I hit a realization yesterday. My being a first time mom with zero baby experience is big-time screwing with me because I don’t have context to evaluate any issues to come up. Like yesterday, Allie rejected the bottle. She was given a bottle a day a few times a week to keep her bottle-trained so that when I return to work, she could take to the bottle. However, when she got sick and rejected the bottle (probably due to congestion and/or need for nursing comfort), I indulged her and we didn’t bottlefeed for 10 days. When Mr. W touched the bottle to her mouth yesterday at a feeding time, she wailed and screamed and cried like she was in pain. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be around so she doesn’t think, “Hey, mom’s right THERE, I’m just gonna scream until she puts her boob in my mouth.” So I hid out upstairs, afraid to pump because I may have to nurse her if she won’t eat. Listening to her crying downstairs, I felt miserable and scared, like this is The Worst That Could Happen. Eventually, Mr. W worked on her for an hour upstairs as I researched madly on the PC downstairs for a magical cure to bottle rejection (also emailing pediatrician, calling the lactation clinic which was closed for the weekend, emailing the 2 nannies we’re interviewing this weekend to see if they have suggestions which, btw, turned out to be a great test), and suddenly the crying stopped. Soon he presented me with an empty bottle. He said she’d drank all 4.5 oz in 10 minutes, after crying an hour and exhausting herself. She knocked out in a long nap soon afterwards. Mr. W said that he knew I’d be freaking out, which is why he tried so hard to get her to drink the bottle. If it were just up to him, he would’ve said, “No biggie, we’ll try a bottle again some other time, just nurse her.” (Altho apparently, after talking to lots of people and reading lots of suggestions, is the worst thing to do cuz then the baby thinks, “Hey, I just have to hold out and I’ll get a boob.”) Because to him, this isn’t the end of the world.

In response to a status message about this I’d posted on the social networking site, a lot of people online who are parents addressed the crying aspect, telling me it’s okay, babies cry. Don’t let the crying get to you. That confused me, cuz I was like, “How can you not see? It’s not the CRYING. She’s REJECTING THE BOTTLE! What can I do?! She’s gonna STARVE TO DEATH if she won’t drink out of a bottle when I go back to work! This is The Worst That Could Happen!” It wasn’t until a friend said, “Chances are good that even if she’ll never reliably take the bottle, she’ll adjust once you leave her with the nanny. I’ve never heard of anyone who had to quit work because of that :P”, that I got some perspective. I’d read that this is common at Allie’s age of 3-4 months; even college roommie Diana’s baby, 2 weeks younger and who never had a break from the bottle since she was days old, suddenly rejected the bottle a few days ago. They’re just at a point where they realize they have a preference, and the preference is mommy’s breasts. You just have to keep at it (and there are tons of suggestions out there with distraction methods to get the baby to take the bottle again), and the baby may miss 1-2 feedings doing a stand-off with you or rather, with the person who’s preferably not mommy who’s giving the bottle, but the baby will take to the bottle instead of starve. So it’s the first of many battles of wills, I guess, and persistence wins out. Allie, in the case of yesterday, held out an hour. Today, after Allie again cried in a standard cradle hold once the bottle nipple touched her mouth, Mr. W held her facing outward and walked her around and fed her the bottle from behind, as she was distracted looking around. The crying lasted minutes, if that. Hopefully she’ll get used to the bottle again very soon, no more than a few days of rejection. I’m not going to take any more breaks from bottle-training.

Apparently, bottle rejection is NOT The Worst That Could Happen. It’s just foreign to me so I assume everything that’s unexpected and troublesome is The Worst That Could Happen. I’m sure there are people who are as ignorant of baby issues as I am but who don’t assume that every new thing is The Worst, but instead, don’t think or even realize how bad something is until someone, like a pediatrician, tells them so. “What? Our baby needs to be hospitalized? We just thought it was a little cold!” I think those people have it easier, mood-wise. I’m told that I instantly jump to The Worst because I’m a perfectionist (Mr. W) and because I don’t do well being taken by surprise (Rebecca) and the pessimistic fear is a product of postpartum depression (doctors). I used to roll with the punches more easily, but I’m unable to now, thanks to this biochemical imbalance crap going on. Everything feels like it rests on the moment being perfect. That’s a lot of pressure on each moment.

So, I need to remind myself of the bigger picture. She will survive this, and that, and even those things I still don’t know could happen cuz people don’t talk about it (which I’m pretty ticked about, btw). I am not going to be prepared for every complication that could/will happen, but I’m going to try not to assume each of those complications is The Worst That Could Happen. Most likely, it’ll just be a step-by-step resolution, like bottle rejection. Oh, she’s being stubborn about eating from a bottle? Okay, we’ll just keep trying the bottle for awhile, comfort her in between bouts of crying so it doesn’t become traumatic, and try different holds and distractions, and when she gets hungry enough, she’ll take it. She won’t skip more than 1-2 feedings (according to lactation nurse advice given to Diana), even tho it may happen each bottle for a few days. Then after that she’ll be accustomed to the bottle again. No biggie. No kid has ever been refused from a college because this bottle didn’t go down easily. And an even bigger picture than that — this is about the evolution of Allie’s soul; she’s here as my daughter to learn some things about life and my job is just to make sure she’s as safe, healthy and happy as I can reasonably control as she walks her life’s journey. Her choices and growth are independent of me; I have influence, not control. Her soul is not mine to control. Her paths and footsteps are not mine to map out. So this one too-short nap, this one irregular night, this one off-moment, is just that: one nap, one night, one moment. Nothing in the overall course of her existence here.

So stop worrying about every moment, Cindy. She’s healthy, bright, and seems mostly happy. That’s all the positive influence you need to and can give for now.