Killing me softly with sleep deprivation

Baby Alex is now in his 6th week and how have we been doing? I wish I can say things are getting better. A couple of weeks ago, it seemed like we might be making headway in lengthening the time gap between feeds to 2.5 and even 3 hours. But this week is really bad, he’s feeding once every 2 hours and even though we up the feed amount to 140ml (4.73oz) for the wee hour feeds which supposedly satiates him to sleep longer, it doesn’t work. Besides Alex doesn’t finish the bottle all the time. So yours truly here has been waking up every 2 hours in the wee morning to change his diapers and feed him.

To be honest, I’m getting pretty desperate for a solution to get Alex to sleep longer at night. I even thought of writing to Gina Ford to ask her for advice. But at her website, I realized I’ve to register as a member for a fee before I can post any questions and access the forum, and even then it wasn’t even her who answers the questions. Well, I guess I can’t expect her to since she may be getting millions of questions everyday. Anyway from a couple of forums (non-GF websites), I found out that Alex is likely to experience a growth spurt this week and so he’s ravenous. I don’t think it’s even possible to put him on a routine, though I did try last week when he fared better.

I’m sure you realize by now that we’re on a demand feeding schedule. I tried GF’s routine last week for a couple of days and it didn’t work out. The main problem is that Alex still couldn’t feed every 3 hours and he tends to fall asleep after a feed, and stays awake after a bath. So before the first half of the day has passed, the routine was already out of whack. I had to put the routine to a stop when we felt Alex seemed to have difficulty breathing because of nasal congestion. It made feeding difficult for him. A few days ago, we brought him to see Dr Ok again who told us that the loud breathing sound is normal. Nose congestion is very common in babies because of their narrow nasal passage. When they get older, say 6 months or so, the problem will be resolved. She prescribed saline spray for Alex, which helps to clear his nose, and suggested we propped up his head with a folded cloth to allow the mucous in his nose to flow down the lungs.

There’s an exception to what’s described above. When we take Alex out (yes, we do take him out to less crowded places in the daytime on a weekday), he’s amazingly well behaved. He tends to fall asleep most of the time, in the car seat, during car drives and in air-conditioned places, and we don’t know why, but he can last much longer between feeds outside, like 3 hours or even longer. He also doesn’t struggle for his feeds unlike at home. My husband commented that it was like Alex has to follow a certain decorum when he’s away from home. This makes it pretty easy for us to take him out. Yet I can’t figure out why he’s so good outside. My husband looked at the car seat he was in and decided that not only should we prop up his head with a folded cloth, we should also prop up one side of the bed. He placed 2 thick economic books, one each under the legs of one end of the bed, so that the mattress is on an incline. Voila, Alex’s breathing improves with this arrangement.

Alex is a pretty noisy baby; he made hell of a lot noise when he’s sleeping, like grunts, whimpers, cries, stretching noise and particularly nasal sound. (My husband thinks he inherited the stretching sound from me, cuz when I get up in the morning, I’ve a tendency to stretch and make a lot of noise.) So we basically have to distinguish which noise requires our attention and which can be ignored. I guess it’s inevitable that mothers will be sensitive to the cries of their babies, even in their sleep. I mostly act when he starts crying, because I’m so desperate to catch whatever sleep I can get. My husband told me that my priority now is to express as much milk as possible for Alex and to nap when he does. To be honest, my breast milk supply is pathetically low, about 10% of his needs. I decide that I’ll give it another try this month to up the supply. For all my pre-pregnancy bravado of total breast feeding for 6 months or more, it turns out to be much harder than I expect.

Anyway I’ve read that things will get better starting the 7th week when the time gap between feeds will gradually lengthen. I really hope so because the sleep deprivation is killing me. I’m trying to take a nap when Alex is sleeping, so that I don’t crash. But I think I’m just barely hanging in there. For some time there was a sense of apprehension in me whenever night comes because it means diaper change and feed when I’m in my most groggy state. Worst is when Alex dirtied his top while changing him, and I then have to change that too and the whole changing process would be a little traumatic since Alex end up crying (he doesn’t like changing clothes). But after various incidents, I’ve learned from experience, and able to better handle Alex in the dead of night. Still, nodding off while feeding him is par for the course. What I would give to have a another extra hour of sleep a day! So when things do get better later, I’ll probably need to get an eyebag removal surgery done. Right now, at home, I look like crap with my messy hair and sleep clothes stained with milk spillage (yes I don’t even bother changing out of them unless I’m going out).

Anybody out there, if you have any suggestions on how to extend time gap between feedings for a young infant, really appreciate if you can let me know.

Here’s the handsome devil who has caused his mom to end up looking like a hobo.

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And here’s Alex looking grimy like his mom, with milk stain on one side of his mouth, just before his bath.

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(Update on 16 July)
When we brought Alex to Thomson Pediatric Clinic last Monday, the staff weighed him at 5.7kg (12.54 lbs), which I thought was quite significant for a 6-week old baby. But Dr Ok told us it’s within the normal range. He went through a growth spurt last week and put me through 2-hourly feeding nightmare. When we weighed him this morning, he was 6.1kg (13.42 lbs). He’s honestly pretty heavy; I’ll have to take up weight training in order to carry him when he gets bigger.

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2 thoughts on “Killing me softly with sleep deprivation

  1. Hang on~ things will definitely get better after 7-8 weeks. For now, they cry only for food, to change diaper and attention (to carry and cuddle)… I been through the stage myself and i know how hard it is.. after the 3rd mth, he will progress even more. My boy is coming to 6 mths this end Jul and now i am thinking he is growing too fast~ haha.. 🙂

    • Hi Audrey,

      Thanks for your encouragement. Others have also told me the same thing, that this phase will pass. And now that the 6th week growth spurt has passed, the time gap between feeds has lengthened which is a big relief for me. Also I’ve just put Alex in a routine starting this week, so let’s see how it goes.

      Sent from my iPhonedr

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