Since it has been a tough week for me, I went back into my archives for some of my first entries. As I was browsing through these, I found my entry about a nursing strike that my son had when he was 11 months. While this topic may not be directly linked to food allergies, it was an extremely stressful phase that complicated matters a bit. At 11 months, TJ was barely eating many foods due to his diet limitations and sensitivities to new textures. Therefore, breastfeeding was still his main source of nutrition. It had been about 4 months of my strict elimination diet of his allergies (wheat, oat, barley, rye, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, peas, coconut). I can’t lie… it was a difficult at times; however, I wanted to continue until another source of milk became an option. I had felt confident that I would be able to continue the diet and breastfeeding until he had his first nursing strike….
I could not wait until March (2015) was over and done with. I know we aren’t suppose to wish away our days; however, March was filled with too many stomach bugs and colds for my liking. Anyways, with April’s arrival, we also welcomed another challenge.
Let me recap and share with you what I learned.
- I was diagnosed with an ear infection and put on Amoxicillin for 7 days against my will. (I hate being on prescriptions and medication in general. I even try to avoid Advil and Tylenol… just a personal preference.)
- My son started to only nurse for 1-3 minutes, and if he got to 3 minutes, that was a lot! Before this, he would nurse between 3-5 times a day for about 8-12 minutes each time. However, he would barely even wait for a let down. He would still drink from bottles though.
- He also started to drool a lot and bite everything from his toys to his crib to his bottles to my boob several times. Ouch! One of the first times he did this with his SIX TEETH, I instinctively yelled and startled him. He also had a cough and was getting over a cold. Because of all of these factors, my son was also super fussy and clingy.
MARCH 28-APRIL 4
- Nursing strike continued. I would attempt to nurse and he would only stay latched on for about 1.5 minutes at a time. Based on the fact that my breasts were still full afterwards, I knew it could not be that he was just super efficient and quick with it now. So, I would offer and attempt to nurse. When he would refuse or only latch for a minimum amount of time, I would then go and pump to keep up my production. I was worried about my production dropping and us not making it until next month when we know more about his food allergies and if he had outgrown any. Therefore, I emailed his pediatrician and my breastfeeding friends for guidance. I was feeling so emotional about all of it, wondering what was causing it since it could be sooo many different factors.
Was this all because of his cold?
Was this teething? Getting molars a little early? (I did notice swollen gums on the top.)
Was it the cough/cold plus teething?
Was it that he preferred the bottle over nursing now? (I was worried about this one because I already pump two to four times a day. Now, I was pumping about 6 times a day. It was very difficult to keep up with. I give all you Mamas who exclusively pump A LOT of credit!!!)
Was he becoming more efficient or did he need less milk and feedings?
Was it my medication?
And the question I was worried the most about was…
Was he weaning himself from breastfeeding before we had a new plan of what he would drink at a year?
APRIL 4: Time for a New Plan
- How could this be so stressful for me? I was an emotional wreck inside all week while trying to hold it together on the outside. I kept praying for strength. I would stay so strong all day until the evening when I would finally have a meltdown about everything.
- I needed to figure out something, a solution to all of this. Therefore, on the 8th straight day of this, I finally stopped panicking and looked for answers instead. During his nap, I searched online and read a lot of websites and blogs. Some of the ones that I found most helpful are the following:
With these links, I came up with a new theory and plan:
- First of all, I learned that most babies don’t wean themselves from breastfeeding until closer to 18 months, definitely not at 11 months. Reading that was a major relief to me because I felt like I had recently taken for granted how amazing nursing and breastfeeding was. Hopeful that this was not weaning, I felt confident that we could get back on track so I devised this theory and plan.
- The Theory: I think that originally this nursing strike all started because his gums were bothering him badly because of teething. Then, he bit me and my reaction startled him. Therefore, I had to make nursing a comfortable, relaxing, stress-free environment again. I, myself, had become extremely anxious when feeding for the past 8 days, worrying about everything and anticipating that I would get bit again. Therefore, I had to be the one to change this back.
- The Plan: When he woke up from his nap, I went right in when he was still drowsy. Singing a song that always comforts him and rocking him in the glider, he nursed for 11 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other! What an amazing feeling!
APRIL 5 AND THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THE MONTH
- As I continue to rock and sing to my son when nursing, his nursing strike appears to be over! It definitely made me appreciate this whole breastfeeding and motherhood journey even more than I already did. It reminded me of how fast these past 11 months flew by and how fast the next months and years will go. This nursing strike really opened up my eyes. Since you never know when the last time with anything in life will be, it is extremely important to live in the moment instead of allowing the everyday stresses and routines to overshadow what really matters. I think I needed to be reminded of this.
Like One Republic says in their song “I Lived,”…I want to be able to say this one day…
While a nursing strike may seem like nothing to most people, it was truly a broken bone to me. However, I owned it, lived in the moment instead of my to-do lists. Heck, we even made it until 13.5 months of breastfeeding, 6 of those months on a strict elimination diet. At that point, he passed a soy oral food challenge and started to transition to soy.
Looking back at this memory, we smile on… learning to embrace the moments… for they make some of the most amazing memories….