Back to Nursing Normalcy- Recovering from Hand Foot Mouth (Coxsackie Virus)

*Sigh* Where to begin?

I’m sitting in the kitchen wearing an apron, the back of my hands splattered with bacon grease from the bacon I’ve been frying up for our Cobb salad. Dumplin’ and Mochi are asleep. Things have been pretty heavenly today for us. We went to the gym and had a great workout, sipped on some homemade chicken soup for lunch, and my in-laws are here to watch the babies tonight as we go see the Tragically Hip for what is quite possibly the last tour they’ll ever be on. 

And perfectly crispy bacon. There’s nothing quite like it. (My apologies to the veggies and vegans out there…)

Anyways, a very nice follower left a lovely comment today which inspired me to post after a lengthy hiatus from the blog. After our Hand-Foot-Mouth-Disease nursing strike HELL, Dumplin’ and I have finally found our groove again with nursing. Here are some things that I think helped us “rekindle” things:

1. Persistence- it was heartbreaking every time he rejected me (I honestly cried and felt like giving up every single time it happened), but I’d keep offering him boob every 4-6 hours, usually before naps or bedtime.

2. Positioning- sitting down in our glider to nurse him was a bad position for us for some reason- he seemed to freak out as soon as I sat us down and never gave nursing a chance because of it, so I had to try something different. Side-lying in bed, in the dark, with a noise machine on was the only thing that worked. And it couldn’t be me bringing him into the room- that gave him too much time to get distracted. It had to be DW who brought him into the room and I had to be side lying, ready with a boob out to receive him. Setting up the perfect nursing scenario was quite an ordeal, I know, but if I managed to get him to latch and stay latched, I was literally crying happy tears (so it was worth it).

3. Tricking him with a Nipple Shield- it’s kinda ironic that for the first 8 months of his life, Dumplin’ refused to take a bottle, because now, he friggin’ loves them. He loved them so much when he had Coxsackie that he preferred them over my boob. Thanks to Hound Mamas for suggesting that we try a nipple shield to lure him back to the boob. It was what turned things around for us- from “all out nursing strike” to “I’ll consider sucking a boob, maybe”. I’d hand express some milk into a nipple shield, hold it over my nipple, lure the baby to latch, and after two sucks, I’d swiftly take it away and shove my nipple in his mouth. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t, but the times that it did were worth it (again, happy tears). We also tried peanut butter on my nipple to lure him, which is kinda weird, but also worked a couple of times until he realized that he could just lick it off and unlatch.

4. Timing- my kid is super distracted. Even in the middle of the night he’s doing weird things like sitting up to clap 4 times between changing sleeping positions. So if I took too long to set up to nurse, or if the room was too lit (so he could see all the cool things in his room), or if I spoke to him (reminding him that there were people to see or things to do), or if he was too awake, my chance at getting him to lay still was gone. So I watched the baby monitor with obsession and as soon as I saw signs of impending waking (usually he wiggles his fingers and toes before he wakes up), I’d yell to DW that she needed to grab him, and I’d go “set-up” in my side-lying on the bed position (with curtains closed and noise machine on) to receive him. Or I’d wait until he was asleep at night and try to dream feed him. Seriously. I woke my sleeping baby so that I could nurse him when he was at his least cognizant. It’s kind of sick, I know, but it was the only way I could get about 12oz of breastmilk into him.

5. Bed sharing- our nursing relationship took a bit of a hit due to sleep training, and I discovered that the reverse was true this past month at the cottage. Dumplin’ and I had to share a room because my in-laws were staying at the cottage too, and I ended up inadvertently bedsharing with him in the bunk beds a couple of nights because it was more comfortable for my back than nursing him in the middle of the night while sitting on a hard kitchen chair. This ended up being the best thing for our nursing relationship. He started to want to nurse before naps and sleep again. He started pulling on my shirt when he wanted comfort from nursing. I think that since I let him nurse as much as he wanted in bed at night, it became his norm again, and over the course of five days at the cottage, he went from nursing maybe 4-5 short sessions a day to now 7 long boob-emptying sessions a day. I know that doesn’t seem like much, but it really is. Now, I don’t sleep as well with him in bed, since I’m constantly worried that he’s going to crawl off the bed and injure himself, so now that we’re home, he’s back in his crib. I do still do dream feeds at 11pm, and 4-5am to make sure he gets his milk. I am in no hurry to get him to sleep through the night, since the boob crutch is what is keeping him nursing.

