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Jorie's Nursing Strike

Kelly McGurk
Torrington CT USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 2, March -- April 2007, pp. 67-68

My daughter, Jorie, has always been an avid nursling. We had a few problems in the beginning as we discovered Jorie's allergies to dairy and soy. However, once I adjusted my diet, our nursing relationship sailed smoothly, until about a month after her first birthday.

At 13 months, Jorie came down with her first cold. I felt lucky that we had avoided getting sick for 13 months and figured we would get through the illness with a lot of love and nursing. On the first day of her cold, Jorie had trouble nursing because she was congested. We tried a humidifier, saline drops, and a warm shower to clear her nose, but nothing worked. I continued offering my breast for short sessions, but by the evening, Jorie gave up nursing altogether. The next day, Jorie refused to nurse, screaming at even the sight of my breast. That's when I called Kristien, one of my local LLL Leaders. She encouraged me to continue offering my breast, pump when I needed, and reassured me that this was a nursing strike that Jorie and I could get through. She also suggested that I talk to Kathy, another Leader, who might have further suggestions. Kathy was also very reassuring and reminded me to focus on getting Jorie healthy, and then worry about re-establishing our nursing relationship.

The next morning, we went to the doctor, who said Jorie had a terrible cold and some fluid in her left ear, but no infection. As the day went on, Jorie began refusing to let anything near her mouth. I was growing more concerned, as we were approaching 48 hours on our nursing strike and Jorie was becoming even more miserable. Kristien and Kathy both called to check on us and reassured me once again that we would make it through this.

By the next afternoon, I knew there was something more going on than a cold and called the doctor again. It was Saturday, so the doctor sent us to the emergency room where we discovered that Jorie's ear was infected, she was dehydrated, and she had viral sores covering the inside of her mouth. I felt relieved that we finally had an answer for our strike and thought that with some IV fluids and antibiotics, Jorie would be back to her happy self and nursing in no time.

After the fluids, Jorie perked up a bit and we went back home. She continued to refuse to let anything near her mouth, but the doctor said she had received enough fluids to keep her hydrated for at least 24 hours, so I wasn't too concerned. The next morning, Jeff (my husband) left on a business trip. Pumping became quite a task, as I no longer had Jeff's help and Jorie still screamed at the sight of my breasts. I knew my milk supply was decreasing and now that we were on day four of our strike, I was very concerned. The majority of Jorie's calories had always come from my milk. She ate very few solids and I was worried about how we would nourish her, given her allergies, if she did not return to nursing. Kristien and Kathy both sensed my concern and were unbelievably supportive. Kristien arrived later that night with a bowl of soup for me and an encouraging smile. Kathy reminded me once again to focus on getting Jorie healthy and reassured me that my milk supply would increase quickly once Jorie returned to the breast.

I struggled through another long night as Jorie screamed. Her usual comfort of nursing was no longer there and nothing I did seemed to console her -- what a horribly helpless feeling! By the morning, I was exhausted and called Jeff in tears. I asked if it was possible for him to come home, we needed him with us. As soon as Jeff told his boss what was happening, they put him on the first flight home -- what a relief! Knowing Jeff would be home that night helped get me through another day of our strike. Jorie was eating Cheerios and drinking water by then, so I knew she was on the mend, but still did not want to be near my breast. As I waited for Jeff's return, Carol (another LLL Leader) called to check on us. She offered to come over and keep me company -- what wonderful support to have during such a difficult time!

Jeff arrived home to a screaming Jorie and an exhausted wife. Having him home was very comforting. We continued on through the night and the next day with Jorie feeling better, but still only consuming Cheerios and water. As day six of our strike was ending, I suggested that we follow Jorie's normal bedtime routine and see what happened. Jeff gave Jorie a bath, put on her pajamas, read a story, and brought her to me to nurse. To my delight, Jorie did not turn away screaming, but began mouthing my breast like a newborn. We sat skin-to-skin for two hours and then Jorie latched on and began nursing. I was so relieved and overjoyed; I knew we were going to be okay.

This experience reminded me that breastfeeding truly is a precious gift, one that I often took for granted, but will not ever again. Now, when I am feeling tired and Jorie wants to nurse at three in the morning, I remind myself of the six nights that I could not nurse her back to sleep and feel so grateful for the wonderful bond that we share. Without the love and support of a fantastic husband and the encouragement, support, and guidance of three amazing LLL Leaders, our story would probably have a very different ending. Jeff, Kristien, Kathy, and Carol -- Jorie and I thank you and will be forever grateful for the precious gift you have given us.

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