Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ecological breastfeeding, revised

I’ve always been skeptical about ecological breastfeeding, especially the part of it which involves co-sleeping, but this time ended up more or less doing it anyway – mostly because I feel I don’t have a lot of choice. The baby isn’t hungry, she isn’t uncomfortable – she just doesn’t want to be alone at night, and that’s it.

On nights when I didn’t give in, none of us got any sleep. Once I took the baby to bed with me, my husband is able to sleep and I can at least nap with the baby next to me. I can’t say I’m a big fan of it, though. I know some families say co-sleeping goes very well with them, but this isn’t the case with me. I miss the good deep refreshing sleep I’m not getting when I’m afraid to roll over the baby or when she looks for the breast all through the night. I miss the privacy of our bed.

I do realize this is a stage the baby will eventually grow out of, but I’m just so tired, all the time. Because I get so little sleep at night, I tend to get up very late the next day and then it simply feels as though there isn’t time for anything. I miss the days when I was able to get up before the rest of the family, spend some quiet time, be refreshed, and do a good portion of the chores before everyone else was up. I maintain that is definitely the way to go. But right now that is not what is happening around here.

I’ve had some suggestions that perhaps my baby would be better off with a pacifier, and perhaps we could all get more sleep. I’m not sure I exactly have a logical reason for why I haven’t given a pacifier to either of the children so far, except that I always simply disliked the way it looks, and also my feeling that it tends to be overused (I’ve seen 4-year-olds using it, and heard parents say they can’t get rid of it – and I don’t like the prospect).

I suppose I wish I had a bit more control over my life. But this just isn’t happening. So far, every day is a mad battle against tiredness and against time that is running out. I do keep up with the basics but that’s about it. I haven’t ironed a single item since Tehilla was born, although ironing is still on my to-do list – I’m not giving up. Not yet, at least.

Well, at least we have a happy healthy baby, and that’s what matters. Tehilla is growing very well, despite her tongue-tie. I suppose that is the most important thing for now, and the rest shall pass.


Bola said...

Sorry to hear that you're having such a hard time Anna! I'm sure the situation will improve in time as your little one gets older. (Sorry just going off the subject a little here:) A friend of mine just had a baby girl who also had a tongue-tie. Her baby was finding it very hard to suck properly and as a consequence didn't stimulate her mothers milk production well. She was also very unsettled during the night. My friend did however take her daughter to have the bottom of her tonguw clipped which has improved her suck- I just wanted to know whether they do this over where you live or whether her tongue-tie is a problem at all? I had never really heard of the condition until very recently...

The Whites said...

I'm so sorry, it sounds like your having such a hard time. Have you done a lot of researching on the safety of co-sleeping? That might help you sleep better knowing it actually is safe (some say safer) and you won't roll over on your baby (unless your intoxicated or on medications or extremely sleep deprived). This doctor has a sleep laboratory where he studies co-sleeping http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/
My DD has always been the way you described, just doesn't want to sleep alone. I wasn't comfortable with co-sleeping when she was a newborn so we had a pack n play with a bassinet next to our bed but she would wake up within 5 minutes of laying her in it, very frustrating. I was sooo afraid to sleep with her next to me and felt like I wasn't sleeping well at all, but I got used to it after a few weeks (she was in our bed all night, every night). Is Tehilla in your bed every night? You said "on the nights I give in" which sounds like it might not be every night, maybe try starting her off in bed with you every night, it might help your body/mind adjust since she would be constantly there, not just sometimes. How old is she now? I know the older my DD got, the less worried I was since I knew she could alert me if something was wrong. There is also a book called "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" which I've heard is great for sleep difficulties without resorting to cry-it-out and it gives advice for co-sleeping or separate sleeping areas.

we did ecological breastfeeding (though, not the nap part) and my cycles didn't return until 17 months postpartum. Have you read "Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing"? it was very convincing and a great book all around :)

Hope you can figure out a solution that works for you where everyone gets more sleep.

leah Brand-Burks said...

From one friend who's been there, HANG IN THERE! YOU CAN DO IT! (That was me cheering you on) It really is only for a time, and once she's older (which comes MUCH faster with the second it seems) she will be able to soothe herself, and sleep longer periods without food. Stay strong in spirit, despite the heavy fatigue of body and mind. I am praying for you! Love, Leah

Mary R. said...

Yes, all the housework will keep, believe me. You are doing the best you can. My children would never take a pacifier -- I was never against using them. We never did co-sleeping because none of got a good night's sleep that way. My husband wouldn't even allow the crib in the same room with us because the babies still made noise and he couldn't sleep. He had to get up early for work the next day. To get the older one to go down for a necessary nap each day, I had to lay down with him, though, but that wasn't forever, either.

