Tuesday, March 26, 2013

baby girl, interrupted

Don't be surprised if you come to my door and find me standing on my head in a sequined dress, trying to nurse my baby.

A week ago, all the rules changed and suddenly Norah started completely losing her cool when I brought her to the breast. I DID eat substantial amounts of bok choy on Tuesday which may have caused the subsequent all-night fussapalooza, but then it carried on...and on...and on. 

Ruling out all the obvious suspects: thrush, reflux, low milk supply, illness, pain, I'm left scratching my head and contorting myself into ridiculous positions to feed my girl.

After a few days, I found that swaddling her, holding her under my arm in the football hold, bouncing my knees, and talking calmly while getting her to latch on did the trick. For a few days, that is.

I've used the "bait and switch" technique, where I get her happily sucking on a soother, then carefully lower down to the level of my breast and quickly switch the soother for my nipple.

I've waited till she falls asleep, or until she's just awoken from a nap.

In all these situations, she latches on and nurses happily and well. She is otherwise completely happy, sleeping well, cooing and burbling and interacting and using her hands with much surprise and delight.

But, if I try to nurse her in the cross-cradle position (as I've done since she was born), watch out. She arches away, screws her face up in a look of complete disgust, and screams her head off as if I'm trying to poison her. 

This is so bizarre: a formerly happy nursling needing to be tricked creatively into doing something she clearly enjoys once she gets started. It's been distressing for my husband (who still carries the wounds borne when Margot was so ill as a baby and is triggered by this whole breast-refusal routine), for the kids (who have to wait and be quiet and stay home because going out has become near-impossible), and especially for me. I breathe deeply, talk calmly, and try not to panic about what feels like not only a rejection of my milk, but of me.

The hill is steep, the boulder is big, and every step back adds more stress to the journey. Meals are simple, the laundry has to wait, and I'm just watching the calendar in hopes that this is just a phase that will pass as mysteriously as it began.

In the meantime, whisper a little prayer for us, would you?



  1. Saying a little prayer...hope it gets better real soon! Breastfeeding is SO tough!

  2. Oh my! Sending my most soothing baby-quiet-that-fuss-and-nurse-already thoughts. Also sending loving thoughts to you and your husband - I know how frustrating (and sometimes scary) this all can be. *big hugs*

    (our favorite way to nurse - with all my kids - has been laying down in bed. I will admit that I've had to have them on my tummy while I lay on my back sometimes - but mostly just side-lying.)

  3. Thinking of you all! You are such a good Momma.

  4. All the while you are trying to figure her out, SHE is trying to figure YOU out. It's a dance and it will resolve itself. Pretty sure.

  5. Oh, I feel for you. Struggling to feed a baby is so close to home :( My eldest mysteriously went through an odd phase similar to what you are describing. She was an AVID nurser so it was baffling, and it did indeed go away. For her in particular I think two things were happening, she was so much more aware of her surroundings she was reluctant to get into the "milk zone" and get going, and she also didn't seem to have ANY patience to wait a minute for let down to start. I'm sure you are wracking your brain and have gone through every possibility, you have experience on your side. C'mon little Norah, we are cheering you (and your mama) on over here!!! I hope it is all sorted soon xo

  6. I also had a similar experience with my fourth. At about3-4 months of age -the distracted nursing stage.It was a stressful time for me ( marriage was not good )and I still think perhaps she was aware of it.Like Therese above, it ended almost as abruptly as it began- thankfully she came back to breast and didn't wean until she was over 3.As a La Leche League Leader for 20+ years now I really hate the nursing strike calls and visits. You do feel often like a forensic investigator trying to figure out what is upsetting baby. Mom has just ovulated and milk taste is altered? too many visitors in the house? ear infection? most of the time you never figure it out conclusively- just support mom and baby and hope things settle back to normal soon.
    I sure wish you both the best.

  7. I was super frustrated trying to breast feed my daughter. She was tube fed and never learned to latch on. Even though the nurses insisted that she would get it she didn't. I finally decided after five weeks of trying (and crying) that it was time to give up. Best of luck to you...fingers crossed that Norah will come back around.

  8. I seriously could have written this post myself, as we've had quite the similar journey over these past few months. I'm learning to accept what is and realize that this time in my life right now has to be very simple, very unscheduled and just to let go of so many expectations I have of myself and of my little babe. Praying for you and please know I'm just a phone call away if you need a listening ear. Don't forget to drink lots of water...and breathe!

  9. I am sending lots good thoughts from vancouver island. Sounds very difficult. While I have never had this particular issue, I have had others that are frustrating too. Somehow, something about this will become clearer to you in time. Love your blog, I read it all the time and totally identify with you and your family!

  10. Hoping this resolves itself soon! I also really enjoy your blog and photography.

  11. I have been enjoying your blog a lot of late...beautiful photography and artistic family. I had a lot of issues breastfeeding my first, and some my second two--in fact, this baby went through a little bit of what you are talking about--it had to do with him getting overstimulated, I think, which happens more as your family grows...it's better now. I just had to be on top of naptime, etc...which isn't so easy. So sorry you have to go through that and I am saying a prayer for you.

  12. Holding you all up to the Universal healing Power; keeping good thoughts for resolution. Can only imagine what the family goes thru during these times of un-everything :)

    Your new header is magnificent, We have a four-month-old around all week now and he's delightful. Growing rolls on his thighs-makes me want to nibble.


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