Last Friday I picked the kids up at the babysitter's and then we stopped at the Curiosity Museum for some fun on the way home. I normally nurse Davey right after getting back from work, but since we were out, he had to wait a few minutes while I got Sophie settled in the art room. We went to find a bench, but be was being pretty fussy and was too distracted by all the chaos to nurse well, so I just gave up after a few minutes and decided to wait until we got home.
At home it didn't go much better, but he did eat his oatmeal before bed, so I just put him down and figured he'd be better the next morning. WRONG! He did eat around 3 am, but then when he woke up the next day he started screaming and arching as soon as I even held in in the feeding position. He is normally a really good eater, so I was a little concerned, especially when he reacted the same way when I tried again an hour later. He's progressing with solids, but still not great and certainly not ready to go without milk, so I wasn't sure what to do if he was refusing to nurse. After a little banana he was happier, so I decided to just leave him alone and hope that later he would be hungry enough to quit the hysterics and just eat like normal.
At nap he refused again, so I just put him down crying and then had to go pump because we had skipped so many feedings. I couldn't figure out what his problem was. At first I thought it might be teething, but ruled that out. He had a slight runny nose, but no fever or other indication of illness. It wasn't weaning, because we had been nursing 6-7 times a day this wasn't a gradual cut back, it was stopping cold turkey. When he woke up I gave him a bottle to see if it was the taste of the milk that had offended him, but he sucked it down in a minute flat and wanted more, but still wouldn't take it from me. He was on strike.
Saturday ended up being a very long day. He was needy, stubborn and hungry. I was confused, frustrated, and cursing the fact that my good pump was at work (terrible time to forget it) and only had a hand pump available. We were both short on patience, and high on emotions. I kept pumping, but didn't give him any more bottles because if he was going to be stubborn, so was I. He did end up eating double the amount of real food he had ever had in his life, but he was still well short of his normal calorie intake. The lack of nursing also meant I wasn't able to soothe him in the usual way and ended up having to put him to bed screaming and crying.
My view most of the day
He cried himself to sleep for both naps and night
Now that it had been a full 24 hours, I was starting to get nervous. I had read online that strikes can last from just a couple days to weeks, and I couldn't go on like this for weeks. I was hoping that when he woke up for his night feeding he would be too tired to remember he was on strike and things would go back to normal, but he remembered and was quite possibly even madder than he had been in the day. He would scream and push at me if I even held him on his back. After an hour of battle, I fed him some oatmeal in a pouch, gave him a little water in a cup, then dropped him back in his bed. I tried to sleep, but couldn't.
On Sunday morning I was drained, but determined to break the strike. The morning feeding went terrible, and so did the next feeding, and around lunch I was starting to wonder how we would get through church with a baby that refused to eat. Then Dave had the idea to try the shield we had used for awhile with Sophie when she was a newborn and having a hard time nursing. Amazing, I knew right where it was even though it had been in storage for 3+ years and gave it a try. I put it on my finger and then put it in his mouth and he started sucking furiously right away. It was a good sign. I put it back in his mouth and then turned him towards me and he kept going! It was amazing! I took it away and he freaked out, so I put it back. This was a good start and we would figure out the next step from there.
Turns out it only took a couple more sessions before we were back to normal. At church I took him into the mother's lounge after Sunday school and he nursed for a good 30 minutes (normally he's a speed demon done in 10 or less) and then drifted off to sleep in my arm. He hasn't napped at church for a couple months, so this was another miracle. We stayed there for the rest of church and just rocked and rested and felt happy to be together again.
I still don't know what caused the strike, but I'm grateful we were able to get through it and that it only lasted 36 hours. My heart hurts for those poor mamas that have to fight this battle for a week or more. We are going to be leaving on a trip without the kids in a few months, so I know our nursing days are numbered, but I'm glad we're not at the end of the road just yet and can enjoy the time we have left.
And, on a side note, look at those lashes!! He sure is going to make all the girls jealous someday.