My husband told me I should update my blog, because people are concerned. So here I am. Everything is okay. I’m finding my way with this new mommy gig.
So breastfeeding. Yup, we’re still doing it. But I did have another blocked duct about a week ago. It sucked. Again. But again, it cleared up relatively quickly. And I heard about ultrasound therapy I can look into next time (unfortunately the timing made it hard to get any help over the weekend). Same breast and only two weeks after the last one. Seems like my little one (LO) has a harder time latching on that side and perhaps can’t drain the breast quite as well. So I’ve changed my hold to football on that side and that seems better, although we’re currently going through a fussy couple of days again. But overall I think breastfeeding is generally going better, especially after I decided and accepted that exclusive breastfeeding just isn’t going to happen for us and it is no longer my goal. We’re combo feeding. Interestingly, no one really talks about combo feeding except the formula brands’ websites. Go figure. Anyway, it’s working for us and we’ve found a pretty good rhythm with a few bottles a day in addition to whatever he can get from me. He is gaining weight well, and I feel a ton better about where we’re at with this.
The other major change for us in the last week has been sleep. Hooray sleep! I was in a bad place with sleep when I last wrote. We were co-sleeping, with LO falling asleep on my chest after every feeding, being moved to beside me once he was good and asleep. And this worked for us for a while, but for at least a couple weeks it was not working nearly so well. I was waking whenever he stirred (and he is a very active sleeper, kinda like his mommy). In addition to his night feedings he was waking up routinely around 5 a.m. — for the day. This was not only impacting mine but also his sleep, and Chris’s. But I was stuck — I didn’t know how to break this pattern and find another way. We had a system of bouncing and chest sleeping and it was all I knew how to do at this point, but I also knew this was not sustainable. We’d all but given up on the bassinet, believing he couldn’t be reliably put down to sleep in it. But I had a chat with my doctor about post-partum depression and how things were going, and she gave me some strategies for moving LO off me and teaching him to get to sleep on his own. She felt if I got more sleep, I’d be doing much better (and she was right). So we kicked hubby out of the bedroom for a few nights and I put LO down to sleep on that side of the bed, not on me. This began to work almost immediately, and I went to sleep with him for a couple consecutive nights at 8 p.m.
Our first night went well with only a bit of crying, but we were up again for 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. feedings, and then up for the morning. The second night he skipped his 1 a.m. feeding, ate at 5 a.m. and even went back to sleep until about 8 a.m.! I couldn’t believe it. My doctor had said he could sleep through the night at this age, and that it would likely take just a few nights to adjust, but I didn’t expect it to transform our nights so quickly.
By the second day I also started reading the Sleep Sense Program, which was more or less the same advice my doctor had given, but in more detail and with more explanation. I had been under the impression that sleep training was something you couldn’t really do until your baby was older, say 5 months or so. But no, helping your LO learn how to fall asleep on his/her own is something you can do right from day one. We now have a baby that goes to bed at 8 p.m. without much struggle, and I have reclaimed a couple hours of time for myself in the evening. I feel great about what we’re doing — it feels right and like we tapped into the signals he was already giving us (he was already sleeping on my breast starting around 8 p.m. in the evenings, so we’ve simply harnessed that into a sleep schedule where he goes to bed without me). It feels wonderful to have a couple hours to myself in the evenings and to be getting good rest when I do go to bed. We now have LO sleeping in his bassinet again and hope to transition him to his own room and his own crib soon. I’d always intended to have him in his crib by about 3 months so I feel pretty good about where we’re at with this. I think we’ll all sleep better in our own spaces. Now if only we could cure Chris’s snoring…
The next major challenge is naps. I’ve tried putting him down for naps a couple times when he is very obviously tired, but he isn’t having it. He’ll cry and cry and cry. And I know I should try to wait him out but so far my capacity for this is an hour. He either naps my lap after feeding, or in the car, or out in the stroller, at the moment. Which means he’s not really getting that terribly long or restful naps. He has always been quite alert during the days, right from the start, so I suspect napping will be an ongoing challenge for us. I will keep trying to get him into a schedule of naps, but for now, it is what it is. I’m thanking the sleep gods for giving us our nights back so far.
I thank those who have expressed their concern because of my last couple blog posts. One thing I’ve heard over and over from other moms, especially those that have a few years under their belts ahead of me, is that no one talks about how hard it really is, adjusting to your new life, taking on a massive new role, being needed and depended upon 24/7 for everything, figuring out how to do almost everything in your life anew, except now with a needy little person in tow. Especially when we don’t always have the benefits of familial supports close by. It seems to me like we should talk about it more.
I still mourn my old life and how easy everything was — how I knew how to do things. My challenges with breastfeeding created a huge amount of anxiety about how to do anything — going out, going shopping, going to this or that medical appointment. I still have some of the anxiety but I feel a lot more capable now that I’ve had some sleep, and I’ve had some help from family and friends (when possible) in actually going out, which has built up my confidence that I can manage it. And I was developing anxiety about how to deal with our sleep problem, because I knew it was contributing to my falling to pieces over everything, but I didn’t know how to transition to something new. But here we are another week under my belt and experiencing massive improvements in the sleep department. This parenting thing is quite the learning curve. You think you’re going to be good at it — hope you are — and you never really know until you’re doing it. I guess it’ll always be like this and I better just get used to it, right?
Off to make the next day’s batch of formula…