Archive | October, 2011

The milk wars continue

12 Oct

When Henry was about four weeks old we had a community health nurse tell us to persevere with breastfeeding. Her rationale was that breastfeeding would get easier, it’d become about a ‘2’ in effort by around 8-10 weeks. Whereas bottle feeding would always be around a ‘6’.

I didn’t believe her. And since breasfeeding was around ‘50,000’ in terms of effort, by 13 weeks I packed away the girls for good. See, when you’re sitting on 50,000, a 6 doesn’t seem so bad. And for a while there, things were good. Henry was taking a bottle relatively easily at most feedings, and both of us were happier.

Then things turned to shit.

When the little dude decided he didn’t want to breastfeed that was OK, because he would bottle feed. But when he decided he didn’t want to bottle feed things started to suck. He’d scream, arch his back and milk would be everywhere, except in his mouth. We took him to the pediatrician who said Henry had reflux. So we thickened his feeds. He got constipated. We gave him water and prune juice. He got wind. Then finally we medicated him because it was just so damn exhausting to battle with it all.

And for about a week, maybe two, we had a different child. One that would eat, happily. I got excited; we’d turned a corner! Things were slowly starting to look a bit like that ‘6’.

But apparently when you give birth you either get a kid that sleeps well or a kid that eats well*. I have a kid that sleeps well. And right about now I’d trade for one that eats well because this shit is exhausting.

The good news is that our little guy continues to thrive and is perfectly happy, so long as you’re not trying to nourish him. Put a bottle near his face and he’ll go to town on it for about two minutes, then completely lose interest. I’ve tried distracting him, feeding him while wrapped in a dark room. I’ve tried feeding him in front of the TV, in different positions, while standing, while sitting, in the car, at the park… nothing. I’ve changed his formula, changed his bottles and tried to feed him out of a cup all with no luck. I’m at my wit’s end and while I’d like to think that introducing solids is going to be a miracle cure I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s just going to be a messier battle. But it’ll be different, and that’s something.

Today our community health nurse told us what we’re dealing with is probably behavioural. Henry is used to getting food on his terms (snacking) and we’ve got to try to change it. No more top ups before naps because he hasn’t had enough; he’s got 30 minutes to finish his meal, 30 minutes to play, then come rain or shine it’s bed time. And no more ‘in between’ meals either – we’re on a four hour schedule so the thickener has some time to get out of his tummy and make him hungry enough to want to eat.

In all honesty, I didn’t think feeding a child would be this hard. Every time Henry wakes up I get anxious not knowing how the next feed is going to play out. I just want him to eat, and to enjoy it, so we can have some fun together. I’m tired of forcing a bottle into his mouth and I can’t help but think it’s doing some sort of long-term psychological damage, that all this pressure around feeding is going to make him a difficult child to feed FOREVER. Most of all I just feel terrible that I don’t know what the problem is, or how to help him, and surely as a mother that’s something I should be able to do.

But in the absence of any real solution we just have to plough on through this war and hold onto the fact with any luck, within a few months, things will be better. And try to forget that this is exactly what I’ve been telling myself for a good few months already.

*If you’re the parent of a kid that does both I’m going to hate you and tell everyone I know that you’re lying, while secretly wishing I knew your secret.