Emma: 5 – 6 Weeks

16 May

This coming Sunday, Emma will be 6 weeks old. It’s amazing how fast the time is going, even though the days (and especially the nights) sometimes seem to last forever.

After talking to the triage nurse last week and making the changes to my diet and breastfeeding style that she recommended, Emma still hadn’t seen much improvement. She was sleeping a little bit longer, but not really crying any less. So I called again this past Monday and they had us come in that same afternoon. While we were there, Emma gave the pediatrician and nurses a good dose of her crying – red face and all. After examining her, the doctor decided that Emma most likely has acid reflux. So she prescribed Prevacid for Emma to take once a day and said that we should see some improvement in the next 7-10 days.

We’ve already seen some improvement. It’s not night and day difference but Emma is now frequently alert and happy for 10-15 minutes after she eats, and has tolerated sitting in her swing, cradle or car seat several times without crying immediately, like she was doing before. She’s also developed a less severe level of crying – it’s not always just ear piercing wails. And we’ve also been trying to put her in her cradle or swing at night instead of just holding her, and she has stayed sleeping several times for up to a couple of hours – also an improvement. But she still has her inconsolable moments.

It’s hard to not be discouraged and frustrated at this whole situation. We love our daughter so much and want her to be happy and comfortable, but we’re also struggling with severe sleep deprivation, and trying to not crack when she’s fussy or crying uncontrollably for what seems like hours on end (in reality, it’s only 30-60 minutes at a time) is hard.

This has been our typical routine lately with a baby who only wants to sleep being held:

Approx 1 am: I get up for the middle-of-the-night feeding; Travis goes to bed after his ‘shift’

1 am – 7 am: I stay up with Emma, feeding her every 2-3 hours, then rocking her to sleep and attempting to put her down – usually she starts making noise after 20-30 minutes. I go pick her up because I don’t want her to wake up completely, causing me to have to get her to sleep all over again. My main desire has been to avoid a crying baby, but I realize this isn’t a good strategy for getting her to sleep apart from me, so I’m going to work on changing this.

7:15 am: Travis gets up, makes his coffee and puts Emma in the Baby Bjorn while he works at his desk; I go back to bed for a couple of hours

9:30 am: I get up and take Emma from Travis, feed her and entertain her for however long she’s happy, maybe doing tummy time while I take a few sips of my decaf coffee. Usually she starts crying (with no warning!) and I get her back to sleep by putting her in the Baby Bjorn with her pacifier and bouncing on the exercise ball.

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Sacked out in the Baby Bjorn

10:30 – 5:30 pm: Travis works while Emma and I go through the continual cycle of eat, awake and sleep. She typically goes 2-3 hours between feedings, with naps that are usually 45 minutes – 2 hours long, but it’s still far from predictable. During Emma’s naps, I either do chores like dishes and laundry (if she’s in the Bjorn), sit with her in the glider or watch TV while she sleeps, or (rarely) take a walk. Since she’s started crying so much and often, we’ve been hesitant to take her very many places because it’s so hard to soothe her without all our props and she’s really not a fan of being buckled into her car seat. Though I discovered today that driving on the highway with the windows down makes a wonderful white noise that puts her to sleep! (hopefully not just a fluke)

5:45 pm: Travis gets done with work and takes Emma while I ‘make’ dinner – usually reheating leftovers of a meal from our church friends. I eat and then take Emma so Travis can eat.

6:30 pm: We bathe Emma if it’s a bath night. If not, I feed Emma and either Travis or I put her pajamas on and swaddle her.

7 – 7:30 pm: I go to bed while Travis stays up with Emma. This strategy evolved at first because Emma’s such a loud sleeper that I was awake anytime she grunted or sighed (which is a lot). Lately we’ve done this because Emma sleeps the longest if she’s held. She’s actually gone 5 hours between feedings a couple of times (which is sleeping through the night at this age) but only while being held. The longest she’s gone in her cradle or swing is about 2.5 hours I think.

10 pm: I get up and feed Emma. When she’s done eating, I give her back to Travis and go back to bed.

{and the cycle begins all over again…}

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In short, we have no time to do anything but sleep, take care of Emma and work (in Travis’ case). Most days I don’t shower, brush my teeth or change clothes. Even though we’re technically surviving this way, we’re both frequently close to losing it. Something’s got to change. So we’re going to start being more intentional about putting her down to sleep in her cradle or swing instead of just letting her sleep in our arms. It may be more painful at first and involve more work with getting her back to sleep if she wakes up, but at least we’ll be headed the right direction instead of just throwing in the towel.

All that said, the Lord has faithfully given enough grace for us to get through each day – whether it’s a little bit more sleep, Emma not fussing for a few hours, delicious meals from friends, warm sunny weather, lots of babysitting offers, or the fact that Travis works from home (so amazingly helpful!). I’ve been tempted more than once to drown in self-pity because of all the things I haven’t been able to do, like get out on more runs, maintain personal hygiene or sleep longer than 3 hours at a stretch, but God has helped me to be aware of that sinful, joyless tendency and to instead be thankful for the mercies He does provide. Just like He provided the Israelites enough manna for a single day, so He provides me with enough faith and hope in His promises to stay the course for one more day. I know we will look back on this time and see His faithfulness stretching to the skies. I don’t know what I would do without Him, or Travis!

5 Responses to “Emma: 5 – 6 Weeks”

  1. mborrell May 16, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    Dr. Browns bottles help HUGELY with reflux, I have heard that the rock n play sleeper is great as an alternative sleeping place rather then laying flat in a crib or bassinet. I hope something helps soon. Poor Emma! Also hope that you two can get some sleep! Good luck 🙂

  2. Kayla Dickens May 16, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    These days will pass. My mom always says that. And it’s so true. It’ll pass.

    Good luck!

    You’re right about god giving you what you need each day. You can do this!

  3. Dorsa @ Running Thoughts May 17, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    :-/ I’m so sorry you are going through this, but it will get better. I know that’s the last thing you want to hear. Give the medicine some time to work itself out and you will see a big difference.

    I agree with you though you need to be putting her down to sleep or else it is just going to get worse. While it might be difficult to hear your baby scream at first, they will learn to self soothe.. either that or they pass out from crying.

  4. Amandine May 17, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Hey Kathy, I don’t have children yet, but my niece was very similar to Emma when she was a baby. She would NOT sleep by herself (naps or at night) for more than 5 minutes no matter what, unless someone was holding her/lying down with her/touching her. She would wake up and cry hysterically. Have you thought about co-sleeping? This really helped my sister a lot! Every baby is unique, but some babies just don’t sleep well on their own. This doesn’t mean they will always be attached to you at the hip or that they won’t be able to transition to sleeping on their own when the time comes. Co-sleeping can be a way for you to both get more sleep, especially since you are breastfeeding. Eventually, many babies/mamas get into a routine where they barely wake up for feedings (usually once baby is a little older). When the baby starts grunting/snorting, mama just helps her find her breast, baby feeds lying down, and then mama drifts back to sleep. Anyway, co-sleeping isn’t right for everyone, and you should definitely do research/talk to your pediatrician about safe ways to co-sleep (and see this recent post: http://www.wifessionals.com/2013/05/preparing-for-little-one-calming-your.html), but it might be helpful. Praying for you!

  5. Lynette May 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    I could take a night shift if that would help. Crying doesn’t bother me like it used to. I enjoy evening snuggles. Let me know.

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