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Breastfeeding and Sleep

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There was a time, not so long ago, when I didn’t think about sleep. I went to bed at night, I woke up in the morning. I woke up when I was done sleeping, or when I had to go to work. The end.
That was before December of 2003 when I got pregnant for the first time. Since then, I breastfed one baby for 10 or 11 months ( I can’t remember), got pregnant again, had another baby 18 months after the first one, and breastfed the second baby for 13 months. Hence, the slight change in lifestyle.
Before I joined the land of the stroller-pushing-sleep-walkers, I had no idea that babies ate around the clock, 24 hours a day. Sure, I had heard rumblings about babies that didn’t sleep so well. In fact, I may have rudely even asked a friend, “Is he sleeping through the night yet?” I’ve since learned that that question is the parental equivalent of asking someone, “How much money do you make?” But I had also heard the phrase, “Oh, I slept like a baby last night.” So I had no idea what I was in for.
Perhaps it was a willful ignorance. Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention in breastfeeding class when they told us that newborns eat every two to three hours. Whatever the reason, when I was pregnant the first time, I never really thought about what would happen at the end of the 40 weeks. In fact, when I wasn’t sleeping because of nausea, anxiety, hip pain, and lack of bladder control, I was actually looking forward to getting the baby out so I could get some real rest.
Surprise, surprise. You all know what came next. I was sort of overwhelmed. I didn’t nap when the baby napped. I ran around trying to clean the house and do laundry. The result– one exhausted mom. “Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?!” I think I actually said to people. My OB’s response went something like this, “It’s the mommy conspiracy. No one wants to admit how tired they are or how hard parenting is. No one wants to look unhappy.”
I’m making light of this now, but I truly think that my lack of understanding made my transition to parenthood tougher than it needed to be. Yes, it was my own fault that I didn’t do more due diligence. But I do wish friends and family had beat me over the head with warnings about sleep, and instructions to take advantage of every free moment I could find to close my eyes.
Because of my own experience, I now try to gently warn new moms about the eating and sleeping habits of little babes. In part, I want them to know that no matter how tired you get, you will find a way to get through it all. There will come a day when you won’t have to wake to feed your baby at 3 a.m. There will come a day when your baby might event sleep from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
And yet, now that the boys are both toddlers, we have new sleep issues. Sometimes they can’t fall asleep. Sometimes they wake up too early. I still don’t force myself to go to bed early enough. And I obsess about sleep all the time. Sleep governs the decisions I make. For example…here’s the question of the week…”Am I too tired to drive from New York to Boston on Friday? Will I need to drink coffee to stay awake? And if I do, will I have to go to the bathroom every hour? And if I do that, how will I get the kids out of the car, into the restaurant and keep them from crawling on the bathroom floor?” You get the idea.
Now, a little wiser, I recognize that things will only evolve as they get older. Someday I’ll be awake at night worrying, and listening for them to come home. In the meantime, I’m trying to take my own advice. The boys may not need me for a midnight feeding, but they are going to need me at the crack of dawn. The Bortski will patter his way into our room asking for “Delicious milk and Thomas The Tank Engine.” The Bear will wake crying shortly after that. And so, I bid you good night. And you should go to bed too! Or take a nap if your kids are napping.
If, however, you dare to stay up, you might want to see what these other bloggers have to say about breastfeeding and sleep.
The Motherwear Blog
Breastfeeding123
The Lactivist
BreastfeedingMums
Mama’s Magic
Hathor the Cowgoddess
Leche, Baby!
Veggie Way
Crunchy Domestic Goddess
Life with Twins

The Terrible Twos

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Again, not a breast feeding story, but I can’t resist.
The Bortski pulled a fast one on me last night. He was supposed to be in bed asleep. I was doing the dishes. It’s been a struggle to get him to sleep. But he was quiet so I thought all was well. But then, I went in to check on him as I had promised, AND HE WASN’T IN HIS BED!
In fact, he wasn’t anywhere in his room. He wasn’t in the kitchen, living room or dining room. (Keep in mind we have a 2 bedroom apartment). That’s when I started to panic and shout his name. I turned on all the lights in his room. I went blazing into the bathrooms and our bedroom. STILL NO BORTSKI.
By way of background, I recently caught him trying to break out of the apartment. He was standing on the seat of his stroller and tinkering with the top bolt on the door. He said he wanted to run in the hallway. So, we have precedent here for exit attempts. And on this particular night, I realized I had forgotten to bolt the door.
I was about call the doorman and to tell him to scan the security cameras for a runaway two year old, when I heard a little squeak. Sure enough, there he was, hiding under the double stroller. He had kept quiet the whole time I was yelling for him.
If you’re on your first child, this is a glimpse of things you can look forward to. If you have an older kid, you know what I’m talking about. Certainly Loopie Chick does, since she finally had to turn to an ENT to get a walnut out of her son’s nose.
My advice…keep a good bottle of wine on hand. You never know when you’ll need it.

