You might want to prepare yourself for this long and venting post. As far as orally feeding Averi goes, this was the MOST frustrating week I have had thus far. We started the week off using the Haberman Feeder with regular breastmilk but she would only take like 5-10 mls. Even then she seemed to be fighting it and sometimes coughed which meant that she was aspirating on the thin liquid.
Since this was a step backwards, I decided to try using the thickened milk in the Haberman on the medium setting. This was a little tricky since the thickened milk doesn’t work too well with the valve and led to no improvement and more crying. I concluded that this ‘special feeder’ was especially not helpful, got mad that I anticipated it solving everything and was therefore more let down than usual, and went back to using the slit nipple we had been using the week before.
Unfortunately, Averi had also decided that this was all a very bad joke and started screaming any time she even saw the bottle, no matter what nipple was on it. Long story short, I started getting desperate. I tried, water in the Haberman (to trick her into thinking it was just lots of spit), baby food in the Haberman and in the slit nipple (thinking that maybe she was bored with the taste of milk), letting her lap the regular and thickened milk out of a small measuring cup (which actually went sort of okay), swaddling her arms, holding her, putting her in the highchair, giving her toys to distract her (which she just used to pushed the bottle away), and finally emailed Francis on Friday.
Francis said that we do not want to create an aversion to bottles so I should just stop the bottle feeds for the weekend and simply spoon feed Averi the thickened milk and baby foods.
Francis and I both arrived this morning with several new ideas. Francis brought a Soothie pacifier with a thin tube poked through the middle of it. Since Avei hates the bottle but still sucks on her pacifier, she thought we could slowly push milk into her mouth through the tube in the pacifier and avoid the whole screaming drama. The only problem is that the system doesn’t come with a syringe, so I had to bring it home to experiment with this week.
I told Francis about trying to cup feed and that I stopped because the edge of the cup was kind of rough. She got out cup specifically made for beginning cup feeds that was much smoother and even had a nose notch cut out of it. She then showed me how to use it correctly. Apparently Averi’s tongue is supposed to go under the cup, not in it like I had been doing.
Then I told Francis my craziest idea yet and asked her let me know if I had finally lost it. I suggested trying to breastfeed, since it doesn’t look like a bottle, she has complete control over the flow rate, and she doesn’t bite nearly as much as she used to. So, after totally convincing myself that she would never breastfeed, I cuddled up with Averi on a beanbag and watched her latch right on. She did lots of little sucks, a few long productive sucks, and stopped to look around any time any one said anything. We couldn’t believe it.
She did bite a couple of times (thank goodness for nipple shields – a thin cover that gives her something to latch on to and slows the flow) and we had to do some fancy switching between pacifier and breast, but it was an overall positive experience. So I am now supposed to add trying to nurse every three hours to my schedule and ignore the rollercoaster that my emotions are riding as they attempt not to get too excited about something I have tried really hard to put behind me.
Finally, Francis tried giving Averi a bottle, just to see her reaction and try to find a solution to it. We came to a rather interesting conclusion. When Averi stops sucking she bites down on the nipple. The problem is that she doesn’t move her tongue first, and is therefore biting herself. No wonder she has an aversion to bottles now – essentially, they hurt (even if she is the one doing the hurting). Hopefully one of the techniques we tried today will be a solution.