When Daniel was nine or ten months old, he went on a nursing strike. It was my fault.
At the time, he was cutting his top front teeth, and accordingly, started giving me a little test chomp each time he would nurse. This hurt me so sincerely that I couldn't think before reacting, "Oh ouch! Daniel! Don't bite!" The first time I said this to him, he was deeply hurt and looked up at me with one of those heartbreaking pre-cry faces.
I only had to react a few times like this before he stopped wanting to nurse.
It took me half a day to make the connection between my reaction and his refusal to nurse. I had never spoken to him that way, especially not in our moments of ultimate closeness.
Fortunately, he was eating other food by this time, but he'd still been breastfeeding 6-8 times/24 hours. Now, every time I offered to feed him, he would seal his lips tight. This from a boy who LIVES for nursing (still does...). I was so sad!
The strike lasted a few very long days. The first night, I broke his resistance a bit by nursing him when he was super sleepy, but that didn't work for long.
Finally, I lay with him in my bed when he awoke one night, and tried again to nurse. He refused over and over, shaking his head and arching away. I felt to try a different approach. I held him close and whispered gently, "Daniel, I love you. I'm sorry I hurt your feelings." With that, he immediately latched on and drank a full meal.
I was touched by this sweet reminder that babies possess a deep sensitivity and understanding. Not every baby may have reacted this way, but Daniel wears his heart on his sleeve, and he needed to feel without a doubt that I love and accept him. It was what we both needed.
Things got better after that, but he watched me closely for a while. I learned to anticipate the nibbles and quickly break the latch. If I missed on that, I would just bite my tongue and try my best to smile instead of squeal.
He doesn't bite anymore, and nursing is lovely as ever.