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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Diary of a Nursing Strike Part Deux

Take a chill pill and call me in the morning

How do you handle a nursing strike when your child is teething? I know I have read about this on the internet, but I have yet to meet someone in real life who has had their baby go on a nursing strike while teething. Well, I'm real life. This is happening to me.

January 10-16, 2010
No sign of teeth yet, but Baby T is in a MOOD this week. He is being a little fink. (Direct quote). We can't figure it out. I swear this is how he acted when his bottom teeth appeared, but his upper gums are smooth and slimy. No sign of the daggers yet. He can't sit still.

The baby who once went to sleep without a sound at 6:30PM now cries from the crib. I have to go in and lay a hand on his back and whisper "shhhhhh" to get him to sleep. He falls asleep around 7:30 every night.

Nursing is becoming difficult. Baby T writhes and kicks and pats and swats incessantly. He rearranges himself onto his stomach and draws his knees up to his chest underneath his body. He is basically doing child's pose across my chest. He pops off the nipple periodically with a loud slurping pop. Nursing is taking 2 separate sessions. The first is comprised of this wrestling match. I put him in his crib. He cries. During session 2 he is chill. He falls asleep.

Sunday, January 17, 2010
Baby T is laughing on the changing table. As he throws back his head and smiles, I catch a glimpse of something on his upper gums. I shove my finger in his mouth and draw in my breath quickly. Teeth! Two of em! I can feel the sharp ridge about to come through. We excitedly tell Big T and show Mom-Mom that night at dinner. Mom-Mom is going on a week long trip. I tell her next time she sees Baby T he'll have 2 buck teeth. Ha. Little did I know.

Monday-Tuesday, January 18-19, 2010
Monday and Tuesday go without a hitch, for the most part. Continuing to feed the wrestling (he is no longer a nursling). I tell Big T he seems like he is writhing in pain. He hasn't been napping well and he is cranky.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I come home from work. Big T looks exhausted. Baby T's usual "throw yourself at mom's chest with your mouth open" ensues. He is tired. He hasn't slept well today. I bring him to his room at 6, which is earlier than usual, but he is Tired with a capital T. He bobs hungrily at my shoulder. We sit on the chair in the nursery. He bobs hungrily at my chest. I undo my nursing bra. All hell breaks loose. He screams, he cries, he writhes. He freaks.

We take a break and read some books. Mr. Hyde returns. He laughs at "Little Puppy" and pats the fire in "Goodnight Moon." He starts to fuss. He's hungry. Bobs at the chest. I undo my nursing bra. Hell. Loose.

I put him in the Arm's Reach Cocoon to rock him. Sometimes it's better when he can't smell me. He cries gutterally.

I give up. Back in the living room, Big T looks up, surprised. Baby T gives him his best smile. We eat dinner while Baby T plays and rubs his eyes. We try nursing in different places. In the living room, laying in the bedroom, in the guest room. Hell. Around 8:30, we go back into the nursery. Repeat previous sequence. Hell.

O-KAY. Baby T goes into my wrap, and, snuggled against my chest, falls fast asleep. He is limp like a rag doll when I finally take him out and put him in his cocoon. He is exhausted and fast asleep. He wakes that night at midnight. I try to nurse him. Hell. He snuggles in my arms and falls back to sleep quickly. Repeat at 3AM, at which time he goes back to sleep in the wrap on my chest.

Thursday, January 21, 2010
We were supposed to go to the pediatrician this morning for Baby T's 6 month vaccinations, which we had cancelled at his 6 month appointment because he had a cold. But Baby T is so fussy I wouldn't be able to tell if he were having a reaction to his vaccinations or not, and that scares me. So I call and cancel. The girl at the front desk is sympathetic. I'm sure she has heard this all before. She probably knows exactly what I'm in for.

Tieren hasn't eaten in over 16 hours. I use the medicine dropper during Baby T's first feeding at 7AM to coax him to nurse. Score. He falls for the bait. Although he is hungrily trying to push my boob out of the way and grab the medicine dropper with his hand, I succeed by dribbling milk down my nipple and into Baby T's mouth. Latch. I relax and Baby T nurses to sleep.

I stay home from work this morning until Baby T's next feeding time. Try again with the medicine dropper. Score again. He's back. Phew.

Fast forward to Thursday afternoon. Come home from work, Baby T throws himself at my chest, go to the nursery, undo my nursing bra, all hell breaks loose. I am now fully equipped, however, and I offer him milk from the medicine dropper. It squirts into his eye. Oops. Then into his mouth. He stubbornly keeps his mouth shut. Then, "oh, what's this?" I can see him smacking his lips a little. He relaxes and opens his mouth for more. I try the old milk on the nipple trick. Hell breaks loose again.

In between breaks for reading books, trying to give him some milk directly from a cup (he takes maybe an ounce), playing in the living room, trying to feed him banana (which he refuses, but that's not unusual. He's not really into solids yet), I try to nurse him. He eventually is giving me the tight lipped head shake when I offer him the breast, the medicine dropper, the bottle, and the cup. He's onto me.

