So what are the odds that I'd get two eerily similar questions in one week about something I'd never heard before? I'm going to post them both together (because there are slight variations), but I'm wondering if this is something that's actually common but no one talks about.
"Moxie, I’m hoping you and your readers can weigh in and/or commiserate with my situation. I’m a full-time WOHM; my 9 month old son spends 40 – 45 hours a week with his nanny. I work partly out of financial necessity, but also because I worked hard to get where I am in my career and it means at lot to me. Despite this, I feel terribly conflicted about it, and lately even more so due to this issue with his feeding.
I went back to work at 14 weeks, and my son has always taken a bottle from the nanny with no problem. Around 8 months my supply plummeted, and I decided that I’d relieve myself of the misery of 4x/day pumping, we’d give formula during the day and I’d just breastfeed morning and night.
Problem is, the Munchkin has long refused to take a bottle from me (not unusual, I know) - or dad – or grandma - or anyone else besides his nanny. I figured this would change once I stopped pumping. Nope! Now he’s clearly hungry and thirsty on the weekends, and cries, and yet refuses the bottle no matter how many times it’s offered and no matter who is doing the offering. I’ve tried leaving the room, leaving the apartment for a couple of hours…it makes no difference. Then come Monday morning, he’ll sit on the nanny’s lap – even if I’m sitting right next to them – and happily suck down a huge bottle, while the nanny says: “See? See? No problem for me!”
Dad and I have somewhat better luck with solids (especially plain yogurt, his favorite food), but again, he sometimes refuses to eat, or to eat enough. Never a problem for the nanny.
I’m not worried that he’ll starve on the weekends (he’s a healthy 21 lbs), but I do worry that he gets dehydrated. He can’t manage a sippy cup very well yet; he thinks it’s fun to play with but can only manage to get down a sip or two. Plus he’s so miserable all weekend long, my precious time with my darling baby. But mostly I just feel like a big failure as a mother. It’s created a bad dynamic with my nanny, who kind of lords it over me. And I find myself asking her to stay late even on days when I get home early to give him a feeding or a bottle, which feels so humiliating (I can’t even feed my own kid!).
So the question is: what do I do? I don’t think there’s enough fenugreek in the world to resurrect my breastmilk supply at this point. Should I stop nursing altogether and see if that helps? Or should I take, say, a week of vacation sans nanny and let him cry for as many days as it takes to convince him that he has to take food from mom or dad? Or fire my nanny? Quit my job?
Has anyone else had a problem like this? My ped just said “gee, most breastfed babies are willing to take bottles from their father.”
Thanks. I know this too shall pass, but it’s driving me a little nuts right now."
How helpful of your pediatrician. Wanker.
This is a strange little ball of suck, isn't it? It's managed to hit almost every single issue that can make a mother feel like utter crap: feeding problems, baby showing more affection for someone else, nanny vs. mommy stuff, guilt about having a nanny/working in the first place, milk supply issues, and the baby being 9 months old. The only things that could make this worse are if you had mastitis, were about to defend your dissertation, and/or just discovered that your husband was addicted to either porn or online gambling.
Before I print the other post and get to the actual feeding issue, let's talk about the emotional component with the babysitter. I think I hate your nanny for lording it over you. I wonder what kind of validation she gets from that. She has to know how much it hurts you that he spends more time with her than with you already, so why would she be purposely making you feel worse about the dynamic? I think you need to have a talk with her and try to figure out what her problem with you is. (I hate to say it, but I've heard enough babysitters talking at the playground about how the mothers they work for "don't care" and are "always at work," and how they love the kids more than the mothers do. Why do women hurt each other so much???) I'm not going to say that you should fire her over this, but she's a big part of the problem at this point, and it's worth reevaluating the relationship once the dust settles on this bottle problem.
Now here's the email from Jenny, and then let's see if we can figure out what's up:
"My 10 ½ month old son has a drinking problem… According to the pediatrician, he should still be getting about 20-24 ounces of formula a day. This is not a problem on the days he goes to the sitter’s house (Tues-Thurs). For her, he’ll drink whatever she offers him. However, on days he’s with me, he acts like he’d rather do anything else in the world besides drink a bottle (or sippy cup, but more on that in a second). He doesn’t cry, he just refuses to drink more than an ounce or two. He’ll push the bottle away, bite on the nipple or just turn his head. He’d much rather be on the floor playing or reading a book with me or anything else. I’ve found that the only time I can get him to drink 5 or 6 ounces at once is to do it as he’s going down for his naps or at bedtime. So, we end up winding down for each nap with a bottle, just to make sure he gets enough to drink. I’m wondering if he’s associating the bottle with sleepy time, and if I try to give it to him when he’s awake, he thinks I’m trying to get him to take a nap and he doesn’t want to…?
I’ve tried to start getting him used to the sippy cup as well, but that’s not working so well either. He’s been chewing on and playing with the cup for a couple months, and I’ve put mostly water with a splash of juice, in case he decides to actually drink some. Last week, I decided to put formula in it, hold him like it was time for a bottle, and see what he did. He drank a couple ounces; I was excited and thought we were on our way to transitioning to the cup (in time for the milk transition in a few weeks). However, the next time (and each time thereafter), he started doing the same thing as he did with the bottle. If I was holding him and trying to get him to drink from the cup, he wasn’t interested at all. I asked the sitter to see if she could get him to try and drink from the cup, and of course she had total success. He’ll drink whatever she offers him in his sippy.
People say “he’ll drink when he’s thirsty and eat when he’s hungry,” but I’m not so sure. (These are the same people that say he’ll sleep when he’s tired, which we all know doesn’t happen with feisty babies.) I don’t understand why he acts so different for me than he does for the sitter. In the future, I’m worried that once we’re off the bottle, he won’t drink much of anything all day. For now, though, I’m just concerned that he’s not getting enough to drink if he’s home with me. Any suggestions??"
So I'm baffled by this, and don't have any solid solutions, so let me just say what comes to mind and see if that helps anyone else figure out what's going on.
This kind of reminds me of a nursing strike, which also can happen around the ages of 9-12 months, when a kid just refuses to nurse for days. Obviously the details are different, but the idea that the child just suddenly stops wanting to take milk from the mother seems like some kind of similar emotional process.
This is also a time when kids are about to head into separation anxiety, so I'm wondering if this is some kind of separation before the separation anxiety hits?
I've got nothing else right now, because a big part of me suspects that I'm going to post this and get a bunch of "me, too!" comments and we'll have discovered some unspoken phenomenon.
Int he meantime, though, we have to figure out how to get some liquids into Cybele's son, for sure, and help solve Jenny's drinking problem.
What do you have for Cybele and Jenny?