Tuesday, July 24, 2007

da skeduhl

As a mother of triplets, I'm all about schedules.

Not only did we have our triplets on a sleeping schedule when they were just a few months old, they would eat and poop at the same time, too. I suspect it's because I've crowed from the roof tops the importance of a schedule, that over the past few days, a lot of people have been asking me if I have Henry on a schedule yet.

I mean, what's taking so long?!

When the triplets came home from the hospital, they were on a 3-4 hour feeding schedule. Although I was breastfeeding the trio ... I wasn't nursing them ... I was pumping. So, I could track the exact quantity that they were consuming with each feeding.

I documented when they ate, when they slept, when they took their medicine and when they pooped ... not just because it was important to insure that each of these acts was occurring, but because it gave me the perception of control.

Even though I actually had very little control with three infants.

The difference now is that there is one baby.

Not three.

And he is only 20 days old.

Quite frankly, an ice cube stands a better chance in hell than I do of getting a 20 day old baby on any kind of schedule. Especially when that baby is nursed exclusively.

Actually I can see a rudimentary pattern emerging.

When I'm sleeping, he's awake.

Last night Early this morning, I found myself having a partial meltdown.

I had nursed Henry at midnight and again at 2 AM. When I put him in his bassinet at 2:30 AM and he started making noises like a puppy at 2: 40 AM ... I pulled him back in to bed with me. The grunting and groaning would stop, only to commence once I fell back asleep, until 5:00 AM.

I remember experiencing this with our triplets.

I remember them sleeping in our room and making noises that would keep me up all night. Not crying, just noise ... like a litter of puppies.

I remember the fear of putting them in their own room, even if the baby monitor was 2-inches from their head, because I was scared silly that they would die in their sleep.

I remember eventually that I was so tired, that I moved them in to their own room, turned the monitor OFF, closed the door and put in ear plugs.

And that's when they started to sleep through the night.

No, not really.

Truthfully, I'm not quite so scared with Henry.

He's a bigger, stronger and much louder baby.

The reason he is in our bedroom is because we don't have any place to put him.

Unless, I left him in the kitchen.

Or the bathroom.

At 5:20 AM, I kicked nudged my snoring husband and told him that he needed to STEP UP. When Charlie responded that there was "very little he could do because Henry was being nursed all the time" I told him that I had just nursed him and now it was HIS turn to help out.

With that, I sent him off packing to the couch with our grunting newborn and a pacifier.

At 5:30 AM, Elizabeth woke up yelping for "BUNNY!!!!"

Because Charlie was with Henry, I rushed in to the nursery, hurdling the baby gate before she could wake her siblings ... and started hunting around in the pitch black for her lost bunny. Ten minutes later, once I got her tucked in and reunited with her lovey, I retreated to the bedroom. But the sun was rising and I was so tired, I couldn't sleep.

Instead, thoughts about whether or not I would ever sleep again and how to make this time easier for me crowded my weary mind.

Scenario One:

A few days ago, I packed up my hospital grade rental pump. There was really no reason to pump, except to have a supply of milk on hand so someone other than me could feed the baby. But if I skip a feeding, I'm in pain ... and if I nurse AND pump, I'm in pain.

Maybe I should drag the pump back out and begin pumping exclusively so that: 1) someone other than me can feed the baby; 2) We can track his consumption and establish a schedule, and most importantly 3) I can sleep.

The problem with this scenario is that I have to pump. And I really hate pumping. Even with my hands free pump bra. It seems like I'm doing three times as much work to pump, feed and clean the equipment. Not to mention, I get flashbacks to having preemies in the NICU every time I hook that torture mechanism up to my chest.

Scenario Two:

Maybe I should start supplementing Henry with formula so that: 1) someone other than me can feed the baby; 2) We can track his consumption and establish a schedule, and most importantly 3) I can sleep.

The problem with this scenario is that once you start supplementing, you tap in to your production and supply. Provided your baby is getting adequate nutrition - which Henry most definitely is - if I start supplementing now, it will be difficult to go back to nursing exclusively. Especially since he is only going to be consuming more with time.

Scenario Three:

Charlie can feed Henry.

When I tried to Google a picture of Robert DeNiro wearing a surrogate breastfeeding contraption in "Meet The Fockers" but instead came to this website, I hesitated for a moment.

This MIGHT be the ticket.

The problem with this scenario is that the fact I actually considered it, shows that my lack of sleep is clearly catching up with me.

Now that I'm fully awake I'm planning to stay the course.

I'm optimistic that eventually Henry will develop a schedule more conducive to my own.