I'm angry. I am angry and hurt. I don't understand why my baby is the only one who doesn't nurse for comfort. Why is he so stubborn? Doesn't he understand that mama wants him to feel better? He's starving. But every time he so much as looks at the breast, I can see the wheels in his head spinning, and he will close his mouth and shake his head ever so slightly, as if he's telling himself, "no, that's gonna hurt." I am taking it personally, and I'm getting frustrated. Baby T knows it. Big T tells me I have to relax. I know I shouldn't be angry at my baby. This hurts him  more than it hurts me. I should be sympathetic. But as my efforts fall flat, I become less and less sympathetic.

I am angry that he takes a bottle with no problem from his dad all day long, and rejects me when I come home. Most of all, I am afraid that Baby T will never nurse again. I keep repeating a story that I read on the internet in my mind, where the baby nursed one last time, and that was the last time the baby ever nursed. I want to nurse Baby T as long as he wants, of course. I don't want to push him, but I also know that babies normally don't wean themselves until they are at least 18-24 months (according to Mr. Google and friends.) I want to nurse Baby T until at LEAST then. He's only 8 months old, and not really eating solids. He is going to need breastmilk as his main source of  nutrition for a while. And I don't want to have to pump for this main source of nutrition all the time. I pump 3 times a day at work, and it is so nice to come home and nurse Baby T. It's my meditation, my calm after a long annoying day. It's for me as much as it is for him. Breastfeeding is like a drug. Crazy hormones are driving me at this point, but I am adamant that I will fix this. I just don't know how.

He falls asleep in my wrap that night. Wakes up twice during the night. I am up with him for a while. He nurses, but quickly, and doesn't fall back to sleep. We lay around on the guest room bed. He falls back asleep in my wrap.

Friday, January 22, 2010
Hallelujah, I have the day off. Baby T nurses fine in the morning (although I am prepared now, and don't even offer him the boob without a milk squirt, medicine dropper in hand.) As the day progresses, he wants to nurse less and less. Friday evening is much of the same as the previous evenings. Frustration, anger, and refusal. By now, Baby T has learned that shaking his head means no. I am not happy with this new development. I'm so frustrated by the end of the night, that Big T  has to put Baby T to bed. Sometimes I think that Baby T becomes more frustrated when he can smell me, and is hungry, but isn't able to eat because it hurts.

I google nursing strikes that night. The common thread in all of the advice is that I need to keep my cool. Don't show your baby frustration. Don't even feel the frustration, because your baby will feel it too. Easier said and done. I am not a calm type of person. If I hold in my frustration, it only gets worse. I can practically hear the steam pouring from my ears. I am like a hot kettle, and my whistle is about to go off.

Baby T sleeps well during the night, but doesn't nurse well. Grrrrr.... I am upset and exhausted. But it's cool.

Saturday, January 23, 2010
Swimming lessons at the Y this morning! Baby T loves the water. We have a great time. After the juggling act of trying to get both him and myself back into dry clothes in the women's locker room, Baby T is bobbing at my shoulder. There are naked old ladies walking around us, one of whom is asking about Baby T's outfit. I'm chatting with her. I lift up my shirt and undo my nursing bra. Baby T latches on, and drinks hungrily.


This is the baby who never nurses anywhere but in his nursery in the dark because he is too easily distracted. I continue my conversation with the woman in the locker room as Baby T continues to nurse. Huh.

The rest of the day, Baby T continues to latch on without yelling at me (but of course I preempt all my nursing sessions with a medicine dropper squirt). But he pops off halfway through each session and arches away, refusing to come back. This newly independent and stubborn shaking of the head, cute as it is, is frustrating. But I keep my resolve. After he pops off, we play. I sneeze and cough for him. He loves that. We giggle together and play peekaboo. More giggling. This is alright. Maybe he ate more than I thought.

This continues throughout the day. Baby T nurses more often than usual, but keeps popping off mid-session. Baby T is exhausted though. The power goes out at 5PM, and we decide to put him down for a nap, thinking he will wake up at 6 and we can buy a few more hours out of him and go out to dinner.

Baby T sleeps for 9 and a half hours. He wakes up at 2:30 PM and I'm totally engorged. He nurses. He nurses wonderfully and hungrily and for a long time. I am so relieved. He wakes again at 5:30 and nurses, this time in bed. Sigh. Maybe this nursing strike is over.

Baby T has already nursed three times after waking for the day. No medicine dropper in sight. The second time, he popped off halfway through, and I swaddled him and rocked him in the cocoon while he fell asleep. I have just returned from the third time. Again, when he was done, he was done. I don't know when he will ever fall asleep in my arms again. I don't see any more of these damn teeth than I did 5 days ago. They are taking a lot longer to come out than his bottom teeth did. I don't know if I should go to work tomorrow. I'm afraid for him to take a bottle again. In my mind, a nursing mother should not have to work full time. I wish this was the way society saw it as well. I hope all is well, but I really don't know.


vivien said... Best Blogger Tips

So, my little one is just three months, but she's acting like your Baby T - howling at the beginning of a session, ending some sessions right away, ending others in the middle. She's drooling and biting her fingers, but there's no sign of teeth at all. I'm starting to worry about a nursing strike now.

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