Thursday, October 08, 2009

Nursing and Sleep Struggles

Madison is still not sleeping well at night. She is over her cold...but still not sleeping more than 4-5 hours in a row.

This, for her, is extremely abnormal.

And for us, extremely frustrating.

I have been wracking my brain to come up with a reason. Its like trying to solve a very complex riddle - trying to crack an unbreakable code.

And then on one particularly bad night - when my tiredness got the better of me and I literally yelled at her babbling baby self at the foot of our bed - I had a moment of ridiculous clarity.

Its ridiculous because it should have been SO obvious. But with the sleep deprivation around here, well, its fortunate we are all fully clothed. Solving sleep riddles is pretty far out of the realm of ability.

Yes on this particular night, Brian got up with Madison and proceeded to feed her two full bottles in the span of 60 minutes. Girlfriend drank it right down. Eagerly.

I haven't been cutting back on feedings. I've been staying on our little nursing "schedule" - not so much a strict schedule as it is just a little routine. And we've added a feeding of cereal each night as well.

But the thought entered my mind that perhaps, just perhaps, my daughter was hungry because she was, in fact, not getting enough from me.

The next night I got up with her at 3 and nursed her because we were fresh out of ready-to-go bottles. About 3 hours later I attempted to pump - just like I do every morning.

Staring at the measely 2.5 ounces in the bottle when I was finished the light bulb got a bit brighter.

But I still didn't fully get it.

So last night I nursed her and whatnot and she would NOT stay asleep. At 10:30 Brian warmed up a bottle and fed it to her less than one hour after I fed her. And after a little pacing and shushing Madison fell asleep.

And slept till 7:30.

Perhaps we were simply REALLY blessed by one really good night.

I don't know.

But I suspect that I am not fully meeting my daughter's needs by nursing. That child eats every 2 hours. Yes, you heard me. I have to feed her every 2 hours. And I can't say that I ever feel very "full".

You see, my goal was to breastfeed for 6 months. Madison is almost 5 months. And honestly, I really do not enjoy nursing whatsoever. Before Reagan was born people told me how much I would LOVE nursing and how it would be this wonderful bonding experience and blah blah blah. That may be true for others. But I hated nursing. I really truly loathed it. It was messy, it was painful, it was frustrating, it was not "trackable", it was unpredictable, it was extremely time consuming, it was a big pain in the butt. I made it 4 months with Reagan (my goal was 3 months). This time around, I don't really hate it as much. But neither do I love it. And I know I am not alone because I have several friends who feel similarly. So I'm not so afraid to admit that I cannot WAIT to be done nursing.

All that is to say, if its time to be done then I'm just a-ok with that.

Stay tuned as tonight we continue our experiment with bottle feedings.


Sarah said...

Jean-I just want to encourage you in what is best for Madison. I honestly still have guilt to this day that I never made nursing work b/c I see all the people who make it look so easy. But, it never was for me with 10 lb. babies and babies who sucked like baracudas-nurses words, not mine! :) You just made me feel better to know that there are other women out there that struggle with nursing too. I had a friend send me an article that basically said God doesn't care how our babies are fed, as long as they are loved, happy, and healthy. So, good for you for making it 5 months and if you go longer great! But, if it doesn't work, I hope you don't experience the same guilt I've had for many years! You're an awesome Mom. :)

Miz Jean said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Sarah! Do NOT feel guilty!!!! Its a lot easier to say that than it is to feel guilt-free...but really, I think it is a SHAME that women are so criticized when they stop nursing or don't nurse. You will get no such criticism from me!!!!

Amber said...

Jean -
You have done a wonderful job nursing this long! Every little bit is better than nothing at all. I say do what works for you and your baby, because after all - you know your body and hers better than anyone. Being well rested and reassured that she is getting enough to eat is worth far more than torturing yourself just to say you nursed her for 6 months. You're a great momma, and your girls are blessed to have you!! Sending you a blog hug today!
Amber (Ney) Sheeley
PS - I recently weaned my 6 mo old after we had feeding problems too, and I'm feeling pretty liberated by it all! :)

Miz Jean said...

Amber, thank you so much for those kind words!

Congrats on your newfound freedom! I hope to find that freedom as well in the near future! Best not to go all cold-turkey just yet I suppose.

Stephanie said...

Hey girl! Ava was also struggling before I nixed the nursing after 4 months. As soon as I started giving her formula more and more each day, she napped better, slept at night better, etc. I really don't think I was giving her enough either and she was also eating every 2 hours. I still bottle fed her every 2 hours for awhile and now we're up to 3 or 4, but I've resigned myself to the fact that she's little and she just can't hold all the ounces the "charts" say she should. So she drinks smaller bottles more frequently, but is sleeping 10-11 hours at night...when I finally got over my guilt/discouragement that she wasn't doing what all the books said, I embraced the fact that she is who she is and she's going to eat however she wants to. She's healthy, she's happy and she sleeps like a champ :) I'm ok with that! You do whatever you need to! You've done great so far!!