Dragging across the finish line…

E. is refusing to nurse during the day. Point blank, not a chance, not at any point during the day. Not before naps, not after naps, not before bed, nothing. The only time he will feed is at night (and at least he is still doing that twice). If I offer, instead of just pushing away like he used to, he lunges in, bites down with all eight teeth, and then yanks off.

I’m not going to sugar coat. It fucking hurts. I’m mainly surprised he’s only drawn blood once.

It happened so fast. We went from two or three feeds during the day, to two, to one, to zero in the space of four days. And then the flat-out refusing and biting coincided with my mum and stepfather visiting.

There were many, many tears shed in the Turia household last weekend. I’m on a more even keel now, basically because I’ve been in touch with lactation consultants and they have reassured me that a) E. is not going to dehydrate given he will drink water or expressed breast milk from a cup and he is eating lots of food, and b) his nutritional needs are being met as long as he is gaining weight and is content. So it’s not a crisis situation…yet. Because the concern, as always, is that he will drop those night feeds before his first birthday.

But I’m not going down without a fight.

There are two possible explanations for what is going on:
1) E. is weaning himself- he is eating SO much solid food and is SO busy all day long that he simply isn’t interested in sitting still to nurse. He’s feeding at night to make up the extra calories.
2) E. really would like to still be nursing, but my supply has dropped so much that he doesn’t think it’s worthwhile, given he’s been spoiled by my ultra-fast letdown. He’s feeding at night because that’s when my supply is at its highest.

The lactation consultants are adamant that it is #2, given they don’t believe that any baby actually wants to wean before 18 months or so. My mummy friends think it is probably #1, and everyone has a story of a friend whose baby weaned at or just before the year mark.

I’m on the fence. E. has been gradually losing interest, but this whole-scale rejection happened so quickly, and came at a point right when I’d been away from him a lot during the day and we’d missed some feeds, that it wouldn’t surprise me if my supply had tanked. And as soon as he started refusing, it just got worse.

Regardless, I have to protect my supply enough to keep the night feeds going until he hits the year mark. So over the last few days I’ve put a plan into action. I’m taking fenugreek and blessed thistle- three capsules each, three times a day. I just started Domperidone- three pills, three times a day. I’m drinking more water and eating oatmeal. And I’ve borrowed a pump from a friend, and I’m trying to pump at least twice a day, if not three times, right around the points where E. used to feed. That milk goes into his Rubbermaid cup with the straw and flip-top lid so he can drink it throughout the day. He’s doing pretty well with this, which is reassuring. Even though I know dehydration isn’t an issue, it is nice to see him taking in fluids.

Pumping isn’t too much of a hassle. I’m getting 4-6 oz at each session. It feels a bit weird to be doing this for the first time when my baby is 10 and a half months old, but oh well. We do what we have to.

The way I see it, if I increase my supply, and E. still refuses to come back to the breast, than I’ll trust him that he knows what he wants. I’ll keep pumping to be able to offer breastmilk during the day and to protect the night feeds, but I’ll expect him to stop altogether when I cut the night feeds at the year mark. If it turns out he was just complaining about the supply, then I’ll stop pumping once he comes back to the breast, but may stay on the herbs/meds until the year mark. It’s also possible that he will start nursing again during the day when I cut the night feeds, but I’m not risking that until we’re past the year.

I’m still offering the breast, but if he just lunges, I put it away again and we just go about our day. The biting has got better. He’s also biting me like crazy during the day too- on my shoulder if I hold him, on my knee if we’re on the floor, etc. His baby friend who was born on the same day is doing the same thing (less the nursing bites) so that is probably developmental (if annoying).

The hardest part has been accepting that my baby may want to wean, even though I am manifestly NOT ready for him to do so. But that is part and parcel of parenting- letting them grow up and assert their own wishes and ideas.

I feel better having a plan. I know I can get him through to the year mark, regardless of what happens afterwards. But this has seriously been one of the worst weeks as E’s Mummy thus far.


Filed under Baby, Food, Nursing

4 responses to “Dragging across the finish line…

  1. ARGH! LCs (that kind) make me SO MAD sometimes! Not every baby shares their agenda, and in this wonderful world of clean water and safe, plentiful food, that’s not a problem!

    Plenty, plenty of babies — yours truly included — wean themselves before a year. I did it at nine months, as did my same-age cousin and my best friend’s baby. And Yet We Live. Of course this might make YOU feel bad, but other than that, there is not some kind of terrible problem. I am so pissed at people who make mothers feel worse about this than is already so often the case. SO PISSED!

    I’m sorry this is frustrating and hard and sad. Of course you should pump and so on if it’s what YOU want to be doing. But the implication that not doing so would somehow be wrong is just…wrong.

  2. Turia

    Yeah, the lactation consultants are just weird sometimes. And bloody minded. “No babies wean before 18 months.” They just insist that babies who wean earlier didn’t really WANT to wean, but their mums’ supply tanked so they lost interest.

    I find it hard to believe that my supply would just drop off a cliff for no reason given it has always been more than adequate for what E’s needed. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that his feeds dropped as his solid intake increased.

    But regardless, I have to keep him nursing/drinking breastmilk to the year mark, because his paediatrician feels the formula ship has sailed (since we’d have to use the non-soy/dairy stuff which tastes awful), and we can’t transition him to milk yet since he’s still intolerant.

    I actually don’t mind the pumping and herbs and whatnot. But I do mind the mummy guilt. Because I have worked my ass off to keep E. breastfeeding all this year: radically altered my diet and got up at minimum twice a night since he was born. And I don’t like that they are making me feel guilty (in my head, not that I am in constant contact with them) about not constantly offering up my breasts to be chomped on.

    Their advice included such gems as “take the baby to bed with you”, “use lots of skin-to-skin” and “carry the baby around with you in a sling”, as well as, “take a relaxing bath with your baby”. I felt like writing back and saying, “Did you miss the part where I said this baby was a very active 10 and a half month old?! When I told Q. this, he fell about laughing at the idea that we could somehow take E. to bed with me and that would fix things. When we do bring him into the bed on a Sunday morning it usually only lasts for about five minutes before we’re both so tired of trying to keep him from a) crawling off the bed, b) beating us up or c) mauling the cat that it’s just easier to get up.

  3. smellymeli

    I think other people’s opinions are one of the hardest parts of being a parent. EVERYONE thinks they KNOW EVERYTHING. And really? Every baby is so dang different, it is infuriarting to give a “one size fits all” answer.

    I was DEAD set to nurse L a full year and I don’t care what anyone says, she did lose interest. That last month was more for me than her. Once I started giving her cow’s milk in a cup, she could have cared less about breast milk. I know people think it is detrimental to wean a 1 year old but really? It was not in our case. And she is a MARVELOUS eater who has always been incredibly healthy and strong.

    The part where you realize that those tiny humans have their own wants and desires and won’t always do things your way? That part is HARD. And, boy, it gets EVEN HARDER as they get bigger. Insane, really.

    I applaud you for adapting to the situation and just figuring out what works best for you. That’s really all you can do. You are an AMAZING mother and only you know what the best plan here is.

  4. Pingback: It Gets Better | Res Cogitatae

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