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Challenging times

23rd August 2013

Since D turned 1, his nursing has become increasingly erratic. For around 2 months now we have been dealing with the following:

  • Switching sides roughly every 20-30 seconds; screaming and tantrums if the other side is not available
  • Biting (on purpose)
  • Scratching/fiddling/pulling at skin/clothes
  • Nursing sessions which last 3 or more hours in this manner; tantrums if it is ended sooner

It has become almost impossible to feed him in public as a result, and night times have become so wearing for us both that I was strongly considering weaning him completely, at least at night.

Now, I know that this is not necessarily a problem per se. There are a number of factors at play here:

  1. I’m back at work, and thus he sees me infrequently; we have major separation anxiety issues because of this
  2. I am pregnant, so my milk may be drying up or otherwise changing
  3. He is going through a major developmental leap along with teething

…which is why I have been as sensitive as possible with trying to correct this. The problem is, it really is starting to get to everyone. He wakes during the night, wishing to feed (I use the term ‘feed’ loosely; I suspect it is more comfort suckling that actual feeding) and spends most of the time showing the above ‘symptoms’. I am sure if he wasn’t scratching and flailing about (he is not always fully awake when doing it, so I know it is not necessarily on purpose), he would fall asleep again quickly, but he ends up waking himself up fully and we spend the rest of the night in this cycle. I cannot sleep through it either (you try sleeping while someone’s scratching at you, and while having to turn over every few moments because you have a fat belly :P ) I am assured that this phase will pass soon, but my goodness is it challenging :(

The other challenging thing at play here is that I am now under quite a bit of pressure from various sides to discontinue breastfeeding. I have been reasonably lucky that even though a lot of people did not like my parenting decisions, they let me carry on without making too many comments. However, now that I am voicing frustration over this latest phase, the “I told you so” comments seem to be starting. “If you had bottle-fed/not co-slept/left him to cry you would not be in this situation”, they say. Even him indoors, who was happy to let me do what I felt was right up until now, has expressed concern that my continuing to breastfeed has caused – or is causing – this, and has suggested that it is now time to move on.

In a way, I agree with these people. I am fed up of getting 3 hours’ broken sleep per night, and having a tired child who isn’t getting enough sleep as a result either. I am fed up of the tantrums, the screaming and the fact that it is the end of his world when I am out of sight. It gets harder and harder to leave the house every morning with the sound of his crying in my ears :( But at the same time, I know nursing is all he wants. He is quiet, peaceful (if you don’t count the scratching…) and happy when he does it. The tantrums, the screaming, all that stops the moment he gets to do it. Water, teething toys, eating ‘proper food’ – they just won’t do, it has to be me. Denying him that simple thing just because *I* am fed up is, quite frankly, selfish, when you look at it. D does not drink cows’ milk (he doesn’t seem to like it :\ ), and I don’t want to get any of those ‘toddler/growing up milks’ (kind of a scam, them – full of sugar and such, hmmm). I want him to continue to have whatever I can provide for him.

I hope we can get through this.