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Thread: 4 mo old baby replaced with overtired raccoon. PLS ADVISE.

  1. #1

    Unhappy 4 mo old baby replaced with overtired raccoon. PLS ADVISE.

    I'm trying to joke about it because this issue has me in tears on the daily.

    I don't know if this is a breastfeeding issue or a parenting issue, but I'm in desperate need of advice (and reassurance and strong-mama vibes). My first child, a son, is 17 weeks old (but he was born three weeks post-date) and has been EBF since he was six weeks. My milk came in late and slow, I still take domperidone as well as therapeutic doses of fenugreek and blessed thistle. He was 8lbs11oz at birth (I had an IV), went down to 7lbs15oz, and today weighs 14lbs8oz, which the doctor says is an appropriate growth curve. (He was in outpatients today for a mild fever, but no sign of any ear/throat/urinary tract infection.) He has lots of wet diapers and typically has bowel movements every other day, but the past four days have seen lots of small, green, mucous poops. The doctor was unconcerned about this, and believes he has a cold. He did have one good big brown-yellow poop today, so I'm also not too worried.

    He has been teething for the past month, no teeth yet and the doctor said none were close to erupting. He has been nursing CONSTANTLY for a good week, typically hourly. This month has also seen his longest average sleep drop from 3-4 hours to 1-2 hours. He doesn't fall asleep easily anymore, not even content to be nursed to sleep, lots of back-arching and grunting and wailing, but he wants to nurse all the time. I end up doing a lot of rocking and shushing and nursing while he bobs on and off my nipple in between cries. IT'S UNSPEAKABLY FRUSTRATING. He has always had an incredibly strong impulse to suck, and he used to accept a pacifier but now refuses it. We bedshare, though I had intended on using a co-sleeper, to facilitate the constant comfort nursing and though I can side-nurse, I can't sleep once he finishes the let-down and constantly latches and unlatches. He does not always fall back asleep, and the wrestling starts again.
    His wakes, six, seven, eight times a night, sometimes more.

    We have experimented (for four days each)with cluster feeding before bed (every half hour for four hours before bedtime) and with a bottle of formula before bed. We experimented with putting him down in a different room, with sleeping in a swing, his carseat, and on his belly. Nothing resulted in longer sleep. When my partner takes him for long walks in a carrier on the weekend he can go quite contentedly for three hours+ without nursing.

    In desperation, I read the Baby Whisperer and have come to realize that I was letting him stay up too long in between naps, and that we should have a strong bedtime routine and a flexible schedule. I have also realized that he is unable to self-soothe. So my fear is that the constant nursing is a sleep association, but I also can't justify not on-demand nursing and allowing comfort nursing for my teething/possibly growth-spurting little guy.

    I'm miserable, exhausted, and coming close to wanting to give up on my hard-won breastfeeding. I've slept in spurts of an hour and forty-five minutes for the past four weeks. My partner has a medical condition that requires him to have a good, solid sleep schedule and he cannot help in the night even though he desperately wants to. He sleeps in the spare room and I miss him. I have zero luck with pumping, even back when I used the hospital-grade double-pump, and hand expression yields 10-20 mls, at best. And, just for fun, one breast never really kicked up the milk production (I suspect hypoplasia, and there is a wierd duct on the areola?) and so I'm walking through life as a zombie-mom with comically lopsided tits.

    Is this baby ever going to sleep? Will solids possibly help, or am I setting myself up for disappointment? Am I making everything worse by letting him always nurse to sleep? Why is he behaving like he's hungry at the breast, when it seems like he's getting enough? What's with the latching/unlatching?

    Please please. Help! Tell me it gets better. LIE IF YOU HAVE TO.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: 4 mo old baby replaced with overtired raccoon. PLS ADVIS

    Welcome to the forum!

    It does get better. I'm not lying, and it's not because I'm a terrific person who is never less than truthful. It's because I don't have to. Both my kids were "bad" (a.k.a. normal) sleepers at 4 months, but by 12 months they had gone from waking 5-8 times a night to waking just 1-2 times a night.

    A lot of people talk about something called the "4 month fussies" or the "4 month sleep regression". Neither term is really accurate- especially the "regression" one because the baby isn't losing ground, just going through a new stage- but the fact that there are widely used terms for this period points to the normalcy of what you're seeing.

    Has your baby ALWAYS been like this, or is this just happening over the last week or so? I'm wondering if maybe he's not a bit sick, and that is explaining the frequent wake-ups.

