Sunday, March 4, 2007

Rufus Is a Tit Man

Beckett, however...not so much.

It's hard for me to believe that this is happening already, but sadly, my baby boy seems ready to wean. He'll be three months old in two days. It's too soon. I'm simply not ready. But he is, pulling away, struggling, getting angry and frustrated each time I put him to the breast. For the last three days, every time I've tried to nurse him he has given it a lame, half-hearted effort, nursing but a few minutes before patently rejecting me and the nourishment my body offers up.

Before having a baby, I never realized what a complex, challenging, and emotional act breastfeeding could be. I had never known anyone who breastfed their babies or if I did, I never paid much attention. When I got pregnant, I read copious volumes on breastfeeding. I received instruction from our doula who even brought a doll for me to practice with. I thought nothing could be more natural than a mama nurturing her tiny babe with her own mother's milk. And, of course, I believed that breastfeeding was the right and only way...everything I read said so. Everything I read said what a terrible mother I'd be if I gave my child formula.

Of course, it probably goes without saying that I had trouble breastfeeding Brendan. He couldn't latch on, I wasn't producing milk. He became jaundiced and the pediatrician had him on formula before we even left the hospital. We struggled for 12 weeks of me feeling like total shit because I was a failure as a mother. At least that's how I felt because my body wouldn't do the one thing I thought should come so naturally. And the La Leche League told me so. Not in those exact words, of course. Actually, what the LLL representative told me when I called for advice was You're poisoning your baby by giving him formula. The alternative? Not give him anything other than the tiny bit of milk I was producing and eventually my milk would come in.

Finally, on the day he was baptised, the day he turned 12 weeks old, Brendan flat out refused to take the breast again. I was a little sad as it was a bit of a surprise. I was committed to continuing to try. But, after the long struggle, it was also a bit of a relief. I still felt like an abject failure at mothering, but at least it was over.

This time the breastfeeding has gone smoothly and been a joy despite the fact that I have had to supplement. This time the problem wasn't that my body didn't cooperate, but rather that we just had a very hungry boy whose metabolism required more nourishment than I could provide. We made it for two full weeks before adding formula to our routine. Beckett has nursed well and seemed content up until this week. Now, here we are, right at 12 weeks, and the little man suddenly seems to look at me the way I look at Brussels sprouts.

I feel like I gave it my best try this time and unlike with Brendan, I am planning to try nursing him one last time, a chance to say goodbye to a ritual, a gift, that has meant everything to me. I no longer feel like a failure as a mother and I am grateful to God and my baby for giving me that.

Still, knowing he's my last, it would have been nice if he could be my baby just a little longer.

7 comments:

A. said...

If you want to stop breastfeeding, that's perfectly fine of course. He'll be okay and you will have given him three months, which is a great start in life. If you do want to continue, however, there are several things you can do to get through the "nursing strike" and resume your nursing relationship with Beckett. Breastfeeding.com has a great community of folks who can be very helpful, too. Either way you are being a good mom by being sensitive to your baby's needs.

dawn said...

Thanks! I do want to continue breastfeeding. I was really shocked when he started acting this way. I decided after going to bed last night that I should call the lactation consultant who helped me the first week or two when we figured out Beckett wasn't gaining weight. She and his pediatrician were incredible and we were able to figure out that I was producing as much milk as a baby his age should need and he was latching on and getting it. That's when his ped. decided he just has a higher than normal metabolism and needed the formula to make up the difference. It made me feel more comfortable giving him formula because his doctor is totally committed to breastfeeding (she nursed twins) and doesn't like giving formula except in cases of absolute necessity.

I'm going to call the LC (I tried breastfeeding.com earlier and none of their links worked so I couldn't get to the articles on strikes.).

Hopefully, we can delay this a little longer.

Thanks again!

A. said...

oh good, I'm glad you have an LC you can call. They are just wonderful. He's right at the age where he should be in a growth spurt, so the nursing strike does seem a little odd at this particular time. I'm sure there is something that the LC can recommend, though. If you ever need to boost your supply, you can always "stage a nurse-a-thon" where you literally do nothing but nurse for 48 hours. Take the baby to bed with you and pile the snacks and water up beside the bed (along with some reading materials), line up some help with your older child, and literally go to bed and nurse and sleep and nurse and sleep, exerting no other energy on your part except to nurse. Nurse as often as your baby will nurse (skip the formula during that time) and as long at a time as he will stay latched. Keep the baby right beside/on you and build up that skin-to-skin contact time, too. If you stay hydrated, your body will react in about 48 hours to that kind of schedule and kick into some kind of overdrive that increases milk production. It's really, really hard to do with an existing child who demands mommytime, but I did it with both children at least once in their first 3 months (although it felt like an act of Congress trying to do it with my second one b/c my first was so demanding!), and it made all the difference in the world with my supply and my ability to keep nursing them exclusively for the first 5-6 months. Good luck; I hope the LC is helpful and we can get this little guy back into his regular nursing habits.

A. said...

Not to totally hijack your post, but here are a couple of other links that may put your mind at ease or give you some ideas:
http://www.askdrsears.com/faq/bf6.asp
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/baby/back-to-breast.html
http://www.medela.com/NewFiles/faq/Nursingstrike.html

again, I don't want to be a pain about it, but I did want to offer any help I could. I used to be a "lay" lactation helper (I ran our county's breastfeeding support group for a while), and I know how frustrating it is when you want to nurse and can't seem to get the support you need.

good luck and many blessings on you and your little nursling.

Jen said...

I hope this comes across as the way it's intended 9as postive encourgment) and not as a guilt trip or pressure. I just really want to support you in nursing your little one. My daughter went through a nursing strike when she was about 3 months too and it was the most frustating thing! For about 2 weeks she acted like she wanted nothing to do with nursing. I felt like a faliure!

So I'v been there. And I don't want to sound like I'm judging but I just want to throw an idea or two out there. I've been told many times that some babies will chose the bottle over the breast because the bottle is easier to drink out of. The way to fix this is to offer the breast and only the breast. Obviously you have to watch your baby to be sure he's not losing weight but most babies will not starve themselves when they have access to nursing on demand.

It's what I had to do with my little one and it was hard but enventually it worked and we went on to enjoy 14 months of nursing together!

Again, I hope this has come across the right way. I'm a big supporter of breastfeeding and I just wanted to offer a few words ofhelp. Good luck!

dawn said...

Hey! Thanks for all the wonderful advice.

Things are actually going better today. I'm not sure why it turned around, but glad it did.

A., you're right about the growth spurt. He definitely is having one. He's wanting to eat every two hours.

I also think he's teething and wonder if that has anything to do with it. He's a slobber machine right now and when he does nurse, it feels like tiny razor blades slicing my flesh.

Anyway, thanks again!

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

oooohhh that is hard! but I agree with a. that babies - esp young ones - can go on nursing strikes. my son did it a few times - and he LOVED breastfeeding. I nursed him till he was 16 months and then I initiated weaning due to some antibiotics I had to go on. but he did give me a couple of rough patches when he "striked."

good luck though - and whatever happens, your baby will be just fine! :)