Sleep is for the weak

E. had his nine month well-baby appointment this afternoon. The office was a total zoo- our appointment was at 1:30, and we didn’t get home until 3:15 (we live a fifteen minute walk away from the doctor’s). In the waiting room I recognized a mum with her son who is a few months older than E., and we got to chatting. E. was busy pulling himself up on everything in sight (which is what he does at the moment He is very good at getting back down, so he almost never needs rescuing, and it keeps him occupied for hours).

“He’s a skinny little guy, eh?” she said.

“Really?” was my response, my mama bear instincts kicking in. “We didn’t think so. He’s chunked out a lot since six months.”

But, it turns out she was right. E. is 29.5 inches long, and 19 lb, 6 oz, keeping him in the 90th percentile for height, but dropping him down to the 35th percentile for weight. His pediatrician is not worried. She says it is normal for babies to get leaner and leaner as the first year progresses as they become more mobile. If she is not worried, I am going to try not to worry, and just accept that he’s our lanky little dude.

She also gave the green light for introducing peanut and almond butter, given we have no nut allergies in the family. She said the current thoughts are to introduce everything sooner rather than later, and that the only thing E. should not be eating right now is honey. She was very supportive of our decision to delay solids until almost seven months, and to stick with baby-led weaning. She was impressed at the range of food E. is eating. (Yesterday he ate an entire pancake with apple butter for breakfast, had potato, parsnip and green lentil soup with pita breads for lunch, and then ate polenta with vegetables cooked in balsamic vinegar and Mediterranean herbs for dinner. We joke we’re breeding a foodie…)

Then we talked sleep. At first she was absolutely in agreement that we should be working to drop the night feeds- she wanted to see E. in a better sleeping pattern. Then we talked about E’s nursing problems during the day. He is getting worse and worse right now- completely and utterly distracted by everything, and flat out refusing to nurse more often than not (complete with pushing the breast away and crying). Today he didn’t have a proper nurse until 3:30 pm. Yesterday it was the same- I can get him latched earlier in the day but he pulls off after a couple of swallows and fights me if I try to press him. He doesn’t stay on long enough to get letdown- I think even if he is hungry he is just so impatient. He’s used to my ultra fast letdown, and he’s unwilling to put in the energy to wait for it- he’d rather be crawling/pulling up on something. And I get stressed the more he pops off and cries and fusses, which slows letdown even more. It’s a bad scene. If I get too uncomfortable I hand-express into one of his cups, both to protect my supply, and so that we can offer it to him during his solid meals. He’ll usually drink a little bit- again, a few swallows, but not enough at the moment to count as a feed.

“I’m afraid if I cut the night feeds he’ll try to wean himself,” I admitted.

Then we looked at our options. And they were pretty much non-existent. She thinks if we cut the night feeds it is likely that E. will at least keep morning and evening feedings, but there are some babies who wean entirely, so that possiblity can’t be discounted. And if he did wean, we have nowhere to go right now. He can’t have cow’s milk yet. He can’t have soy milk or yoghurt or cheese to help make up the calcium he needs. And the only formula option, in her words, “Is very expensive, tastes awful, and to be honest, at his age, I don’t think he’d stand for it.”

We ended the appointment with her saying that we should just continue what we’re doing, and cross our fingers that E. outgrows the MSPI issue by his first birthday. Things really will get complicated at that stage if he still has to be dairy/soy free.

So. I left the office with the advice from our pediatrician, just as we’ve been waiting for. It just wasn’t the advice I was hoping to get.

But. In the long term, what’s a couple more months of broken sleep? How can I possibly get more tired than I already am? I am managing to function on my six broken hours. I am even managing to achieve something with my dissertation.

The absolute top priority is that E. gets what he needs to grow up healthy and strong. And since we can’t run the risk of him deciding to self-wean if we cut the night feeds, if that means I’m getting up twice a night for another three months, then that’s what I’ll do. We can still encourage him to try to drop them himself, or to at least build up his stretches so he’s only waking once. She said as long as he’s getting at least two good big feeds during the day, that would be enough. But sleep training is off the table until his first year is complete.

She did agree with me that under no circumstances should E. be nursing three times a night, so at least I can tell Q. that.

This is hard. I didn’t think I’d still be up twice a night by nine months. I didn’t think I’d be going months and months with so many things cut out of my diet. It’s not just the obvious dairy and soy- if you start to read labels and really watch for key words, you realize that they are basically in everything. I didn’t think I’d spend so much time worrying that I might accidentally eat the wrong thing and make my baby scream in pain.

But I am beyond stubborn and very very determined when I set my mind on something. And I am going to breastfeed for the entirety of E’s first year, whatever it takes. I am going to see this through.


