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Sad.

Hey, do y'all mind if I cry on your blog shoulders for a minute?  I've been crying on friends' email shoulders too, but I'm just so despondent about this.  I need to talk it out.  Maybe someone out there has been through this before.

Victoria has stopped nursing.  (Sob!!)  Sunday morning, at 5am, she nursed her last and has refused me ever since.  She's been rejecting me here and there for the last week as my milk supply has been lower (although, incidentally, today saw a slight increase in my supply, thanks to Fenugreek and crazy amounts of pumping), but Sunday morning was the end for her apparently.  And she's not just placidly turning away from me.  No, no.  She's biting.  Biting without even latching on first.  I offer her the opportunity to nurse; she responds by biting down on me and pulling away (OUCH!) and then crying hysterically as if I'm trying to feed her arsenic.

Now, maybe everyone reading my blog who has had babies were glad to wean whenever the babies felt like it, but I really wanted to keep nursing at least until a year, and hopefully beyond that (even if it was mostly for comfort).  And until the last week, we have enjoyed a rather good nursing relationship.  I've nursed her until (as of last week) she began to just refuse the breast because [I presume] I wasn't producing as much.  (My "monthlies" returned several weeks back, maybe that had something to do with it.)  Thursday, for example, the baby was at Keith's folks house all day long, so I had to pump.  In 5 pumping sessions I got a grand total of 8 oz.  Eight.  Measly.  Ounces.

Now I was never a champion milk producer, but I could definitely produce enough for her to eat plus a little more.  Every growth spurt so far we've weathered through famously.  She has seemed to enjoy nursing.  Until she started biting a month ago or so.  She'd bite so hard that I'd end up yelping and pulling her off.  Literally, it was that bad.  Teeth marks.  I know I scared her a few times, but we did end up resuming a somewhat normal nursing relationship, although trust was a little guarded.  For the most part, she nursed ok, because when she was actively nursing, she couldn't really bite me.

I knew she was probably teething, so I had patience with her.  She has 8 teeth already; I figured molars were next and I knew they were doozies.  But recently, her bites are no longer just "ow, my teeth hurt and I want to chew on something" kind of bites.  She's biting on purpose.  And she's not playing either, which is what she used to do when her teeth first came in.  She's biting me purposefully, then getting angry that I'm not giving her something else to eat.

As of about Tuesday last week, most times I'd try to nurse her, she'd bite me a few times, then settle into nursing.  Most of Friday, most of Saturday, and all of Sunday (except the 5 a.m. nursing session), she would bite me and pull off and cry.  I was getting to be in some serious pain over it.  I've tried just putting the "girls" away and saying "no biting" and then trying again, but that didn't work.  I tried thumping her lightly on the cheek, tapping her mouth, saying "no biting" in a firm voice and calm voice.  But instead of doing what most said she would do (which was realize that she won't get to nurse if she bites, and thus stop biting), she seemed to say "Oh, ok, no problem.  I don't need you anyway."

I thought perhaps I'd inadvertently got her hooked on the bottle.

But until my milk supply began to decrease recently, I rarely gave her a bottle.  Even when she had that ear infection a month ago, she refused both bottles and breast -- so it's not like she got used to a bottle during that time.  She even gave up the pacifier cold turkey.  She did, however, have to be given water for a little while as she was on the verge of dehydration...which we gave her in a sippy cup, and she has had a bottle of water from time to time, although she doesn't drink much from it.  Could that have caused her to give up on nursing?

Then I thought maybe she's just going through a huge growth spurt.  She seems obviously hungry these days.  Saturday night, for example, she had an 7 oz bottle of half breastmilk and half formula before falling asleep around 9pm.  By 2am, she wanted another 4 ounces, which I had to give her in formula because she wouldn't nurse and was crying too hysterically for me to pump first.  At 5 am, she was awake again and nursed for the last time.  (Sob!)  Some have suggested that she needs rice cereal in her bottle at night because she needs more sustenance.  Does she?  Who knows.

Some others have suggested that she might be self-weaning (but I hear that's a rarity among babies under a year).  If so, my heart might break.  I'm not really ready to give up nursing.  What I do know, however, is that she is often reaching for my plate at dinner and seems to constantly want to be fed.  I've tried keeping "solids" simple -- bits of avocado, carrots, peas.  But nothing that you could even call a meal.

So I've attempted to do all the things to renew her enthusiasm in nursing.  I've tried nursing her when she's sleepy, half-asleep, and even sound asleep.  I've tried co-sleeping, skin-to-skin, nursing while bathing, nursing while in motion.  Every single time, she either cries because she knows I'm trying to encourage nursing, or she just bites me violently and then cries.  She's even bitten me through my shirt and bra!  Have I inadvertently caused my baby to be violent?  Do I not spend enough time talking to her, rocking her, playing with her, bathing her, feeding her, and otherwise showering love upon her?

Should I keep trying to nurse her, even though she bites me?  I'm afraid I've been hurt so bad by it that I'm going to have a hard time nursing her without being tense.  That might be contributing to the problem though, and I'm willing to do whatever I need to.

I wish babies came with an instruction manual.

Sigh.  This is really very hard for me.  I feel like my heart's going to break.  Maybe it seems silly to most people, but for someone who doesn't know if she'll have another child, I've been cherishing every little moment.  I don't want to miss anything.  And I don't want our times cut short.  She, on the other hand, seems happy as a lark.  I'd never want her to stay a baby, but still...I thought I could enjoy at least some comfort nursing for many months to come.

Anyone have any ideas?  Tips?  Hope?  Prayer?

