Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Situation

Wildly meandering thoughts of my last post aside, it's been a while since I've actually updated this blog with real content. Y'know, about Jack. The baby. Right.

How's the sleep situation?

The sleep situation is up and down. On the one hand, Jack usually only gets up once or twice a night now, and that's a huge relief from the every-two-hours-routine he kept up for several months. On the other hand, I'm tired of getting up. Every. Single. Freaking. Night.

His routine goes something like this...

7/7:30pm: jammies, then he nurses, falls asleep in my arms, and I put him in his crib
10:00pm, 1:00am, and/or 4:00am: usually one of these times, occasionally two or three... hysterical crying until I nurse him back to sleep (20 minutes at a time). Sometimes I bring him into bed. Sometimes not.
6:30am: rise and shine!

For the last couple of weeks, Jack has only been getting up once at 1am. Still, I'm struggling. Jack's saving grace -- being the terrible sleeper that he is -- was that he always went down quickly. Sure I had to get up every hour or two in the worst of it, but usually he'd nurse for a minute and then conk out. Now? Now Jack has decided he wants to comfort nurse: no milk coming out, just nursing. And nursing. And nursing. 20-30 minutes of comfort nursing at 1am. Urgh.

I nearly can't stand it.

This reaction actually confuses me. Up until very recently, I've loved nursing Jack, even at night. It is our special time together. But suddenly I've lost patience and I don't know why. I am confused by this. I'm not sure how to handle my frustration. I was planning to nurse him well past 12 months, and now, I'm just annoyed. I try to unlatch him, and he gets upset and fusses, and then my irritation builds.

I think it would be easier if I wasn't working. The problem is that I only actually nurse him once or twice a *day*. The remainder is nighttime (exhausted! so tired!) or pumping. This is wearing on me. A lot.

When will you stop pumping?

I'm sort of trying. Sort of.

I told myself to stop and fill his daycare bottles with formula, or pump once and fill the extra with formula. Trouble is, I can't seem to stop. I've spent too long trying too hard to get milk. Jack takes 8 ounces per day at daycare, now, and I pump 8 ounces per day. When I try to pump less than 8 ounces, I kind of freak out emotionally and then try to get extra milk in the evening or early morning.

Have I mentioned I'm a goal oriented person? 8 ounces: can't accept anything less.

The emotional aspects of pump-weaning are more difficult than I imagined. Pumping is one way that I take care of my baby, and when I don't pump and I sit at work without him, I feel bad.

I found I was able to not pump on Friday -- I convinced myself he didn't need milk until Monday anyway. And then I didn't pump during the day on Monday because I didn't need to. But then I pumped Monday night and the next morning, and well, etc, etc, etc. I defrosted some frozen milk for today's bottles, but it tasted awful, as my frozen milk (even heat-treated) always curdles and becomes yucky. I'm sitting here on Wednesday, staring at my pump and wondering what I'll do. I don't know.

When will you night wean?

I have no intention of night weaning Jack before he sleeps through the night. If he's up, he can have some milk. It comforts him and that makes sense to me. He reverse cycles (takes in far more milk during the night than during the day), and I don't want to cut off his milk supply.

The trouble is, I've done full night duty for all but 3 nights of the last 11 months, and that means that Jack wants me at night and not Dad. That kind of sucks for me. We tried giving him a bottle -- formula, breast milk, from me or from Greg -- and it doesn't matter. He wants me and wants my boob.

I should be flattered, but instead I'm exhausted. I just want someone else to take care of my baby at night for a week, but it's not possible.

So we decided that Greg is now in charge of putting Jack to sleep and I will continue getting up with him at night. Hopefully this well help Jack associate Greg with nighttime comfort.

Why don't you just do Cry It Out (CIO)?

We tried CIO, twice.

The first time, we stuck with it. It was several months ago, during a time when Jack was getting up every hour or two. He cried for 45 minutes the first night, 30 minutes the second, 15 the third, and then he slept. It was amazing.

And then he got sick a few days later and it all went out the window. And then I decided if CIO was something I was going to have to do multiple times, it was not something I was willing to do to Jack.

