Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Strike of July '11.

My son is on strike. A nursing strike that is.

Beware. There will be talk of boobs, nipples, breastfeeding and more in the following post.

It all started with some thrush. The boy was up all night for a few nights in a row, nursing non-stop. I might have stayed in a sweaty sports bra too long a few times. Circumstances conspired against me and I felt the tell-tale burning feeling of thrush along with hot pink nipple to boot. I dutifully started my probiotics and grapefruit seed extract. Instead of getting better or staying the same, it got worse and fast. I cried when I took a shower from the water hitting my chest. Nursing was extremely painful.

It was time to pull out the big guns. The gentian violet. Gentian violet is a remedy for thrush that I have found to be effective when nothing else is. The big problem with it is that it turns everything it comes into contact with bright freaking purple. Really. The last time I used it was a few years ago when I was tandem nursing both my boys. The baby didn't care what color it was, but the 2 year old thought it was fantastic that his brother's mouth was purple. He couldn't nurse enough because he wanted to be as purple as possible. Did I mention we were going to one of my grandparent's funerals that day?

So, this time around, I nursed the boy to sleep one night, and then applied my purpley cure. We nursed overnight and in the morning when he first woke up no problem. I thought all was well, until I went to nurse him down for his nap later in the day.

He took one look at my bright purple Barney boob and pointed. "what dat". It's mommy's medicine. "You blue." Well, yes I am purple. "You blue, nooooo." Do you want to nurse?  "Nooooooo!" This was followed by an hour of screaming, crying, rocking, and doing anything else I could to help him fall asleep for naptime.

For the next few days this continued. He nursed late at night if we brought him home almost asleep, and it was too dark to see my lovely purpleness. He nursed once in the morning when he was groggy and not paying attention. But awake and aware, he will not go near me if nursing is the topic.

The purple is nearly gone now; it's just the tiniest tinge, but still he won't nurse. We tell him it's all gone, and he gets excited, but once he goes to nurse and sees my nipple, you'd think it was trying to bite him. Mama's gonna get a complex here.

So here we are in the middle of a nursing strike. Something I've never really experienced before, except for maybe a day or two with my first son when he was still a baby. He is 2 years and 4 months old. People have said, "great, wean him!" or "I don't understand what's wrong, you nursed him long enough." I understand they are well-meaning, but I believe in the benefits of child-led weaning. It was a wonderful experience when my older son weaned at 3 years 10 months. Then, I knew it was the right thing. I knew he was ready.

Sure, between ages 2 and 4 is a common age for weaning. And while most weaning occurs rather gradually over time, children have been known to wean quickly and abruptly in the same way that some children learn to use the toilet and ditch the diapers seemingly out of nowhere. The problem is I just don't know. If I knew this was all him doing this and not my purple Barney boobs, I still might be sad and a little uncertain. Because I figured we had at least 6 months to a year before this happened. It makes bedtime and naptimes a nightmare. It shortens our cuddle time in the morning. And, it would be the end of a 4.5 year continuous stint of breastfeeding. I'm not sure what to do if I'm not a breastfeeding mom. But in the end, if this was on his terms then I'd know it was right and that I met his needs in the best way possible for as long as he needed it.

To make the situation worse, I leave tomorrow morning for 3 nights away. It's a trip planned with friends, and he has always done very well when I was gone picking right up with nursing when I returned. I've gotten more than my fair share of flack for leaving my attached nursling previously, but he is also the son of a very attached co-sleeping daddy and a devoted grandmother who now lives with us and has always met his needs. It's not the same as mom being there, but we've all gotta make decisions. Considering the last time I left the kids, I was violently ill for the first 48 hours as a result of sheer exhaustion, I think they are better off for me taking a trip every once in a while for some much needed rest and recovery

However, tonight, I sit here knowing that the few seconds he latched on this morning before figuring out that I was still vaguely purple may have been the last time he'll nurse. It makes me want to cry, throw up, and admittedly even rejoice all at once. Weaning wouldn't be so bad, but I don't want it to happen like this. I'll be crossing my fingers and dragging my pump and my fenugreek with me on the plane so that I can make sure I have milk for him if he wants it when I return.


  1. <3 you!

    not much else I can say. I have no advice, no experience. no help.

    you are a fantastic mom!


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