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. 

Advertisements

Fuck You Coxsackie: Nursing Strike Hell

So poor little Dumplin’ has hand-foot-mouth disease (coxsackie virus). It was diagnosed on Saturday morning by a walk-in pediatrician based on the vesicles (sores) on his throat. These sores were probably what caused him to initially stop nursing on Thursday, because it hurt to suck and swallow. But now it’s Tuesday, and aside from some promising experiments with peanut butter, he has been on a total nursing strike. Like no boob at all. Not even when asleep or tired. It has me in tears every single day, and more depressed than I’ve been since I was 20 years old. 


Now, I’ve scoured the internet for information on nursing strikes, and everything out there seems to be pretty general and overall unhelpful so far. 

The experts all agree that:

– there are many causes of nursing strikes (teething, illness, change in routine, being frightened after biting during nursing)

– most babies under age 1 don’t normally self-wean and will return to the boob after the nursing strike

– pump so you don’t lose your supply 

– try not to take the rejection personally

– create closeness with your babe (baby wearing, skin-to-skin, bath with your babe)

– try nursing when babe is asleep or sleepy 

This is all fine and dandy, and I’ve tried all of this but I’m having a lot of trouble.

– my boobs don’t respond well to pumping. Over the course of the past 6 days, I’ve managed to go from nursing 6-8 times a day (probably 24-30oz), to 20 oz, to 18 oz, and to 12 oz today (combined pumping and nursing). So my supply is plummeting, and quickly. It’s been 6 hours since I’ve pumped/nursed and my boobs don’t even feel full right now.

– everything I’ve pumped I’ve bottle fed to Dumplin’ who surprisingly takes a bottle now, and seems to LOVE it (shitty timing). He’s getting about 24 oz of breastmilk a day plus 2 meals of rice cereal + a protein (salmon/chicken/beef) + a vegetable/fruit. He also absolutely LOVES food. Like freaks out over how awesome it is. Remember how at 6 months I complained that he hated food, then at 7 months I complained that he only liked finger foods and not purées? Well now at 8 months old, he loves EVERYTHING. 


– I’ve tried everything to bring Dumplin’ back to the boob. I offer every 3 hours, which was our nursing schedule up until last week. He has rejected me every single time. I have sneak attacked him in the middle of the night when he’s asleep. No dice. As soon as I get him into a nursing position, he wiggles like crazy, trying to sit up, then pushes against my chest and turns away. If I don’t help him sit up, or offer him boob again, he cries. Since I was all worried about him starving, I offered him a bottle after each rejection, which he very eagerly accepts. Now, he looks around for the bottle in anticipation. It’s clear that he prefers it. 


The trouble is that I’m not ready for him to wean, but it’s starting to look like he might be now that he’s discovered food and fast bottles (we even give him slow flow newborn nipples).  I made the mistake of talking to my mom about this and she said that my sister and I both self-weaned early. Me at 4 months and her at 7 months. We’re at 8 months now, but I had hoped to go for at least a year, aiming for longer. I know I’m making this more about me than about him, but I just know that both of us would benefit from extended breastfeeding. I am so jealous of all of you with your boob addicts. It’s even hard for me to watch DW nurse Mochi. It hurts my heart. 

So for the last day or so, I’ve been progressively trying to encourage Dumplin’ to get closer to the boob. At the beginning of the strike, he wouldn’t even allow skin to skin with my boob against his cheek. Yesterday, I was feeding him the bottle with the nipple beside my nipple. Today, DW had the idea of enticing Dumplin’ even more by putting peanut butter on my nipple. Well, he took it, and I hand expressed milk into his mouth and he started sucking. He was long overdue for a nap after his swimming lesson, so he was tired. He ended up nursing until he fell asleep, and I just held him, holding my breath, so scared that I’d wake him and he’d push me away again, crying. He slept in my arms for about 10 minutes and then woke up a little and I switched him to my other breast. He nursed on that one for a few minutes, and I finally exhaled with relief. Then he woke up, realized he had my nipple in his mouth, pushed it out and then wiggled out of the nursing position. I quickly transferred him to his crib and he slept a solid 2.5hours. When he woke up, I smeared a little peanut butter on my nipple and he nursed a little again. “Hurray!” I thought. “Strike’s over!”


Ugh.

I was wrong.

Before his next nap, I tried the PB trick again, and he refused and cried. 

I tried again 3 more times. Rejected.

I then ran a nice bath, soaked and played in the tub with him, and then offered when he was relaxed. Nada. Rejected. Heartbroken.

Normally, he nurses to sleep before bedtime. It’s the last part of our routine. So I offered again then. Rejected and tears. So DW warmed up the last of my freezer stash from 3 months ago, and he very excitedly guzzled it down. It breaks my heart that he prefers lipase-digested previously frozen breastmilk from a bottle over the fresh, sugary yummy milk from my breast. How am I not supposed to take that personally?

Anyways, I’m having a rough time. I’m actually concerned  that I’m becoming depressed because of this. I’ve zero motivation to work out (very unusual for me), to do anything, to interact with my wife and Mochi (it’s too hard to watch as he cluster feeds and is super boob needy when it’s what I long for with Dumplin’).

I want things to return to the way that they were two weeks ago, when time seemed to slow down… Nursing my boy as he drifts off to sleep, him holding my finger as I take in his sweet smell. His warm body curled up in my arms and up against my waist. Our breaths in sync, hearts beating side by side, reminiscent of the days when he was still inside my womb.