reading these fora have saved me many a time from going absolutely crazy, so please accept my thanks for the work you are doing.
i am a FTM, 35 years old, an academic who works way too much (80 hour weeks), is rather underpaid, and we have a little girl who is 4.5 months old.
I have breastfed DD for this whole time, despite considering giving up due to thrush, mastitis, bad treatments for both, and then a range of emotional issues (anxiety, OCD-type stuff, panic). I go back to work in one week's time.
The story: DD used to feed for 20 minutes each side for the first over two months, but something changed after Week 12/13, we both got sick with the virus and then sinus infection (no medication), she would cry a lot at night, was in teething discomfort, and would never really fall asleep. She also just nursed about 10 minutes, 20 minutes on a rare occasion, and sometimes does the sleep-nurse thing for 40-45 minute cycles, whether in the middle of the day or at night. We went on a 90-minute awake time, then sleep, cycle, so now she sleeps for 45 minutes at at time, about 3-4 times a day, and nurses every time after waking up. Then bedtime is 6 pm, but while she used to fall asleep nursing, she doesn't quite do that and starts getting frfrenetic and now needs to be rocked, and then wakes up every hour or so, until 10-12 pm, and then might, if lucky, stay asleep for two 3 hour stretches, with one more feeding between 3 and 4. These are all rough estimates, since she is not very regular about that. I just dread bedtime, because I never know what lies ahead, and her short naps in the evening somehow seem more frustrating and depressing, for I worry she will never sleep. I am continually tethered to her, feel too anxious to leave, and cannot quite relax when I am away from our room (we co-sleep), for I think she will never fall asleep again, or would be up for an hour and two and fuss, if I missed the opportunity to nurse her back to sleep immediately.
She also does this weird thing that she pulls away after 5-6 minutes on each side, and sometimes approaches the breast and doesn't nurse. I worried about OALD, for her mouth is always full for the first few minutes, but I have recently gotten some advice from a lactation consultant that really worries me.
Granted she has been sick and teething (no teeth yet), but is this "normal." She is gaining weight (75th percentile) and height (off the charts), and is happy and very amiable. Also, she was born with one kidney, and has some indications of potential hypertension, so I am over-concerned about dehydration (especially at night) and crying too much.
So, my questions are:
(1) I thought my supply was "fine" (after worrying about it too much), and convinced myself that DD was just getting more efficient, and that cluster feeding at night was okay, and that at 4-5 months, babies till need 7-8 feedings. However, the NP at the pediatrician's office suggested solids that would make her sleep more (I find that silly, reading all the things here). But, speaking to the lactation consultant who didn't quite ask good questions and sent me spinningly worried about whether "I had enough" makes me very very anxious, especially with a few days left to me leaving for work. She suggested that since DD was eating very frequently, there was a chance I didn't make enough milk, and that my supply would was bound to be affected adversely once I go back. I thought all this while that just feeding DD more often would actually serve to build supply rather than not, but this suggests a different story. Can anyone weigh in on this? I suggested to LC about OALD, but she ignored it.
(2) The other thing has to do with pumping and going back to work. I will be away from DD for three days for 5-6 hours, and for one day for 8 hours. What would you recommend I do, since I will have one 10-15 minute break on the shorter days, and probably 2 of those on the longer day. I pumped a while back more than a couple of months ago for many days, but couldn't keep it up, what with feeding DD every hour and a half or so, and then worrying like hell about her lack of sleeping pattern. How am I supposed to plan for this--I cannot even fully fathom all that will change and all this will take, and my work, even though I am a professor, is quite unrelenting.
(3) Is there something harmful in a 4.5 month old having no fixed sleep pattern, and this strange "pattern" at night that I have mentioned above? Could this be because of hunger on her part? Or needing pacification. I don't mind filling either need any number of times at night, but could I not be doing it well enough which in turn isn't helping her sleep well?
Thank you for any help you can give me. I am all alone, and just don't have any support system besides my DH who is amazing and tries to fix things that he just cannot fix. With my anxiety issues, and not taking any medication, that can be a lot. I hate going back to work so soon.
DD weighs 16 pounds, is 27.5 inches long. 4.5 months, (birth weight 6 lb 14 ounces; length 20.5 inches)