Re: Zombie mommy
Would it help if someone said that what you're experiencing is normal? That it's 100% normal for breastfed babies to wake to eat during the night for the first year and into the second? That you can't tell by simply looking at a baby whether or not it "should" be eating at night, or whether or not it has a nutritional need to eat at night, even if you're a pediatrician? That babies sleeping 10+ hours at night from 6 weeks on is rare, for both breastfed and formula-fed babies?
I mean, I hope that all that would help, because it's all true. I know it's intensely frustrating and you are exhausted- believe me, I know, because my first kid was up 5-8 times a night until 10.5 months of age, and I was a zombie, too. There were times when I worried I was going to nod off at traffic lights, times when my husband and I were so tired that we were fighting, and I was really not functioning well at all.
When you have a baby who wakes frequently to nurse at >6 months, here's what I think you should do:
1. Eliminate possible physical causes for night-waking, like ear infections and teething.
2. Co-sleep, if you're not already. Hopefully that will allow you to latch the baby on and drift off to sleep ASAP. If you need safe co-sleeping tips, or tips on negotiating a different sleep arrangement with your partner, we're happy to provide them.
3. Turn your clock to the wall. I swear that this helps. When you know just how many times you've been up and how short your sleep intervals are, night-waking becomes vastly more upsetting.
4. Nap when the baby naps.
5. Read Elizabeth Pantley's book "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" for a realistic look at infant sleep and for gentle, breastfeeding-friendly ways to get your baby to sleep longer and more independently. Even if nothing in the book works, it will at least give you some avenues to explore and you'll feel better because you're doing something. I know I did!
6. Evaluate your baby's daytime nursing. Some busy, distracted babies nurse more at night because they are forgetting to feed during the day. If distractibility is a problem for you, let us know.
7. Take a look at your baby- is your baby a mellow little person, content to play by himself for long stretches, rarely crying even when wet or otherwise uncomfortable? Or is he more of a "don't put me down, don't leave me alone, don't ever stop interacting with me" kind of guy? If your baby is more on the high-needs end of the spectrum, this could explain the night-waking.
Finally, I think it helps to focus on your own personal triumph: you have nursed a baby to 8 months of age. There aren't that many western women who manage that particular feat. And when someone says something like "You're so lucky to be able to nurse your baby!" you can look back and say "Luck has absolutely nothing to do with it. Hard work- my hard work- that's what made it possible."
Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"