December 4, 2013

On packing up bottles...

I fed Wren her last bedtime bottle two nights ago - and I have been an emotional mess ever since! There haven't been too many things that have upset me about all of the growing she's done during her first year until now. Sure, when she started eating solid food, I thought aww, she's getting so big - and then laughed when she tried avocado. When we packed up her baby swing, I thought awww, this is kind of sad - and then rejoiced at the extra space in our apartment. But this bottle thing is staying with me for some reason. Yesterday, I washed and packed all of her bottles up in plastic bags to put in storage, but there they sit - on the kitchen counter - and I can't for the life of me let them go. I just can't believe that part is already over!

For one year, three times a day (more when she was tiny), I would gather her little body into my arms, settle in cozy on the couch and feed her a bottle. It was our thing - our routine - breakfast, lunch and dinner - and now it's over. We phased her bottles out over the course of a month - taking away the breakfast bottle first, then the lunch bottle, and then the bedtime bottle. The night before her last bedtime bottle, I cried. The night of her last bedtime bottle, I cried. And now, two days later, I'm still crying. I can't stop thinking that it's already a memory - not something that happens, but something that used to happen. Two days in and already it's 'remember when we used to hold her every night and give her a bottle before bed?'

There is so much of her that is still a baby, but so much of her that has moved on to toddlerhood already. She's independent, constantly moving, excited to try new things. I know she's ready to be done with bottles. She drinks milk from her sippy cup like a pro. It's me that's not ready. It's me that suddenly realizes that when people say it goes fast - they mean really fast. I can't help but think about all the other things in her life she'll be ready for that I won't - the first day of school, driving, dating, college! I can't.

When I think about saying goodbye to the bottles, I immediately start going through the memories I've stored up of those quiet, close moments. Do I have enough in my memory bank to last me forever?? Because of the way my guilt-ridden mom brain works, the first memories that jump into my head are the ones where I feel I fell short - the times when I spent a whole feeding scrolling through Instagram or zoning out to a TV show or the worst - feeling annoyed that I had to stop what I was doing to feed her. When these memories come to mind, I panic - feeling like I wasted all of that time that I can't get back. But then I push past those negative thoughts - give myself a break - and that's when I get to the good ones - because there are so many good ones, like the times I laid my head next to hers while she ate and smelled her little baby hair. The times I squished her fat baby thighs like clay and made her giggle. The times I traced my finger up and down her nose until it tickled and she swatted me away. The times she kicked and kicked her little legs against my hand. The times she fell asleep halfway through a bottle, and I stayed so still and soaked it in - or closed my eyes and drifted off with her. I do have a lot of memories to take with me - and for that I am so thankful.

I don't really have any grand thoughts about any of this - I kind of just wanted to share my feelings because sometimes writing about things makes me feel better. I feel like all of this has reminded me - again - to slow down and soak it all in - to not take a moment for granted. And it's also reminded me how freaking hard it is to be a mother. I would happily snuggle her up and feed her a bottle every night until she graduates from high school, but I can't. I would happily lock her inside her room for the next twenty years to keep her safe from all the bad that's in the world, but I can't. Instead, I breathe deep, I push my worries and sadness and fears aside, and I give her what she needs to grow and thrive and be all that she is meant to be. And then I ball my eyes out in the shower. ;)

I made the personal choice not to breastfeed Wren. Knowing how hard it has been for me to say goodbye to bottles, I can only imagine how much harder it is to wean a baby from nursing. My heart goes out to all mommas - breastfeeding and bottle feeding - in these bittersweet moments.


Kelli said...

Amen, sister! I got teary reading this because it's so true..I breast-fed and bottle-fed Brynna and both made me cry when that stage was over. Time goes by so fast and I would give anything to go back and do it again, just one more time.

alisha said...

All so true and very well written. As Wren grows up, I think you'll come back and read this post and it will help with the transitions. You'll need those memories to carry you through the teenage years!!!