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“‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” Parody for New Moms

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I don’t celebrate Christmas…instead we have a Chinese food/movies tradition. Even so, it’s hard to resist the spirit of the season. And so, I bring you, once again…
‘TWAS THE BREASTFEEDER’S NIGHTTIME
By Andi Silverman, www.mamaknowsbreast.com

‘Twas a holiday eve and the babe was asleep,
Swaddled tight in his crib he made not a peep.
My boobs were depleted from feeding all day.
“Please don’t wake. Sleep all night,” to the babe I did pray.
But his lips, how they moved, as he lay in his bed.
Visions of milky breasts danced in his head.
Dad in his boxers and I in my sweats,
Could we get some shuteye? Go ahead, place your bets.
The moon on the breast of my t-shirt did glow,
Gave a luster to leaking spots set to grow.
My nursing pads were soaked, they fell out of place.
My bra had unsnapped. How I missed sexy lace.
For months I’d been feeding our babe everywhere.
Coffee shop, park bench, museum, movie chair.
All my modesty gone, nothing shy anymore.
If the kiddo was crying, I knew how to score.
And now with the holidays, things often got dire.
While out buying gifts, I sometimes drew ire.
I breastfed in clothing stores. Changing rooms rock.
I breastfed in bookstores. To the stacks I did flock.
When from the babe’s room there arose such a clatter.
We sprang from our bed to see what was the matter.
Away to his room we flew with a flash,
Threw open the door, in the dark I did crash.
What a klutz I can be, ‘twas those bags made me fall.
Sacks for our trip, all arranged in the hall.
We were going to Grandma’s, a five hour drive.
Holiday time—Will I make it alive?
One big huge duffle held all the babe’s stuff.
Diapers, wipes, onesies. Did I bring enough?
Now don’t forget burp cloths, crib sheets and toys.
Books and Bjorn, we’ll exhibit such poise.
On breast pump, on bottles, on stroller and boppy.
On car seat, on cradle, on blanket and binky.
Fill the back of the car, fill the trunk with our haul.
And we’ll drive away, drive away, drive away all.
Now don’t forget stopping to feed long the way.
Gas stations, McDonalds and rest stops, oy vey.
Of course there’ll be lots of those diapers to do.
Get out the Purell, you’ll be covered in poo.
When we finally arrive, now what will await?
Lots of food and embraces, it’ll be really great.
No, no one will not fight. I will not shed a tear.
Ok, a white lie— but rejoice in who’s here.
And what about wine or a champagne or two?
Will it make my milk bad? Old wives tale or true?
And will anyone say, “Can he now take a bottle?”
“How long will you breastfeed?” How these questions can throttle.
Now back to that “clatter,” the babe and that noise.
We had rushed right on in, leaping over the toys.
When what to our wondering eyes did appear,
Our babe still asleep, oh how sweet, oh how dear.
His cheeks, how they glistened, his hair soft and furry.
And I smiled when I saw him, despite all my worry.
How delicious, his belly, moving in and then out.
How precious, his lips in a sweet little pout.
He had not woken up! He did not need to eat.
He had had quite enough, his day quite complete.
And so back to our bed we did quietly crawl.
Happy Holidays to one, happy sleeping to all.
© 2006, Andi Silverman, www.mamaknowsbreast.com

Breast Feeding and Sleep

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Sleep, oh, sleep, where for art thou, sleep?
The Bear is now 7.5 months and has decided that in the middle of the night he wants to party. We had a few good months– months 3, 4 and 5– where he slept through the night. From 6 pm to 6 am he dozed away, uninterrupted. It was sheer bliss. But then, sometime this past summer, he fell off the wagon. Now, he won’t go back to sleep unless I breast feed him. He’s up at least once during the night. Sometimes twice. I’ve been trying to do the Ferber sleep training thing, but it’s not working yet.
I know there are many different approaches to teaching your kids to sleep. I’ve bought the books. I’ve asked the pediatrician and friends for advice. Still nothing is working yet. As The Bortski would say, “Help, Please, Help!”
Any and all advice is welcome. Or if you don’t have any specific recommendations, simply tell your tales of sleepless nights. This might not be Shakespearian, but I’m sure it will make for good reading. Misery loves company, right?