I'm hopeful that his two hour feedings, with the occasional "snack" in between will stretch to three or four hours.

I'm planning to invent a pacifier that straps on to a baby's head - like band sunglasses - so that I can hold his appetite at bay.

Until then, I'll ingest Motrin every six hours and shove burp cloths in my mouth so I don't scream when he latches on. I know I've got the form right, it's just that pumping and nursing has wreaked havoc on whatever callouses might have developed.

I'll also do my best to savor this time.

Before I know it, my little tiger will be eating corn on the cob with the rest of our troop.


  1. While I am sure there are other mommas who have nursed way more than me I thought I would give my 2 cents of nursing my one daughter for 13 months.

    It gets easier. They DO start snacking less often. They do eventually sleep through the night.

    So in the mean time, maybe sure every feeding is a "full feeding"... basically keep throwing your boob in his face when you think he is really done. Try not to nurse more often than every 2 hours... this of course is easier said than done... and formula isn't the worst thing your baby could have so if you even need just one break at night have Charlie take the feeding over. It wont hurt your supply that much to miss one feeding.

    At any rate, you are doing 1000 times better than i would ever be doing with 3 toddlers and 1 newborn in the house. Give yourself a pat on the back!!!

  2. I am no nursing expert. My son is just seven months and still nursed almost exclusively (we've begun introducing different things to him). He only ever gets a bottle if we have a babysitter or I need to go do something and my husband is assigned baby-patrol (which is less than once a week).

    When The Boy was about three weeks old, I remember calling my aunt (mother of four) and telling her how upset I was because The Boy was eating every hour. He'd finish and just a little while later need more. I thought my breasts were falling off and even called to my midwife (who told me it was normal). Feeding on demand is good for your baby, and if you can make it through the growth spurts, it gets easier!

    I am cheering for you in the background-- pom poms and all!

  3. When I nursed my youngest two, I just put them in bed with me. They nursed on and off all night and we both slept very well. When they got a little older, I was able to just nurse before bedtime. This was far better than bottle feeding my oldest and having to warm a bottle in the middle of the night. Good luck!

  4. I love reading your blog. I sooo remember the sleepless nights and the seemingly continual breastfeeding. My daughter I nursed exclusively for 5 months my son I only made it 3. He was like Henry....wanting to nurse all the time. I just couldn't keep up not to mention I needed some time to get out too so someone else could feed. It seems like forever and you feel like you are living in a fog but when you have those moments with Henry alone and nursing him....just love it and smile...the corn on the cob days are not that far away and if you are like me you will long for these days to be back....(maybe not everyday but just to go back for a few moments every now and then)....Take Care!

  5. Though I was unable to "feed" because my milk never came in, I did try and feel your "pain"! Hang in there you can do it! Thank goodness you have an outlet to "vent your frustrations" 'cause I wouldn't want to have to hear about a CA colleague coming to see you (just kidding!)....you know I love ya!

  6. You could do a combination of pumping AND some formula. If Charlie gives Henry formula at night, you just have to pump and go back to bed. You'd be up for 20-30 minutes max, and he'd still be feeding the baby....and then in 2 hours he can feed the baby the pumped milk, and you can pump yet again, but then go right back to bed. Then maybe next time you can nurse him when the whole house is up and about and its too late to sleep anyway.

    I pumped and bottle fed my premie for 6 months (he was too small to nurse, then got used to the bottle), and I made my husband feed the baby while I pumped, washed equipment, and went back to bed. I also had 2 sets of everything, so that if I was too eager to get back to bed, I didnt have to wash the set I just used to pump right away.

    Good luck! You'll figure something out that will work, I'm sure.

  7. I completely remember the sleepless nights. My boys didn't eat well the first few months. It literally took over an hour to get them both nursed and give them the supplemental bottle (of which I had to pump earlier in the day to get) and before I knew it they were ready to eat again.

    Hang in there, it does get better.

  8. When my DD was a week or 2 old I was curling my toes and biting my tounge every time she would latch on, and I never thought there was anything wrong with her latch...until I saw a lactation consultant, and she corrected the latch within days the horrible pain went away. As a VERY EXTENDED nurser, I say yay you, and what a very sweet picture of your little guy so happy with momma!

  9. I have read your blog and alwasy enjoy it! You definately have a way with words. Anyways, about putting the baby in the bathroom to sleep... When my now 2 year old daughter was a newborn she made the same grunting noises, so we did just that, we wheeled her bassinet right in front of the sinks in the master bathroom - close enough to hear a problem, but far enough away we could get some sleep. Another friend of mine put her baby's bassinet in the walk in closet of her room! Hang in there... the schedule will come with time!

