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Not Normal

Hubbs and I have been struggling to get enough sleep, to find time to shower, to do *anything* but baby-caring and his work-related duties.  Even after a month, we're not any better at managing our responsibilities as Mommy and Daddy as we were during our first week; we still have yet to get sufficient rest and resume "normal" activities like going to church and attending social events.  We've also had a hard time coping with our seemingly-unrelenting fatigue and not taking things out on the other person.  In fact, sometimes it takes everything we have just to avoid sniping at each other during those wee hours of the night/morning.

Surely this is not how parenthood should be, is it?  I look at the other new parents I know and observe the glow on their faces, the lack of dark circles, the affectionate gazes at one another, and also their ability to effortlessly incorporate their newborn into their lives and pick up where they left off.  These are people with jobs, other social responsibilities, and household chores too. How do they do all of that in light of having a new baby?! Are Hubbs and I just somehow inept at this whole parenting business?!

Possibly; I certainly wouldn't rule that out.  However, after talking with our community nurse, I think that our experience is not normal in that I don't think most first-time parents have experienced quite what we go through right now.  Maybe that's arrogant of me to say, and I certainly don't want to imply that somehow Hubbs and I are suffering or going through trials as great as those with sick babies or colicky ones.  By no means are our experiences extreme or unbearable, but at least this might in part explain why two intelligent, educated adults can't get their act together and manage life with a new baby.

Our "not normal" problem? Breastfeeding woes.  Most new parents are blessed to be able to breastfeed their newborn from Day 1, and once their milk comes in, to be able to sustain their child on breastfeeding alone.  I have no such luxury.  I had latching issues at the beginning, and my colostrum did not come in sufficiently.  My milk also didn't come in early, and when it finally did emerge, it was discovered that my production was/is pitifully low (e.g. 40 mL per feed when baby needs 120).  I was also misprescribed a low-dose of the milk drug, which meant that I lost a few precious days of bringing up my supply.  Oh, and don't forget the part where listening to the former family doc resulted in my *not* pumping for a couple of days, which also didn't help my milk production and probably slowed it down further.

So how does this affect our schedule or ability to cope? Well, it only occurred to me when I started talking to the nurse that the present schedule that I am operating on does not allow for "sleep when the baby sleeps."  A lack of sleep also further inhibits milk production and increases general crankiness and saps us of our ability to participate in other everyday life events.  Here's an example of what I'm talking about, assuming a feeding every 3 hours:

Normal New Momma = 7.5 hours of sleep from 12:00-09:00
12:00am  Breastfeed baby
12:30am  Go back to bed
03:00am  Breastfeed baby
03:30am  Go back to bed
06:00am  Breastfeed baby
06:30am  Go back to bed
09:00am  Breastfeed baby

Not Normal Momma Loquacious = 2 hours and 55 minutes (or 4h45 on a really good day) from 12:00-09:00

12:00am  Breastfeed baby
12:15am  Bottlefeed baby
12:40am  Pump breasts
01:10am  Go back to bed
03:00am  Breastfeed baby
03:15am  Bottlefeed baby
03:40am  Pump breasts
04:10am  Sterilize bottles (boiling method) + prepare formula
04:55am  Go back to bed
06:00am  Breastfeed baby
06:15am  Bottlefeed baby
06:40am  Pump breasts
07:10am  Go back to bed (in theory - but Baby Loquacious generally doesn't sleep after this feed) or play with very awake little girl
09:00am  Breastfeed baby

Totally out - on Daddy's shoulder
Hubbs is usually up with me for a lot of this time, too.  So really, we are getting *half* the sleep of most blessed new parents.  The reduced milk supply and supplementing has sort of caused a chain reaction of other tasks that cuts into sleeping time tremendously, costing us our social lives and personal hygiene and sanity!

This is not sustainable by any means, and I think we're only going to continue down this road for another couple of weeks, provided that the pumping and breastfeeding are bringing up my milk production.  If not, we may end up just pumping and bottle-feeding, or going the way of formula period.  Yeah yeah, I know the benefits of breast-feeding and I know the latter option wouldn't win me any points with La Leche League.  However, I'm pretty sure that Baby L would much rather have sane, happy parents than fatigued, weary ones.  Somehow, if it came down to it, the trade-off would be worth it for her I'm sure.  Trust me.


~Rain``` said…
This post and your schedule reminds me so much of what I went through with my first baby! And I struggled with envy as these new Moms walked into church a day or two after returning home, a-glow as you say, breastfeeding with huge joy and pride. On the other hand, I was stressed every time I left the house with my princess! "What if she cries?" I worried, "How will I feed her???" Or "What will people think of me as I whip out a bottle???"

Looking back, I am glad that I went through what I did. I can emphathize with so many new Moms who find the feeding equation a challenge. I am thankful to Christ that I "failed" according to the breastfeeding extremists out there.

Guess what! My daughter turned out just fine with the feeding decisions we made at the end.

I KNOW you and Hubbs will make the right decision for Baby L, whatever that decision is. And you are great parents! What you are experiencing was "normal" for some of us!
Sharon said…
I agree that the trade-off will be worth it. Besides, God overrules - He uses the good, bad and ugly for His glory. Raise her for His glory as you aim to and there's the trade-off.

Can't wait to see you guys on Thursday!!
Alissa said…
I read your blog today and I felt like I was reading exactly what I've been feeling! I just can't understand why I can't get into a routine and start adding in some of the "normal" every day things again. While I am not struggling with breastfeeding we are struggling with a baby that fights sleep EVERY night and each and every time he wakes it takes him hours to drift back to sleep. Add in my life-long struggle with insomnia and you have one tired mama... I am averaging about the same hours of sleep that you are. My hubby and I are getting to our breaking point and can barely hold it together and not fight at 3am when we've been trying to get the little one to go back to sleep for 2 hours. Hang in there! I can't tell you how many nights I've BEGGED God to let my little one sleep and to take my insomnia from me... but he must be using this to grow me into a better person because our sleepless nights continue. Praying for you and little baby L.
Mrs. Loquacious said…
Thanks ladies for those words of encouragement! Alissa- you'll be in my prayers too. Sharon - it's a good reminder that I need to, in all things, give glory to Him. Rain - thank you for validating that my feelings are normal. I don't resent the ones who have it all together but I sure do envy them! ;)

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