Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Nursing through Pregnancy - final weeks (38th week)

This week was off to a very rough start! When I'm having a rough night, I often vent to friends or even an empty chat room online. This week, I vented right here. So this is your beautiful opportunity to see examples of the hardest, ugliest nights as well as the easier nights because the week did improve.

If you prefer to avoid negativity, you may not want to read this post. If you want to see the brutally honest side of this thing from my perspective, by all means... please proceed at your own risk. Also, please forgive the interchanging present and past tense. These were each written late at night and were often done in live time, as I was experiencing them.

First Night

The nights have, by far, been the hardest. We go through several nights of me managing the patience or Sasha sleeping more. Then we have two really good nights where she goes to sleep early and/or sleeps for long stretches. And then we have a bad night. A night where maybe she goes to sleep early, but she wakes before I even get to bed (within an hour). Then she wakes again an hour later, often landing precisely 20 minutes after I go to bed. I have no idea why it is always 20 minutes. Then in a couple of hours. Then in an hour, perhaps to potty. And then I lose it. I am so absolutely agitated by the nursing I want to yell and throw her off of my breast, even considering getting up and watching a television show with her. I know, though, that this will only serve to wake her more completely and make it harder to get her back down. This would only make our night LONGER, not shorter.

But by the time I get her back down (hopefully within half an hour), I am so worked up and crying (its quieter than screaming) that I can't go to sleep. I have to unwind all over again... once I'm done crying and fretting over how in the hell I will manage her with a newborn (who may not even be able to nurse) added to the mix.

Only on this particular night, as I type out this RANT... she only sleeps 5 minutes or less before waking in tears again. She wants a banana. It is nearly 4am. I return with one and she appears to be asleep! But opens her eyes again moments later. She has a single bite before fussing and deciding it is time to nurse again. These make for very long nights and I wonder how I will ever manage to simply stay up ALL NIGHT when I am managing her and Spencer both. I try very hard to minimize my sobbing so as not to keep her awake.

I try to tell myself that if I can endure labor, I can endure this, easily. It doesn't help at all. And the nursing continues. And the fidgeting continues. And the tears continue.

I occasionally pound my fist onto my desk or pound the floor with our Boppy. I am not a violent person. But I have my breaking point. How will I do this with two? How on earth are my friends managing it?? I find myself considering putting Spencer directly on formula... I can hardly believe this idea has sprung to mind. I am a passionate advocate for breastmilk!

I tell myself that if I can just make it to the 1 hour mark from when she woke me, I can give up and turn on the television. It has already been 45 minutes. This actually helps me calm down temporarily. I check the clock in 3 minutes. I have to switch breasts again. Then checking every 2-3 minutes, trying to busy myself with Solitaire and email. As the time nears, I check it more than once per minute. She fidgets even once she has fallen asleep so it can be hard to know when it is "safe" to put her down. I finally put her down and she lets me step away... but I know this only lasted 5 minutes a little while ago, so I finally let myself sob again and I wait...

She begins to move after only a couple of minutes. I pause and hold my breath. My husband wakes to my sobbing and I feel guilty for it. Any other Saturday night I might have woken him up, but he is recuperating from his vasectomy. Still, he reassures me and even makes me laugh. Knowing that I'll be going to bed now that he is getting up is usually enough to send me into new sobs, but he is off for several days for recuperation, so it isn't quite as depressing this time. I sit down to unwind a bit, now that I'm calm. The nausea from crying sets in.

The "next" day, I did steal away for a nearly 3 hour nap while Sasha napped. I felt much better after. Several friends come up with possible solutions to help Sasha with her sleep: Lavender Oil on her feet and pillow, Rescue Remedy, and more. They even offer to ship me samples! I feel a new hope. We also get Sasha outside for some playtime and a long walk.

Second Night

Sasha goes to sleep in her own bed by 11 o'clock, despite the early-ish nap. I wait up for my husband to fall asleep to the television (for the noise). I climb into bed at 12:30, noting the time so I can track whether Sasha wakes by 1:00. Sure enough, she wakes me by 1:00, kneeling at the side of her bed in tears. It appears she wet the bed a little as she rolled out. I get her blanket covered with a lap pad and new blanket, then hold her in my lap (on the Boppy) to nurse her back to sleep again.

