Monday, April 14, 2008

Walking the Picket Line

Ruthie is evidently unhappy with the conditions here, so she decided to stage a 19 hour nursing strike. She didn't nurse from 2pm on Sunday until 9am this morning, but I didn't figure out that it was a nursing strike until yesterday evening around 7pm. According to La Leche and kellymom websites, it was classic:
  • Is baby rooting and indicating other signs of wanting to nurse but not latching on?
  • Have baby and mother recently experienced a disruption in their normal nursing routine?
  • Is baby teething?
  • Does baby seem to have a cold or other illness?

Check, check, check and check. Grimace, sigh, sob, and "oh shit."

It was awful - she wouldn't nurse but would take the bottle from David. This meant that we both woke up twice during the night. I would try to nurse her, she would arch away from me and scream, I would try again, she would scream harder. David would come down and feed her a bottle while I pumped. Worse yet, I was getting only an ounce or two from pumping, no doubt because I was so freaked out. My bre.asts were full but I couldn't let down. I was aching, literally aching to feel her little mouth pulling the milk out and feel her little hands holding on to the sides of my bre.ast, holding me to her.

Intellectually, I knew it was a strike. Emotionally, I was horrified and terrified. I don't know how to mother a baby without nursing. For me, it is one and the same - sustaining life physically and emotionally. In spite of all my compaints about waking up in the middle of the night (to be fair, I don't complain about waking up 1-2 times, it's the 3rd and 4th time that drive me crazy) I would have gladly stayed awake last night if she would have nursed.

And you know my husband, the one I am so, so hard on? He was perfect. He held me while I sobbed and even shed a tear or two of his own. He read La Leche and kellymom websites with me. He said all the right things: "It won't go on forever, at least she's still getting your milk, it will be okay, I'm so sad too" and thankfully he didn't say that wrong, horrible thing that I DID NOT want to hear "maybe she wants to stop breastfeeding." I couldn't have asked for a better partner to have gotten through this.

I called the breastfeeding center at 8:31 a.m. (They open at 8:30). As I was waiting for them to call me back, it seemed like she was hungry. I set the bottle of milk on the table and went to pick her up and she started rooting. I thought, "what the heck" and put her to my bre.ast. Blessedly she latched on. I started crying and Esther started saying she wanted out of her booster seat. I told her she could have another muffin and color on her booster tray if she would be quiet (both things that are typically not allowed) and she looked at me like I was crazy.

The facts: Most (but not all) babies don't self wean until 18-24 months or so. And when they do self-wean, it's typically a gradual, peaceful process. Nothing like the violent response I was getting. Given our positive responses on the check list above, I'm not surprised it happened.

David rented a hospital grade pump for me today. I'm going to use it for a couple weeks to ramp up my production and get a little stocked away.

I couldn't even contact the Milk Moms, my other b'feeding friends or my mom or sister until it was over. It was odd - normally I reach out immediately, but I didn't even want to speak of this out loud.

We've had a low key day - no errands, just lots of time for hanging out and latching on. Disaster averted.


sleepy_mama said...

I'm so sorry that happened to you. It sounds awful...I wonder why the little ones do this. I mean, what need does it serve for them?

How was your night away? Good sleep or did you miss your girls?

Thrift Store Mama said...

Ah yes, the night away that I believe may have been one of the causes of the strike. It was fabulous. The last thing I remember was getting into bed around 11pm and the next thing I knew it was 5:30am. I missed Ruthie while I was pumping, but other than that...Um no, I didn't really miss them although I did wonder if everything was going okay.

Fiona said...

Oh I remember Kara doing this. We were on vacation so I didn't have a freezer supply at the ready. It's so odd that you never think of what it could be at the time. Then it's so obvious. But it's still extremely upsetting. Go David - he has been superdad and superhusband of late. Your girls are very lucky!!

Blogging tips