Anyways, I think that’s it. I’m over the moon that he’s nursing regularly again, and that he’s even asking for milk by tugging my shirt. I’m hoping to nurse him as long as he’ll let me. It’s been one of my favourite parts of our relationship so far, and I’m so grateful for it. 

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A Much Needed Update

Our hands have been very full ever since Mr. Mochi arrived 7 weeks ago, so I’m sorry for not posting in a long time. Things have been tough, but improving day by day as we figure out a routine for our little family. 

Mochi is doing well. Him and DW have figured out a sustainable breastfeeding routine, and she’s also pumping a bottle a day for me to feed him when she goes to the gym. He’s growing so fast, but differently than his big brother. He’s skinnier, but very looooong. He’s filling out, forming little rolls, but his limbs seem to be growing disproportionately more. This kid is in 6 month pj’s now, at 7 weeks old. So far he’s super different from Dumplin’:

– Mochi WILL sleep in his bassinet, though he prefers to bedshare so that he can nurse all night and sleep nuzzled into DW’s bosom

– Mochi very clearly communicates when he wants something: if he’s cold/hot/dirty/hungry/wants a cuddle/doesn’t want a cuddle. Dumplin’ never really did complain if he had a dirty diaper. He didn’t even cry to be nursed, so I just nursed him all the time. 

– Mochi is okay with being by himself. We can lay him down on the bed, bassinet, or playmat and he’s okay with it. Dumplin’ hated being by himself, so we held him/wore him all the time. If Dumplin’ was upset, all we’d have to do is cuddle him, and all worries went away.

– Mochi will take a bottle. His brother refused bottles. The same with pacifiers. 

Mochi is still sleeping at random times throughout the day, making nighttime difficult for us. I’m still struggling with insomnia at night, so when I am finally able to fall asleep, I’m often super frustrated when I am waken up by his grunts. Because of this, I’ve moved into the spare room to sleep at night. I feel bad leaving DW to care for Mochi by herself all night, but it didn’t make sense for both of us to be sleep deprived because we also have a demanding Dumplin’ to entertain all day too. Despite our new sleeping arrangements, I’m still not sleeping well and needing to take Benedryl every night to fall asleep. The Orlando mass murders have me really shaken up as well, and I just feel uneasy and upset overall. Plus, some challenges with Dumplin’ lately. More on that below.

Sadly, like Dumplin’, Mochi also seems to have very large and frequent spit ups. DW has gone dairy-free for a few weeks now, so we’re waiting to see if it helps like it did for me and Dumplin’.

Dumplin’ has been changing so much lately. He is 8 months old today. He has been rolling like crazy- from one end of the carpet to the other. He isn’t crawling yet, but I have been seeing the beginnings of it… Pushing his bum up and sometimes resting on his knees. 

He’s loving food now too. His favourites are Chinese chicken ginger congee (rice porridge) that I make from leftover chicken and rice, Vietnamese pho, and broccoli. He’ll pretty much eat anything now though. He doesn’t love sweet things though, definitely showing a preference for savoury flavours. Now that he’s discovered a love for food, it seems like other activities pale in comparison. He plays with his toys with mild/moderate excitement, and meal time is his absolute favourite. He was having 2 meals with us daily, but then I noticed his nursing motivation dropped significantly, so we reduced it to just dinner time. Since he’s 8 months now, we were going to increase it to 2 meals a day again, but recently he’s been on a nursing strike.

