I'm really sorry for the length but am wondering if anyone can relate, or help me to stick it out for one more day, or encourage me about moving onto pumping exclusively. I know it will be a royal pain in the ass, but it's got to be less stressful than this.
My baby is five months old. Great weight gain (she is nearly triple her birth weight and she was full term!). I have done a lot of reading, and some talking with different lactation consultants/LLL leaders, and after following all their advice I feel that maybe this is just the perfect storm of teething discomfort, negative associations due to OS/OALD since the beginning, bottle preference from when she was supplemented the first couple weeks, an obsession with thumb-sucking, and now a history of traumatic (non-)feedings where she arches away and screams if I offer the breast.
Since about three months she has been drooling, chewing on everything, and from time to time running a low-grade fever, so I assume this is teething. Combined with that she has been completely opposed to nursing while awake due to distractibility---she wants to crane her head around and look at everything, even when nothing is happening, and gets inconsolably angry when she can't do this and eat at the same time. I have been feeding her while half-asleep or asleep most days for over a month now. It is incredibly disheartening to have her so violently refuse to nurse whenever I offer throughout the day (which is frequently). When she refuses she doesn't merely turn her head away or fuss. She arches her whole body very forcefully, either to look back behind her at whatever fascinating scenery our house provides, or becomes angry and starts crying. She also does this in side-lying position, usually crying and refusing to turn towards me. There is no way to coax her back when she does this without hurting her, because she is resisting so strongly, and all my other techniques for keeping her attention OR calming her (singing, bouncing, walking, shushing, dark room with white noise, etc.) have lost their effectiveness. I have tried giving up and waiting until she gets hungry enough, but beyond the 3-hour point she becomes hysterical and it's not any easier to feed her.
Judging by how poorly she has responded the past few days to ANY attempts at feeding (quiet, darkened room, all the rest of the typical distractibility and teething advice), I feel like maybe she is too far gone, and I should quit torturing her trying to coax her back. I work part-time from home and pumping exclusively seems like the next best option, though I wanted to continue breastfeeding for at least a year. I've been telling myself it's just a phase and to keep trying for so long.
From what I read I was hopeful that she would begin waking at night to make up for the lack of good daytime sessions. I already dreamfeed her twice after her bedtime (at 7; so I "wake" her to feed, albeit briefly, at 9 and 11 or 12). I'm quite sure that the thumb-sucking habit is to "blame" for her continued sound sleeping, even though we co-sleep (same room)---i.e., when she wakes up at night, she has learned to self-soothe instead of cry out for nursing like I'm told most babies do. (As an aside, please do not judge me and think I have ever left my baby to cry it out, so that she learned this habit to replace nursing---it started around 10 weeks when oversupply was still in full swing and she seemed to need something to suck on after incredibly brief nursing sessions, when her tummy was full but she still had the urge to suck.) So the bottom line is that night nursing is not making up for the daytime distractibility. I suppose I *could* start setting my alarm at night to do more dream feedings. But is that going to lead to a habit of only eating at night, if she ever does decide to come back to the breast?
Maybe I just need perspective, but this all seems kind of extreme, and has been going on for SO long (off and on, but as I mentioned, all my methods of dealing with it before are no longer working). I'm seriously worried about my supply and thinking I should just move onto pumping. She takes a bottle fine. I would so appreciate some reassurance/advice here. Thanks.