We are in a dilemma – and for the first time in a while I’m not quite sure what the best route will be to resolve this dilemma. Jacob is 5 months old this week and I’m betting he’s close to 19 pounds and 28 inches long – a big boy. He had been sleeping through the night at 3 months old but two colds and an ear infection pretty much made us say sianara to that- while sick, Jacob became accustomed to middle of the night feedings again and now, instead of slowly sleeping longer and longer each night, he is sleeping for shorter and shorter periods of time. It’s getting really bad – he ate at 11pm last night and started crying off the top of his head to eat again at 1:50 am….we didn’t even make it 3 hours – that has never happened before. Excuse me if I can’t be my usual philosophical self but it’s just after 2am, I’m tired and I’m particularly void of any real intelligence.
Something has to change – but what?
A few thoughts have been going through my head the past couple of weeks as we’ve sunk deeper deeper into the abyss of night time awakenings and feedings. Last night an attempt to “cry it out” was horribly unsuccessful because my son – instead of eventually settling just continued to cry louder and louder and louder until he had the all out snot running down face, hyperventilating, tears on cheek type of cry going on – I’m certain that had we let him cry for even a second more our neighbours would have knocked on our door to make sure we were not killing the poor lad – Crying it out just seems so horrifying to me – but is this what we have to do? There is no reason why a child who is getting 7 bottles a day needs to wake up less then 3 hours after he has fallen asleep to eat AGAIN. Biologically, they say (though I’m never too sure who “they” are) babies should be able to sleep for at least a 5 hour stretch once they hit 11 pounds – Jacob was 12 pounds at 2 months and change….we have all heard of the FERBER method to get babies to sleep which does involve some form of crying out – but do we really have to resort to that?
A second thought that crosses my mind is that perhaps the time has come (as sad as this may seem for me) for Jacob’s crib to make the journey to his own bedroom. This thought alone is frightening and overwhelming (for me not likely for him) to say the least. I worry that perhaps we are “jumping too fast” (though to say “we” are jumping too fast is an understatement – that should read “I” since I’m usually the first one to wake up) and getting Jacob from his fussing self before he really needs the attention. Perhaps being in his own room is the ticket to a restful night sleep for all – but then I worry about the risk of SIDS – they say (still haven’t figure out who “they” are) that babies should sleep close to their parents for the first 6 months of life but they also say that the risk of SIDS drops dramatically after 4 months of age and once the baby can move their head from side to side – even more so if the baby is able to roll. Jacob is 5 months old, has no issues moving his head from side to side, AND can roll successfully from belly to back and from back to side – he hasn’t quite made it all the way over from back to belly yet. So do we take the door off the hinges and pull the crib out of our bedroom and put Jacob in his own room? Or do we wait until after 6 months old as we had initially decided?
The third thought (and perhaps the most confusing to me) is that maybe Jacob does need solid food now. Our pediatrician felt that Jacob does not need it and that formula alone should be enough to sustain him until he is 6 months old – I trust my physician but part of me believes that perhaps he is just telling us what he “has to recommend”. Jacob is a big tall boy – he is not a peanut by any means and I’m worried that the formula is not sustaining his big self….everyone around me thinks he needs to have cereal added to his diet – I’m not convinced but I’m worrying now that he might need it (not because he’s STARVING) but because he’s really a big little guy and the formula really isn’t filling him up – when I examine his eating patterns during the day I realize that Mike and I spend a lot of time trying to get Jacob to go three hours between feedings – which our doctor says he should be going at least 4 at this age – asking Jacob to go four hours between feedings is like trying to get Saddam Hussein to admit he’s guilty. Some people will say to increase the amount that Jacob gets at each feeding – but I’m telling you that from my experience this doesn’t work. Jacob would eat 7 – 8 ounce bottles a day if we let him. I have never experienced Jacob pulling away from a bottle, leaving formula in a bottle, or acting like he is full – if the formula is there he will eat it – and 56 ounces of formula a day isn’t good for any baby. So, he is satisfied with 5 ounces at a time 7 times a day (including the nighttime feeding)…but we just can’t go on forever feeding the child at night – so do we start to introduce cereal (by spoon not by bottle) or do we continue with our original plan to wait till 6 months…
Parenting is so many things – rewarding, overwhelming, exciting, frustrating, fulfilling, even exhausting at times. I would not give up being Jacob’s parent ever – till the day I draw my last breath and even after – I will love him entirely. I never find myself angry that he wakes up at night because it is impossible to be angry with someone so small who loves you so unconditionally despite your many flaws – he did not chose me but he loves me and that is just miraculous to me. We will trudge on either continuing with the night time feedings and awakenings or chosing to try one of the above options – but whatever we do – we will continue to try and chose the best option we know…yesterday while we were out for breakfast with Mike’s mom – Jacob learned his “m” sound – and he said ma ma ma ma – and I couldn’t help but love him more – he wasn’t associating ma ma with me just yet – but he was looking at me and speaking those sounds – and I let him know with my smile and with my words – that yes I was his mama and that I always would be no matter what…
Eat, sleep, cry…whatever it is, whenever it is – I am his mother.