Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sleeping

Sigh. This is something Max struggles with. Something he has struggled with since he emerged from his newborn slumber. Charlie and I have read every blog post, article, and discussion board online about it, and Max still struggles.

Don't get me wrong. He is doing much better than he was. We started sleep training early - around 10 weeks. We focused on nighttime sleep first. And now, at 4 months old, he goes to bed between 5:30 and 6:30 at night. He is up at 8:30-9:30, 12:30-1:30 and 3:30-4:30 to eat. He gets a 4-6oz bottle and goes right back to sleep. So he is not "sleeping through the night" per se, but it is tolerable, and I'm confident he will get there.

Naps took us longer. He still struggles with naps. He was getting better, then he got sick and he's struggling again. He did great yesterday. Less great today, but is asleep right now and has been for about an hour, so that is good.

I've read a few books on sleeping, and though I think anything should be taken with a grain of salt, because only you know your baby and what will work, "Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child" is by far my favorite.

I started reading the chapter on sleeping during months 5-12 today, and I thought there were some good tidbits that I wish more parents had someone say to them out loud.

"Leaving your baby alone protesting for more fun with you while you get dressed is not the same thing as abandonment. Similarly, leaving your baby alone protesting for more fun when she needs to sleep is not neglect."

"Easy babies may cry very little or not at all; the temperamentally more difficult child may cry a lot. Remember, you are responding sensitively to his need to sleep by not providing too much attention You are decisive in establishing a routine because you are upholding his right to sleep. Be calm and firm and consistent, because consistency helps your baby learn rapidly."

And they tell us not to let him cry for more than an hour at naps, in order not to mess up his other nap times. So at least we were doing that right :)

And he's crying now, so it's probably about time to go get him. But this nap was an hour, so we can put that under the category of a "good nap" ;)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Update...

We are a few days in and I'm going to try to go down to 10 minutes per session today. It hasn't been too uncomfortable, but the emotions are all over the place. I knew this would happen, but I perseverate about it at least 100 times per day. Feeling like I'm being selfish, feeling sad that this part of my role as mother to Max is over. Mostly the last part. It is/was something that I could do for him that was so good for him and that no one else could do. And I'm voluntarily severing that connection. It hurts me more than him. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

On Being Enough

So much has happened since I last posted here, and I mean really posted, that it seems ridiculous to catch everything up. Plus, I don't have time for that.

What I can say is that on December 3, 2014 many years worth of wishing, hoping, and praying came true when our little guy, Maxwell Robert, came into this world. Screaming and <seemingly> very tiny he has changed our lives in a way we couldn't have imagined before he was here.

And he had a rough transition to the outside world. Despite my best efforts to breastfeed, he would not latch. He was getting so frustrated. I'm not sure what it was, and perhaps if he had been a bigger baby I could have had the time to figure it out. But one night during his first week home he was bright read - verging on purple- from screaming so much. I was near tears. I told Charlie to go get my Mom, and we decided we needed to give him a bottle. And he sucked it down like he had never been fed before.

So I tearfully determined that I would pump and give him breastmilk that way. I tried to breastfeed him for a few days after that, but he was really not all that interested, and I did not want to have that argument with him, so I started pumping exclusively. And I researched and I pumped and I drank Mother's Milk tea (even though I hate tea) and I ate oatmeal and made lactation cookies. And after a few weeks I was able to get my supply to a place that I didn't need to supplement. And then I started putting some in the freezer.

I thought for sure when my Mom left I would have to stop pumping. And there were definitely some nights that Charlie and I were both on board with stopping. He was so colicky. Always crying, always crying. And we were ruining our knees bouncing, rocking, swaying. We become expert swaddlers. But he would not sleep. He hardly ever napped well and would only sleep a few hours at a time at night. Every book told us to avoid overtired. Maximize sleep and minimize crying. Whatever that meant.

But I was lucky to have a husband who was home with me for 8 weeks. And was supportive of pumping. And so we continued. I went back to work, and I pumped before I left, I arranged my schedule so I could pump mid-morning. I pumped at lunch and in the afternoon and after he went to bed. I pumped before I went to bed and got up in the middle of the night to pump. After he was 12 weeks old I started to drop pumps, and went down to 5-6 times per day, but kept the time constant.

After I went back to work, Max turned a corner. He started to suck on his hands about the time I went back, and at that same time he started to need to be put down to sleep. He didn't know he needed that, but he could no longer fall asleep on our arms as he had done since he was born. In our efforts to minimize crying, we had never let him fall asleep on his own, because that would have involved significant crying. So he just didn't sleep and he cried and cried and cried until Charlie was sure that he had ruined him somehow. So we started sleep training. And it went well. He started to sleep from 6-7pm to 7-8am with 3-4 feedings at night, which was a major advance for him.

And most of that nighttime feeding fell to Charlie. I had to work and I had to pump overnight. And I had to go to the OR. So he insisted on taking the brunt of the nighttime feedings. I always fed him at least once, because I love that time with him. But that usually meant I was up for an hour or more during the night.

And I continued to struggle with how much time I got with him. I was so happy for him to be sleeping better, but he went to bed so early, I barely had any time with him at all in the evening. So I started to get up early so I could pump and shower before he got up. That way we usually had 30-60 minutes together in the morning before I left for work and gave Charlie a bit more time to sleep. But I was sad to not help more at night and Charlie was getting pretty sleep deprived. I was very sleep deprived. I would get up at 5:00AM. Pump, shower, and get Max when he woke up. Go to work. Come home at lunch, go back. Get home at 5:00-5:30PM. Put Max to bed. Pump while Charlie made dinner, eat, then often work on charts from work until 8:00 or 8:30PM. Watch a little TV, pump, and go to bed by 10:00. Up at 1:00 or 2:00 AM to feed Max and pump, back to bed in an hour to be up again at 5:00.

So I started to thinking about weaning from the pump. We both needed more sleep, and Charlie needed more of a break, though he would support me no matter my decision. When I thought about stopping pumping, I felt like I was "quitting". Like I was making a selfish decision. What was a little sleep to me if it was better for Max? But, as Charlie pointed out, most women would not have even pumped this long. And most that had did not have my job. And it is two hours out of my day, time that usually comes when I should be sleeping or with  my son. There is more to being a mother than feeding your baby.

And the AAP encourages mothers to breastfeed for 6 months. This is based on research that shows significant benefits for babies who are breastfed this long. But when you read their stance, the vast majority of the benefit has been achieved by 4 months. And there are many babies who were not breastfed who ended up doing alright. My Mom, Dad, and Charlie for example.

So, for all these reasons, I am extremely proud of me and Charlie for pumping for Max this long. It was truly a joint effort, even if I was the one hooked up to the pump. But I am going to wean off of it. I don't want to come home at lunch and watch Charlie play with Max while I pump. I want to play with Max. And I want to be the one to get up at night and feed him while he wraps his little hands around my fingers holding his bottle. And I want to be able to sleep an extra hour or so because I don't have to pump in the middle of the night and first thing in the morning so that I can be better rested and I don't get run down and burnt out.

I still feel guilty. Mother's guilt is something terrible. We hold ourselves to a standard we would never hold anyone else. But all I can do is try to be the best mother and wife I can be. And I think that right now that means weaning off the pump so I can spend more time with my baby and take a bit off my husband's plate when it comes to caring for him.