Posts tagged nursing strike

The other side of hell

After three of the worst nights we’ve endured since Hugo arrived, his nursing strike seems to be over.

It started because his mouth hurt after his fall, but even once he’d returned to eating normal food and drinking water happily from the Foogo, he did not want to breastfeed. Actually, that’s a gross understatement. He developed an aversion to breastfeeding so intense that I really thought he would wean suddenly and permanently.

He refused passionately on Thursday afternoon and evening. He refused flatly on Friday morning, when I had rather hoped he might give in as that morning feed is the one he is most eager for. He showed utter disdain for the very notion throughout the day on Friday and didn’t even consider it on Friday evening before bed.

Each attempt was met with tears and frustration, generally from both of us. He took a vast amount of effort to settle and getting him to sleep was a nightmare.

On Friday night, about 36 hours after his last breastfeed, I knew we were reaching a critical point. At 16 months (nearly) I figured he might decide not to bother going back to the breast, but I wasn’t ready to give up. I know he would never have weaned at that point had it not been for the fall.

So on Friday night I slept on a mattress next to his cot. I knew the best chance of getting him to nurse was to catch him when he was just stirring. At the first whimper, I brought him into bed with me. No go. He wouldn’t even face me.

Same thing the second time around – he turned over, snuggled in, and went back to sleep (previously unheard of).

The next few times he still adamantly opposed nursing but couldn’t settle himself either.

By 4am we were wandering around the house, both exhausted and out of ideas, while he cried and cried and cried.

Eventually we went back to his room and I sat on the floor in the dark with him cradled in my lap. He let me – and that was the first time he’d even agreed to be held in that position. About 15 minutes later I was able to latch him, but he did not suckle at all. Eventually he went back to sleep.

The next morning I was hopeful of trying him again as soon as he woke, but Hunter came barrelling in and he woke with a start and the opportunity was missed. He refused to nurse that morning, and before his sleep.

But that afternoon he latched again. And that evening he comfort nursed for a few seconds. And yesterday morning he took about half a normal feed.

By lunch time the boob monster was back. Yesterday afternoon he even came running across the playground, ignoring all sorts of exciting play equipment and children and fun to NIP for the first time in a long while.

Before all this happened, I thought I didn’t mind when he weaned, as long as it happened some time in the next year or 18 months. Now I realise that I don’t want it to happen any time in the next three to six months at least.

Meanwhile, he’s learned nothing at all from the fall. He’s taken two big tumbles since – the first one got him a badly grazed nose and the second busted his lip.

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Hugo and the humpback

The baby whale I posted about yesterday is dead. He was killed this morning by a group of vets and other so-called experts who deemed it too late to save him after dithering about while he starved for days. I am so sad that I can’t put words to it. I had to spend five minutes in the car park at the shopping centre this morning after hearing on the news that the deed had been done.

Maybe it really was too late, and maybe it really was inevitable. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. All I know is that he was just a baby and he spent his last few days hungry and scared and now he’s dead.

And I am projecting even more now than yesterday because today the whale is no longer desperate for its mother’s milk, but my baby is.

Yesterday Hugo had a terrible fall, landing face first on the concrete. The force pressed his top teeth upwards into his gums. There was blood oozing out around them and he cried for longer than I have ever known him to cry. We took him to the children’s hospital but they said there was nothing they could do for him and we just have to keep him on soft food and pain medication till it heals.

But he hurts so much. And what really hurts him is breastfeeding, the thing he has looked to for comfort since the day he was born.

Yesterday, he tried a few times and gave up in pain and frustration. Overnight he cried pitifully for hours, too scared to nurse but needing to be comforted. Today he won’t even try. I’m grief-stricken at the thought that this might lead to him weaning, when neither of us is ready.

I’ve been doing everything that everyone suggests in a nursing strike, and nothing is having even the slightest impact. If I lay him back, he won’t even turn his head in my direction now.

This could be the end of a very happy breastfeeding relationship, and it’s my own fault.

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