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. 

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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.