Growing up, I saw many women breastfeeding, so it's something I've always wanted to do. When I got pregnant, I pictured what breastfeeding sessions would be like with my little one: putting the baby to my breast, him/her eating happily for a designated amount of time, burping him/her, and then offering the other side to him/her so he/she could eat until their little heart was content. It didn't occur to me that it wouldn't go so smoothly. (Are you all laughing at how naive I was?!) Imagine my surprise, then, when I gave birth to what people have deemed a "sleepy eater"! (If you want to skip the rest of what will probably be a long post, the point of this is to ask if it will always be this hard to breastfeed!)
As background, my son is 14 weeks. He was born 2.5 week early, and it's always been a battle to get him to eat. (He was born at 6 lbs 4 oz, dropped to 5 lbs 10 oz, and didn't regain his birth weight until about 3 weeks.) For the first six week of life, all he wanted to do was sleep. I think he would have slept 22 hours a day in those really early weeks. For those first six weeks, I had to set my alarm for every 3 hours because he never woke on his own to eat. Once I put him to my breast, he'd suck 3 or 4 times usually and then start to doze off. I tried everything I could find to wake him. Everything! Someone even suggested using ice to wake him. That occasionally got a few minutes of eating out of him, but it didn't "work like a charm" by any means. Even using a medicine dropper and eventually a bottle didn't keep him awake too well, but it did help me know that he was at least getting something in him. I felt horrible about the whole experience, but I always thought I'd breastfeed my baby, so I refused to give him formula unless he showed signs of dehydrating or his diaper output dropped below acceptable. (Fortunately, neither of these things ever happened, so he's always been EBF. Woohoo!) I would jokingly tell people that I "lovingly tortured" my baby into eating, but it was no joke. I felt positively awful about it. At 14 weeks, he now weighs just over 11 pounds. He's always had the minimum number of wet and stool diapers, but never too many more than the minimum. He spends more time awake than a lot of 3 month olds I think, but he still struggles to stay awake while eating. There are days when he eats for 3 minutes and falls asleep. As soon as I put him down, he wakes up, sometimes wanting to eat immediately, sometimes not for an hour.
So, for those who skipped the back story (I don't blame you at all - time is so important these days!) and for those who read my entire post (bless you!), my question is: Will this get easier? I'd love a response from anyone, but if there are mothers out there who had a sleepy eater or a baby who struggled with eating for any other reason, I'd particularly like some reassurance from you. Will my guy always struggle with staying awake to eat? Will I ever relax and accept that (like my mom says) he's "doing his own thing and growing just fine"?
Finally, I have been reading posts on this site for a week or so now, and I wanted to add that everyone on this site is amazing! There are so many generous people who take the time to answer other people's questions. I wish I'd found this site a few months ago, but I am so thankful that I have it as a resource now. Oh, and I apologize for the long post!