Holy shit. These past 3-4 weeks have been a nightmare. Which is funny because nightmares typically require sleep. There has been very little sleep in our home recently.
This rough patch started right after E learned to roll at 15 weeks. We had to ditch the swaddle before he was ready and it was really tough on him. He still had a strong startle reflex. It was so hard to get him down to sleep because he would wake up right away. At the worst point, he was waking up every 30-60 minutes. We would end up holding or rocking him for over an hour trying to get him into a deep enough sleep to lay him back down.
About two weeks later, E went on a napping strike. He really only naps for 30-50 minutes. A nap longer than an hour is a rare treat. I have no idea how to help him. We've tried everything - nursing to sleep, going in the crib awake, wrap sacks, zipadeezips, sleepers, sleep sheep, white noise - nothing gets him past that 50 minute mark consistently. It's tough because he's overtired and I end up spending 12 hours alone with a cranky baby.
At some point, I lost it. I had a breakdown. Seth knew I had finally reached some limit, so he took off work to stay home with me. My mom made plans to fly down to be with me for a few days. I made an appointment to talk to my doctor about PPD/PPA.
I knew something wasn't right, but I wasn't sure if it was PPD/PPA. I thought it was probably just situational depression - I'm beyond exhausted and so, so lonely without any family within 1200 miles. But that one morning, the morning that I lost it, I knew that something wasn't right. I wasn't handling the every day things the way that I should be. I was getting so overwhelmed and frustrated with the littlest things and that was making the bigger things even more difficult to handle. I've seen my doctor twice now and it has helped. I'll keep seeing her as needed.
We also had E's 4 month appointment. His doctor was not impressed with his weight or weight gain. He had been at the doctor's a week before this appointment, so we knew that he had no gained an ounce. He also had not doubled his birth weight yet. They encouraged me to supplement with a little formula, but I was really resisting it. We worked so hard to breastfeed and I wasn't ready to accept that it wasn't working. However, after I talked to my doctor about the PPD/PPA, something clicked. I realized that breastfeeding was contributing so much to my anxiety. I was constantly worried that E wasn't eating enough, that something wasn't right. I was finally ready to accept that it might not be best for us.
Luckily, we found a formula that E will tolerate. At first, I was just going to go cold turkey but I didn't even get a few hours into it before I changed my mind. I still wasn't ready to let it go. I decided that I would try doing formula during the day and nurse at night. That's what I'm doing now. My new plan is to just keep doing that as long as my body keeps up.
I think that I made the right decision. I can see the difference in E. He sleeps better. Not good, but better. He's gaining weight! He just looks healthier. It's probably not something that anyone else would notice, but I see the difference. I don't know what the problem was. Maybe I had a low supply (I don't think so). Maybe he was never able to get a good latch and it was just too much work for him. I'll never know and I will always wonder what happened.
Even though I think it's for the best, I'm still very sad that nursing is coming to an end for us. I cry often. It's bringing up a lot of feeling I had before E was born. I'm angry at my body. I'm bitter that I have to add to the list of things my body is supposed to do but doesn't. I'm starting to hate hearing people talk about breastfeeding the same way I hated hearing about honeymoon, cycle 1 and condom babies. I know that breastfeeding advocates think that almost all problems are in your head or can be fixed by a lactation consultant. It really bugs me that anyone could think I didn't try hard enough for my son. Bullfuck. I've had plenty of opportunities to prove that I would and will do whatever it takes for him. I know that I did everything in my power to make it work. Continuing to breast feed exclusively would have been for me, not for E. Anyone who doesn't believe that can suck it.
For now, I'm just trying to get through one day and night at a time. On a good night, E will only wake every 3 hours, nurse and go right back to sleep. On a bad/regular night, he's up every 1.5-2 hours plus an hour long party between 2 and 4 AM. It sucks but, like they say, it won't be like this forever. Sleep deprivation is torture but it will pass. The memories I have of nursing E at night and watching the contented look on his face as he snuggles into my arms, so happy and safe, will be with me forever.