I wake again at 3:40, seemingly for no reason. This happens sometimes and I often think "I should pee because this means she'll wake soon." But in my groggy sleepiness, I don't listen. Within 10 minutes Sasha wakes me. With the state of my bladder, baby resting firmly on it, often pressing into it, I know I have to go before I can settle her. I set my pillows up so she can climb into my bed, but she will have none of that. She insists, through sobs, that I carry her to the bathroom with me.

Once there, she cries more while I pee. I give her the option of Momma's bed or the Boppy to nurse back to sleep and she chooses the Boppy. After a short while of nursing, switching sides (only to realize the 2nd nipple is more tender), I give up and lay her in my bed. I lie next to her and let her nurse more. This position now makes me uncomfortable in my own bed as well, not just in hers. Minutes later, she lets go, opens her eyes and requests water. She is wide awake. So, at 4:15 she gets to lie in her bed and watch more crap on the television because there is no way she is going back to sleep. I wonder how soon any of the solutions offered might arrive in the mail... it is Giftmas season... that could slow things down.

I also kick myself for not listening to my instincts when I wake. If I had just gotten up to pee before she woke, she wouldn't have woken so completely. Before she even got through one 30 minute episode, she asks for Mommy milk. I worry that she won't settle back to sleep so soon, but she is insistent. I turn the television off and let her climb into my lap with our nursing pillows. Its 4:35. Within 5 minutes, she cries that she wants more television and I send her back to her bed. I hate "wasted" nursing. I wonder if my friends that nursed through pregnancy had sore nipples at the times that their babies arrived.

By 5:30 we've changed to a Christmas show and I've gotten a Glucerna for my hungry belly. I've gotten Sasha to potty. Still going strong. At least she isn't being needy or fussy. She doesn't watch the newly requested show for even 5 minutes before asking for "Night Night" again. I shut off the television (if she isn't serious, she'll fuss for it) and load her into my lap. Hand and foot go immediately into my hair... I guess that is actually a good sign of sleep. Good thing, too. Sleepiness overcame me just as she asked. I don't even have to remind her to closer her eyes this time. That chin thing starts up again and I realize I'm also hunched over. I'll be so glad to try a different nursing pillow because this one just isn't cutting it anymore, not in my current furniture.

Just a few short minutes into nursing, Sasha sits up to request the other breast. I say request, but I know full well that weighing out the options (a fit for her choice or the pain of the more tender nipple), I'd choose the pain. So we switch. And the hand goes right back into my hair.

Even with my Boppy, a neck pillow, and my elbow under her head, it is a constant effort to keep her chin from rubbing my belly. And I do have to remind her to close her eyes. In case you had any doubts or questioned, I still hate the sensations of nursing. A lot!

Less than 10 minutes later, she's asking for her sister. It is coming up on 6am and now she IS fussy. She asks for sausage, a common breakfast. Only she hasn't slept even half of her night yet. But I don't feel like I can turn down a hungry baby. Only thing is, last night she ate a single bite of her banana before going to sleep.

I'm losing my patience, but haven't melted down yet. She, on the other hand, is now melting down... which is what is tearing down my patience. In tears (her), I tell her we'll go to the kitchen in 3 minutes so I can get her back on my sore nipple. She is more likely to fall asleep when she comes to the breast in tears. I. Hate. Nursing. Reminders to close her eyes only work if given in a stern tone now. I also hate when she puts my hair in my face. I can't tolerate it.

I chant, "Close your eyes, baby. Go to sleep," repeatedly in a soft tone. This one is not a lullaby sort of baby. Sometimes she squints them shut hard instead of restful.

