Family Friday (vol. 46): Breastfeeding a Challenging Baby

I cringe a little when people ask, “Is she a good baby?” Seriously, what does that even mean? Does a baby really enter this world with the intent to be BAD? It’s truly an asinine question if you give pause. Yet, it gets asked of new parents all. the. time.

My 2 1/2 year-old, Shea, was what most would consider an “easy” baby. That said, she had sleep regressions (the 4-month sleep regression about killed me), a nursing strike, and dropped nursing like a hot potato at 11 months. EXCUSE ME, CHILD? No. We will make it to a year…we WILL! Yeah, Shea had different plans.

Shea: 1, Mom: 0.

It’s hard to consider a 2 1/2-year-old “easy”, but other than a handful of times where I wanted to go buh-zerk on her, I am rational enough to know that she’s a very agreeable, good-natured, easy-going kid. She eats well, sleeps well, loves everyone, and as of late, keeps me roaring with laughs. She can’t pronounce “vegetables” and it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I promise to get it on Instagram this weekend. She calls her grandma and grandpa “goo-ma” and “goo-pa”, respectively. It’s so freaking cute. When things get crazy in our house and I may start to raise my voice (okay, I admit, I yell when I start to lose it), Shea will quickly announce, “We got too many kids…too many kids, mama!” I die. So funny. WHERE did she get that?!

My Piper, though…she’s a whole new level of woman for us. When she wants something, she wants it NOW. She makes her wishes VERY well known with ear-piercing shrieks and screams. Sometimes I wonder what the neighbors think. Her wishes and needs change quickly so we’ve got to be on our toes. Bottle…hungry for food…needs a diaper change…wants to be held…tired. Now, now, now. Don’t miss a beat or else…EEEEEEEEE!!! The girl has no patience for us as we figure out her next need. She will arch her back and unleash her baby wrath. Sigh.

In the beginning days – the very beginning – Piper nursed ALL evening long. In those first weeks, I watched SO much Tennis Channel and my tush was permanently placed on the couch, buried under a nursing pillow and a sweet little baby, suckling away. She would protest the second I had to, say, go to the bathroom…even if she’d been nursing for the past FOUR HOURS STRAIGHT.

At first, she was a great sleeper and traveler. Thankfully, she’s always been a baby that can soothe herself to sleep without the assistance of a breast, a pacifier, back rubs, etc. She has always been pretty independent in that way. My Piper Reese is now going on 8 months old…and has slept through the night one time. ONE TIME. I used to stress over sleep and log her sleep EVERY morning after analyzing why her sleep was better or worse that night – did she have a lot of breastmilk before bed? Bottle vs breast or breast vs bottle? Was it earlier or later? Was she over-tired or not tried enough? Did she have solids? Nap good or bad? Was it related to her rise time or the timing of her last nap? Y’all…let me be VERY clear that I obsessed about sleep for a LONG time and I’m done. D-O-N-E. I choose coffee and the constant reminder that “this too shall pass”. My sweet little Piper is going to do what she’s going to do and I’ve learned that I won’t be able to read her like a book. So, we started the Ferber method of sleep training and her sleep is now pretty consistent, albeit not as fabulous as I’d like. I usually get to enjoy her (HA) around 2am every night, while she goes to bed around 7/7:30pm and gets up at 6:30/7am.

I’ve started to appreciate our middle of the night routine a bit more as Piper’s breastfeeding journey has been a rocky one. The days of being stuck on the couch with her latched to me for half a day are long gone. Piper is a very distracted little chick and feeding her in the middle of the night is the only time she’s guaranteed to breastfeed – she’s tired, it’s dark, everyone else is asleep. She can focus and I can enjoy (in my sleep-deprived haze). I can run my fingers through her hair and touch every square inch of baby flesh that’s available to me.

Nursing before bed is hit-or-miss. I typically have to get her calmed down with a bottle before she’ll consider breastfeeding, and by morning she is usually too anxious to start the day, see her sister/the dogs/anything other than my chest. It isn’t uncommon that I will have to remove all of my clothing, jewelry, and technologies from her room in order to get her to nurse. SHINY OBJECT SYNDROME. Piper lives life, she isn’t going to miss a beat…and that personality has definitely complicated our breastfeeding relationship.

Sometimes people ask me why I continue to pump (typically 4-5x/day) and breastfeed. I never really gave any other option consideration – breastfeeding is important to me. But, it’s a delicate dance with Piper to get her to nurse morning, evening, and middle of the night. However, when she does successfully breastfeed it’s so rewarding. It’s worth all the gymnastics involved in getting her to do so. It’s also rewarding to know that my body has supplied nearly 100% of her sustenance since her birth.

We’ve survived…

  • non-stop breastfeeding
  • refusing bottles (about 2 months)
  • a 2 month breastfeeding strike
  • biting (she has 7 teeth at 7 months, you guys!)
  • using her pincer grab on my nipples (because if she isn’t down with breastfeeding, she’s always down to explore! *eye roll*)

No regrets. She’s worth it. We’re worth it. Piper is complicated and our breastfeeding journey has been complicated. Things are never steady-state and that little one keeps me on my toes! She’s worth all the struggle and worry and I’m proud of where we are. It’s a bit nontraditional, but it’s working and we’re nearly 8 months strong on breastmilk. 🙂

Be well,

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3 Comments

  1. Tonya
    April 28, 2017 / 6:47 pm

    Oh I know that constant nursing thing all too well!! We were talking just a few days ago about some feeding struggles. Ours is the struggle of introducing the bottle. We’ve made a little ground, meaning she doesn’t scream when we try it out. Granted she doesn’t ‘take’ the bottle yet, but it’s something! Thank you for always sharing your adventures with us!

  2. April 28, 2017 / 9:51 pm

    Just wanted to leave you a quick note to say that you rock. Breast feeding is amazing, but it’s not always easy. Nor is going without solid sleep or raising kids in general.

    It was about 4 years before this momma got to sleep through the night, between pregnancy wake ups, my first not sleeping through the night consistently until she was in a bed, and my second doing his thing and teething really late (he’s almost 2 and only have 6 teeth fully in, with another 6 in some stage of getting there).

    Being a mom is hard, and being a mom and working is harder. So if you don’t hear it enough, from one momma to another, you’re awesome! And you will sleep again someday 🙂

  3. Carolyn
    April 29, 2017 / 12:40 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a bit and time to comment. Being an RD/CDE myself, we want the best for our babies so we’re going to try to do it! And if you are the typical Type A RD, then you are going to accomplish that goal you set! Hahah.

    My little girl sounds a lot like Piper. She’s 10.5 months, ex bf (well ex breast milk,) and just recently slept through the night. I will tell you, I don’t feel like my energy improved ten fold like I thought it would from the whole night of sleeping. And my supply is taking a little bit of a hit now too, but we will survive! I think what’s challenging is everybody is obsessesssssed with baby sleep in this country. Probably bc a lot of us work! Hahah. But as you know, that breast milk digests quicker so often times they do need that night feeding. And yes, this too shall pass! You are doing a great job! You are very dedicated to the health of your daughters and it shows! From one RD to another. 🙂

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