Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's not the same

PTSD is a weird, weird thing. We work on it quite a bit in therapy and it really has helped a lot. I have coping mechanisms. Sometimes I can see things coming and prepare myself. When Charlotte was taken to the NICU, I knew that going down there to see her was going to be hard. It was still worse than I expected, but at least I knew it was coming. When it sneaks up on me, though, it's even worse.

When I saw Charlotte in the isolette in the NICU, I started sobbing. Her amazing nurse was right there saying over and over again "It's not the same, Trish. It's not the same. It's not. She's big, she's healthy, she just needs to be watched a little bit. It's not the same." Of course, I knew all of that in my head. But seeing another one of my babies in that isolette hit me square in the stomach. It wasn't an experience I wanted to relive to be sure, but we got through it. It really wasn't the same.

Charlotte hates bottles. Don't get me wrong, she LOVES to eat. She's about 13 pounds now. At her 4 month check-up last week (Yes. FOUR MONTHS.) she was 12lb 11oz. She was about 40% on the weight chart for her ACTUAL age. Since she was actually less than 3 months adjusted, that's pretty big. She also scored out closer to 4 months for her developmental age (she's sleeping well at night and during the day, cooing, laughing, close to rolling over, etc.) so she's doing great. She's big and strong and healthy. But she HATES fake nipples. She has never taken a pacifier. She started out taking bottles well, but then I got thrush.

When you have thrush (thank you antibiotics) you have to boil everything every day. If you pump, you have to boil your pump parts, the bottles, the nipples, the pacifiers etc. Thrush is a nasty beast that is hard to kill. Since I had plenty going on at that point, I just didn't bother pumping and bottle feeding during the 3ish weeks it took to diagnose and finally get rid of it. And that's all it took. No more fake nipples for her.

Now when you try to offer her a bottle, she screams like she's being killed. She's an extremely good-natured baby. She does not like to be left alone at all (she's too young for separation anxiety, but I swear she has it.) but so long as you keep her company, she's happy 99% of the time. But do NOT put a bottle in her mouth. A pacifier doesn't make her angry, she just spits it out. But if milk is coming out of that fake nipple, it's catastrophic. She sobs her poor little heart out. Tears down her face, eyes all red, screaming herself hoarse.

We've tried a ton of different bottles and nipples. David's tried, his mom has tried, my grandma has tried, I've tried. I've been with her, I've left the house. We've swaddled, we've skin-to-skinned. Dark room and lots of noise. Nothing really matters.

Tonight I tried yet another new bottle. This is the Breast Flow bottles from First Years. They definitely are different than other bottles. The nipples are shallower and the flow works a different way. At first she seemed a little happier. She didn't gag on them, at least. (I think the shallower nipples made her less angry.) But it didn't last long. She worked herself right up into hysterics again.
David tried until I could see how frustrated again. He brought her to me and asked that I swaddle her up because he just couldn't fight her hands any more.

And that was when it hit me. The look on David's face was just like when we tried to get Robbie to eat and he wouldn't. My stomach twisted into knots. I took her, swaddled her and offered her the bottle. She cried and I just gave her my breast right away. She calmed down immediately. She nursed for just a few minutes and then passed out. I think all the fighting and crying just exhausted her.

A half an hour later, she woke up hungry again. I tried to offer her the bottle again with the same result. Finally I just got her ready for bed and let her nurse. She nursed longer than she has in months. I think she was afraid if she unlatched, someone would try to force that plastic nipple on her again.

It's exhausting and frustrating. I do have to go back to work in July, so she HAS to learn to take milk somehow. I have a decent freezer stash built up (about 100 oz) which was my original concern, but now I'm afraid she won't ever take it.

After she finally went to sleep, I sat in the silence for a long time. All I could think about was how much Robbie cried when we tried to feed him. What if I'm traumatizing Charlotte, too? What if she comes to hate food, too? What if she doesn't get enough? What if my supply tanks? What if something happens to me? What if what if...

It took a few minutes to realize it was PTSD running away with my mind. I've already talked to her pediatrician about it, and she's not too concerned. She thinks that if she truly refuses, we can get by with solids while I have to be away from her. I had planned on trying baby-lead-weaning, but if I need to go to cereal and purees to keep her going, I can. But I'd really like her to take a bottle occasionally.

In the mean time, I'm trying my PTSD exercises. I'm trying to use what I learned with Robbie to not make her hate bottles any more than she already does. We'll keep offering, but not forcing. Just because Robbie would prefer to starve than eat doesn't mean Charlotte will. I will just keep telling myself over and over again "it's not the same, Trish. It's not the same."



Adriane said...

Ugh!! I'm so sorry Trish. Wish I had advice or ideas but I got nothin. Maybe it's like potty training...wait a couple of weeks and try again? Hopefully she gets the hang of it. Been thinking about you guys. Hope you're doing well and getting out of the house finally - no more quarantine!! Hasn't the weather been awesome?!

Anonymous said...

Both of my sons never took bottles, and I mean never, but you know what they did take was sippy cups. I just removed the valve inside and they eventually got the hang of it. I started both of them on the sippy cup at 4 months old, when I finally gave up trying to give them bottles and decided I needed a couple of hours away. Just an idea for you to try!

Trish said...

yes, Adriane- it's been AMAZING. We are getting out several times a week. It's so nice just knowing we CAN. We should meet up sometime!

Anonymous- I may have to go that route. Did they take to it okay pretty quickly? Tell me how it works. I'm willing to try anything at this point.

ChloeB said...

Seconding the sippy cup idea here. My 3 year old refused to drink anything but water from a bottle so we went straight to a sippy cup for milk. Although he was about 7 months before we tried it. There are some out there with really flexible soft spouts that he seemed to take to almost instantly. Definitely worth a try.

