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.