On Saturday and then again on Sunday, I said fine, I quit directed at my four month old son (Colby). My husband just kind of stared at me and Colby just continued his special combination of babbling, drooling, and screaming totally unaware that I was saying anything at all. Of course Colby doesn’t understand what those words (or any words) mean and of course my husband knows I didn’t actually mean them (or at least I hope that’s the case).
This week has been a little frustrating, to say the least. Colby has been on a nursing strike since Saturday afternoon, meaning he doesn’t want to eat on the boob, which in turn means I’ve been strapped to the pump (read: nipples chafed like whoa). While it’s frustrating from a purely physical perspective (not to mention a time perspective), it’s also hard from an emotional perspective. No matter how much I try to tell myself that it isn’t me, it isn’t my fault, and of course it isn’t personal (he’s a baby, after all), I can’t stop myself from feeling down. Feeling that ever present mom guilt. What am I doing wrong? Why is he screaming at me? And then those feelings take you down the rabbit hole of: is it because I’m a working mother? Do I not spend enough time with him? Does he even know who I am? When I read that out loud, I realize how ridiculous it sounds (yes, I’m totally laughing at myself), but it’s there, whether I like it or not. Damn you, mom guilt. Damn you, mom hormones. Damn you, mom brain.
On Saturday it was particularly bad. I was especially tired from two sleepless nights, accompanied by early morning obligations, and he was striking so vehemently that it just sent me over the edge. Every time I’d try to get him to eat on the boob, he’d scream at the top of his lungs, get totally red in the face and just look so pissed. At certain points, if I merely picked him up (aka didn’t put him anywhere near the boob), that would be all it would take to get him screaming again. And the minute I’d hand him over to Casey, he would get quiet again and resume munching on his hands, alerting us that it was time to eat. I would sit there and pump and watch him taking the bottle with tears stinging in my eyes. By the late afternoon, I almost felt listless. Or numb. I was just so over it, I almost couldn’t even hear the screaming anymore.
Thankfully I have an amazing partner and mom friends to lean on…
Casey recognized that I was not in a good place and took the baby out of the house so I could shower, relax, and hopefully shake some of what I was feeling.
Sometime during that much needed baby break, I texted Alyse about what was happening and then of course, I consulted Google (I just couldn’t resist). Google assured me that a nursing strike was pretty common for 4-5 month olds, but some of the articles just made me feel worse. As I read them, I started to feel like they were pointing the finger at me, waving it in my face, like this is what you get for trying to be a mom and a professional. Like maybe you need to be spending more skin to skin time with your baby! Maybe you need to learn how to walk around and nurse at the same time (um, no thanks!).
Thankfully, before I went deeper down the Google rabbit hole, Alyse texted me back with some reassuring news and most importantly, empathy. She said that she too went through a nursing strike with Mac around 4.5 months old, and she related with me on the pump all day struggle, and the emotional toll. She also reassured me that it was not my fault…and it was just a thing that babies do.
Now it’s Wednesday – we’re 5 days in to the strike and it’s getting better. He will consistently take the boob without any fuss in the early morning hours and late into the evening, and I even managed to get him on the boob for a late afternoon feeding yesterday (for over 20 minutes). So we’re making progress. It’s getting better. And by tomorrow, maybe Friday, it might be over?
The thing with parenting – as cliche as it sounds – is that you never have it figured out. Once you think you do, things can change so quickly and throw you for a total loop. But somehow, it’s all worth it. The pain and the difficulty pale in comparison to the rewards.
Ok, mamas? Tell me your stories! Nursing strikes? Strange feeding issues?