Kim said...

My friend went back to work when her daughter was 3.5 months and she refused all bottles. Her husband took leave for a while and drove her daughter to nurse at lunch time until she was about 5 months and then she just made it through the day on purees/a little BM in cereal and a tiny bit from sippy cups. They did the Avent sippies with no valve for a while and then around 10 months she figured out the straw and started getting whole milk (discussed with their pedi of course) and started drinking more. She did just fine and is a thriving 2.5 year old.

You'll get through it and have a great attitude. Hope you're enjoying the weather!

Marissa said...

My son also refused bottles, starting at 6 months. The sippy that worked best for us at the beginning was the tilty cup (http://www.amazon.com/Tilty-Sippy-Clear-Ounce-Pack/dp/tags-on-product/B001F913N8) . There's no valve, and it's designed so they don't have to tilt their head way back to drink, although that's probably less of a problem before they're sitting up on their own.

Mrs. V said...

My daughter refused bottles also. It was so stressful! Finally, I broke down and bought the BROWN LATEX Playtex nipples with drop-ins. She took them! Those were the only ones she would take. My sister had been telling me to buy them for weeks. I was able to send her to daycare confident that she would eat, and she did. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

My daughter started refusing bottles at 4 1/2 months old, and I was beside myself worrying because I had to go back to work when she was 7 months old. I'm not going to lie and say it was easy by any means, but by that point she was on solids and doing great with them. So, during the day, all of her baby food (homemade) was mixed with lots of breast milk. She would occasionally take an ounce or so of water or juice from a sippy cup during the day, but basically she wouldn't take any liquids during the day at all. She would just make up for it when I was home. She would nurse 2x in the AM before work, and then lots in the evenings. She still got just as much milk as she needed from me, but the feeding schedule changed. I was dealing with PPD that was awful,but I didn't realize it at the time and my husband didn't want to say anything for fear of upsetting me...We too had tried every bottle out there and she refused them all. I thought I would never be able to wean her, but surprisinly enough she took to cow's milk in sippy cups just fine and I now have a very healthy almost 4 year old :) Her growth did slow down slightly, as from her 6 month to 9 month appt she went from the 95% in weight down to 60% or so, but she was fine. It was very stressful, but in then end she adjusted.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry that this is so hard. I hope it will get better soon.
Also, I remember how it was with my first son (he finally suddently learned to drink from a bottle when he was 10 months old). I had to go back to work when he was 6 months old and we had started solids only at 5 months and he did not really eat much during the day at all I think (and he still brings home most of his lunch today and covers most of his calories after 5 pm now 6 years later....)
However, he learned to drink from a GLASS, sippy cups did not work for hime either. So he had a way to drink during the day, mostly water though, since formula was also something he did not like and pumping did not work for me. Yes ist sounds like he was starved, but it did not really seem to bother him!
And I can see that it will be so much more difficult for you to find a good solution for Charlotte because of the struggles you went through with Robbie. I wish you all the best and more of the strength that you have shown along the way already!

Rachel said...

I am so glad that you are getting support. First of all, July is a long way away and your daughter may very well become more flexible by then. If not, there's always purees made with breastmilk. We also did sippy cups and it was incredible watching the joy of my son when he figured out a straw (took about 3 days of demonstrations by me). You can also consider the open cup route. We fed both of my kids pumped milk out of a shot glass when necessary.

It sounds like the bottle refusal is really stressful so not worth trying again this week, but maybe try once or twice every week. Babies go through all sorts of different developmental phases (which you of course know) and you may just catch a magic moment when she's ready to try again.

You mentioned trying many bottles, but what about the temperature of the milk? Does it help to pump and feed it to her directly so it's still warm?

Trish said...

Thanks for everyone's advice. I'm hoping the sippy cup idea works at some point.
MrsV, I haven't tried the latex nipples on bottles, but I did try some pacifiers with them and she was pissed about those, too.
I will have to try to find some latex bottle nipples and see how that goes.
I DO think a lot of her objection is the firmness of the nipples. I need something really soft, I think.

Rachel, I've definitely tried different temps. Robbie was picky about his milk temp during the time he would eat, so I went straight to that. It really seems more like a nipple issue. She's angry even before the milk can get to her. she just doesn't want that plastic in her mouth.

She's at the point now where she's bringing toys to her mouth and doing a lot of chewing and such. i'm hoping maybe some of that will desensitize her to objecting to other textures.

Tiffany (berty12777) said...

I have another bottle-refuser over here. We spent so much money on trying different bottles, but Becca would have none of them. She also got pretty pissed off about sippy cups with soft tops. We finally figured out, when she was about 6 months old, that she would take warm breast milk in one of the cheap, hard top Take 'n' Toss sippy cups. All that money spent on bottles and it was the cheap cups that finally worked. *sigh*

Hang in there, Trish. I know it's not easy to see your kid not eating and I can't even imagine how it feels when you've been through what you've been through with Robbie.

Ruby said...

My older son did bottles until he was about 3 months old. One day, he woke up and refused. No way, no how. No bottle, no sippy cup would do it. The only thing that did work was plain open cups. At first we just used tiny Tupperware glasses (they are made for kids and hold 2 oz in each cup) or a shot glass. Then any old cup would work. From the time he was 8 months old until his younger brother was born (he was 25 months), I worked 3-4 days a week. I let him self wean. He would nurse more when I was home, less when I wasn't. My body adjusted. My younger son never did bottles. We quickly gave up. He was drinking out of a cup by 4-5 months.

A and W mom said...

Oh, girl ... I can see how that would trigger a reaction after all you went through with Robbie. (((HUGS))) And prayers that she starts taking a bottle well soon! That's good to know your pediatrician thinks there are other options, too. Whew!