A Lesson Learned
When Jane was six months old, I dropped her off at my parents’ house like I did four mornings a week. I didn’t know that would be the last morning I’d administer her bottle to her. I really didn’t know how much I’d miss the time we spent together while I provided her nourishment and nutrition.
On that morning, from afar, my mom noticed that Jane kept moving her hands to her bottle in an attempt to hold it for herself, and I’d distract her or hold them softly so they did not interrupt her feeding. We had been playing this game for a few weeks, and I wasn’t paying much concern to the idea that perhaps she was really ready for this step in her path to independence.
So when my mom came over and suggested that I see if she could do it herself, I was surprised by how adamant I was that she was still just a baby and not at all ready. And as I watched her continue to reach for the bottle, I realized that it was me who was not ready. I was not ready to let go of our peaceful, quiet time together. I was not ready for her not to need me to provide for her. I was not ready to forego this time we spent bonding. And I wished I had appreciated the moments we spent connecting during feeding so much more than I had.
The Second Time Around
When Charles arrived a little more than two weeks ago, I felt a sense of calm that I didn’t feel with Jane. I had done this once before, and perhaps not perfectly, but I had done it. As each day passes, I find myself so much less overwhelmed than I was with Jane and so much more present. There is a certain wisdom that comes with parenting the second time around, and it is undoubtedly affecting how I parent Charles. The most important lesson I learned from Jane’s early stages was just how quickly they go by and how much you have to appreciate them while you are living them.
So every time I feed Charles, I realize just how special our time together is. And I know that, while it is not the method that you’d traditionally think of for building a bond, he and I are indeed bonding through bottle feeding.
The Five Senses of Bonding:
- Sight: There are moments when he is eating that Charles will open his eyes and gaze up at me. In that moment, I am filled with joy and pride as I tell him that I am his Mommy. He lived in my tummy for 39 weeks and lived in my heart before that. With each passing day, I can see his gaze growing stronger and his visual connection with me growing deeper.
- Sound: I find nothing more soothing than the coos Charles makes while I feed him. After two weeks, I know the rhythm of his eating patterns. I can tell you when he is still hungry, when he’s just playing with the nipple, or when he is totally content all by the sound of his sweet little coos.
- Smell: When I turn Charles toward my chest to burp him, I lean my head down and take in the many smells of a new baby. It’s that indescribable combination of new baby, Mustella lotion, and baby burp, that I would bottle and wear as perfume if I could.
- Taste: The sweet taste of kisses as I lean down and smooch the top of his head. The softness of his fine baby hair brushes my cheeks and reminds me how lucky I am to be this amazing child’s mother.
- Feel: When I hold Charles in the crook of my arm, I never doubt that God designed both him and me because there is no other explanation for how perfectly he fits. And as I hold his bottle and bring it to his mouth, he will reach out and grip my finger with his hand. And I know we’ve connected. He holds me as I hold him.
And as I watch him grow each time I hold him to provide him nourishment, I know that he and I will share a bond that will last eternally. I am just glad that this time around I can see it forming.
A fantastic post! Thanks for writing this Jennifer. I can’t wait to meet baby Charles!
Love! Great post.
This is a beautiful post. Please, please do not any one let you feel that bottle feeding precludes bonding. A bootle feeding mom should never, ever feel less than. What matters is the quality of time and the nurturing. I have 3 daughters and used a combination of breast or bottle depending on what was best for us at the time. I honestly saw no differences in emotional or physical health.