I am almost halfway through Miriam's first year. Can you believe it?
I was terrified to leave Naomi when she was this age. Plus I didn't want to. The first time I left her for more than a few hours, or at bedtime, she was 20 months old. When she didn't take a bottle, I patted myself on the back for having such a smart baby who wouldn't compromise on what she needed. I was so conflicted about forcing the issue with the bottle that I stopped trying.
It didn't seem worth it to me to keep offering the bottle even though I didn't want to leave her. I tell moms at LLL who feel pressured to make their babies take bottles, it's perfectly okay not to give your baby a bottle, ever, if you don't want to. Eventually, when you have the desire to be out without the baby, you'll work things out.
When Miriam started to balk at the bottle a few weeks ago during my weekly tennis outing, there was no tender inner conflict. After 3 and a half years of 24 hour on call, I am ready for a break. Miriam is going to be a much more independant baby than Naomi was. I am not going to be tethered to bedtime this time. I might even leave her overnight with someone else on occasion before she turns four. Tonight, the fourth time I've left her in Josh and my dad's care at bedtime, she took the bottle without complaint, and fell asleep in bed.
Experience has taught me that there is room for moderation and experimentation. When Naomi was small I only saw slippery slopes all around me: my choices would lead to other choices which would lead me to compromise my parenting values. I thought if I chose to put her in a (gasp!) crib for the first part of the night, I would have to give up cosleeping. Or if I fed her food before nursing her I would hasten early weaning. Or if I switched to cloth I could never go back to disposables. I'm not sure why I was so rigid, I can only guess that the rules of the game were so murky, and the consequences of being wrong were so disastrous, being rigid in my choices was the only way I could cope.