In the past month, Dumplin’ has dropped 2 nursings- a daytime nursing and a nighttime nursing. It had me incredibly sad, but I figured it was normal. So we were down to 7 nursings a day: morning upon waking, AM before 1st nap, noonish before 2nd nap, PM before 3rd nap, before bedtime, a dream feed when I’m ready for bed, and then a feeding at 3am. But then, yesterday, he refused my breast multiple times, only nursing 3 times the entire day. He also refused my boob before bed, and the two other times I offered in the middle of the night. In fact, I would get him in our regular nursing position and he’d cry super hard. It’s like he was scared of my boob. It’s been the same all day today. He’s consistently refused 5 nursings so far. I’ve been pumping to relieve the pressure in my breasts, but I’m not able to drain them fully because I don’t respond well to a pump. I’m so worried that I’ll get plugged ducts and mastitis again. I keep offering him the boob, and have been feeding him bottles of pumped milk right after I pump it.

I’m super heartbroken over this. I’ve spent the night crying and not sleeping because I feel like he’s rejecting me and I’m worried that he’s going to self-wean soon. I suspect that it’s probably teething, but I’m not sure why he’ll take a bottle and not my boob? I’ve loved breastfeeding- it’s been one of my most favourite things about being a mom so far, and I had always hoped to do extended breastfeeding. I’m so sad not to be nursing him right now, and am praying that he gets over this nursing strike soon. 

Anyone else experience a nursing strike? What was the cause and how long did it last? I need some support right now because I’m feeling all the feels and it’s got me really down.

 

Dumplin’: Sleep Training Day 5

Yesterday evening was kind of a funny one. Baby boy was super fussy during the late afternoon, but wouldn’t take more than 30 minute cat naps. By about 5:30pm, he was yawning and clearly wanting to sleep but we didn’t want to mess up his nighttime sleep by letting him nap so late, so I strapped him into the Ergo360 and we took a quick 20 minute stroll through our neighbourhood with the big dog. I had him front-facing so that he could watch the comings and goings of cars, look at the houses, observe Juno (the dog) sniff and pee on things, and ultimately so that he wouldn’t fall asleep but was still having a good time. DW was really tired and had a nap while we were gone. Her pregnancy symptoms have gotten really uncomfortable lately. She’s 35.5 weeks pregnant now, and everything is super swollen, and her pre-existing shoulder impingement has gotten much worse. It causes severe numbness and now pain in her arms, and keeps her up. She’s also got that lovely pregnancy insomnia that I experienced towards the end too. It’s funny- we’re often both up at 3am enjoying another meal and having good conversation- me because breastfeeding while weight training has made me a hungry beast, and her because she’s in her third trimester. 

Anyways, another good night for Dumplin’:

Sleep Training Day 5: 

6:38pm start

Sleep wave in minutes: 11

Fussed at 7:25pm, 9:30pm, 2:30am

Total time until sleep: 11 minutes

Feedings: 9:30pm, 2:30am, 6am

Wake-up: sometime around 7:15ish?

He gave me a 5-hour stretch between feedings at the beginning of the night! Too bad I was up with DW watching Insurgent and not sleeping. He fussed at reasonable times, to which I responded by going in and nursing him. Our nighttime nursings have been so sweet and special to me because I miss him so much at night. Many times I’ve daydreamed about pulling him back into bed with us, but I know that that’s just for me, and he’s actually fine and better off in his crib. I think he’s getting more restorative sleep in his crib, and he was sorta waking up every time we rolled over or moved, got up to pee, etc. At nap time yesterday afternoon, I was tired and took him into the spare bedroom with the intention of nursing him to sleep for a nap. I knew it was kind of a bad idea in some ways, but I really missed the closeness with my boy, and I also wanted to see if we could have some flexibility in this regard, without messing up his sleep training. Interestingly, he nursed side-lying, but unlatched himself when he was done. He then just laid beside me playing with the top sheet, kicking his feet, as he does. It made me sad that my old strategy of boobing him to sleep didn’t work, but I was proud of him for having broken that association in 4 days!

This morning, Dumplin’ woke up at around 7-something, and when DW went to his room for his morning routine, he was swatting at the aquarium, trying to turn it on! Funny guy. He just melts my heart. 