But last week, I just lost all patience. I had spent 40 minutes nursing him down (twice!) and he woke up as I was tiptoeing out the door. This is unusual, but it was very frustrating. So I left the room and decided it was time, finally, that he learned that going to sleep without me holding him is OK. He immediately started crying. Screaming. Sobbing.

After 10 minutes of this, he threw up, smeared it all over himself, and I came into a hysterical, tear-soaked, red-faced, hiccupping, coughing, vomit-covered child, and I decided... never again.

I don't care whether Jack's need to have someone with him when he falls asleep are "reasonable" or not. If it takes me 15 minutes of cuddling, nursing and comfort to get Jack to stop hyperventilating after a CIO attempt, that's too traumatic for either of us to bear.

So what, you're going to have to do this until he's in high school?

No. This is the thing I've learned. Jack's sleeping habits seem to be totally independent from what we do. Some nights he sleeps. Some nights he doesn't. Some months, when his poor habits peak, I could scream from the exhaustion. But inevitably it's a phase. It's always a phase. He gets better and worse with no regard to whether we co-sleep or not, whether we comfort him or not. The only thing that seems to help him sleep better is if he naps well and has an active day.

Plus -- call me delusional -- Jack's habits are, on average, getting better. Two nights ago, he slept from 8pm to 7am, straight through. Last night, I put him in his crib awake and he fell asleep on his own. He stirred at 10pm, fussed for a bit, and then went back to sleep on his own, woke up at 1am and then for the day at 6:30am.

Do I think he would be sleeping much better if we did CIO? No, I don't. I don't know a single near-1-year old who *doesn't* get up at least once a night, and I don't expect Jack to be the exception.

So what can I do? I believe my job is to push the envelope: provide Jack with just enough comfort and support to be OK, but give him the chance, whenever I can, to fall asleep by himself. I let him fuss for as long as he will fuss. I permit crying up to the 5 minute mark. Hysterical tears bring me there immediately. I try to withdraw nursing before he let's go himself, I put him down in the crib (instead of our bed) whenever I can stomach the sleep deprivation. We work on getting Greg to comfort him more at night. Etc.

And we bank on the fact that no high schooler ever has to be held to fall asleep. It has to end, at some point.

It had better!

What's up with the food situation at daycare?

Sorry, I sort of dropped the story line on that. We were incredibly frustrated with Jack's daycare. We would send him in with handheld items and they would either (a) not give them to him (he'll choke! this piece of sticky fig? uhm, no), (b) say absurd things (he did choke! kiwi? you're joking, right?), or (c) actually lie (he didn't like it! to something that he eagerly scarfed down a whole container of several hours later)

The teachers had pretty much stopped talking to us. Awkward, so awkward. Passive aggressive post its on his food containers. He was taking 16 ounces (4 bottles!) of milk to compensate for the lack of food during the day. We gave up.

We sent him in with purees every day.

We still send him in with purees. It annoys the hell out of me. I spend an hour making him his breakfast, lunch and snack the night before. It annoys the hell out of me.

His pinscher grasp is still terrible. This is part of the problem. Jack just does not have good fine motor skills and he is not getting many opportunities to work on it. I'm not worried - he's advanced in plenty of other ways and all babies are different - but it does make mealtimes messier and I think his daycare doesn't like dealing with that. They frequently don't give him the handheld items I send in, and I suspect - based on how hungry he is when he comes home - that they aren't being patient enough to give him the time that he needs to eat on his own.

It really irritates the hell out of me.

But he'll be fine and I don't see any way around it, short of switching daycares, which we're not going to do. He eats loads in the morning before school and at dinner. And he still has rubber band arms; definitely not wanting for nutrition.

What's this whole thing about potentially moving across the country?

Oh, right. That. There might be a job. Emphasis on might. I'm headed back to Phoenix for another interview. This is nerve-wracking and I'll leave it at that.

You're going to put up some cute pictures and movies soon, right?

I promise!

No comments:

Post a Comment