Monday, February 13, 2006

Someone needs to learn that "I could just eat you up" is an expression

After months of chewing and drooling, Ada has a tooth. It showed up a couple of weeks ago and didn't immediatly change her life in any way, but it just changed mine. The past couple of days Ada has been biting me.

A few months ago I came across some advice in the Dr Sears baby book. When the baby bites your nipple, pull her in close to you. With her face up in your breast, the baby won't be able to breathe without releasing the death grip on your nipple. Baby releases, mom is spared further pain. It seemed so reasonable - smother your baby! Actually, it did look like a good idea, because if you follow your instinct and yank the kid's head away from you, you are likely to suffer as she locks her jaws to hold on. I was all ready. I've even told other people about this idea. But that was all before Ada started using me as a chew toy. My problem? (Ok, my problem OTHER than the obvious "Nora is Ada's teether"?) Ada has a cold. She can barely breathe while nursing anyway, so my attempts to stop the biting by giving her a "breathe or chomp" choice turn out to be not so effective. This morning she bit me multiple times, each time then looking up at me smiling. Very funny, baby. In case I ever had any desire to say "bite me" ever again, that desire has been drained from me entirely.

I wish I had something funny to say about this, but Ada's new interest in nibbling has not brought out the best in me. This morning was particularly bad, in part because Ada woke up Chris and me at 1, 2 and 3:30 AM (this last time refusing to be soothed and instead complaining for an hour until we finally gave in and I brought her into bed to nurse at 4:30). I know she's sick (and given all the drooling - and did I mention chomping? - teething), but I am so much less sympathetic when I don't sleep. Chris is a bit better, but then he gets to go escape across town during the day. (All he has to worry about at work is whiny students complaining about how they "need" an A in his class.) I know that the struggle to respond lovingly to your child, even when she is being incredibly annoying, is one faced by many parents. Chris and I have talked about the fact that as Ada gets older she will become increasingly attuned to our moods and the way we express them around her. I am very easily moved to tears, and I worry about the impact that my tearfulness could have on my daughter. When I am tired it is harder to respond with love to Ada's unbending demands. My goal is to feel love for her even when she's refusing to be soothed at 3 AM. Although this isn't an entirely realistic goal, I am trying to think of the advice of a Buddhist friend that we try let the negative flow over rather than through us. This kind of advice used to make me laugh. Now I appreciate the suggestion. I know I won't be waking up at 3 AM forever. Maybe I can let this experience flow over me until it is past me.


  1. Another version of the pull-child-close trick is just to put your little finger in at the edge of her mouth to break the latch and then move her away from your breast -- gets her off there without risking damage to you. (You can also say "no! no biting!" while you do this.)

    Hang in there. She'll get the message (biting = no more nursing) in a couple of weeks.

  2. I'm so terrified of the chomping. it's too bad the smothering doesn't work well - although the technique Kathy describes is a lot like what I do with puppies or to get horses to take a bit, so perhaps it will be effective on small persons as well? Wishing you strength as you deal with dome of the downs in those "parenting ups and downs" I'm always hearing about.

  3. Two things occurred to me after I posted that -- one, hi! this is Kathy Sher, not some random Kathy creepily reading your blog.

    Two, it doesn't take a couple of weeks -- less than a week, if you just gently get her off the breast whenever she bites (which is not hard to be consistent about).

  4. Thanks Kathy - I thought it was you, but I appreciate the confirmation. (I've creepily read - and commented on - other people's blogs, so I wouldn't worry.

    I'm trying the "bite gets you no more milk" thing, so we'll see.

  5. We have new teeth in our house too. I literally hold my breath every time I feed him. Knock on wood, no bites yet!