10 comments:

Mrs. G said...

no advice but here's a (((big hug))) I'm praying for you! :-)
Paris

Rachel said...

Oh dear,
I am so sorry and I feel for you. But I do have a little hopeful story! My little man is a year and a few weeks old now. He went through a HORRIBLE violent biting stage a month or so ago. He would do exactly what you said, not a nice little nibble and a smile - all out mean biting. I would cringe and of course scare him and that would be the end of our nursing session. I remember when this was happening I laid on the bed one Sunday afternoon and just cried. I told my husband I didn't want to be finished. I am not sure if we are to have another one so like you, I am relishing in it. My husband was sweet and supportive, but I think he had no idea how devasting it was for me.
Anyway, we had a few non-nursing days (he does not have a bottle and I was getting worried!) and then for about a week the only nursing he would do was in the wee hours of the morning, when he was still somewhat asleep. If I could catch him just when he was stirring and waking up, but not fully aware, I could get him to nurse without biting, without rejecting. But if he was awake enough to know what was going on - there was no way.
I was of course worried about my supply, so I tried the best I could to keep my flowing.
After a week of touch and go, he all of a sudden found some manners. I am not sure what happened or how, but we moved back into nursing. He kept one eye on me to see if I would jump and cringe, but he didn't bite. Trust came back thankfully.
Now we only nurse once in the morning, once right before bed, and one feeding during the day. I am thankful we worked things out, because I was not ready to give it up yet. I didn't nurse my others this long - they wouldn't have me after 11 months.
It drives my father in law nuts that I am still nursing, but he lives 2 hours away and this is my family.
I am so sorry you get to deal with this emotional event. It seems silly to others, but I know exactly where you are.
I am not sure what advice to give you, just do what YOU think you should do and try to keep things happy. Wow, I rambled. Sorry. I wish you the best and I WILL pray for you and your sweet little miss.

Lauren said...

I wish I had some advice, but we don't have kids. I will be praying for you. Sorry you're having a rough time.

Lauren

KaReN EiLeeN said...

My babies are 16 & 21. One I nursed for 15 mos. (His decision) and one 6 mos -- again his decision.

This is really your first lesson in learning they have their own little minds and will make their own decisions no matter how much you wish it were different. Your heart is being strengthened for a lifetime of helping her grow up......what is the saying...giving her wings...
I know your sadness though....wait until they drive and go away to school........it comes so fast.....

Sarah A said...

Oh, I'm so sorry for you! When I am blessed with children I want to nurse them for at least a year too, so I can see this is painful to you.

Maybe you two just need a pause, and you can start nursing again in a while? It's been known to happen before.... and many women can get their milk production going again, if they work on it (speaking as the nurse here). The amount you are able to pump out is not near the amount the baby gets while nursing, so you probably have more than you think.

No matter what happens, you have my support in this. Hugs and prayers!

Patricia said...

Have you contacted La Leche League? I was a member back in the 80's, and they were so very helpful with all aspects of breastfeeding. If you Google "La Leche League" with your local town, you can easily find a local mom who has tons of info to help you.

I live in central Texas too, and have been following your blog due to my love of sewing, especially period costumes. God bless you, and I pray that this will all work out for you and your sweet little one.

Tiff said...

(((hugs)))
Parenting is a hard thing, especially realizing how fast they grow up.

Have you changed anything in your diet? Maybe your milk is tasting "off" to Victoria. I know with my newest little guy who is 2 months old, that I can't eat grapefruits or red grapefruit juice(which I love) because he gets fussy when he nurses. I think it changes the milk flavor.

I wish I could tell you something to make it all better, just be patient with her and know that she isn't rejecting you, she's just growing and changing.

AntfarmMom said...

I linked here from Romantic History's blog. I am a mother to ten children ages 22 down to one. I would like to tell you to add alfalfa tablets to your fenugreek and it will boost your milk supply better.

About the biting, I would tell her NO! sharply and let her calm down and then offer her again to nurse. I would try every thing I could to get her to nurse if you don't want her to wean.

Also, a call to LLL is in order. They are so good with nursing mothers and have so much knowledge.
And, I would take a pregnancy test as well right now because sometimes they will do this if the milk is changing or something like that.
Good luck with her.

Amy said...

Thanks for the many comments (and prayers) ladies!

Praise God, I've seen a *slight* improvement since I posted this, as I was able to get Victoria to nurse down for her nap yesterday and once today. Both sessions had to be done lying down (unusual for us), and both were very short because she basically fell asleep -- but any nursing helps at this point.

I did notice that today's nursing session was *slightly* longer (more effective?) than yesterdays.

If she's awake at all (ie: regular feedings), she Does Not Want anything to do with nursing. Advice from LLL is to limit any supplemental feedings from a bottle or anything that requires sucking -- cup, dropper, anything else. And then hopefully it'll draw her back into wanting to nurse.

Thanks again for your prayers. It means more than you know.

Zebu said...

Amy,

I'm so sorry to heart that; how tough that must be! While I don't have an answer, my babies all did the same thing (without the biting-though they bit me plenty and pulled while biting just as you state) at around four months. They would suck and then turn away screaming. This would happen over and over. My gramma apparently had a similar problem, and the doctor told her that her milk was sour. Well, I'm pretty sure that that would not be a reason, but there is something not good going on to make them do that. I have wondered for years what the problem was and thought I had figured it out a while back but don't remember what it was!

I was able to continue nursing them all until they were a year, and it has been so long ago that I don't remember how we got over that hump.

I think that maybe hormonal changes may have something to do with it and changing the milk as others have said.

Best of luck to you; I know how your heart is hurting. {{HUGS}}