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?