That's right, we have completed day EIGHT of our nursing strike. "Two to four days" my ass. By now I've heard enough stories of extended nursing strikes (with about equal amounts of happy endings, and weaned-forever endings) to know that maybe a lot of nursing strikes do end after just a couple of days, but an awful lot of them can last for weeks.
That said, today was the first day that I've felt truly hopeful in a while.
Last week as a whole was pretty rough. It's surprising how upsetting this whole thing has been, and how physically exhausting worrying is. My main concern is hydration. Up until the past day or two, Quinn was hardly drinking ANY fluids at all. He was still having about 5 "wet" (cloth) diapers over 24 hours, but they were definitely NOT "sopping wet" as they should be, and I think on Saturday he gave me a big scare by going 5 hours in the day without peeing (six continuous dry hours is a sign of dehydration). So basically, all last week I was waiting to have to make the call to take Quinn in to the hospital for an IV, and all the horrors and annoyances involved. Not a very happy place to be, emotionally.
Also, pumping sucks ass. It's hard to find the time when I can sit down for 15 continuous minutes and not have Quinn need me for something. Not to mention the pain of washing pump parts and bottles, and the various drinking containers I kept trying to get him to use. Oh, and the mess of cleaning up after eating solids every few hours, to make up for the nutrition and liquids he wasn't taking in via breastmilk.
And, while it's not as big a priority (especially compared to keeping him hydrated, my #1 concern) I also missed just the act of breastfeeding. Not just for the ease of it (nothing to wash, easy way to soothe him, even get him to sleep some of the time....) but also the act in and of itself. I miss breastfeeding him.
So, anxious and worried, we kept trying different things, kept offering him solids to eat every couple hours, kept track of his diapers in a notebook, etc. On Thursday he nursed once, in his sleep, as I held and rocked him for a nap around noon... then went back to refusing as usual. Over the weekend he thankfully started drinking a little bit more-- would accept up to 2oz of water or breastmilk at a time from one particular cup. This was maybe getting 2-4oz over the whole day. But, it was something, more than he'd been taking before.
Yesterday he had his first honest-to-god wet diaper. Last night I took a bath with him and while he was too distracted to really focus on my boobs much, he did latch on twice for about a second each time. Today, he even had one that was soaked, along with several others that were more wet than they'd been all last week. Today he even nursed during his nap at noon, and then during dinner and bedtime drank 6.5 whole ounces of breastmilk from the cup. This is all very, very encouraging. Throughout the afternoon and evening he still refused to nurse again, but seemed more tolerant of being offered-- like he was actually almost entertaining the idea rather than being immediately offended by the very notion, as he has been up to today. Just the fact that he's drinking more and his diapers are wetter, and thus I don't have to be as worried about him getting dehydrated, is a huge relief off my shoulders. HUGE.
I'm trying to prepare for all this progress to be gone tomorrow. It feels like there's been a lot of "one step forward, two steps back." But the random nursings on Thursday and today are encouraging, signs that hope is not all lost. That he may still decide to come back to breastfeeding. That might just be a tiny light at the end of the tunnel up ahead. (I also don't want to get my hopes up...)
This morning I also met with Jaye Simpson, a local IBCLC. She had a few encouraging things to say and tips to try out. She also noticed immediately that Quinn actually has a tongue tie-- something that we were obviously able to work around, but knowing it makes sense of some things we went through in his early weeks, and also may have been a partial reason for why he nursed so often his first 6ish months. She also noticed that he seems really tight and tense-- muscles in the back on his head feel unusually tight, and as she was checking the range of motion of his arms she noticed that he really resists letting you push his arm up near his head, etc. He's always been this way, just super tight and strong-- and she thinks it may have contributed to his general crankiness. Also, he may have a slight misalignment (his shoulder blades don't quite match up, his shoulders seem raised a bit high, etc). Who knows if these things have anything to do with the strike at all, but she recommended having the tongue tie clipped and referred me to an infant massage therapist (who does Bowen therapy, if that makes sense to anyone reading) to help relax him a bit.
Interestingly, right after this I went to a playgroup meetup at a park, and one of the other moms there has also worked with Jaye and gone to this same massage therapist and raved about what a difference it made for her daughter.
So I'm now working on making appointments for those referrals, and continuing to work with Quinn to try to get him back to the breast. I don't really know what to expect, really. I don't know when or if he'll ever go back to nursing. We'll just keep on trying what we're doing and see where that gets us.