  10. I can't remember whether I've posted before - but I've been reading and enjoying for a while - so if not - hello and congratulations on your beautiful family!

    When I was pumping for my twins, I hated washing the pump parts. My LC told me that the parts can stay out for 6 hours without being washed. (Just like breastmilk stays OK for 6 hours at room temp.) So I bought 4 sets of the parts. Every 6 hours I'd switch a new set in. At the end of the day they all went in the dishwasher. (I know, your dishwasher might not be working!) I have never washed pump parts by hand since then. It was so worth the money for the extra sets. Just a little time-saver to consider in case you want to continue with the pumping.

  11. Hi jen,

    Unfortunately, I don't have any breastfeeding advice because I only pumped with my trio. I just wanted to let you know that you are an awesome mama and I know that you will have Henry on da skeduhl in no time! I was laughing out loud at the binky invention that wraps around the head. My husband and I had the conversation many times when our girls were infants. Why hasn't someone invented that, he'd ask. I had to explain that there was a fine line between the soothing, calming effect of a pacifier and a torturous device that strapped onto their faces. We did try Wubbanubs with our trio. It wasn't magic, but the stuffed animal attached to the binky did seem to help keep it in at night. If I were in your shoes, I know I would be tempted to pump every once in awhile just to get some sleep.
    Love the website of the lactating man! What was Charlie's reaction?

  12. there is definite merit in the idea of putting the baby in a separate room. not for their comfort, but for yours.

    i love the interlaced hands in the picture. too cute. my older daughter used to put her hands behind her head and cross her ankles.

  13. Jen- this is exactly why I only ended up breastfeeding Austin for 2 weeks. The other three were only 16 months old and I physically couldn't do it! Plus, I now know that he couldn't latch right because of his hydrocephalus, so it's a good thing I just said screw it and started feeding him! He was sleeping through 10 hours at 6 weeks. Not that I'm suggesting you do this, but I repeat, he was sleeping through for 10 hours .... at 6 weeks. Do what you got to do, sista! Maybe pumping is the way to go. The time you put in to pumping you'll get back by SLEEPING!

  14. oh man, we have 10 month triplets and are expecting our fourth in Jan. BEFORE your post, I fully expected to put him right on the 3 to 4 hour feeding schedule, just like my trips. i pumped for them but had to supplement a lot with formula.

    i was hoping to be able to nurse more with the new baby. i've convinced my self that formula is just as good but I want to lose the baby weight (plus the remaining 10 lbs of triplet weight).

    i'll be reading to see how you figure this one out.

  15. A schedule now? No way. Not even with a formula fed baby (I've had 3). So don't put that pressure on yourself.

    As far as sleeping in your room - that stinks. My DD was in my room for 18 months and no one ever got a good night's sleep. Hope you can change that soon.

  16. Lol... I'm so sad I opened that link. Those are some disturbing images to have in my head.

  17. Hi Jenna- I love reading what you are up to! I think of you and your brood while I am sitting nursing my 10 weeks old, while the 3 yr old cries while hanging onto one of my legs, and the 22month old cries and hangs onto the other one. Occasionally the 22m old tries to climb on my lap as well! My other choice is to close the nursery door, and have both children crying outside the door (and kicking it!) while I nurse. Yes, such a calm blissful bonding experience.....
    When your Mum is finished up at your house, can she come over to Australia and help me out?
    I hope Henry settles down sometime soon. And you get some sleep! I have this craving for sleep, so does my husband! Hope we all get some soon!
    Rebecca D

  18. I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed reading your blogs and I have breastfed two of my three children and that pain you describe I had for the first month with both my children. I even had multiple LCs look at the latch and confirm it was correct. Gel pads work wonders and the nips will toughen back up.

    and about the link; my mom told me about this phenomenon and she said that my dad lactated when my sister was a baby; how wild is that!

  19. The puppy noises are killing me, too. :) I jsut pump imtermittently so that there's a bottle or two in the fridge for the times when it's dad's "turn." It's been working well.

    Also, at six weeks the baby starts to develop a natural pattern and has passed his two-week and four-week maniacal growth spurts in which he needs to eat all the freaking time, so you might be able to get some rest. Or so they say. Hang in there!

  20. good advice here....
    Don't forget that H may be nursing for other things besides food. He may be scared, tired, in pain, bored, etc. Nursing is a wonderful soothing technique and he may just need you more these days. Hang in there--it will get better!