Monday, March 23, 2009

Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! Non-Union Boobs Have Got to Go!

LL has decided that his wages are too low. He wants more benefits. Better hours. He's sick and tired of The Man (me) keeping a strangle hold on the working masses (LL). So, he's on strike. We have a full-on nursing strike on our hands. Since Thursday afternoon. And it sucks. Big time. (S has made it clear that he's more than willing to be a scab -- he'll happily cross the picket line in order to get access to my breasts for the first time in a long time. But S is also acting as mediator to try to negotiate a new contract, and that's no way for an impartial third party to behave.)

We've gone through periods before, usually when the teething is at its worst, when LL fusses while nursing. Suck, pull away, cry, root, suck a little more, cry, suck some more.... That sort of thing. But this nursing strike? This is a whole different beast. He screams as soon as I sit down with him in the glider. He arches his back away from me, screaming bloody murder, as soon as he sees my boob. He won't even let it touch his mouth. He's hungry, but he absolutely refuses to even consider taking his milk directly from the source. He won't even let me hold him in a cuddle position when I'm fully clothed -- as soon as I start to tip him onto his side, he freaks out. I haven't even been able to put him down for a nap or for bedtime in days, because he won't let me rock him.

We have tried everything to end the strike. Try when he's sleepy. Try in a dark room. Try a different location. Try a different position. Try letting him hold a comforting blankie. Try expressing a little milk first so that I've already let down when he gets there. Try giving him teething toys and Tylenol first in case this is all from teething pain. Try starting with a bottle and then swapping in the breast. Nothing works.

Following the advice I've gotten about nursing strikes, I'm not pressing the point. As soon as it's clear that he's getting upset and refusing to latch, I put away my breast, stand up, soothe him, wait a little while, then try again. But it's always the same. And eventually he's so hungry and frustrated that I have to get him a bottle. The problem, as I've mentioned, is that I can't pump as much as he eats. And my ability to pump is rapidly dwindling again, despite potions and capsules and tea. I had built it back up again, but as we enter Day Five of the strike, with no baby stimulation and only expressing using the pump, I'm again down to barely 2 ounces at most pumping sessions. And he's currently eating 4-6 ounces per meal, so I'm falling further and further behind. Once upon a time, I had nearly 200 ounces in the freezer, but after only two months of working and several days of the strike, I have only 5 ounces left. I'll be using that up tomorrow. After that, I'll be officially out of breast milk.

So depressing. Totally totally depressing. My little boy looks at me and cries. I cannot describe how totally devastated I am. S says it's like watching me ask someone out to the prom and get humiliatingly rejected, seven times a day. And each time, I have to just hand LL over to S so that they can cuddle together and S can feed LL his bottle while I sit miserably in a corner and pump. I know that feeding him formula isn't the end of the world, but the thought of never nursing him again? Devastatingly depressing.


  1. :( I'm so sorry that LL is having such a hard time right now and especially sorry for the effects, both physical and emotional, that it's having on you. I hope he's able to move past this and get back on the boob.

    The last paragraph was heartbreaking -- in part because I fear we may be heading in that direction too. After only a week of bottles at daycare, Harry has been fussing more and more at the breast each day (and yesterday started biting) and it just feels like the beginning of the end. And all those feelings you so ably described have been welling up in me too. It's tough enough not getting to nurse while working -- the thought of losing that completely just sucks.

    Thinking of you.

  2. I'm so sorry Nicky. That must be heartbreaking. I remember after Jillian was born and she would just scream and scream when I tried to get her to take my breast. I felt so inadequate.

    Hang in there. I hope this passes quickly and works itself out.

  3. I don't know what to say. I am sorry. that just totally and utterly sucks.

  4. I think we have managed our way out of a nursing strike and maybe I have some pointers/a$$vice for you. First, don't give him a bottle (I have never offered him a bottle since I want him to know he only gets the boob from mom and he won't take one from my husband anyway). We wait until my baby is very hungry. We were told that our baby can go 8 hrs without eating. So I just keep offering the breast until he eats. One time he went 5 hours and then after 5 hours he only nursed for 4 minutes, but he still nursed. Slowly we have "broken" him down. I think we were offering the breast too frequently. I had gotten so used to my 2- 2.5 hr feeder that I just offered the breast at the first sign of hunger. So now I don't offer it until after 3 hours. Second, I had to get my husband involved in covering my baby's eyes with a cloth. In our dark bedroom I'd put the baby on the boppy and he'd cry & arch away. As soon as C looked somewhat interested my husband threw an old shirt over C's eyes, he would take the breast. C would try to rip it off, but my husband held it there loosely. That would lengthen nursing sessions. Third, I try all different positions. I have had some success with him sitting on my lap, lying down on my side with him facing me, and then also with me lying on my back and him on his side and my boob in his face. I had help from a lactaction consultant to do all of those positions. If you have the money, try and get in with a lactaction consultant. Our lactation consultant told me that our son wanted to be a "big boy" and not feel like an infant lying down all the time. That helped me conceptualize what was going on with him. For us the best time for nursing is right before bed because I guess he think it's ok to be an "infant" right before sleeping. Lastly, we finally realized that he is at least partially spooked by the ceiling fan in our bedroom. Good luck!

  5. I am so sorry. I think our boys are kindered spirits. We have done this same horse and pony show. My heart goes out to you. I am very sad with you

  6. :(:(:( Sorry Nicky....making it to 6 months is nothing to sneeze at either though - I think I read that that's quite good for non-stay-at-homers, usually they only make it to 3 or 4.

    But still, I hope the strike ends.


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