 
Our boy with his little dog. 

Dumplin’: Sleep Training Day 4 

  
Lots of good learning happening in the Mama et Maman household! Dumplin’ fussed (no screaming or real crying) intermittently for only 12 minutes last night. I took the dogs out for an evening walk as DW put the little man to bed, and when I came home, all was calm and quiet. Apparently, right at around the 11-12 minute mark, DW watched Dumplin’ turn off his aquarium on the baby monitor! At around 2:45am, I heard him fuss, and went in to nurse him. After we were done, I went back to our bedroom and watched him on the baby monitor as he was waving his left arm in the direction of the aquarium repeatedly until he turned it on again! He then watched the aquarium as the music played, the lights flickered, the water bubbled, and the fishes danced. He soon fell back asleep and didn’t wake until 8am. That’s almost 5 hours! I’m so proud of our sweet boy for staying positive as we encourage him to self-soothe and look within for comfort.

Here are our stats from last night:

Sleep Training Day 4:

7:30 pm start

Only intermittent fussing, hit the aquarium to turn it off right before falling asleep

Sleep wave in minutes: 12 

Total time until sleep: 12 minutes

Feedings: 10pm, 1:20am, 2:45am (fussed before, and afterwards- turned on his aquarium on his own)

Wake-up: 8am

Now, I’ve had a couple of questions about what a “Sleep Wave” is, and I’m sorry that I haven’t explained it until now. It’s a term used to describe the check-ins that form the basis of the sleep training method described in The Happy Sleeper book. After putting babies down for the night, if they cry, you start timing and check in on them once every 5 minutes of continuous crying. Each cycle of (cry for 5 minutes–>check-in) is called a Sleep Wave. Now, we didn’t time our Sleep Waves the same way as the book recommends though, since Dumplin’ seemed to become more upset each time we went in, which made us think that maybe he needed more than 5 minutes to switch from looking to us to soothe him to looking inward for soothing, so we went with gradual check-ins, where the time you wait between check-ins increases. There are a bunch of different sets of times recommended by different sleep training methods. So technically, we weren’t doing the 5-minute Sleep Waves as prescribed by The Happy Sleeper, but I liked using the term because it nicely described how many “rounds” of checking-in we had to do.

Here’s a cute photo of our sweet and happy little boy, wearing his new ear muffs!

  

Dumplin’: Sleep Training Day 3

Last night went much better than the first two nights (which weren’t even that bad). I hope that we’re turning a corner here. He fussed minimally about 3 hours after each nursing session though, which might have been his way of telling us he’s hungry. At 5 months old, I thought he’d be able to last longer than 3 hours, but seeing as how he’s had an all-you-can-eat nighttime nursing buffet since birth, I accommodated his requests. I hope that he naturally starts to nurse more during the day though, and/or goes a little longer between feedings at night so that I can get a good chunk of continuous sleep. Right now, I’m sleeping in 2 hour increments due to these nursing sessions, and I’m soooo tired. I estimate that I only got about 6 hours of sleep altogether last night. This is less sleep than I was getting when we were bedsharing, and I hope that we find a way for me to get more sleep again. Waking up to feed him, then going back to bed and waiting to see how he settles just takes so long. Hopefully, with time, I can do the nursing sessions and fall back asleep quickly. 

Here are my notes from last night:

Sleep Training Day 3:

7:25pm start

Crying started right away

Sleep wave in minutes: 11, 14

Total time until sleep: 25 minutes

Feedings: 10pm, 2am (fussed, and required a sleep wave before), 5am (fussed, and required a sleep wave before)

Wake-up: 8am

Also funny was that at the 5am fussing, Dumplin’ had learned how to turn on his aquarium! I turned on the baby monitor and noticed that the lights were going and watched him repeatedly hit the on/off button at the front of it! 