Inder-ific said...

I have one of these children too! My baby boy refused to sleep alone from day one and still sleeps in our bed part time even now (he's twenty-one months old).

Like you, I didn't necessarily "choose" to do this - my baby just wouldn't sleep any other way. I will say - at first it was hard, but I have learned to sleep more soundly next to my baby, and he sleeps for longer periods now.

So even if you continue to cosleep, you will probably get more sleep as time goes on. Good luck!

CPass said...

So sorry you're not getting good sleep. Whether you use a pacifier and HOW you use it are all in your control. Some children never need/want them - some are happier with them. Remember though - you're the mom. You can decide that she only uses at night, or until she's a year old, or whatever you and your husband feel comfortable with. In my experience, if it is needed to soothe a baby into sleeping longer it's easier to break the dependence on it when it's used only when you place them in bed. It's harder to wean them from it if they're allowed to have it all the time. Again, follow your instincts - you're a good mom and you know her best. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear! My baby was the exact same way. I just clicked on your blog, read your post, and so wanted to encourage you! My daughter was born this past April. From day one she was the worst sleeper. The ONLY way she would kind of sort of sleep at night was if I co slept with her. It was as you described it....and I didn't really enjoy it either. This went on until she hit seven months, and frankly I just couldn't take it anymore. It was just too exhausting! So, we took a deep breath and let her cry it out. I was so worried. She cried for one hour and then slept for 12 hours strait. She has been sleeping through the night in her own crib ever since. Who knew!?

Good luck. I know that kind of exhaustion.

She'll get there.

Elle said...

my sympathies! all of my children have thus far been terrible sleepers. but then again so am I! so it should be no surprise to me. It's my biggest vexation! I'm always tired! and in 10.5 yrs I have tried EVERY method out there. ugh.

Just out of curiosity, what is so wrong with a 4 yr old having a paci? I mean I get that it looks "weird" and "unusual"... The only 4 yr old I have ever known (my now 6 yr old included) who have used paci's at that old of an age, have some type of sensory disorder. My daughter does... she has a milder form of autism and has a need to chew, suck and so forth. she was quit attached to the thing for a long time. I didn't take it away form her b/c it would have been cruel. Not b/c I didn't care. and certainly not b/c I liked seeing a piece of plastic in her mouth.
That said, It's few and far between that children would have one at that age. If THAT is what is worrying you, I would really not let it.

K.Q. said...

HI. I liked your posting. I have two children. A 3 year old daughter and 5 month old son. As with you, they both have their own sleeping needs and personalities. Just as they are two very different people in a lot of other ways. We co-slept with my daughter. She has a high need for touch and could never stand to be alone. My husband daily reminds me that she will someday "grow out of us" and that I will miss her neediness. Best of luck to your sleep :)
Kristen @ charmingus.blogspot.com

Serenity Now said...

We dealt with the same thing with our boy. I'm not a fan of the co-sleeping because I didn't sleep well when he was in bed with us. I felt like I was just in a twilight sleep all night instead of sleeping deeply enough to actually feel rested. We ended up borrowing something called a co-sleeper from a friend, it's like a bassinet but only has 3 sides and the 4th side sort of attaches to the bed, so the baby is close enough to you to feel secure, but far enough that you can actually SLEEP. Worked great!

Kate said...

I know what you're going through. My 3rd baby is almost 8 months old and he is a great baby except he doesn't sleep well at night. He wakes up all the time and wants to co-sleep. He's up for hours at a time just wiggling and flopping around the bed for no apparent reason. Now that he knows how to turn over quite easily, he keeps rolling onto his tummy and I have to roll him back.

I believe co-sleeping is one of the major reasons I've been able to breast feed this long. I also co-sleep in the beginning because I actually do sleep better. But now, I can barely make it through one sleep cycle and I miss my marriage bed.

I am considering tackling a sleep deprived week of training him to at least sleep in the cradle next to the bed. At your daughter's age, I wouldn't try this.

When my son was your daughter's age and I needed sleep and time with my husband, I would put him in his car seat. He loved sleeping in there since it was so enclosed and cozy.

Anonymous said...


maybe something like this would help. I made one with an old dropside crib, lined it with blankets and tucked the blanket between the mattress and the box spring. Hope that makes sense. I was afraid to co-sleep too but this was a good solution for us.

Mrs. Reverend Doctor said...

