Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A few unfortunate firsts: Surviving Sammy's Nursing Strike and Roseola

The day after Sammy's nine month birthday, I felt like Sammy was a bit warm to the touch.  He was still so happy go lucky that I chalked it up to Paul putting him in flannel pj's and a sleep sack even though it was 108 degrees outside (not exaggerating the temp unfortunately).  Later that afternoon, I was a bit surprised that he wouldn't sleep unless held during his second nap, something that he hadn't let me do in 5+ months.  While I was holding him, I decided he wasn't just hot, he was BURNING up.  When he woke up, I checked his temp, 103.5.  Scared to death, is an understatement.  Sammy has had slight fevers before, all under 100 degrees and all for explainable reasons such as teething or after getting his shots.

We went to the pediatricians 3 times in 4 days.  On Friday morning I asked if he had Roseola and was dismissed.  I think they were expecting it to end up being Hand Foot Mouth.  However until the fever passes, generally all you know is that it is a viral infection.  Treatment plan = wait it out, which  is incredibly frustrating as a parent, especially a first time parent.

When he woke up on Sunday, his fever had finally broken and a rash had started to display.  Monday, his rash was at it's peak.  I took these pictures when I took a bath with him for the first time in an effort to try and get him to nurse again.

I've always heard that nursing moms and their babies have an amazing connection.  I agreed, but never quite as fully as when it was just abruptly taken from me.  I started frantically searching on the internet for what would be causing my son to wean like this and fortunately everything I read was that babies don't wean abruptly.  Sammy was on a nursing strike.

In short, we made it through with the three P's: Prayer, Patience and Perserverance.

I think the nursing strike started with him yelping each time he took a sip of milk in the middle of the night thursday.  Friday morning the dr. told us he had a very red throat, so I guess it hurt him to swallow.  He was so scared of getting hurt again that i couldn't even go near the rocking chair in his room with him, bring the boppy out, hold him next to my chest, nothing.  I'm grateful it was the weekend, because Paul was able to step in and help.

To add some humor, to a not funny situation, I'm sure Paul was feeling just a teensy bit gratified since normally this is what happens in our house:

Saturday night, he woke up like he usually did in the middle of the night and each time I went to him, trying to settle him and/or feed him, he screamed and screamed and I just made it worse.  It was the first night in his life he went without food (normally this would have been praise worthy), Sunday was the first night in his life that I didn't nurse him before bed.  It almost killed me.  I wasn't even able to rock him or hold him, before he went to sleep.  He was screaming wanting the comfort but scared to receive it.  I felt like my baby and all of his babyness was slipping through my fingers.  I couldn't even hold him in my arms!  My hormones were going nuts and I was an emotional mess.  I was so incredibly upset, not just because my baby was sick, but because for the first time in his life, he wanted absolutely nothing to do with me.  He was cranky pants and I felt terrible not being able to give him the one thing I always knew gave him comfort.  Sammy has been a nurser thru and thru from day one.  The nurses in the hospital joked when they'd enter our hospital room that of "course, he was nursing again"! He gained 3 lbs his first month on breastmilk alone.  He'd had 17 days worth of breastmilk in bottles when I went to work.  He had never not wanted my comfort and every time I brought him near me over the weekend just to hold him close to try and calm him, he associated the hold with nursing and would immediately start crying.   

On Monday, he still was not nursing and I wrote in my prayer request to the great banquet community I belong to.  Their ability to pray never ceases to amaze me.  Within 1/2 hour of the emailed prayer request going out, Sammy nursed!  Albeit, it was in the most unconventional of ways and I'm fortunate that my saggy boobs are the perfect height to meet Sammy, who was standing in his crib mouth agape.  However he nursed and I dared not move. He woke up in the middle of the night and nursed again (standing again).  In the morning and the following days he continued to nurse normally as if making up for lost time.  

Two weeks later, I pray that we never experience anything like that again.  My decision to allow Sammy to self wean was totally confirmed as was my daily devotion to consistently not take any of his babyness for granted.

His newest funny face!

So, here are my tips for surviving a nursing strike

1. Practice the three P's: Prayer, Patience and Perserveance
2. Don't confuse a nursing strike with weaning
3. Pump to maintain your milk supply
4. Make yourself accessible (how Sammy was met by a boob while standing)
5. Do as much skin to skin as possible
6. Co Bathe to help relax baby
7. Nurse or try to nurse when the baby is sleepy
8. Keep life simple, stay in the home, no errands all over the place
9. Don't take it personally, normally something physical or emotional (too much company, routine has been disrupted) is going on with your baby
10. Keep offering, Sammy's nursing strike lasted three days, but in my reading on kellymom and laleche leauge websites some can go on for much longer.


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