  
The aquarium:

  

Dumplin’: Sleep Training Day 2

Not a lot of time to post, but last night was different than the first night. Here are my notes:

Sleep Training Day 2:

6:55pm start

Intermittent fussing/crying 

Sleep waves in minutes: 7, 8, 12, 14, 14

Total time until sleep: 1 hour 13 minutes

Feedings: 11pm, 2:15am, 4:45am

Wake-up: 8:30am

Unlike the first night, Dumplin’ didn’t cry continuously this night, but rather kinda fussed and cried on and off. He also fussed a number of times in the night, and DW had to sleep wave him once or twice. Now I’m not sure if it’s because we responded to one of his fusses (the 2:15am one) with a nursing, but from 4:45 until about 5:30am, he continued fussing.

Now, I really have to give props to DW for being the one who does the sleep waves with Dumplin’. We figured that as the milky mama, it would be more difficult on him to have me coming in to do the gradual checks, because we’re trying to break his nursing sleep attachment. So we did the beginning of his bedtime routine together- nurse, bath, coconut oil massage, and PJ’s, and then I took the dogs out for a walk while she put him to bed and did the sleep waves.

  
We are more tired today because last night was  a bit more challenging for us with all of the fussing, but we all went to the gym today (Dumplin’ went into their childminding for an hour to see some friendly faces and socialize with his friends), and then took him for his first swim in the pool! He was really good- didn’t cry, and was just taking it all in. We held him in different positions and DW showed me the proper way to bring a baby into and out of the pool (she used to lifeguard and also taught parent and tot swimming lessons as a teen). We start swimming “lessons” with the city in a week and a bit, so we thought it would be good to get him acquainted with being in a pool. He was super cute in his swim diaper, but sadly, I didn’t manage to get a photo. Maybe next time!

Anyways, here’s to hoping that swimming relaxed him a lot, and that sleep training tonight goes better. 

Dumplin: 5 Months Old and Sleep Training Day 1

Time flies! I can’t believe our sweet boy is already 5 months old. We’ve really seen a lot of new skills this past month, which I guess explains the “stormy” 4 month leap as per the Wonderweeks. This past month has been really challenging though- with him being fussier than normal, and his diaper patterns changing as well. He went from a pretty predictable every-other-day to now 3-4 times a day pooping schedule. We were using cloth diapers part time, and have taken a break from it due to the unpredictability of poopsplosions, but will start putting them back into rotation again. I love using the Applecheeks brand with my homemade bamboo fleece inserts. We will definitely be cloth diapering more frequently once the weather is warmer because we only have one pair of pants that will fit over Dumplin’s fluffy bum! 

We noticed significantly less spitting up about 2 weeks ago, and so I started reintroducing dairy again this week. So far, we’ve seen no reaction- no spitting up, no change in diapers!! I won’t be gorging on gluten-free cheese pizza anytime soon (or will I? Hmmm….) but we might be growing out of this acid reflux!! Woohoo!

Teething is still a byatch, and the little bugger has been biting me a lot when he’s at the end of a nursing session. 

He still won’t take a bottle, but we’ve had some success with introducing the sippy cup. He doesn’t know how to suck it though. He just bites at it and waits for the breastmilk to ooze out, which happens extraordinarily slow, so he gets frustrated. The little bugger also started reverse-cycling over a month ago. He only nurses maybe 3 or 4 times a day (because he’s distracted)- and not long ones either- and then sip sip sips his remaining calories all night when bedsharing with us. I didn’t realize this was a thing until recently. I guess that’s why he was even more clingy with nursing at night than previous months.

  
Things Dumplin’ can do now:

– sit unassisted, though not all the time

  
– sits in his high chair

  
– holds objects more steadily now

– grabs objects from you if you pass it to him

– can roll onto his sides, and has rolled from tummy to back ONCE

– has found his thumb, and enjoys sucking on it!

