These days, I find myself pining for ‘those days.’
It’s true my baby is only 14 months old. It’s also true I spent the first six months of his life wishing he was older. But here I am, watching him catapult into toddlerhood, and I find myself missing his infancy.
Why the sudden sentimental journey?
We weaned The Beast off the bottle these past two weeks. For some, this might not be an emotional turning-point, but for me, it has been the hardest parenting leap to date, and I was reticent to say the least.
Switching from breast to bottle is what saved my sanity in the early days of motherhood. It is what ultimately helped me bond with my baby. He nursed for the first part of his life and threw up much of what he ate. If he didn’t throw it up, he cried in pain from one feed to the next. I saw a nutritionist and fastidiously cut seemingly bothersome foods from my diet, but nothing helped. Crushed and disheartened, it was my son’s pediatrician who finally convinced me to try bottle feeding.
On the way home from the doctor’s office, we stopped at the store and got a bunch of bottles and the hypo-allergenic formula she suggested. Within four days, I noticed a change in my son. It wasn’t all of a sudden perfect. The barfing didn’t just stop, but instead of feeling responsible for his pain, I finally felt like I could comfort him.
Slowly, we started to build that rewarding feeding experience you hear about. It took us almost a year, and just when it seemed we were in the groove, the doctor informed us no more bottles after 12 months. I was reluctant to wean him after working so hard to build a good feeding relationship. But, on doctor’s orders and because we have a new beast arriving in September, we decided to do it. Sigh…
I was convinced The Beast would fight every step of the way, but to be truthful, I had a harder time with it than him. We had a routine. I’d wrestle him into his sleep sack while he kicked me and cried. Then we’d transfer to the rocking chair, and the second the bottle touched his lips, he’d calm down. We’d settled in, and then he’d reach up and flap my lips indicating he wanted me to sing. I’d make up words to all kinds of songs I don’t know, and he’d stop periodically to giggle and say, “Hi?” with a little upswing in his voice.
Then we’d cuddle. If you know my kid, you know cuddles are rare, so I’d milk that part as long as I could. We’d cuddle in the rocking chair and he’d squirm until I stood up. Then we’d sway and cuddle a bit longer before I’d lay him down. He’d promptly stand up and demand another cuddle. He always got a second cuddle. Then I’d lay him down for good, kiss him, tell him I love him, and leave.
But now those days are over.
And I’m sad.
Our current bedtime routine consists of me offering him a sippy cup and him throwing it on the floor. I’ve affectionately renamed it the ‘biffy cup’ since it always gets tossed away in a mini toddler revolt. But we’ve held on to many of our old bedtime traditions. We still re-enact WrestleMania while trying to get him in his sleep sack. The songs still happen, and the cuddles are non-negotiable.
But the days of feeding my baby into a drowsy, pre-slumber milk coma are gone. They’re over, even though I’m still holding out hope that the biffy cup will eventually hold the same esteemed position the bottle once held. Had you told me a year ago that one day I would ache to feed my baby to sleep, I would have scoffed at you. But that’s the thing about us frigging humans—we always end up pining for some other time instead of just enjoying the ugly beauty in the moment.
So, if like me, you find yourself pining for the past or longing for the future, try to remember…
There will be a day when there’s no more pureed squash on your cardigan. There will be no dried snots in your hair where your kid nuzzled you. The crumbs on the bottom of your purse from all those crushed Mum-Mums—they’ll be gone too. There will be a day when your hips re-align because you’ll be done carrying babies on one side. Your boobs won’t leak in public anymore. Diapers will be replaced with undies, and your baby won’t need or want you to feed him to sleep.
Some of these things, you’ll never miss. Others though, will be the emotional milestones that will remind you your baby is growing up. But rather than pining for the bottle days, I will just remember them fondly. And I think I will just try to enjoy the biffy cup days, because soon these days will become ‘those days,’ and I’ll miss them too.