The human mating season was upon us and one of my wife’s very close friends was getting married. After weeks of deliberation, we finally decided that I would stay home with baby Z, while my wife would attend the wedding; it’s about time she stepped out of the house post-delivery. But we were facing a potential problem.
Z was to get her third does of vaccinations just a day before, and going by the previous experience, it wasn’t very pleasant. She broke into a fever, her thigh swelled up and she was as listless as a runner after completing a marathon. Even though we were warned about these symptoms by the doctor, nothing prepares parents to face a newborn in this state.
Knowing what had happened the last time, my wife was considering backing out but I convinced her that I will manage Z. We had also decided not to massage or bathe her for a couple of days after she got her shots. It was only a matter of four to five hours, plus my parents and sister were at home so there was enough and more support.
Z is very patient and friendly; she is at a stage where she happily goes to anyone and engages, but the issue was feeding her in the absence of her mother. My wife had already planned on pumping a good amount of breast milk for me to feed her, but how would I feed her was still an on-going debate.
The thing was, at two and a half months Z had never been bottle fed. We had two options – first, vaati-chammach (spoon and bowl), this was a tried and tested method but Z was two days old when it was tried last by the nurses at the hospital. Second – the bottle. Though, we were very reluctant to employ this method initially, we both agreed that it was a clean and easy way.
Luckily, Z was absolutely fine after her vaccination, with no sign of fever or pain, there was a bit of swelling but it didn’t seem to bother her. The next day she was her normal self, this gave us even more confidence. My wife could not only go to the wedding but actually spend some quality time instead of rushing back home. About 90ml of milk was pumped and everything was arranged, all I had to do was feed her. Things were looking positive, nothing could go wrong.
At 7.30pm, after playing with her grandparents and aunt it was time for her to feed. I was super excited to use the bottle, this was the first time for both of us. I removed the milk from the fridge, placed it under running water, dimmed the lights in the room, placed her in my lap over a pillow, popped the cap and slowly pushed the nipple in her mouth. And then I waited to hear suckling and swallowing. But, nothing. She wasn’t feeding.
I was expecting this. She obviously could tell the difference. She seemed to be pushing it away with her tongue; she was rejecting the bottle! I removed it from her mouth and placed it near her lips again; she grabbed it this time but only to push it back out with her tongue. Now, I was starting to panic a little because my wife was good 20 kms from home!
I shifted her position a little, so that her head was tipping back, but it didn’t work. I moved her to another side, that didn’t work either. Now, she was starting to get irritated and crying. I was running out of ideas. It was a classic horse and water situation. I had everything ready but I just couldn’t get her to drink the milk. I didn’t call her mother because that wouldn’t have helped one bit; I could have called my mother but I wanted to solve this myself.
I went into action mode and started walking with her; this always calms her down. Then, I changed the angle of the bottle and kept it more upright. That’s when I realized my mistake. It wasn’t that Z was rejecting the bottle, it was just that I wasn’t bottle feeding correctly!
My wife had explained breastfeeding to me by saying that the baby must take the entire areola in their mouths to latch correctly, not just the nipple. Using that logic, I encouraged the bottle further into her mouth, and voila! she had gulped down 75ml before I knew it. That was really a proud moment for me!
When my wife came back, I explained the engineering I had to go through to feed our baby. But, we now had the option of taking Z out and bottle feeding her without worry.