– has started forming an attachment to his lovey, who we’ve named “Forrest”

  
– enjoys his playmat and bouncy chair again, enjoys the exersaucer, but LOVES the Jolly Jumper

  
– has the best giggles, and crescent moon eyes when he smiles and laughs

At 4 months, Dumplin’ was fitting into 9-12 month clothes, but we had these footed Carter’s PJ’s that just seemed to have ridiculously long and skinny legs. He’d fit them in the torso, but his feet would only reach the ankles of the legs so it looked like the jammies had broken ankles. Well, it seems that our boy has had a major growth spurt over the past month, because now he fits the jammies perfectly. I’m kinda sad because he’s less chunky now. His muffin top and pot belly are gone and have been replaced with abs (no joke- the kid is starting to show off some really good muscles), his leg are long and his thigh rolls are less voluptuous, and believe it or not, he actually has a neck now! His cheeks are slowly disappearing too… So sad. Baby boy is growing up.

Here are his stats for 5 months old:

Weight: 20.0 lbs (up 14 oz from last month) 

Height: 72.5 cm or 28.5″ (up 6 cm from last month) 

  
Sleep Training 

So we had planned on starting a week ago, but I got sick, and was worried that he was sick, but he miraculously didn’t get what I still have. Yeah, it’s been almost a week now and my throat is still itchy and sore, I have a nasty postnasal drip, runny nose, and now a productive cough. I feel like shit and have had to skip the gym a couple of days this week. Sleeping sucks because I’m gagging from the coughing. I haven’t been sick in so long and had forgotten how much it sucks! 

Anyways, the week went by and it seemed like Dumplin’ was fine, so last night we started sleep training him for bedtime. Daylight savings time kicked our ass, so it wasn’t until about 8pm that we started his usual bedtime routine: bath, coconut oil massage, pj’s, and then a nursing. We wanted him to be tired, so we let him Jolly Jump before we started his bedtime routine.

Then we turned on some white noise, wound up his mobile, turned on his aquarium, and placed him in his crib with Forrest.

Then we waited in the living room, watching him through the baby monitor linked into both of our devices. 

We both timed his cries, and DW went in to do the sleep waves following a gradual check-in process of increasing wait times.

Here are our the notes that I took from last night: 

Sleep Training Day 1:

9pm start

Sleep waves in minutes: 5, 7, 12, 12, 12, 12, starting to slow down… 6… Quiet

Feedings: 11:45pm, 3:45am, 6:45am

Wake-up: 8:44am

Total minutes of crying: 1 hour 6 minutes

Total time until sleep: 1 hour 20 minutes

Of course we (DW and I) didn’t sleep last night. I have been so used to my 8pm bedtime with him, and we were both glued to the baby monitor that we couldn’t settle easily. We watched Scandal and the Mindy Project so that we weren’t focused on his crying, and sat in the living room together to talk it all out. 

Reciprocal Love and Hound Mamas were awesome supports during the evening, and texted with me to keep me motivated. At 11pm, we got ready for bed, because it had been quiet in his room for a while. Then I snuck into the nursery and dreamed him. I hated waking him up, but we decided that it was better to wake him up than respond to his cries because we’re trying to get him to self-soothe more and break the dependence on the cry-we-come-fix-it association he currently has. So I woke him to feed every 3ish hours to make sure he wasn’t hungry, I changed his diaper, and then put him down awake. I tip toed out of his room, so nervous that I’d start hearing screaming soon, but I didn’t. He didn’t cry at all. I was shocked.  

In bed, I missed my little snuggly boy. I missed his warm little body pressed up against mine, his smell, hearing him breathe. It was weird having space back in our bed. I hugged a pillow tight and curled up around it like I would my baby boy. I also only half-slept, because I wanted to be aware enough to hear him if he cried, which he only did once in the night- at 6:45am, which was probably due to hunger because he quieted down and went right back to sleep after I nursed him. At 8:44am, we heard whimpers, so it was time to start the day. 

Overall, it was a lot less painful than we had both expected. I am so grateful for the support from Reciprocal Love and Hound Mamas, and the Happy Sleeper for explaining how important it was for Dumplin’ to learn to self-soothe. 

Day 1 down. I hope day 2 is even better, though I’ve read that sometimes it’s worse because of the extinction burst effect. Fingers crossed that day 2 goes well….

Stay tuned!