Sleep has been an interesting endeavor around the house for the past 6 months or 28 weeks. Made even more interesting with the added fact of being pregnant with baby number 2 and breastfeeding. Up until one week ago Declan’s sleep schedule was less than organized. He would officially go to bed at 9pm and wake at 11pm, after nursing he would be back to sleep at 11:30pm and then awake again at 1am. Nurse for 30 minutes and back out to only wake up an hour later. This would repeat all night until 5am when I would be so tired that I didn’t have it in me to walk down the very short hall to nurse him again, so he would end up in bed with us. From here we would both get about 3 hours of sleep. Not good sleep, side laying nursing would still wake me up every time he would latch on, but sleep. Around 8am he would wake up fussing and I would wake up feeling like a truck dragged me down the street. No one was happy. Well except for Daddy O and the dogs who can sleep through the house imploding.
Two nights ago that all changed. From the hours of 10:30pm to 4:00am he slept. Slept without stirring, without needing me, without crying, without a midnight feeding. He slept. Did I? NO!!! I woke up at our usual times, panicked and disoriented every time. Panicked because he has started rolling in his sleep and all the SIDs and crazy new mom thoughts start whirling in my head. So instead of going back to sleep I still got up to check on him. Of course he was fine, happily sleeping all balled up on his belly, butt in the air, hands by his head. Needing to reassure myself I placed my hand on his back, “still breathing” I thought and then returned to bed. Returned to bed frustrated with myself for losing more precious minutes of sleep. By 4am when he did wake up I was wide awake. Maybe I did get sleep, perhaps it was good deep sleep. The bonus is Declan getting GREAT sleep. He woke up in his own bed singing and talking to his hands. He wasn’t fussing, crying or rooting for my breast. He was happy and all smiles when I went in to greet him.
So what has changed? Breastfeeding and more food has been the biggest change. When month 5 rolled around Declan began cluster feeding, feeding on demand and with little to no break in between feedings. He was growing, going through a wonder week and needing more. His instinct kicked into high gear and he did what he was programmed to do in order to make sure he gets enough milk. Now I am not certain about this because I have never been able to pump enough milk (my boobs don’t really respond) to get a gauge for how much milk I produce but when the 5th month started and I found out I was pregnant things seemed to change. Maybe it was my hormones making my supply dip, perhaps it had a different taste but either way Declan was not happy and was getting more and more frustrated with the more time that passed and the more he nursed. His fits of frustration on my breast didn’t hurt me physically but mentally it was taking a toll. I was beginning to believe I couldn’t make my son happy, that I was broken and in turn was breaking him. He looked healthy, slim and lean baby always, but he didn’t seem to be gaining enough weigh in proportion to how often he was eating. Daddy O would find me in tears often while Declan would be screaming in protest as I tried to feed him. We were going down hill fast and Daddy O was feeling helpless.
Declan wasn’t only having a hard time with nursing but his days and nights seemed to be filled with frustration and tears. He was fussy, always wanting to be held and moved around. Not just your normal amount but extreme, the downward motion of putting him down would result in tears and screams. He also wouldn’t let Daddy O hold him for more than a minute. He was getting worse with every day that passed. I thought, OK maybe I have a high needs baby, maybe this is just how he is and I need to find ways to cope instead of trying to fix him. So I changed my mindset, he was no longer a “fussy baby” instead he was just Declan, my son and I love him. But the change in my view and demeanor towards him didn’t impact him at all. This got me thinking. Could he just be hungry?
A few days a week we had been trying foods, new foods, finger foods and he seemed to love it. Oatmeal was a huge hit. So much so that he would sing through the entire meal. But it wasn’t until the fifth day of me crying while Declan screamed at my breast that I thought maybe he needed more. So I did research on all the different types of formula and found one that I agreed with to try. Formula? Yes formula. I know there are women who donate breast milk but for me I couldn’t get the ick factor out of my mind of my son drinking someone else’s breast milk. So for me donor milk wasn’t going to be an option, I just wasn’t comfortable.
The first bottle of formula Declan consumed went down with very few hiccups. He is a curious dude when it comes to my water bottles, glasses and anything that he can put in his mouth so I figured it wouldn’t be hard to get him to try it. I wasn’t expecting him to drink it with such ferocity and then to actually like it. I tried it, compared to breast milk it is not tasty at all. To me breast milk or at least mine has an almond milk texture and taste, sweet and mild. Formula had a slight fishy smell and was not sweet at all despite the sugar they add to it. After that first bottle I upped the amount of oatmeal he was getting per meal and added in fruit in the morning and veggies in the evening.
Immediately on day one he was happy. Two hours after his first big meal he was singing, talking and playing on the floor. No one needed to hold him or walk with him in order for him to be happy. HE WAS FULL. Daddy O and I sighed with relief. If food wasn’t the fix then we weren’t sure where to go next.
Fast forward to the end of week two and we have 5 hours of good sleep followed by 4 more. A baby waking up talking to everything and days filled with laughter. Oh and the other change, because he was so happy just being on the floor playing he quickly transitioned to a rolling machine. Rolling from toy to toy and entertaining himself and us. He still breastfeeds, for nourishment and comfort but it isn’t his main source of food any more. I thought I would feel guilty or be upset and happily I wasn’t. I was giving him the best I could and needed to make adjustments. Going to formula wasn’t done for convenience, breastfeeding is the most convenient way to feed a baby. This was done for him, for his happiness and health. Feeding your baby with love and for his well-being in mind should never be filled with guilt no matter how you choose to feed it is always with love.