Moments later, she is up again, now asking for peanut butter. I want to throw the pillows. She is in tears waiting for me. She cries as she follows onto the cold tile floor. At least peanut butter 1) doesn't require heating / cooking and 2) won't go to waste if she only eats one bite. She brightly points out that Daddy is sleeping. I curse as I respond that of course he is, it is the middle of the *(^&*% night. (It is 6 o'clock now.)

She fusses. Then she hears our roommate and gets very bright eyed and excited that someone else is up. She cries for colors and card. I refuse. She cries more. Our room is calm, quiet, and dark... other than her crying. She wants back into my lap for MORE NURSING. She has only had 2-3 bites. I let her choose which breast and we say our goodnights AGAIN. I'm irritated and tired. I feel myself becoming more and more tense by the second. I want to scream. I want to put her out of my lap and be angry with her. But so far, I sit... nursing...

Sometimes when she drags my hair out far in front of me, I strongly grab her arm and hold it to me, lest I lose my mind. I hold it down, close to me or curled into her chest for a moment or two, until she pulls it away. I have almost no tolerance for some of her fidgeting. I. Hate. Nursing.

I'm finally on the verge of tears. I feel them welling up. I try, desperately, to distract myself with Solitaire and one-handed typing here. I have doctor appointments later in the day... they will place us on the road during normal nap times... but what is normal when you're up for hours in the middle of the night?!

Just when I think I can't take it for another second, my body is tensing and I am physically stifling a scream, I tell her to switch sides. She cries for just a second, then accepts. It is never as much relief as I hope it will be. But, she seems to be fading off to sleep in fairly short order. I am so worked up I am nauseous again. Up comes her foot, into my hair, not asleep yet...

My feet, however, are falling right to sleep and I have to put them on the floor. That means supporting her weight on tiptoes, heels against the legs of my chair. She starts dropping her foot, seemingly drifting. I put her foot down, but of course the hair twirling and nursing continue. In case you've forgotten, she isn't taking a drop of milk. The foot comes back up... my tension and tears well up again. I know that once I do get her down, I'll need time to let myself cry before I can get back to sleep.

My roommate gets noisy in the kitchen... In my mind I curse the noise and threaten that the noise had better not disturb. Thankfully, we're not situated close to the kitchen. Sasha's foot and hand both settle. I'm stifling enough tears back that my nose is running. I try desperately to hold back the meltdown until I can settle her onto her bed. As soon as my hands are off of her, the quiet sobs burst forth. I just need the release, as if there was a choice. It is nearly 6:30 now. The tears just roll and roll and roll... the sickness in my stomach worsens...

As stressful and hard and awful as I dread the nights will be when Spencer comes home, I can hardly wait for it just because it will be such a change. I have hopes that Sasha will again actually take my milk. But I dread that she won't because I will be so utterly crushed if all this work, all this enduring (and not) will have all been for naught. How could I bare that?

I (amazingly) only cry for a short time this morning. It was much longer yesterday. I crawl into bed, feeling drained, hungry, and nauseated, by 7 o'clock. When you're only getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night, Actually, no matter how much sleep you're getting, being awake for half of that time in the middle + stress + tears... it does not make for a restful night.

Third Night

I just let Sasha come to me as she was ready... which was after midnight. It only took 15 minutes to nurse her to sleep! I forgot to potty her beforehand, but she still slept through the night with no potty break. This was amazing considering how many misses we've had lately. She even slept for about 5-6 hours straight in her own bed! Overall we had a pretty restful night. It was a good thing, too. The next day was possibly the most hormonal / short fused day I'd had for the entire pregnancy!

Fourth Night

Once again, I let Sasha come to me on her own. I'd had an insanely hormonal day and she'd nursed several times early in the day, claiming she was sleepy. So we began after midnight again, this time with me starting out exhausted from the day. She began to fade right away.

I often push myself to nurse her through one more hand at Solitaire. The logic being to keep me from trying to put her into bed too soon and blowing it - having to start all over again. She was asleep and into her own bed within 15 minutes, though she did bite down AS I slid my nipple out of her mouth!

My back has been terribly pained this afternoon. Each passing day makes it harder and harder to get up from my chair and lower her into her bed.

