At 9:30 a.m. on August 19, 2016, when she was five months old, Lillian finished her first bottle. It was a 2 ounce bottle with a preemie nipple, but still! She drank it partly with the pacifier in her mouth, but at times, she allowed me to take the paci away and drank the bottle directly. Baby steps.
Dave had taken the day off work and got to be home to witness it with me. Lillian’s perceptive eyes roved from his face to mine and back as we cheered her on. She seemed to be looking at us like, I don’t know what you’re so excited about, but I like it!
The bottle drinking didn’t end there. By midday, she’d taken it several more times and drank as much as she did all day yesterday. She still needed her pacifier to take the bottle, but it got to be as simple as starting her out with two sucks on the pacifier and then subbing in the bottle. It’s so cute how that makes all the difference to her, because every time I offered the bottle directly, it was a no go. Even as she was drinking the bottle, she liked the pacifier to be within sight. Sometimes she wanted to hold it and tap it against the bottle. Sometimes she wanted to take a break from the bottle and take a few sucks from the pacifier before going back. Several times throughout the day she tried to refuse the bottle and only suck her pacifier, but I remained steadfast. The Austria coaches had warned that Lilly could suck her hunger away on her pacifier if I let her have it too much. So no paci for Lilly accept to go to sleep or while drinking her bottle. If she refused the bottle, we took the pacifier away too. Eventually, my strong willed daughter got the message and yielded. In the evening she finished another whole bottle. Pretty soon, we’ll need to get out our four ouncers!
The amazing thing about watching her drink the bottle is how natural it was for her. Her mouth and tongue wrapped around the nipple just like a baby who has been drinking milk since birth! She paced herself well, took little breaks, kicked her legs, grabbed at stuff with her hands, looked around the room, and seemed totally relaxed and at ease. Is this the same baby who would not suck at all just a few weeks ago? The same baby who has had her suck analyzed by feeding specialists and had it called disorganized and weak, who health practitioners warned us might never drink from a bottle? Dave and I are amazed at how she is able to tap into an instinct that has been dormant so long and was never properly nurtured at the appropriate stage of development. It takes courage and grit to acquire a skill outside the window when it comes most naturally. We couldn’t be more proud.