    8 wake-ups per night is pretty intolerable, and you've clearly reached a breaking point because you're using formula, thinking about solids a full 2 months before they are recommended, and reading The Baby Whisperer. Unfortunately, none of those things works witht a d*** when it comes to promoting better sleep. All they do is make you doubt your capacity to breastfeed. I'm especially down on The Baby Whisperer because she has some pretty crazy ideas about schedules, what babies "should" be doing, and about self-soothing. This review does a good job of explaining why that book is good for propping up wobbly furniture, but not much else. If you want to read a more realistic and much gentler book on infant sleep, I suggest Elizabeth Pantley's "The No Cry Sleep Solution".

    I understand that your partner has a medical condition that means he needs unbroken sleep. But if you are truly at the breaking point, here's what I suggest: you go to bed with the baby. Your partner takes the first 1-2 wake-ups, feeding the baby your expressed milk if possible, donated breastmilk or formula if not (and if you are comfortable with that). That way you get at least 1 solid stretch of sleep before you have to take over the wake-ups. What do you think?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: 4 mo old baby replaced with overtired raccoon. PLS ADVIS

    Hi, welcome to the forum. I can picture your little guy in my minds eye- I also was blessed with a very fussy little man who never slept very long as a baby or toddler, as my introduction to parenthood. Actually he is fussy to this day if he is the least bit sleep deprived, and he is almost 11 now! (And a wonderful, very healthy boy.)

    I am a little confused- this constant nursing has been for a week-and baby is ill? Wouldn't baby's illness, (which is real, as indicated by fever, even if it is viral and not bacterial) explain an uptick in nursing and restlessness?

    If you are overall concerned beyond the current illness, Have you talked to your doctor about possible causes of baby's extreme lack of ability to sleep? Reflux? Food protein allergy? These are things that can make a child very uncomfortable and even be in pain and that would explain constant nursing, as nursing is the tool we were given for soothing our babies.

    I have been told (on these forums) that some moms and possibly babies have some digestive issues caused by fenugreek.

    Given your milk production issues, How do you feel about baby's intake, do you feel confident baby is getting enough to eat?

    While I DO think that sleep begets sleep, and that helping baby get to sleep in what is a developmentally normal way can be helpful. For a four month old, that would mean at least 2 and possibly more naps during adult waking hours, and sleep stretches of between 3-5 hours, hopefully in the night, might start being fairly regular. But I am sorry but I do not believe that nursing baby to sleep, or nursing a baby to comfort baby, causes adverse "sleep association" or any of that. Infants suckle a lot and cry when not allowed to because nature demands it as a species survival technique. Also I do not believe any 4 month old 'self soothes.'

    But such frequent waking, such non-stop nursing, and such agony in mom despite co-sleeping indicates there is some issue. I just do not think it is a behavioral one.
    My first child, a son, is 17 weeks old (but he was born three weeks post-date)
    have you been told that baby being born past a few weeks past due date matters? I am pretty sure birth date is birth date, unless baby is more than 3 weeks premature. I am pretty sure you can say your baby is 17 weeks, with no caveat.

    There is some differing opinion about solids for increasing weight gain, with some (notably Dr. Jack Newman) thinking that is a better choice for the breastfed infant than formula, assuming those are the only choices. But as far as I am aware, Solids MIGHT only help if there is a nutritional deficiency that is going unmet by your milk. And if that is the case, supplements of that nutrient might be more on point. IN other words, Adding more food into a child's tummy is not going to help them sleep unless (possibly) they are undernourished, which you would tell by blood testing. All in all, solids prior to 6 months are not generally recommended for the normally gaining breastfed baby, and only rarely even if baby is gaining poorly.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; June 26th, 2014 at 09:05 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Default Re: 4 mo old baby replaced with overtired raccoon. PLS ADVIS

