It’s been well over three months since I have been able to go to bed without waking up two, three, four or more times during the night. Most of the time, I’m astounded that I’m able to function. I’m grateful that she’s always woken up just to eat, then goes back to sleep. But it’s been a long time now and I’m getting ready to see an end in sight (though I don’t see it yet).
For us, a very good night is two wakeups. Last night was not a good night. It was one of the nights in which I lose track of exactly how many times I fed her. I’d feed her, put her down, lay down myself, and pray she’d go to sleep so that I could keep my exhausted body supine. She’d fuss, I’d pick her up, feed her again, bent over in the dark and repeat.
Somewhere around 5:30 a.m., with both breasts emptied, she was sucking lightly as though on a pacifier. I was way too tired to be her pacifier. So although we have not used a pacifier yet, I decided to see if using one would allow me to sleep. So I went downstairs to try to find one. No luck. So instead, I ate cookies (yes, dumb move for someone carrying around 30-plus extra pounds) and checked email.
She still hadn’t settled, so I fed her again. Now I was starting to get angry. Angry as in – your needs win every time don’t they? Don’t you recognize that moms need some sleep too?
I was only angry, really angry, at River once as a baby. It was when I took him to Panama at six months old. Every time I put him back in his crib, he cried. I gave him a bottle of formula to try to fill him up and knock him out into sleep, but he sucked very slowly on the bottle, keeping me up another hour. I was living with a local family and there wasn’t anyone that could help me out in the night. So it felt overwhelming.
Babies don’t deserve anger and when I feel it, I know it’s a sign that I’ve reached my limit. I gave her one more shot at the breast and when she didn’t go down, I brought her to Mark.
“What time is it?” he asked.
“I don’t know and I don’t care. I need some sleep.”
As I passed her over to him, she smiled, awake and cheery as mom was exhausted and frazzled.
I returned to bed with earplugs and enjoyed almost three hours of uninterrupted sleep.
My friend who went to Morocco for two weeks lost her milk supply, which reminds me that every choice has its consequences. But her five-month old also sleeps 10 hours straight.
I wonder how much of Willow’s frequent wakings are due to breastfeeding (I imagine there would be less if she was formula fed), to cosleeping (her being away from me would probably cause her to wake up less), to not being huge (bigger babies are able to go longer without a feeding), to not using a pacifier.
Last year around this time, a friend was struggling with similar issues. She got the Sleepy Planet DVD and said it was amazingly helpful. She mailed it to us, but said the methods can’t be used until the baby is at least 4 months old and weighs 14 pounds.
I don’t think we’ll have an issue with the weight. So I’m waiting until Willow’s four-month birthday (3 more weeks!), then will watch the video with Mark on that evening. I’m hoping it will be magical for us too. If so, I may only have a few more weeks of sleeplessness to go.