Don't fight it, this is a season of life. Do whatever you can to get some sleep even if it means staying in bed a long time. I have a 4 1/2, 2 1/2 and 2 month old. I consider it a good day if everyones clean and fed,this season won't last forever I too like things orderly but most days it just doesn't happen.

Kate said...

I agree with a previous commenter, it's all about how you use the pacifier. I think if you use it from day 1 then the kid does not know any different and grows up with the oral dependence on something in it's mouth. However, if you try it later they can get their fix and it will calm them down, and they aren't married to it. We'll go days without using it, and then some days need it. He'll even use it for 5 minutes, and then be fine! So that may work for yall as well. And I am the same way too... I HAAATE the way they look and refuse to have him using it in pictures.

Anonymous said...

Please Anna, This is what it´s like to being home with small children. I hade tree children in the space of four years. I have beatiful memories of my first daughter´s year, the photos shows me smiling and radiant with my beatiful baby. The pics of me with my other kids shows something that mostly resembles som kind of Zombie, shambling along with an ashgrey, haggard face. And that was before I had to start work again, when my last child was little more than a year old. This is what it´s like to be a mother af small children, embrace it. You will never regret it, so what´s the alternative?


Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

My sister's son took a paci but only at nap and night, eventually he easily gave it up - I think right around the time he started really talking. Good luck!

honeyfromflintyrocks said...

Hello Anna,
I too had a child who slept with us at night. Can you get one of those sleeper things that 'attach' to the side of your bed? It actually has 'arms' that slide under your mattress. So the baby would be 'right next to you' but not "in" your bed. I didn't invest in one as I knew my co-sleeping child was, sadly, my last one. But you are just beginning your childbearing years and may have another child (or more!) who wants to be with mommy & daddy at night!

Hang in there my dear. Take every tiny opportunity to have your "little song" help you with daily chores. You can give her a spay bottle with water and a rag for her to wipe down the bathroom counters, kitchen cabinets, windows, etc. I know you have done many things like this in the past. I remember reading something like this in one of your posts. But if you remember my comment on closely spaced children from awhile back, this business with the spray bottle now is how you are training your sweet eldest daughter to learn to clean and learn responsibility!! She will then be there to help you in just a few short years from now if the Lord should bless you with more children. It will happen sooner than you think!

And yes, you are right. All this will pass. It will be nothing more than a fond memory as you keep busy with raising your sweet blessings. Take as many naps as you can. Isn't your new blessings still quite young?? You don't want to compromise your health. Just a few months from now you will be sleeping through the night again, blissfully, restfully, fully!! Soon, I promise!

Make sure you don't make extra work for yourself by taking your dear husband's shirts off the line and hang them up so they are as little wrinkled as possible. I have even been known to hang the wet shirt on a hanger, then on the line. I stretch and smooth out the shirt as much as humanly possible to eliminate wrinkles. you can also keep the shirt in the bathroom while taking showers so the steam can help un-wrinkle the shirts!

Do you have a crock-pot or slow cooker? Many times you can make enough for more than one meal, all cooked at the same time!

~Mrs. R

Persuaded said...

Ahhh, how well I remember those days of early motherhood. Some of the moments were sheer bliss and others... well, they were sheer agony, lol. There came a moment when I finally gave myself over to it all. It really was a specific moment when I released my ideas of "how it should be" and surrendered to "how it really is." There were things I gave up (a spotless house, a spotless and stylish self, the predictability and order I so adore) in order to achieve certain things that were more important to me in the long run (happy, secure, healthy children☺) Those early mornings of solitude and industry were the very hardest thing for me to give up as well... I crave my quiet orderly alone mornings, but for years and years I very very rarely had any time to myself in the mornings. But I survived, the kids thrived and now that the kids are older, I have my mornings back. You'll have yours back too Anna, and sooner than you know it! Really☺

Have you read Jennie and Stacy's book, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God? It really addresses this type of thing in a practical no-nonsense sort of way that was very helpful to me. I wish it had been available when I was a young mama. I happen to have an extra copy and I'd love to mail it to you if you think it's something you might like. It's from a Christian perspective, of course, but full of valuable information for any "housewife" of faith.
I'll be praying for you, my dear♥

Lauren said...


I just wanted to second that getting the tongue tie clipped was really helpful in our family.

My second child was born with a tongue tie and nursing was nearly impossible. When I brought it up with her doctor, he sent us to an ENT doctor who performed the procedure in office.

It only took a few seconds, and she was able to nurse normally immediately after we had it done.

She was SO much happier once she was able to nurse easily.

I don't know if it's an option for you or not, but I just thought I'd mention how beneficial it was to us in case you were considering the option.