From Boob to Bottle: A Dad’s view

by nomeatbarefeet

“It is our knowledge — the things we are sure of — that makes the world go wrong and keeps us from seeing and learning.”
(Lincoln Steffens)


Katie is on maternity leave for almost 11 weeks, meaning she’ll have to return to work for the last four weeks of the school year. Which, in all honesty, sucks. That is the state of pregnancy in this country. If you are lucky enough to have a job that grants you lots of leave, well good for you. Most women have to dip into their sick time (if they have any). What this means is that Hattie will have to be bottle fed for those weeks that Katie is back at work; as such, we have started the transition from boobs to bottle.

Katie is helping me in this, and we are trying a few different bottles (attempting each for a week or so) to see how Hattie takes to them. I (ignorantly) assumed that a bottle is a bottle, and a nipple is a nipple. Are there really differences? Um, oh yes — there are. There are fast and slow nipples (the speed of which varies from brand to brand); there are some described as “natural” and others as “classic.” Why you wouldn’t want your nipple to be natural is beyond me … My god the options are overwhelming!!

We started with what I’d described as a more “classic” nipple. Hattie, bless her, didn’t know WHAT the hell it was and was screaming her little head off. I (with Katie directing me) tried a few more times to get her to latch, which she did for a few moments. Then she spat it back out with a “No thank you” and proceeded to call for the real thing.

Dramatization: NOT OUR BABY!

I knew that it would be tough, and I knew that she probably wouldn’t take to it right away. But I guess I was hoping that I’d be wrong and she would magically enjoy the faux-nipple, and we’d sit quietly staring at each other just like you see in the movies.  Right. Hattie made a bit more progress the second day after we tried a different bottle and a more “natural” nipple. Frustrated, I commented to Katie “I have no idea what the hell I’m doing,” to which she rightly responded that I needed to calm down because getting frustrated with the process and/or with Hattie wouldn’t solve anything.

She’s trying to learn something brand new (just like me). As Katie reminded me, it took Hattie five weeks to get where she is right now breastfeeding, so to expect her to “get” bottle-feeding right away (or even in the next few weeks) is wildly optimistic. I have so many wonderful moments with Hattie — times that I know I’ll never get back and will never forget — and I really want this to be one more moment of even more connection and love.

There is lots that I don’t know about this whole “being a dad” bit. And what I think I know one day goes out the window the next. Bottling feeding is proving to be a trial (***in my first draft I wrote “trail” which just made me think of “trail of tears”, which is pretty much the extent of how things are going***) While I am uncertain about many things, the are a few that I am pretty confident in. These are what all of us, but more importantly dads, should be displaying if we want the boob-to-bottle transition to work:

patience … love … attention … humility … and patience, patience, patience

“They say that the father has nothing to do with child-bearing. He is a negligible, ridiculous figure, and they neglect and laugh at him. They set him aside, him and all men. Child-bearing is women’s business: the mother’s, the nurses’, the women-neighbors’…  Well, like so many of the things They say, this is bunk. It is an item in the Great Lie that They tell and live and fight for. They have put it over on young husbands for centuries … I, the father, first gave my baby love.” 

(liberally quoted from Lincoln Steffens’ Radiant Fatherhood: An Old Father’s Confession of Superiority)

[Note: I have no rights to any of the images used in this post. They are taken from the inter-web and arrange willy-nilly.]