Filed under Baby, Food, MSPI, My addled brain, Nursing, Sleep

5 responses to “Sleep is for the weak

  1. Honestly, one of the first thoughts I had with one of your older posts about nursing was whether or not E was trying to wean. Lucky did that for us at 9 months, but truthfully at that point I was struggling with supply so it made sense for us to stop. I had enough frozen milk in the freezer to get him to the point in which we’d introduce cow’s milk, so it was fine. I stopped pumping and fighting him to nurse and it worked.

    In your case, yeah, I get why you need to keep going. And I feel for you.

    The only other thing you might try – we dreamfed Lucky for a while – just before I went to bed, I’d give him a feed. He honestly slept through most of it, but he WOULD nurse. It cut out one of the pvernight feeds for us, I was just up one time a night instead of twice. Not sure if it’s worth a try, but hey, if you’re committing to broken sleep, might as well try and make it more palatable.

    Hang in there. I can tell you from experience it WILL GET BETTER. Lucky didn’t sleep through until he was 18 months old, but now it’s rare that he’s up overnight. You won’t be doing this forever. I promise.


  2. Sarah

    Wow, trying to wean? That would be rough :(. I was terrified Isaac was doing something similar, but he’s just had a cold and then we both caught a stomach virus. I realized, just like my tummy was a mess and I couldn’t think of putting food in it, that must be what he was feeling so it made sense he didn’t want to nurse at all. It’s been a few days, and we’ve had his first ever weight-loss (and first diarrhea) :(. But things are starting to improve – he woke up twice to nurse last night, which I was annoyed at at first, but then just relieved to see he had his appetite back.
    Maybe there is something else going on? My mom nursed all 6 of us, and she said all of her babies went through phases where they wouldn’t eat/nurse for a while. Hopefully it’s just a phase. I do wonder, though, when/if Isaac will be one of those babies who just wants to nurse twice a day. Seems like all the toddlers at LLL meetings are still nursing round the clock, so I have no idea what to expect. He’s still pretty spotty on solids compared to E. though – some days he eats a ton, other days not much at all.
    Have you thought about trying goat’s milk (or sheep) at 1 year? Some babies do much better with it than cow’s. Isaac gets raw milk in his formula and has never had a problem with the cow’s, but the raw is easier to digest than pasteurized anyway. We were all ready with the goat’s milk formula recipe in case he didn’t do well, but luckily he was fine (cow’s milk is cheaper!).

  3. Mel

    Would you ever pump and just give BM in a bottle or sippy? I certainly don’t think pumping is the most awesome thing in the world, but it could be a solution. Did the pedi have any thoughts on almond milk? That’s what I used in place of cow’s for myself during my MSPI push and it was pretty good. I’ve had others tell me coconut and rice milk were also very good.

    We obviously made the switch to hypoallergenic formula and save the nose scrunching up of her on the first 2-3 bottles, she took to it beautifully. We didn’t give many bottles before hand, either, so it wasn’t like she was really prepped for this. (yes, it is expensive and smells terrible but I tasted a bit off my hand once and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I would have dreamed) Definitely NOT trying to talk you out of your decision, just something to consider if you wake up one day banging your head against the wall and flat out OVER IT. (bc I never thought I would get there and then, I did)

    I do admire your sticking out because I know first hand just how hard it is. The sleeplessness is VASTLY more awful than the diet part. Does your pedi think 1 year is a reasonable expectation for outgrowing the MSPI? Most of what I’ve read says 2-3 years is the usual time for that, but I have just been hoping that’s not the case. Because I just don’t know what to do if it lasts THAT long. And then there’s the whole possibility of it being a TRUE forever allergy thing and I get really queasy when I start to think about that because we LOVE milk and soy up in this house and I just don’t know how I’ll accomodate 1 child with a true food allergy and 1 without any.

    It sound like he’s doing marvelous (save the night waking and your poor exhausted soul) and growing beautifully. He is a TOTAL foodie!

  4. Sarah

    Oh, coconut milk is awesome! I second that – I know several people who’ve used coconut milk with great success.

  5. CG

    You are doing a wonderful job Turia with the breastfeeding and I think that it’s a good decision to push it till E turns 1. I nursed mine till she was 23months old. My daughter has enlarged adenoids and so used to wake up a lot during nights. There were nights were she woke up every 45min. On good days she would wake up 3 times and this lasted till she was 27months. Now at 32 months she sleeps much better (wakes up one to two times) and I have already forgotten how bad it used to be. Some kids are bad sleepers and we just have to deal with it. Hang in there and this too shall pass.

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