Monday, October 24, 2011

Everybody loves Shark Week!

Did you flip to the Discovery Channel to be sure and then think, What is she talking about? Shark Week was months ago. But at our house, you see, Maureen now has five teeth on board and at least one more on deck, so it's shark week at Fig Point all day every day. I love how nursing sites downplay the significance of teething. They are like, "Pff! Simply tell baby not to bite you, and she will understand." Okay, not that glib but almost. Perhaps it is an easy transition for most folks. Mo's two bottom teeth were really no big deal because her tongue is over them when she eats. But the top teeth have been a different story altogether.

First I must tell you that Momo has been busy writing a book about solid foods. It's called I'M JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. What started as a happy baby bird opening her mouth for more sweet potatoes quickly became a tricky baby weasel clamping her mouth shut every time a spoon gets within six inches of her. She will smile and laugh until she sees you make your move with the mush. Then slap! Closed for business. This is what happens when a total smartass and the class clown get together: they produce a smart-clown. We were lucky, though: the punnet square said there was a 25% chance we'd have a class-ass instead.

We persevere in the face of adversity. Every afternoon we sit Madame Smart-Clown in the high chair for an hour and play at getting human food into her. Purees are the problem. She deftly dodges, gags, teases, rubs baby food into her hair, and occasionally vomits all the hard-won success onto her bib. But if you sprinkle Momo's tray with food she can grab and feed to herself, then it's fine. Extremely slow but fine. We still try to give her mush, but mainly she eats Gerber puffs, yogurt drops, Mum-Mums, rice, tiny bits of cooked veggies, shredded chicken, hard cooked egg yolk, and noodles. At least 60% of her endeavors go down the hatch.

The solid food hour of prayer and pleading aside, Maureen is getting nearly all of her nutrition from breast milk. She still nurses about seven times in 24 hours. Contrast this with cousin Jack who now only nurses early in the morning and before bedtime (and during the night maybe?) and gobbles down baby food and cereal all day long like it's going out of style. Also, Jack does not have any teeth yet. Color me jealous.

I had to tell you all that to set the stage for the sharky stuff because it falls under the topical umbrella of eating. But I've one more feeding-related *aside* for you. Several months ago I wrote a post full of tips to help get you through the first six months of breastfeeding. At some point you will feel like you and your baby are really getting the hang of things. You hit your stride and bf-ing couldn't be going better. Enjoy that while it lasts.  Remember that part of Alice in Wonderland when Alice takes the baby from the Dutchess, only to look down and find she has been carrying around a pig in a bonnet? For us the change happened around six months. That's when we realized that Maureen had become a distracted drinker. Which would be a huge problem if she was also driving. Instead it is challenging to feed her when there is something more interesting in her vicinity, like a conversation or a television program or Sukey's tags jingling or Mommy breathing.

While I'm swinging wide... Did you know that nursing moms are more likely to be victims of sexual bias? But we are also more likely to very calmly kick someone's teeth in when bias rears its ugly head. Food for thought.

Which brings me back on point: teething. For the past month Mo's been getting up earlier, napping shorter, drooling, coughing, waking multiple times at night, and biting. Biting her toys, my shirt, burp cloths--whatever she can shove in her mouth. And, of course, me. She has been biting me going on three weeks. I have seen enough AFV to know that teething wasn't going to be fun.

Kid, I feel your pain.

My initial strategy to discourage biting came straight from dog training. When she nipped me I would say, "Ouch! No, you do not bite Mommy," and end the meal. That quickly taught Maureen how hilarious it is when I jump out of my skin. After a few days I noticed that she had a devilish gleam in her eyes and then was laughing when I scolded her.

This reached a crescendo last Thursday around lunch time. Mo bit me, and I shouted, "OUCH!" loud enough to maker her cry hysterically. I almost cried myself. She bit me so hard I had two tiny fang marks for most of the day. I was lucky she didn't break the skin. Clearly this wasn't working. The baby almost sheared off one of my nipples. And if I scared her too badly she might go on a nursing strike. That wouldn't be a big deal if she ate anything else, but she doesn't really. So on to plan B.

My current strategy requires that I show no potentially amusing reaction. I calmly remind Maureen that, "Mommy is for milk. Toys are for bites," and put a teething toy into her hand. For it to work I have to be hyper vigilant, watching her face like a hawk for any sign that she's about to chomp. A slight pause. Tension in her jaw. Her eyes glancing at mine so she doesn't miss the hilarious "ouch!" she is about to create. And then before she can strike, I burp her or offer a toy or switch sides. After several days, Mo seems to be catching on. Never a dull moment. *sigh*


Tmomma said...

yikes! shark stages are never fun....and i do mean stages. bug has been going in and out of biting and roo, my wonderful 5 year old roo, bit a kid at school last week. he never had a shark stage ever, i felt like the worst parent ever when they told me. bug was a late teether and was just never a biter with nursing, he was always very serious about it. now he thinks it's funny to hit my boobs and see if they bounce. guess he'll be a boob guy, lol. good luck and stay vigilant! and motrin at night can help if the teething is really bad, i think bug teethed 4 at once at some point, misery!

old dog said...

YIKES is right! I think I only had a short duration of biting trouble with one of the kids (I've blocked the memory to protect the guilty party). Screaming and ending the meal worked for me. Mo has some serious humor issues!

bbmowery said...

Becca's mom quit nursing each of her kids around 9 months because that's when they started biting. And she was like, "That's enough of this!"

A mom at our playdate yesterday said she still has a biting issue with her 12 month old. When he gets bored near the end of the meal he nips her. :(

bbmowery said...

Talked to a mom today whose teething baby (now a 4 year old) bit her 3 times hard enough to draw blood. !!! She said she was trembling when it was time for him nurse and decided that nursing was over.