So...I am pleased to report that food consumption with BB is going rather well (after a few false starts with too hard mango and overly roasted floppy aubergine – this is a learning curve for mummy too not just for BB). However, as previously 'reported', I had rather given up on the bottles, beakers, cups fiasco a few weeks ago and as the weaning process was going well so far I decided that I wanted to tackle milk feeds again – plus the fact that I had a rather important hen weekend that coming weekend that I was very keen to go to made me even more determined to get this cracked. My reasons included that all important weekend but also the fact that I had always planned to breastfeed up until around the 6 month mark if I managed to reach that far and that I was planning on going back to work and a recent discussion with Mr B about BB not taking a bottle led to my question: what happens if it comes to the time that I am due to go back to work and she still doesn't take a bottle? Mr B's response: You'll just have to not go back! Which just seemed ridiculous to me (and no doubt would be to my employer too!).
So I went back to basics and did some more research into the best ways to get babies to take bottles, even though I knew I had tried them all before. I read various forums and the thing that came up time and time again, which I hadn't had the nerve to try yet was going cold-turkey. This involved only offering BB a bottle (of either expressed milk or formula) and not giving in and giving her the breast if she fussed. Previously, after a few attempts with the bottle, I would feed BB from the breast as I did not want her to go hungry or get dehydrated. Feeling rather guilty for even considering this option I made a desperate telephone call to the HV and nervously discussed the issue. She patiently listened and re-assured me that I was not a bad mother for considering this. In fact she said that it was a very common problem and that many mum's find that this is the only way that a baby will take a bottle and that babies would eventually take a bottle because their wasn't any other option. She reminded me that a major problem with going cold turkey was the effect it would have on my breasts, most notably engorgement and possible mastitis, and my milk supply and that I would have to express as and when I felt I needed to.
The following day I gave BB a normal breastfeed first thing in the morning and carried on with the solids as usual. When it came to her next milk feed I offered her a bottle of formula (previous attempts with expressed milk which had not worked left me feeling rather depressed at having to pour it down the sink). This was rather grumpily refused but I kept persevering. As did she. An hour or so later BB started to get tired and I put her down for her lunchtime nap. I was feeling rather shaken and was doubting myself as to whether I should carry on with this. At her next milk feed, though, I offered her the bottle again. She fussed for quite some time so I offered her some food and water. After she successfully drained the cucumber slices from any water they had previously contained I offered the bottle to her again, which she slowly started to take. I was doing cartwheels and letting off fireworks inside but trying to hide this from my face as I didn't want to jinx this particular achievement! BB took the majority of this bottle but then only 4oz of the next. The next morning I offered BB the breast and then followed my new milk routine again – bottle at the next feed (which she took another 4oz) and again at the next – which again she refused. But that evening she took a whole bottle. And I have to say that we haven't looked back since. It essentially took two full days for BB to confidently take a bottle but it has allowed me to have a bit more freedom when out and about, no longer having to worry whether my breasts/nipples were on show to the world when getting into position, and others being able to look after BB if I needed them to.
For that following weekend, we were lucky enough that there were a couple of other new mum's going along to the hen do with similar baby feeding dilemmas/problems. It was agreed that we could all bring our babies with us and that our other halves would also tag along to look after the little ones whilst we were participating in the hen activities. Because a couple of barns had been rented we were able to get all the hens without present babies (or present partners) into one barn and the rest of us in the other, which made it easier for possible night feeds also. But if I had not gone cold turkey on BB earlier that week it would have been rather difficult for Mr B to look after her for any length of time – don't get me wrong, even though he was able to give her bottles, I still popped in to make sure they were all OK. And I have to say, although I was glad it was all working out, it did make me a little sad that I wasn't expressly needed anymore.