Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nursing Strike

Ellie is already a creature of habit. By the time she was a week old, she had a predictable eating and sleeping pattern and she has remained that way even now at 9 weeks old. But during our last day in Yellowstone, she started acting funny. We were walking around Old Faithful until it was time for Ellie's reliable noon nursing session. I got us situated in the car and began trying to feed her, but she was acting weird. I figured she wasn't in the mood for the nursing cover or that my hands were too cold or something because she was rooting around like crazy, but wouldn't stay latched. I tried to remedy all the potential problems, but she grew more and more furious. I would lift her up to hold her and she would calm down (although still rooting and trying to latch on to my face) I would set her down and once I tried to get her close enough to nurse she would scream- like a full on furious scream. I knew she was hungry, but she was refusing to nurse. This went on ALL day. It even got to the point where I would try to get her to latch and she would turn her head away and scream without even attempting to nurse. By the time we got home that night it was about 9:30pm and she still hadn't really eaten since 8:30 that morning. I was worried, emotional and engorged. I was desperate for her to eat so I pumped and fed her via bottle, which she scarfed down. So it wasn't the milk... it was me.

I cried for hours that night. I felt rejected and honestly, my feelings were hurt. She didn't even wake up during the night to feed (she usually wakes up once around 4am). She slept from 11pm-8am  and as she was starting to wake up, but still extremely drowsy I tried to get her to latch on and bingo, she was on. She actually ate really well, but then that whole day she was back to refusing any feedings unless I pumped and gave her a bottle. At first I was thinking it was nipple confusion, but that would be impossible because she had only had two bottles in her life and they were weeks prior to our trip. I called Ellie's pediatrician and he set up an appointment with the lactation consultant and then he was going to give Ellie a check up after to make sure her ears and throat were ok. The lactation consultant was awesome! Reassuring and extremely helpful. She confirmed it was a nursing strike and that she was not self weaning or doing it because she's angry- and that at most it will last a few days. She said a baby might go through a nursing strike for any number of reasons, but the main ones are:

1) sick or starting to get sick
2) disruption of schedule or pattern
3) new environments
4) over tired

She wasn't sick, but the other 3 were dead on. Turns out Ellie is just a little sensitive to her surroundings and didn't appreciate all the driving and disruptions of her sleep (i.e getting in and out of the car a million times). The lactation consultant wasn't at all worried and reassured me that Ellie wouldn't starve and she would snap out of it soon enough. The next day Ellie was almost back to normal and then had a little regression on Sunday, but was back to normal by Monday. I am so relieved to be back to our schedule, but that nursing strike as hard as it was emotionally it was worse physically...

I didn't want to pump too much because I wanted to encourage her to nurse and I didn't want her to get into the habit of bottles, so I took a hit and became engorged, which led to clogged milk ducts (ouch!) and then early early Sunday morning (2am) I woke up uncontrollably shaking. I was covered in sweat, but cold to the bone. I felt like I was dying because of how cold I felt. I was shaking so bad my teeth were chattering. I was so confused at first but then I noticed my left breast hurt insanely bad- like there were shards of glass stabbing it and that's when I knew it was mastitis (an infection). I woke Austin up and told him to keep an ear out for Ellie while I hopped in the bath hoping to warm up. I took an EXTREMELY hot bath. I could feel how hot the water was on my skin, but my body would not warm up. I felt like death- just like a lifeless corpse. My body ached and was covered in sweat to the point where my hair was wet with sweat (gross I know, but whatever) after 45 minutes in the bath I got out and tried to wake Ellie up to coax her to nurse on that side. She latched on and it hurt so bad it took my breath away. I fought through it because I needed her help in breaking up the clogged duct where the infection was. Ellie fell asleep after a few minutes so I ran downstairs to get my pump. I was only able to get an ounce out, which was not good because I can usually get at least 4 or 5 ounces. While pumping I noticed 4 distinct lumps (multiple clogs) that were tender and hot to the touch. I took 600mg of Ibuprofen and laid in bed shaking with the down blanket wrapped around myself and pulled up to my chin and finally fell asleep still feeling lifelessly cold. I woke up the morning to more pain, but my fever had broke because I no longer felt cold, just super sweaty and dehydrated.

I texted a few friends and they all came to my rescue dropping off things to help- essential oils, a powerful hand pump, freezer bags and overall encouragement and well wishes for a swift recovery. I spent Sunday relaxing and catching up on missed sleep and diligently pumping, applying oils and taking regular doses of Ibuprofen and by later that evening I was feeling a little better. Still lots of pain, but not flu like anymore. I was actually able to sleep that night and in the morning made an appointment with a dr to see if I needed antibiotics because I was still super swollen and hurting. By the time I got to the dr, i was able to work out all the clogged ducts and was told to hold off on antibiotics (because of the risk of thrush). By the next day I was pretty much back to normal, just sore.

This whole dilemma was a nightmare and I am so glad to be 100% better. Ellie is back to her routine and she couldn't be more happy to be back on her schedule and either can I.

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