As a baby he would occasionally have this brief moment while trying to latch where it was almost like a vacuum effect. If it was too soon after a previous nursing session he would end up spiting up. Very sad, but eventually it just went away. He was gaining weight and still nursing plenty, so I didn't worry about it. When he started solids at 6 months old he did seem to gag/choke on food more than "normal", but again we didn't worry because he was healthy. To this day he still chokes/coughs when drinking from a cup. I think he just has a sensitive gag reflex.
A month into tandem nursing after my daughter was born I assumed that things were golden. Both kids seemed happy, no engorgement for mama, and milk for everyone! In general my son was nursing 2-3 times per day; in the morning when he woke up, before naptime, and occasionally one other time during the day. For the morning and before nap I was consistently going just on schedule alone, it was something we have always done. He was only getting that third time in if he requested it.
In comes a surprise problem. About 3 weeks ago we were about to nurse before naptime and BAM... that same vacuum air dry heave action showed up and caught us both off guard. He ended up losing about half of his Culver's Butterburger that he had eaten for lunch... which was extra gross for me (the vegetarian mom). Eeew! I chalked it up to being a fluke, but really it was just the beginning of a downward spiral.
His dry heaving and gagging started showing up almost daily. Rarely would he actually spit up, and I think I was too busy trying to get back to my infant who was generally upset in another room while I was trying to give CL a little attention before naptime. Most of the time when he would spit up he would be able to keep it in his mouth. This dry heave would happen before he even latched on, and it got to the point where as soon as I sat down in our nursing spot and lifted my shirt he would gag. After gagging he would be upset and run away from me, but when I covered up to end the nursing session he would become even more upset and rush at me asking for boobies. If I gave him another chance, I would end up getting vomited on. Not knowing what to do, and wanting to rush back to my crying daughter, a few times my son got sleep with nothing more than a kiss. I could hear him crying for "boobies", but I was afraid and tired of cleaning up vomit so I denied him. My being distracted and not recognizing this as a problem let it escalate.
The night of Thanksgiving our son woke up around 4am with a soaked diaper. This hardly ever happens, but needless to say he was very upset. After his wardrobe and diaper change I nursed him to calm him down. And of course... he gagged. He was able to keep it down, and we put him to bed. About an hour later I wake up to find my husband changing our sons clothing again. Wondering what happened, I find out that he threw up all over his bed. I guess he wasn't able to keep it down after all.
Then the problem went a step further. My son asked for boobies (yes, he uses that word) and I took him into a back bedroom where we could get comfortable. As I was setting up the pillow for my back he started to dry heave. This was ridiculous! I hadn't even exposed myself yet and he was doing it. Worried that he would vomit on my bed I took his hand and brought him into his bedroom. He was very upset and probably thought that I was denying him nursing. He ended up vomiting up about 6 times all over the carpet. It was at this point that my husband walked in wondering why our normally quiet son was flipping out. He witnessed a few more vomits and decided that removing our son from the sight of me was the best thing to do. They went in a bathroom and eventually CL calmed down.
After that incident I started to lose spousal support. Rooster felt that our son was ready to be done and that my milk/boobs were grossing him out. I definitely thought about it. The easiest thing would have been to wean him, but the easiest thing is not always the right thing. I finally did what I should have done weeks ago... I asked my breastfeeding community for help. I contacted my Le Leche League leader and I posted a cry for help on every breastfeeding forum I belong to on BabyCenter and Facebook. The support and ideas came flooding in. Thanks so much everyone!!
Right now we are six days vomit free (knock on wood.) The summary of what I believed happened to us is that our nursing relationship was no longer relaxed because I was always trying to rush him so that I could get back to my daughter. I also changed from our schedule to just nursing on demand whenever he asked for it. Also, I started to nurse him while standing up... I am referring to it as "hamster style". He stands in his crib while I stand next to it. The constant eye contact, and just having a relaxed attitude has really seemed to help. Coincidently my daughter has actually started to nap during this time, so that makes it even easier. With these changes our nursing relationship has been saved.
So... lessen learned... ask for help from your community sooner rather than later! For now all is well in tandemville once again.