Kaleb still lives in the Valley of Firsts.
Everyday (almost) it seems he is experiencing something within his world for the first time. I doubt he’s as aware of the implications of this as much as we are. I doubt he cares – when he bobs his head up and smiles at us – but we are overjoyed, ecstatic with glee. “Did you see that?” We point at his toothless grin, “He loves me!” Further proof of his genius.
Everyday it seems he is becoming more cognizant of his surroundings. He makes eye contact and holds his gaze evenly until his attention becomes focused elsewhere.
He is three weeks and five days old now. Oh, they grow up so fast!
I had certain plans for how I was going to raise our son – at least in the beginning: Breastfeeding, cloth diapers, no pacifiers, lots of hugs and kisses.
Even though I had planned on breasfeeding, I bought a pump so I could express milk and have other people join in the feeding fun. Well, when the recommended three week milestone to start to introduce the bottle came, I discovered, to my dismay, he didn’t like the bottle.
He cried and threw distress at me with his blotchy, red, contorted face, that, really, he wasn’t very interested in this plastic nipple thing and would much rather prefer the real thing. OK. No problem. I am patient and I could work on it with time.
So, he fed on my tit. Relentlessly.
I complained to Kaleb’s doctor about my sore (and now damaged) nipples and he told me to give him a pacifier in between what should have been the time between feedings. He should have been eating every two hours but at times, he would give me a bathroom break (maybe) and ask for more. Sometimes for hours at at time. In the middle of the night. I was hallucinating patterns on my baby’s face. That didn’t seem good.
At this point, I felt I had no choice. The doctor said he wasn’t really eating for all those hours and my boobs really needed the break.
So, with a cocktail of feelings mixed with guilt, shame and hope, I gave him a pacifier. And he hated it. Secretly, I felt a little relief. My boy was above that. He didn’t need any false stimulation to address a burgeoning oral fixation. I didn’t need to hang that on him.
But the bottle, I was determined to work on. I had a plan. Maybe if I started with the boob and then switched over to the bottle, he might not notice.
Yay! My boy would eat with other people. Yay! I could go and do things for more than 1/2 an hour outside the home and know my son would not starve or be uncomfortable!
Then he started to cry. And I thought to myself: maybe now that he took the rubber nipple, he might be coaxed to take the pacifier too. I tried. And again, it worked.
I put him in his stroller and we walked into the park where I treaded on a path of guilt. How could I encourage such false dependence, based solely on my comfort? How could I sell out my own son, so quickly, because I needed a break?
This was the day that he first ate from the bottle and he first took a pacifier.
I wasn’t so sure I was happy with either.