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Reaching breaking point

16th October 2013

I’m getting to the point where I really don’t want to continue feeding D now, yet the more I feel like that, the more he wants it. He’s ok when he’s actually feeding, but more often than not he just comfort sucks and when he does that, he tends to pull his head back so he’s got me in a better position for that. That’s great and all, but it means the latch goes and after several weeks of this, I’m in agony. He wants to do that for hours at a time and if I take him off, as I do frequently (because… OW) he cries and screams and is generally inconsolable because his source of comfort has gone.

The problem is, if I don’t do that, his source of comfort will be gone completely. I’m in almost as much pain as I was in when we first started our bf journey, because his latch was terrible then and it’s terrible now. I’ve tried to encourage him to correct it, but it seems he just won’t do it properly now and I feel my only option is to keep taking him off when he starts to move his head back in the hope that he’ll relatch properly (he does) and stay there (he doesn’t). Otherwise, it’s becoming too much to bear and I’m struggling to cope. I know that this is probably caused by teeth and/or teething but it’s been a while now and I just see this getting worse and worse. Add to this the fact that he still has major separation anxiety – part of his wanting to be attached to me 24/7 – and you can see why I feel we are reaching a point where something has to give.

I do not want to force D to wean, either at night or completely; he is absolutely not ready. However, I cannot continue to be in pain from what he’s doing, awake at all hours because he’s screaming about not getting what he wants, and frustrated at the catch-22 we seem to have here. In just over 2 months I am due to have a second child who will also need to be fed; if I am in agony because of what D is doing, how am I doing to cope with beginning a new bf relationship, where there is sure to be more pain and bad latching as we both get used to each other?

When this happened first time round with D, he was only a few days/weeks old and I expressed milk for him and gave it to him in a bottle. Now, I can’t do that: firstly because he hasn’t accepted a bottle since around 4 weeks, and secondly because it’s not the milk he wants, it’s the sensation, the comfort, the complete package. Giving him water, or milk in a cup (or bottle), does not help. He wants me, and only me. The only solution is either to remove myself from the situation (he stops fussing if he cannot see or hear me and does not know I’m there) or to let him go for it. A while ago, I tried going from the opposite angle and offering him feeds all the time after reading that this had helped combat the ‘panic attacks’ re bf that some people’s babies were having. It made sense to me, as it is definitely what D does – panicking that he’ll lose me as I go to work so clinging to me and what I have as much as possible. Anyway, this… sort of worked, but the latch/wanting to be attached all night issues just made it so I couldn’t comfortably continue. I’ve still tried to make it as accessible as possible, to let him know I don’t want to cut him off or that I’m not abandoning him or anything. I want to continue. It breaks my heart having to take away the only thing he wants because I cannot deal with how he’s doing it.

Now most people have told me this is a phase, and he’ll grow out of it. The problem is, this phase has now gone on for over 4 months and I am unsure if it will actually end of its own accord; it just seems to get worse, in fact. It is really affecting my relationship with other people, most notably that of my immediate family and friends who’ve given well-meaning advice but that just isn’t helpful and who I feel are starting to lose patience with me/us.

Nobody said parenting was easy, I know that. And I know we are only reaching the beginning of the most difficult times – we’ve got ‘terrible twos’ and the jealous elder sibling phases yet to come, which I’m sure will make this current fussy phase look like a walk in the park. However, that doesn’t really help at the moment when it seems that I can’t win whatever I do.