Monday, July 20, 2009

Boobs Are Back to Work

As noted in my most recent letter to Harry, the nursing strike appears to be over, at least for now. It ended as quickly and as inexplicably as it began. One day, ten/eleven/twelve/thirteen days in (I wasn't counting in the beginning, not realizing it would last so damn long), I offered before his first nap, and he nursed rather than biting.

The night before, at the suggestion of a lactation consultant, we did a dream feed, and he gladly took a boob in his sleep. That was the only real change that occurred right then. But, for the sake of anyone who may stumble upon this, here is a list of what we tried, none of which seemed to make much of a difference:
  • Cutting back on solids, especially at dinner-time
  • Cutting back on daycare bottles, in the hope that he'd be hungrier at home
  • Switch back to slow flow bottle nipples to reduce the likelihood of bottle preference continuing
  • Paced bottle feeding (at home -- I didn't ask his daycare provider to do it)
  • Not having me give a bottle (i.e. bottle only comes from Daddy or Miss M; if you want Mommy and milk, you have to nurse -- we had only just switched to this, so this might have helped too)
  • Offering the bottle first to satiate some of his hunger, then switch to the breast (this resulted in a lot of biting, except one time when he nursed)
  • Trying every imaginable position
  • Changing up the times of his nursing sessions, including while sleepy and while just waking (from naps -- the one nursing session he had kept was when he woke in the morning)
  • Fenugreek to increase supply
  • Breast compressions to speed up flow
  • Increased skin to skin time
  • Only nursing with the window open (this may have helped, as he still is more apt to bite if the window is closed -- at some point I realized that his morning nursing was always with the window open but the rest of the day/evening it was often closed)

We had long ago eliminated nursing anywhere other than his room, in the glider, with no distractions. The only recommendations we didn't try were nursing in the bath (I probably eventually would have gone there too) and co-sleeping.

I have no idea how to express how much this experience sucked. To quote the email I wrote on one of the last days of the strike: "I'm honestly just feeling completely worn out, exhausted and rejected. Since I went back to work after being home with him for 6 months, I was able to get over some of the guilt of being away from him all day by coming home and having this time that was just for us. But now instead of finding me comforting he bites me and today has begun to cry when I hold him. It's just painful, physically (from the biting) and emotionally. Here I am, an overeducated lawyer at a big law firm, and I cry myself to sleep at night because I feel (irrationally, I know) like my son doesn't need or love me any more. I just want there to be a solution, a way to get back to where we used to be, but I'm starting to realize there just may not be one, and I just feel so sad."

I'm glad this chapter appears to be over, at least for now. Inevitably, of course, he will now decide he wants to nurse longer than I want to, like, say, until college, bringing on a different set of guilt and stress issues entirely. But we'll deal with that when/if we get there.


Jen said...

I am so glad! Hooray!

Nicky said...

I am so happy for you and Harry! That is fantastic news. And wow, that list of things you tried brought back a lot of memories. Who are the people for whom those things work? And for the record, our LC told us that two weeks is some sort of magic mark -- if they're not back after 14 days, it's a lost cause. Sounds like Harry came to his senses just in time!

DD said...

Before I BF, I had no idea what the big deal was out of poor latches, sore nipples, strikes...

When I went back to work and couldn't nurse ZGirl anymore? That was harder than I thought, but I used work as my excuse. I really get it now, and I hope you and Harry enjoy renewing that relationship only a nursing mother would understand.

Photogrl said...

I'm happy to hear that Harry has stopped the strike.


Dr. Grumbles said...

Glad the strike is over.

JAG is not on a strike, but she has gotten very inconsistent. Sometimes she'll only drink from a bottle, others she'll only drink from the breast. It can be exhausting. When I go back to work (soon!), I can't imagine telling the daycare, "Well, this might not be a bottle day..."