(Not) Sleeping & Breastfeeding

DenaJuly 14, 2013

Things are never what you expect them to be. During my pregnancy, my main concern about breastfeeding was that I wouldn’t be able to. I knew so many women that wanted to breastfeed but were unable to. I hoped and prayed that I would be able to and when the time came, I was. Roman latched on immediately and aside from one 12-hour stretch when he was 2-days-old, he has breastfed like a champ, non-stop. And therein lies the problem…

I knew that breastfed babies had to eat every two-hours in the beginning. Then, once breastfeeding was solidly established and the baby steadily began to gain weight, feedings could stretch out to three hours during the day and six hours at night. Well, Roman has no problems feeding and is growing like a weed — but he is nursing more (and more frequently!) than ever. When he is not eating, he is using me as a pacifier, also known as “comfort nursing.”

For the first eight weeks, Roman slept in my arms every night, all night. Every time we tried to put him down he would cry and cry and cry. We tried everything — swaddling, shushing, rocking. We bought a special swaddle. We bought a special co-sleeper. We bought special pacifiers. We tried the “pick up, put down” method. We tried anything and everything except letting him cry it out (CIO). It’s too early for that. So he slept in my arms and fell asleep on the boob and sometimes we would sleep for longer stretches than 90 minutes, like 3 hours — yahoo!

At 2.5 months, he still will not sleep in his crib, but he does sleep in his rocking swing. So I’ve been putting him in there at night. He’ll sleep for two-hour stretches until about 3 a.m. then he’ll only sleep for 45 minutes at a time. From 3 a.m. on, we’re up nursing for 30-60 minutes every 45 minutes until he falls asleep again.

If all of this sounds crazy, rest assured that it feels crazy, too. I’ve been at the breaking point of my sanity a couple of times recently. Thursday night was really hard. As we were getting ready for bed it dawned on me that I had no idea when I’d last showered. Literally, no idea. It could have been two days, it could have been two weeks. My hair was matted like dreadlocks and I don’t even know what I smelled like, but it wasn’t good.

We had Roman’s two-month doctor visit last week and I was so much looking forward to speaking with his pediatrician. I was sure that she would have some answers. Surely there was something that we should be doing differently. Maybe we should be supplementing with formula or trying a different bedtime routine or ANYTHING.

But do you know what she said? She said that we are doing everything right and that this is normal behavior for a breastfed baby. Yup. Normal behavior. Oh, and that I should try different techniques for soothing him… Right… Because I haven’t tried that.

Well, no happy ending here. No answers either. I am so grateful that I have been able to breastfeed my baby. It was something that I’d wanted so much for him. But, I just never could have imagined how difficult it would be. I am getting a double breast pump next week so that I can (hopefully) start pumping and Matthew can take care of one of the night-time feedings.

I know that this time is precious. I know that it will be gone soon. I know that I should cherish every minute and that this is good for bonding and wonderful for his health. I know, I know, I know. THAT’S WHY I AM DOING IT. But it’s still hard. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. ♥
my bright-eyed & bushy-tailed boy
matthew attempting to soothe/give mama a break

Comments (9)

  • James Moffitt

    July 14, 2013 at 9:02 am

    As I read your post I remembered the days when our children were babies and would keep us both up at night for hours on end. I do not remember if or for how long that Katy did breastfeed our babies. Katy just told me that she did do it with Kristina for 8 weeks and then wound up going back to work. Do I have any magical answers that will help you through this? Probably not other than to say take it one moment at a time. Your journey as a mother has just begun. Your journey as parents has just begun. You both can do it and will do a wonderful job at it. It is apparent that you both love one another and your new son. You will get through this despite the hard times. After the hard times comes the good times. There is light at the end of the tunnel and before you know it your son will be a toddler and will be racing through the house and forcing you to nail everything down. Keep writing about your experiences. Writing is good therapy. Reach out to others that are going through the same thing. There is strength in numbers. Pray and pray and pray some more and ask God to give you strength to get through the tough times. Listen to music that soothes the soul and the baby. Hugs to you all.

    1. denabotbyl

      July 14, 2013 at 11:14 am

      oh, james! thank you for your kind & inspiring words. it means so very much to me. XO

  • kristin

    July 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    I have no sound advice, but I admire you so much for sticking with it. You will be rewarded with a healthy, happy, well-adjusted baby. That is worth the loss of sleep for a while. You’re an amazing mom, Dena. Keep doing what you do.

    1. denabotbyl

      July 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

      thank you, kristin. XOXO

  • Angelique

    July 14, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Dena, I am so impressed by your persistence and dedication! Roman is lucky to have you as his mother. Rest assured you are most definitely doing ALL the right things and giving him such a special gift. Isabella and I are were on the same bath schedule at one point too…which felt like once a week, twice if it was a good one 🙂 I’m just amazed that you also have the energy to share your experience here which I love reading about.

    I still feel especially blessed for those late night feedings because after weeks of staying up late, baby will be sleeping through the night before you know it. I promise it gets better for every day that passes. Keep up the good work mama, you are doing great!!!

    1. denabotbyl

      July 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

      thanks so much, angelique. you made my morning! <3

  • Suzy

    July 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I always say that the reason why they make babies so cute is that we can never give up on them, ‘specially when they smile at us at 3am. While I have to supplement with Sam, his main way of falling asleep is still with the breast. At 3 months, I’m just now getting him to fall asleep with just a pacifier and me holding him. I’ve even managed a couple times for him to actually fall asleep on his own on the boppy or the swing, which I’ve danced a victory dance when that happens: )

    Good luck! You’re doing awesome!!

    1. denabotbyl

      July 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      ah, you are so right — that must be the reason for their cuteness! thanks for the encouragement, dear. xo

  • Aubrey Marona

    September 26, 2013 at 6:30 am

    aawww. that line “But it’s still hard. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. ♥”
    I’m not yet a mom, and I don’t even know how hard it is, but I know, even if takes most of your time and energy you will do everything for your child, and that is something sweet and lovely! 🙂

    your baby is sssoooooo cute!

    Keep sharing your mom experience and continue to inspire your readers ^_^

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