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A SHOULDER TO SLEEP ON

Posted on: Friday


























I remember the first time Gaby gave Biet a bottle.  She was just a few months old and we had been trying for ages to get her to drink from one.  I was pumping away each day, hoping that somehow the breast milk would end up in the tummy of my teeny tiny daughter.  But all day and all night, all this baby girl of mine wanted to do was to nurse nurse nurse, and she wouldn't let a synthetic nipple touch her pretty mouth.  So every morning I gave my pumped milk to another new Mama, whose brand new baby boy was having latch issues.  And Gaby watched as I fed our daughter meal after meal from my bosom, amazed and delighted at our strong nursing relationship, but also feeling a little sad about his powerlessness at fulfilling such a basic need of hers.  When she cried for milk, he could do nothing to console her, and it was hard on him.

Each week Gaby would come home with yet another bottle or fancy nipple to try, hoping that one of them might work. Every time he had to run to the store for a swaddle or diaper cover or baby accessory, he would come home with a new bottle and nipple set, guaranteed by the salesperson to work for fussy babies.  But they didn't work, not the glass bottles which I had dreamt of using exclusively, nor the plastic ones, nor the natural rubber nipples.  Not the wide mouth bottles nor the easy-flow ones nor the tilted ones.  Nothing.  She only wanted the real thing.  I was scheduled to return to work soon, and we were getting desperate.  

I told Gaby to stop buying bottles.  We had dozens spilling out of our cupboards. Nothing worked.  I was sure that Biet was simply too small; I hoped that she would take a bottle when she was ready, but that day never seemed to come.  We stopped trying for a while.  And then Gaby, who's never one to give up on anything, came home with this. And, to my astonishment, she drank the milk down.  She rested on her Papa, a wee little thing nestled into his forearm, and sucked away her warm milk until her eyes were closed and she was deep in slumber.  And oh Gaby's face.  He looked like he might cry and kiss her to death at the same time.  He was so proud, so accomplished, so selfless. He told me that the feeling of being able, finally, to nourish his daughter, to quench her hunger, to give her peace and satisfaction, was like nothing he had ever felt.  He was in heaven.  

Over the months, Gaby mastered his Papa duties one by one, each accomplishment bringing more fatherly pride than the last.  Swaddling, Dr. Karp's 5 S's, cloth diapering, co-showering, baby-wearing, food preparation, mealtime with solids, outfit-coordinating, playground etiquette, and singing her to sleep.  Biet came to prefer many of her Papa's ways over her Mama's, and now she really truly needs him- a lot of him. And I think the feeling is mutual.

When I peeked in Biet's room the other day and saw Gaby, sitting still in the big Victorian armchair with Biet's sleeping face plopped on his shoulder, I noticed that same expression on his face from the very first time he ever fed her.  He glanced over at me through the glass of the french doors and smiled a smile of compassion, serenity, victory, and love, all rolled into one.  His shoulder belongs to Biet now. To her it is the softest pillow in the world.  And I'm sure that no matter how many layers Gaby has on, that shoulder will never be quite warm enough without a certain little girl's head dreaming away on it. 





** the winner of the Gardner & the Gang giveaway is Rebecca O. Congratulations Rebecca! **


30 COMMENTS:

  1. I love and miss you guys! Biet is prettier everyday! Each time I see a picture of her I remember the last day of the trip when she kept giving me kisses and leaned over for me to hold her :) Love you all!!

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    1. I know I miss you too! Now she is a hugging and kissing monster, you would love it!

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  2. So sweet. And thank you for the amazing giveaway!! I am so elated to be the winner. :)

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    1. My pleasure! Thank you for reading and entering!

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  3. Lovely scene of domestic bliss. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. cried the whole read, how beautiful xx

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    1. xoxoxoxoxoxxo we miss you Sacha!

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  5. What a beautiful post. I have always wondered the meaning of Biets name?? Where does it originate from?

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    1. I should write a post just about her name, because everyone asks. Bieta is a Russian name (Gaby's heritage), similar to Betty, meaning "bringer of joy". A friend of ours named Bieta changed her name to leave off the a at the end, and we fell in love with her simple strong name.

      It is pronounced Bee-ett (rhymes with Annette or Lizette).

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  6. What beautiful pictures and sweet words!

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  7. I've heard good things about these bottles - they're the only ones I've bought so far. I hope they work for me too!

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    1. I hope so too! There is another brand (more expensive) called Mimijumi, that looks AMAZING too, and is known to work for breastfed babies. Good luck!

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  8. what a beautiful post and lovely photos. you and biet are lucky ladies!

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  9. So so precious! My little still bugs out when I try to feed him with a bottle, and this is 8 months later. I really should work on this with him more. This might be just the inspiration I needed. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. At eight months, you could also just wait a couple months and transition him to a sippy cup. I hope the bottle-feeding works out for you though!

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  10. This post really resonated with me. First of all, there is nothing sweeter than a papa with his babe asleep on his chest or shoulder. The pictures here are priceless.

    None of my 3 boys took from a bottle! Now that my youngest is 11 months, I suppose I will transition him directly to a cup just like the other two. I wish I had known about this bottle you tried. It looks really cool. But, depending on how long you plan to nurse, in the grand scheme of things, I know it's going to seem like such a short time. I am loving breastfeeding while it lasts. I love your blog so so so much!

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    1. Thank you Lauren! I guess nursing time is pretty short in the grand scheme of things. Biet still nurses constantly, but gets about half her meals from her Papa in a bottle. The balance is working out great for us.

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  11. I remember the bottle battle well! My son Noel is just a month older than Biet, and we tried many different bottles & teats trying to get him to take the bottles I carefully pumped. Finally it was the Nuk orthodontic teats that worked for us when Noel was about 4 months old, my partner Mike was so happy. He too is often found with Noel cuddled up asleep on his shoulder. Great pictures of such special moments x

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    1. Those moments are just priceless, aren't they? Glad the bottles are bringing them closer together!

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  12. Father & child... this is such a beautiful post it made my heart happy. When I see my husband with our children it melts me & then I fall more in love with him. Your images so say everything... just so so full of love.
    Danielle ~ http://awonderfullifeinfullframe.blogspot.ca/

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    1. Thank you Danielle! It is pretty amazing how you fall in love with your partner all over again, but this time as a parent. This whole family thing is just so amazing sometimes. I would have never guessed.

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  13. This are the sweetest photos ever!

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