    I just wanted to chime in as well. My baby is just turning 6mo. This is my second child, my first is now six years old (and is a wonderful sleeper!!). When we hit about 4.5 mo with this baby she started doing just about everything you're talking about. I kept thinking as soon as she'd mastered rolling over, we'd be through this. But no, I have not got my three-four hours stretches of sleep back yet. My little moonpie is up about every hour at night. EVERY HOUR, sometimes even more often. We cosleep, and I nurse on demand. I too fell prey to some pretty horrible books, like "healthy sleep habits, happy child" which just made me feel like a horrible mom. Coming into this new baby I remembered how important naps and sleep was so I (very early on) made sure I was watching sleepy signs and laying down with her to nurse her down. Once the 4.5 mo mark hit EVERYTHING changed! I started having a horrible time getting her to take her third nap of the day, she started nursing more (at night more than day) and she started sleeping at night horribly! I haven't slept a whole night sleep in over a year (due to the pregnancy pee's the last half of pregnancy). Elizabeth Pantely's book is amazing! I love it. I'm still dealing with frequent night wakings, but at least she nurses right back to sleep. I can't get very well rested because I have medical problems that dictate what position I can sleep in, but I get better sleep than if she was sleeping in another room. Even now, as I type this, I'm anxious because I have no idea how long I'll have to relax before she wakes again and I need to nurse her back down. These forums are helpful! When I had my first daughter, six years ago, I lived in the bay area and had LOADS of breastfeeding support. Where I live now I feel so isolated. Any moms that I know here only nursed for a few months before switching to formula. I nursed my 6yo for two years and I plan to do the same. What we are going through is normal. There are ways to break a baby (Leave it to cry for twelve hours, multiple nights and you'll condition your baby, but I can't do that) and there are ways to patiently, lovingly, teach a baby to sleep. It takes time. You CAN do it! You ARE NOT ALONE. IT DOES GET BETTER. It may take some months, but it does get better and nursing is just the tits! (punny lol)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Columbus, OH

    Default Re: 4 mo old baby replaced with overtired raccoon. PLS ADVIS

    OMG, 4 months was tough. It was around then that I "gave up" and let my baby nap in my arms for just about every nap. I was in these forums asking the same question that you are (namely: how will I bear this??). She's now 7 months & I just said to my husband the other day that sleep seems to have clicked for her. For us that still means waking every 3 hours over night, but that is bearable, luxurious even compared to where we were a few months ago.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Default Re: 4 mo old baby replaced with overtired raccoon. PLS ADVIS

    I also promise you that it will get better. I'm positive that I had one of the most frequent night-nurslings on this entire board. We averaged 12-15 sessions from months 7-11 or so, and some of those nights actually just required all night latch-a-thons. My daughter is now 19 months old, and I'm pretty sure that she only nursed once overnight last night (I say "pretty sure" because we bedshare, I don't clock watch, and don't count wakings, so my details are always a little fuzzy). We did not utilize any sleep book techniques to get to this point. It's just happening now that she's ready for it, essentially!

    So, first, I would recommend ditching the sleep books. Almost all of them are full of either completely incorrect or questionable advice at best, and most of them just make parents feel bad about the choices they've made that work well for their families.

    Sleep improved the most for me when I stopped worrying about how to "fix" the baby and focused all my energies on "fixing" my own sleep. What worked for me:
    1) Bedsharing and sidelying nursing, so that I did not have to get up at all to nurse. If I have to sit or stand, I will wake all the way up and have trouble falling back to sleep.
    2) Eliminate clocks, never count night wakings, and never ever keep track of how long I was awake in the middle of the night.
    3) Always, always go to bed with the baby to maximize my own sleep opportunities. It was tempting sometimes to want to stay up and read or something, but really, I was always best off if I went to sleep when she did. If we happened to get a good, restful night, I'd just wake up earlier and do something then!

    I also handle all of the nightwaking in my house, with a husband who sleeps elsewhere. My husband snores intolerably, so I sleep best when he is somewhere else. He is more than willing to help with a nightwaking baby, but his "help" was not actually ever helpful at night. Baby just wanted to nurse, and she would often not even wake all the way up as long as she could do that. Involve my husband, and everyone is awake. I say all of this only to offer up that we still agreed that even though he couldn't help at night, he COULD help if I ever needed it during the day, by watching the baby so I could take a nap if I needed it.
    Apologies for the short responses! I'm usually responding one-handed on my smartphone!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Indianapolis, IN, USA

    Default Re: 4 mo old baby replaced with overtired raccoon. PLS ADVIS

    Can I just add that everything you are describing sounds exactly like the 14-16 week developmental leap in The Wonder Weeks? I've been reading ahead to see when the next one occurs for us... my lo turns 14 weeks tomorrow. Evidently the next leap - which it sounds like your little guy is going through - can last up to 5 weeks, and the leaps get progressively more intense :-/ I highly recommend the book, or at the very least the app.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2014

    Default Re: 4 mo old baby replaced with overtired raccoon. PLS ADVIS

    We had 3 really tough weeks at 4 months where DD would only nap/sleep if we rocked her and sang and patted her bum (she already only sleeps if attached to me so her needing more help was hard work). It mostly all settled for us. We still wind up trying to be somewhere quiet where we can lay down for feeds simply because she is nosey!

    I also if am home nap with her so I catch up too. Thankfully my hubby plays catch up with washing up, laundry etc that simply doesn't get done during fussy periods.

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