11/6/17: Nipple Confusion is Real

I didn’t even realize the stress this could cause- Last week when Bekytt and I came home from Ohio, I knew I had to find a way back to the gym.  It was a great trip, amazing actually, but that combined with having a hard time getting to my gym at home added up to over 3 weeks without training.  My knees were feeling it.  Everything was feeling achy and sore and I felt as if I had aged 20 years over night.  Thankfully, there are wonderful people at our gym and one particular coach who is always willing to watch Bekytt when she can. This would be the first time I’d be back, so I made a bottle so I could actually make it through the entire workout without stopping to breastfeed. Everything went very smoothly. She was able to feed him (after a slight bottle mishap, sorry about that), Bekytt drank just as he always would.  I got my workout in and everything was going great! So when we came up with a plan for the upcoming weekend, I felt comfortable going to drill and was excited my husband would be able to stay home and be with Bekytt.  I never even thought feeding would be an issue.

I woke up just before 4 am to feed Bekytt one last time before I’d have to head out.  He is definitely still a snacker at night, wakes up acting starving, but only eats a small amount (I’d guess an ounce) and then falls back asleep.  We do this maybe 4-5 times over the course of the night and it is actually pretty easy these days.  He eats calm, doesn’t wake crying or screaming, and falls back asleep very easily.  It still takes a bit before I can lie him down on his back, but I am happy with this routine.  However, I know that by the time 5:30 or 6am rolls around he will be hungry and awake enough for a full feeding.  The bottles were all in the fridge and ready to go, so this wouldn’t be an issue either.  I kissed my husband and baby boy goodbye and was out the door.  

I never did like driving in the dark, especially when it’s raining, but I had delicious coffee brewed for me by my husband, a good book on Audible, and felt excited to see my Army friends and have some adult time to actually use my brain.  I was excited for Kyle to have his quality time with Bekytt, but of course a little sad I would be missing it too. By the time I got to first formation at 7:30am, Bekytt was still not taking a bottle. He showed all the hunger signs and was definitely wanting to eat, but as my husband put it, “it’s like he forgot how to drink from a bottle.”  I was still fairly calm at this point, it had only been a little over 3 hours, he’d take it eventually, but just as a precaution, I called the nurse line to see how long we could go without him eating before we’d have to bring him in or I’d just have to come home.  If I was closer than a 2 hour drive, I would have just went home quick to feed him, but another 2 hours would mean he wouldn’t have eaten for 5 and a half hours.  When I talked to the nurse, she said at the 6 hour point we should bring him in for difficulty feeding. She gave us a few tips that my husband had already tried.  The obvious ones like try a different bottle, different position, and possibly a different batch of breastmilk.  I don’t know why, but this frustrated me.

Even though I know better, I still fall into the group of people who wants to listen to the advice of a doctor before doing something else.  I say I know better because I know experts in the field of feeding and other areas, enough to know doctors and nurses can be generalists.  A jack of all trades so to speak, but a sometimes a master of something other than what you need help with.  I then decided to put a post on La Leche Facebook group, call my sister in law who reminded me of my amazing friend who saved her when going through a similar issue with my youngest niece, and then called that amazing friend (who I really should be calling more often!)  Using those three avenues, here are some tips we received:

  • Try feeding in a completely different position than nursing, like propping in a Boppy, so it does not feel like nursing.
  • Put him in front of the tv so he is distracted enough to just eat and not think about the difference.  
  • Make it more like nursing and have my husband baby wear him and feed him while walking around.  
  • Wrap a shirt around him that smells like me.  
  • Try a Mam bottle or Lansinoh. One that has a nipple that looks like mine half way through a feeding.  A sippy cup.
  • And if all else fails, use a medicine dropper to at least get him some milk.  

My husband had tried nearly all of these before I decided I had to leave. How was I supposed to just stay put and let my husband possibly have to bring him to urgent care of the ER when I knew he would nurse from me.  It didn’t matter what else I was supposed to be doing that day, it mattered that my son got fed.  So I got in the car and started driving.

Since by this point it was going to be another 2 hours home, my husband started driving to me so we could meet in the middle.  This relieved some nerves for sure.  We met at a little cafe my husband found and Bekytt did nurse well.  It was just over 6 hours since his last feeding and while I felt relieved, I also realized how stressed I had been.  I felt ok driving to him and ok with our plan.  I had hoped he would eat from me and as my friend said, kids go longer without eating on purpose as they prepare for surgery.  Still, the wave of emotions that came out of me once I was there with him let me know just how worried I was.

Bekytt has quickly become my world. It is my job to make sure he has the food and nutrition he needs.  I never want to experience what it feels like to not be able to give that to him again.  He has still yet to take a bottle. We have tried a few times since I have been home.  He never took one from me, but he always did from others.  I am not sure if this is going to be a new thing or just a fluke thing, but for now, Bekytt will be with me wherever I go.  -Kathryn Kraft, MPT

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