I’m trying really hard to get back into the swing of things. 🙂
This breastfeeding thing is hard. Seriously. I thought all the hard stuff ended at 18 weeks. Ha! So, SO wrong.
Last week O took a 2 day breastfeeding “break.” From 10 a.m. on Thursday until 3 a.m. Saturday morning, he nursed twice. This is a kid who usually nurses every 3-4 hours. He missed about 7 feedings. I spent most of the day on Friday trying to get him to drink expressed milk from a sippy cup, because I was so worried about him becoming dehydrated in the 80+ degree weather. (For the record, he wasn’t really interested in the sippy cup, or the bottle N tried to give him. All the literature I read said to try to avoid bottles during strikes, but I finally relented because I was so worried about the TWO wet diapers he’d had in the past 24 hours.)
What was more striking than worrying about him, was how devastated I was by this sudden shift from breastfeeding. I was very surprised by my reaction. I’ve spent many, many hours over the past 11 months thinking about weaning. I thought about it a week after we came home from the hospital. I thought about it when he was 7 months old and still waking up 3 times a night to nurse. I thought about it when he would nurse for HOURS in a day. I thought about it when N started giving him a bottle at bedtime a few weeks ago. All that thinking did not prepare me for how invested I’ve become in this nursing relationship.
If you had asked me last week how important breastfeeding was to me, I would have said, “Eh…it’s just what I do. I don’t really have any feelings about it.” In fact, thinking about it right now, I don’t feel anything special about it. I do not wax poetic about the mother-baby dyad. I don’t talk about the special bond breastfeeding creates. Which is, apparently, because I’m in denial.
After he took a bottle from N Friday night, I spent a few hours sobbing in bed. I kept thinking that this.could.not.be how weaning was going to happen. The suddenness of it was awful. To offer to nurse him, only to have him turn his head was heartbreaking for me. While I understood, logically, that this wasn’t my fault, it was very hard for me to understand it emotionally. Of course this was my fault. It was me he wouldn’t nurse from. (It didn’t help that a lactation consultant I had emailed for advice suggested that the bottle he’d been occasionally getting at bedtime, or the sitter he goes to for 4 hours a week might have caused the strike. Both of these things were instituted because I was getting to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. Had I put my own needs ahead of my child’s, and was now paying the price? (Which is a whole ‘nother mind fuck – how much of my existence do I owe my child?))
O woke up to nurse around 3 a.m. Saturday morning, but that was a feeding he had taken the night before, so I didn’t get my hopes up that he would resume nursing as usual once the sun came up. Around nap time, he and I went into his room turned the lights off, got comfy in our nursing chair and I offered to nurse him. He latched on without hesitation. I felt such a sense of relief. It literally flooded through me – this relaxing wave of security.
Though the strike is over, I’m still nervous every time I offer to nurse. I’m scared he’s going to turn his head again, rejecting me.
(Plus, on Saturday night he bit me. He drew blood. It hurts every time he latches on. Worse than any pain I experienced in the early months. I’m afraid if he doesn’t turn his head, he’s going to bite me. I’m walking a delicate line right now.)
I’m afraid O and I are in the beginning of one. 😦
Yesterday he nursed, as usual, just before his nap around 10 a.m.. He didn’t nurse again for the rest of the day. I offered several times, and each time he would turn his head.
I was perplexed by it, and a little worried, but not overly so. I figured when he went to bed he’d definitely want to nurse, since he nurses to sleep. But he didn’t. He put his mouth near my nipple and started to cry. Big, mouth open, frowny lips crying. So I put him on my shoulder and patted his back for a little bit, and then offered again. Same response. It broke my heart, and I started to cry too.
Instead of nursing to sleep, I walked with him. With tears running down my cheeks, thinking to myself, “I am so sorry that I ever wished this away.”
I don’t know what precipitated this. I remember that he bit me a few times today as I offered, but I don’t remember having an extreme response. I’ve read that a dramatic response can scare babies, and cause a nursing strike. Maybe I wasn’t as calm as I thought I was. Maybe he’s teething, or doesn’t feel well.
I’ve been thinking about weaning lately. Not in any serious manner, just knowing that’s it’s potentially on the horizon. I’ve assumed that I wouldn’t have any overly sentimental feelings about it. That I might miss it, but that I would welcome the end. And maybe I will. But not like this.
I’m trying not to think about tomorrow. I’m hoping that by the time this post is up, he will have woken and nursed eagerly, as if nothing had happened.
I know every parent says this, but I can’t believe how big and engaging O had become. Every day it seems like N and I sit and say, “Can you believe how big he is? It seems like just yesterday he was a little lump in my arms.”
He does all kinds of stuff too now. He’s a climbing fool. He climbs into any drawer he can open. Yesterday I caught him climbing up the chair that his high chair is strapped to (he made it into his high chair), and he’s desperate to figure out how to get his leg up high enough to climb into the bathtub. (ETA: Yeah, he figured out that if he grabs the faucet he can totally haul himself up on the tub ledge.) And he gets down off the couch without any help at all.
Last night he signed “more” while N was feeding him dinner. Hysterical, because he kept signing it like N wasn’t getting the food to him fast enough. “Faster, man. Can’t you see I’m HUNGRY!” Which is sort of funny in itself because he’s really sort of “meh” about food. He’ll feed himself a few pieces of cheese, or fruit, or chew on a pickle, and then start throwing the rest of it off the side of his high chair to the eagerly waiting dog.
He dances when he hears music. By dances I mean baby head bangs. N’s phone ringer is set to play a Pearl Jam song and anytime O hears it, he stops what he’s doing and bobs his head. At the fair last weekend we stopped at the music tent and he was rockin’ his body back and forth, like Ray Charles playing the piano.
I’m surprised he’s not walking yet – though he’s pretty close. Of course, I thought he was pretty close a month ago. He stands and squats, and maybe takes a step or two, but always resorts to crawling instead.
In related news, he’s just about grown out of his infant car seat. Choosing a new car seat has, not surprisingly, sent me into a whirlwind of information gathering, and review reading. I’m terrible at making these kinds of decisions because there are too many choices.
Woah! O will be one year old in one month! I guess I should plan a party, huh? I’ve never planned a kid’s party before…Oy.