Fifth Night

It was Winter Solstice... the longest night of the year! I started feeling ill and making lots of bathroom trips. I asked my doula if I should be worried or excited. We decided to hope it was early labor signs. I waited for Sasha to come to me (closer to 11 this time) and she took about 20-30 minutes to fall asleep. Thankfully I lasted straight through without having to drop her to run to the toilet. As soon as I got her into her bed and signed offline, I got sicker.

As is her tendency, she did wake about 20 minutes after I went to bed. On this night, I chose to hold her in my lap on the Boppy, as if starting bed time over again, rather than the discomfort of joining her on her tiny mattress or bringing her into our bed so early.

She did wind up joining me in bed at some point in the night. I got up around 6 to spend a couple of hours with Elmo. Then Sasha and I did some serious sleeping in! Overall, a pretty darned good night!

Sixth Night

Sasha did nurse a couple of times through the day, but never did actually take a nap. The strangest part of this was that she did NOT get cranky from it. She seemed her normal self all afternoon / evening. I still dislike nursing and find it uncomfortable, but I haven't been hating it quite so passionately these last couple of days. It is a nice break from the negativity!

Sasha asked to nurse a little after 11 o'clock. She has gotten so used to me asking her if she is sleepy and ready for night nights that she rubs one eye and fakes a yawn! She nursed to sleep in 15 minutes again! I guess I definitely need to stick with waiting for HER to ask. I can get her to sleep when I decide, but it takes so much longer then!

Nearly an hour after getting her to bed, Elmo woke for a potty break and I started to head for bed when Sasha woke up. I go ahead and bring her back to my lap. I don't wait for her to cry and I don't lie in her bed. She nursed right back to sleep. She did start to fuss when I put her down, but here is my usual trick, "Close your eyes, baby, I'll get the pillow." The idea is she then thinks I'll lie down with her in a minute, but that calms her enough that she settles in to sleep. It is very much like the "Let go baby, switch" that really just means let go and go to sleep.

I went to bed hoping she wouldn't wake 20 minutes after... Eventually she did wake, fussing. As she stood at the edge of my bed, to climb around our toddler rail, she wet her bed. I couldn't get up fast enough to get her to the potty. If I'd woken a bit sooner, before she was moving around... oh well. I just dried her and brought her to bed with us. We all woke very early (for us) at 7:30. Daddy was antsy to do our Giftmas exchange! Sasha and I did nap later in the morning and then she still took her nap later in the day as well...

Seventh Night

Sasha got a bit fussy late in the evening and I finally offered milk / night nights. She agreed, especially when I offered brushing her teeth to get ready for bed. (This is a new effort to teach her using actual toothpaste and rinsing water.) I guess I should have had her potty first because she peed in the chair she uses as a stool. Oops.

Anyway, she did finally settle in to nurse, then wanted "other milk" a few minutes later. It seems like any time she chooses to switch, the choice nipple is the more tender of the two.

As I looked down at Sasha, checking that her eyes were closed, I wondered if I'd be able to nurse through early labor if the situation arose. But then I don't guess I'd be nursing her to sleep if we were getting ready to go to the hospital anyway... all depends on the timing.

It took about 20 minutes to nurse her to sleep tonight. She went to bed at 11:45. We are night owls. She woke up 45 minutes later, but I managed to shush her from across the room back into sleep!

Tomorrow will mark 38 weeks pregnant. We're ready for Spencer to arrive any time now. I don't want to give him a holiday birthday... and would rather not deliver between December 25 - 30th because our doctor is on vacation, but otherwise... whenever he is ready. Of course, he'll come when he is ready regardless of our preferences anyway!

Have you nursed all the way through a pregnancy?
Was your experience anything like mine?
Did I share too much this week?

Find the other posts in this series:
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - final weeks (39th week)
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - final weeks (38th week)
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - final weeks (36-37, so far)
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 35 weeks
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 29/30 weeks
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 25 weeks
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 20 weeks
  • Extended Breastfeeding, So Far! (posted pretty much the weekend I got pregnant!)
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