Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nipple Confusion is Not a Myth

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the ENEMY. It may seem like just an ordinary feeding device primarily used for babies but if you look closely, you will see horns and a pitchfork. Allow me to explain.

When Nate was 4 weeks old, we decided it was time to introduce a bottle. Breastfeeding was going swimmingly and we needed to prepare for him to take a bottle for when I had to return to work. I bought the best pump on the market and I was determined to do all in my power to ensure a smooth transition.

Well, my son has had other plans.

He flat-out refused any nipple other than the real thing. We tried bottle after bottle and artificial nipple after artificial nipple but he wouldn't have it. Playtex. NUK. Dr Brown's. Breastflow. MAM. Nuby. Adiri. All were a no go. He would mouth the nipple - and sometimes gag himself - before contorting his face to show his displeasure as the tears began. If I made any more attempts to move the horrid silicone and plastic contraption to his lips, the crying would amplify to a shrill scream - to the point where he would be gasping for breath. Yes, all this over a "ba-ba". As you can tell, I have a drama king on my hands.

So, for weeks we have been fighting this battle. And we have made some progress after being painfully consistent. I've endured hours upon hours of wailing, hitting and hair-pulling as he demanded a boobie. I've cried tears right alongside him and wondered if I would have to tell caregivers to syringe or cup feed him in my absence. I mean, I'm flattered that my boobs are in such high demand but although they are portable, they unfortunately cannot be detached.

Over time, he has conceded somewhat. He will drink from a bottle now - but usually takes many breaks to finish just several ounces. He will even take various kinds of bottles. He still fusses and whines but at least I know he won't go hungry if I'm not around.

So, we thought we had everything under control. How foolish of us.

For the past few days, we've enlisted the help of the Soothie, to live up to its name during Nate's typical colicky hours of 8pm - 11pm. It worked wonders. I no longer had to be a human pacifier and could relax in the evening without trying to comfort an inconsolable baby.

Well, last night, after a few hours of paci love, Nate refused the breast.

You heard correctly. REFUSED the BOOB. The boob he courted for so long. The boob he couldn't resist was now being resisted full-force. He would shake his head violently and refuse to latch, all the while sucking his fingers, bobbing his head and displaying every hunger cue in the book. I was so worried that something was wrong with him that I took his temperature and even looked inside of his mouth to see if there was something causing him pain. Nothing - all normal.

Meanwhile, it is 1am and DH and I are at our wit's end after countless attempts to woo him. DH decided to fix a bottle while I did my best to comfort baby. Wouldn't you know that he sucked down 2.5 oz. in the bottle as though he were a starving orphan?

I just broke down sobbing. I felt so rejected. How could he do a complete 180 like this? What went wrong? I thought about the last time I had nursed that day and kicked myself for not being more involved in the experience. For taking it for granted. What if that was the last time I would breastfeed my son? Sure, I could exclusively pump if I had to but I wanted the bond of nurturing him with my body. I cherished that bond we had and now I felt it had been compromised.

Thankfully, the nursing strike ended overnight after some sleep. Maybe some rest helped him to affirm his affection for the boob. But all day today, I've been walking on eggshells. Hoping he won't wean too early or get confused with all the nipples we have floating around. Hoping he'll still prefer the original tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that.

Who would've thought it could be this complicated?


Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

Some unsolicited assvice...choose one or two types of bottles and go back and forth between bottle and boob. We went through this when started bottles with Lemy and I cried when she wouldn't take the boob, but we kept trying with both and now she goes back and forth beautifully. I've found she likes the NUK ones the best for day time and we use the Dr. Brown at night (she doesn't latch well at night and I'm too tired to fight the fight).

Hang in there! :)

mwbarker said...

Oh honey you are really going it through it right now!!

I do not miss the colicky days. E would scream from 5pm until 10 or 11pm every night...and you are right...nothing would work except nursing until she would pass out.

Hang in there sweety. It really does not last forever, I PROMISE you! I repeated "this too shall pass" over and over again in my head ALOT!

I have no doubt that Nate will continue to overcome the nipple issues. They can be picky when they want to, but when they are tired AND starving it is so much worse.

We are here for you!

singpsyc said...

Meh. My daughter's never had any trouble distinguishing between bottle and boob. But then again, she's a little genius. :-)

BTW, wouldn't "Nipple Confusion" be an AWESOME name for a band?