Hello everyone, I'm new here & I really need some help.
I am a mum of two beautiful breastfed babies, my first I breastfed until about 4 months through my second pregnancy (until she was almost 2) It was never anything but wonderful.
Now the story of breastfeeding my son..
Our son came home from the hospital with me after 5 days & woke up the next day with a fever of 40 degrees & ended up in the children's hospital for the second week of his life with a meningitis infection he had picked up in the hospital. There is the viral form & the bacterial form, one of which is the really nasty one which can cause brain damage etc.. & the other one is less extreme but still horrible & had our little one in intensive care very sick with a constantly high temperature they couldn't get down for the first 3-4 days. In this time they ran all their tests, including a lumbar puncture. Our son was given Morphine during this procedure, which I hated but couldn't change. He was also on a course of antibiotics & pain killers. I continued to breastfeed him whenever he would take it, going to him during the night - in short I tried my best to lessen the trauma of this time as much as possible for him & was with him most of the day also so he didn't feel too separated from me, he was, as I said only a week old.
Anyway he recovered fine from that horrible early ordeal, but I think he may have been a little affected by it psychologically. My son is now 18 months old now, when he came back from the hospital he flat out refused to sleep in his basinet by the side of our bed. I tried very hard to get him to sleep next to me in his own bed as I was concerned about how some people believe co-sleeping to be dangerous for such a small baby. I cuddled him up & kept gently laying him back in his bed only for him to start screaming hysterically every time. After weeks of this I eventually had to allow him to sleep with me as he wasn't having a bar of it any other way. Now at 18 months he still cuddles up between my husband Because he would never sleep in his own basinet or later in his cot, he also napped in our bed, the only place he was used to sleeping & where it felt & smelt familiar. We honestly tried very hard to get him to 'learn how to go to sleep on his own', we never left him to scream, but we tried to give him the opportunity to fall asleep on his own. He never wanted a dummy, which made things a bit difficult. He never attached to any other type of 'soothing' item.. he doesn't care much for teddies etc. I had to let him fall asleep breastfeeding & then put him into our bed asleep.
Around about 6 months he started showing the usual interest in solid food & we introduced them slowly in the recommended fashion, at about 12 months he was really keen on trying lots of different things, he loved his veggies & meat, pasta, rice, fruit.. he was really enthusiastic about food. Then, I'm not really sure when it started happening but he lost interest & started 'weaning back onto milk', even though I was still breastfeeding on demand & not 'trying' to wean him off it, he suddenly only wanted to breastfeed again & he really seems to prefer it over his solids. I put really tasty, healthy meals in front of him, things he loved before he hit this phase & he just shakes his head 'no' & pushes the plate away. I have never scolded him about it or reinforced his behavior by reacting at all. I just say 'ok, maybe you will be hungry later.' We eat our meal but before I finish.. 'K' tries to attack me for breast milk & I really mean 'attack' he is very forceful about it & grabs at me while I am trying to eat, pulling at me & screaming. I don't want to put him in another room every night so I can finish my dinner in peace but I also can't handle him always refusing to eat & then demanding that I give him milk exactly when he wants it. If we leave him in the highchair he screams & makes things very unpleasant for us all. During the day I seriously cannot have any contact with him without him reaching for my breasts, I realise there is a danger of his behavior getting worse if I reject him all the time, so I let him breastfeed some of the time & the other times I hold him & gently ask him if he would like some milk or a bit of juice with water in his sippy cup. Sometimes he takes this & sometimes he throws it away & starts after me again. As soon as I sit down for a minute anywhere he is scrabbling to get on my knee & suck. He is not thirsty, he truly is obsessive about breastfeeding & it is starting to be a real problem.
My husband & I are very involved with our children & believe in the attachment approach. We spend time with our children, I do craft with them, play shops with them, build block castles with them, paint, play Play Doh.. we read to them.. they are not starving for affection or attention.
I would not describe our son as an 'easy' child, beautiful, lovable, vibrant & happy, but very difficult in some ways.
I asked our child's doctor about his reluctance to eat 'proper' food & only ever wanting to breastfeed all the time, she said that as long as I allow him to breastfeed of course babies like that & being close to their mother etc.. She said that our son is at an age where he knows what he wants but can also be told 'no'. I agree with this in theory & have been trying to be more assertive with him about his obsessive breastfeeding. My husband has had 10 days holidays over Christmas, he has been trying to take 'K' away from me a bit & distract him when he starts demanding milk all the time. This works but only after he has screamed & I mean really screeched & howled & had a complete flip out for half an hour straight & worked himself up where he does this hysterical sobbing & uneven breathing.. I hate it but he does his nut so quickly as soon as I refuse him the breast. I can't have him latched onto me all day, it's just not an option. With his somewhat forceful, stubborn personality I am at my wits end on how to handle this. I am awake with him all night at the moment, it's just getting worse, he wants to suck all night & as soon as I remove him from the breast to roll over & sleep, he wakes up & starts screaming. When I'm lying on my back he crawls onto my tummy & lies on top of me getting as close to me as possible & snuggles up into my neck with his body wrapped around me. Sometimes after a while of fighting me for the 500th time to suck he will go to sleep in this position, but again as soon as I try to slip him off me he wakes up screaming again. I don't know why he seems to need to be constantly SO attached to me & I don't know how I can 'back it up a little' so we can live normal functional lives. I've tried in desperation tempting him with chocolate milk in his sippy cup, also consistently tried to get him interested in a dummy (the lesser evil of me being the dummy..) I've bought him a little cuddly friend who's tummy lights up & plays soft music, he loves it & carries it around often but it hasn't lessened his 'boobie infatuation'.
I am dealing with a very strong-minded child, he is bright & assertive, but very sensitive, he seems to feel rejected at the slightest attempt from me to reduce his breastfeeding & reacts very strongly. One time a few weeks ago I said 'no' to him in the middle of the night as he had breastfed so much already & I couldn't stand it anymore, I got him some rice milk & just said 'here you go have some of this & lets ly down & go to sleep..' he went from 0 to 100 in a few seconds, going hysterical, he then started coughing really badly because of the sudden screaming. I was holding him & trying to help him with the coughing & he actually ended up throwing up the milk he had drunken as a result of the screaming/coughing fit. After he got over the episode he crawled to the end of the bed & curled up by himself, when I went to comfort him he pushed me away. You may understand my reluctance to press him too hard on the subject, it can be really intense. The alternative however is also really intense, I can't live like this. Has anyone been through anything similiar or know what it is?, what it means?, how to deal with it?
I have to find some way to do what's right for both of us, at the moment our best interests are seriously conflicting. I am also worried about his diet, obviously he does eat some solids but lately his stool has looked more like newborn poo, he needs to eat more solids.
Please help me, I am literally going mad, I can't sleep..
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this & I would be so grateful for any wisdom anyone can offer me on this subject.