I wanted not to have to write this until I had my thoughts in order. But without writing it down I won’t be able to order my thoughts at all, and I think that I want to share it raw – as I am feeling, even though I know that in the grand scheme of things this is nothing at all. Even though this time round I am still lucky, motherhood is still so much easier and more joyous this time round than my first cold-water plunge into being a parent. But we have hit a snag. I am worried and hurting right now.
Breastfeeding was going well for us. I made a little video recently talking about our decision to breastfeed one twin and to bottle-feed her sister and I was feeling quietly confident in the way that we feed our babies – it is, after all, entirely led by the babies themselves. Embla has always preferred the bottle, and usually feeds with Kirsty, cuddled up in her arms. Olympia, my Pocket, my lives-in-my-pocket baby, feeds with me when I am home. Directly from me. It is how things are in our household and we enjoy the status quo.
Then earlier this week, Kirsty switched the girls to faster-flow bottles. It’s just what you do, isn’t it? Bigger babies mean a faster flow teat. We didn’t think. Both girls were happier for it and fed faster and they had more time to play and she had more time to do all of the many things you have to do when you are a busy household of six-humans-and-a-dog. For a little while it seemed that everyone was winning.
When she started fussing at night I thought that perhaps this was the four-month growth spurt finally in action, or perhaps an early sign of teeth. But she didn’t grow, not any faster than her sister, and no teeth came through. And then I came home for the weekend and she doesn’t want me any more, not to feed from me. She wants her bottle.
If I think about it too hard I feel like I’m being kicked. I hadn’t meant to breastfeed – this was baby’s idea, not mine – but I’ve grown to love those quiet moments, her little warm body snuggled against mine. I’m not ready to give that up yet. I’m not ready.
But I don’t know what to do.
I am so tired of fighting her through the night, of trying to hold her still whilst she arches and screams for her bottle and of encouraging her to latch and to feed when she is protesting fiercely that she doesn’t want me. It doesn’t feel right. And I’m exhausted. But I don’t want to sit awake at night to express any more than I already express, and then to feed her from the bottle. I don’t want it. I want things to go back to how they were but I don’t know if we can reverse it, I don’t know how. And as I said, we have always followed the babies’ leads, Embla takes a bottle because Embla wants the bottle. Olympia – now she wants the bottle too.
So do I follow her lead?
If we put her back on the slow-flow teats can we teach her to want to feed from the breast again? And is it fair?
The four months that my daughter gave me felt like a gift and I will always treasure the memories of feeding her so easily, her small soft body tucked against mine. But my other daughter has shown me that bottle-feeding can be beautiful too, that babies miss out on nothing by feeding from a bottle rather than the breast. She has shown me that I am sad for myself rather than Olympia, that my girls, like my boys, will be just fine. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t sting. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to reverse the clock. I just don’t know.
I’m at a crossroads and I don’t know which path to take. Please tell me what to do.