Three weeks…that’s how long I waited for us to get to the moment captured above.
He stopped drinking milk because it was no longer being served in a bottle. When he broke the last collar on his Medela bottles, I decided that was it. I had talks with my husband and with him that once the last one was broken, we would say “Bye” to the bottles. Each time he dropped or threw a bottle and broke the collar, I reminded him of what would happen when we got to the last one. Each time he nodded, but I knew he did not mean it, nor did he fully understand that I would in fact not give him another bottle when the time came. Truthfully, I was not convinced either that I would stick to it if he cried or screamed or refused to go to sleep that fateful evening.
Then it came.
The day he dropped the last bottle and broke the collar, I spoke to him and we put the bottle in the trash together. We said “Bye Bye” to baby bottles. He even found it funny. He said “Bye” and checked on the bottle a few times. My guess is that he wanted to make sure it was still in the trash. Later that morning I offered him a sippy cup full of milk, and he gestured “No” with his hand. Later that day I continued to offer milk, but each time he said No. It was so hard for me not to run to the store and buy more baby bottles, even though I knew it wasn’t a good idea to buy more infant bottles for my then 19-month old.
I thought his evening routine would suffer because until this happened, he drank a bottle of milk before bed, but he happily went to sleep after bath and prayer. He made no mention of milk, or expressed a desire for it. I must admit that I was puzzled. Since he did so well, I went to bed without thinking about it.
I expected his milk fast to last a day or two, but he would have nothing to do with milk in a cup for 3 long weeks.
At first I was concerned about his milk intake, but I noticed he was doing well. He ate more food and more fruits and veggies and drank more water. He continues to gain weight as is appropriate for his age. He is active and eats well. His pediatrician and hematologist both told me not to worry about a short reduction of his milk intake as long as he was eating a variety of food. Their expert opinion should have been sufficient, but I remained watchful of how he was doing.
I resorted to feeding him more varied dairy items. I would make his oatmeal with a few ounces of milk in the morning. Throughout the day he would drink liquid probiotic yogurt (we really like Lifeway Kefir varieties) or eat a Greek yogurt with his lunch. I would make smoothies with lots of milk and fruits, and I offered more oranges than I otherwise would (have you seen a toddler on orange juice?). In the car, he would just drink water instead of milk.
Clearly he was doing fine. I’ve come to realize that it really wasn’t a health concern but an emotional dependency for us both. He likes the comfort of his bottle and I liked him being content, enough to not take away the bottle before this time.
Even while I knew he was fine, over the past 3 weeks, there were moments when I wondered if this was right, if he’d eventually adjust or if he’d give up milk forever. He is a strong willed child and his mind seemed to be made up. I wondered if in the end, I just did not want to be proved wrong. I can go on about the unnecessary doubts I created in my own mind. I’m glad I kept offering and waiting, hoping that it would soon come.
And it did.
And today it feels like a small victory in the ever-ending story of motherhood, in raising young boys. I am glad we have both moved toward more maturity, and made it past this bumpy road. I am writing this post with a huge smile on my face. I know one day, maybe soon, I will look back and think that I had nothing to worry about all along. But on that day, there will be another issue or challenge that will occupy my mind, that too will seem big, frightening and uncertain.
I want to remember this moment because there will be so many of these moments…when I question whether I’m doing the right thing for him, whether I am being too strict, whether my motives are right, whether it benefits his health or well being.
There will be moments when he will push back, hold his ground and it’s in those times that I will need to remember why I am doing one thing instead of another. These are also the moments when I will have to remember to be patient, gracious, hopeful yet steadfast.
These times will come…but today I just revel in a glass of milk drunk without objections.