottle and breast.
Day 6 (Tuesday):
I braved a club meeting without bringing her along with me, leaving her in the hands of the nanny after her morning bottle feed. It turned out that the nanny did not have a rough time with her. She took the bottle without a fight. The rest of the evening went rather smoothly as I believe she decided to accept the bottle as part of her repertoire.
At her bedtime, I first offered a little bit of breast milk from the bottle and then let her have the breast. She was immediately lulled to sleep.
Her night feed was first breast, and followed by the bottle a few hours later.
Day 7 (Wednesday):
Day feed: Only bottle with hardly any resistance
Night feed: Only breast with no signs of nipple confusion
She woke up the next day with a bottle feeding first thing in the morning. She did not put up a fight.
At this stage, she seems to be able to feed from the bottle and breast seamlessly. While it has only been a few days of hard fighting, it felt like forever. I swear had it not been the phone call I made to my mom on the night of day 3, I probably won’t have the strength to go through it all. One must really work up that nerve and confidence of a steel to be able to get through this. We may be far apart, my mom and I, but her confidence was the strength I needed to pull this through.
Every baby is different and I guess Spud was just playing her ultra-stubborn cards. What I learnt through the entire process is that persistence and determination worked. It was not easy, but there certainly was light at the end of the tunnel. One of the most important things for me was having Silver Bullet fully on board. Getting his 200% support was critical as it was crucial that we both have to be strong for each other and not cave in, regardless how tough the journey is. Without it, we could never have gotten Spud back on the bottle within a few days.
This kid has got quite a personality, really. We figured her out that much. But then again, just as when we thought we had her figured out, she might just throw us another curveball.