Monday, 30 July 2012

Fighting Sleep & Asking For Help

Lately Frostina has been fighting sleep. She's clearly tired and will fall asleep if someone is holding her. But the moment we set her down she's up again. Up and fussy. It can take some time to calm her down again and then she will sleep for a bit and then it all starts over. Lots and lots of crying. Lots and lots of time with a fussy, unhappy baby. A fussy tired baby who just won't go to sleep.

Just keep holding her? Well that would be fine if we didn't have to eat or sleep or pee, but it's not always possible to do that. Plus sometimes she will wake herself back up even when we do hold her. Everyone says that this is normal behaviour for a 7 week old baby. Everyone says it gets better. I want to believe everyone when they tell me this, but for now I'm pulling my hair out.

I have tried medicine for gas/wind which did nothing so I'm trying something new. My new strategy is two fold. First, I switched to these new bottles which are supposed to help them swallow less air, this resulting in less wind. These Dr Brown bottles promise miracles, I'll wait and see how they work.

In addition to the new bottles, I've started with a bedtime routine. We have a bath followed by a massage. Then we eat and get swaddled and put into bed. The first night this bath time routine worked like a charm. The second two nights,,, not so much. She went to bed each time looking sleepy, calm, and peaceful. This peace lasted about 10 minutes before she was back up and screaming again. But I will persevere because I'm hoping that with repetition she will figure out that bath + food = sleep.

She is the light of my life and the joy in my heart, but at this moment she is one fussy baby. I am at my wits end. I just want to make her happy. I just want her to be content and not cry all the time when she's awake. I want her to sleep well so that when she does have awake time it can be happy and fun. It may or may not be related to the colic. She may or may not actually have colic. She may just be going through a fussy phase.

Either way it's distressing and frustrating. Last night I had another meltdown about it all. When she's unhappy like this I feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. I feel like I'm not a good mother to be feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. Then the guilt starts again because after all, she's alive. Alive and well and living at home with us. I can hold her in my arms and not just in my heart. And yet I find myself wanting to escape from the crying. To let The Hubby handle it while I curl up and cry.

I've got my 6 week post c-section appointment today. It's a bit late because my doctor has been away. I think I need to ask him about all the stress and anxiety I'm feeling. I think perhaps it's more than just having colic. I think maybe I may be dealing with some post partum depression. It's a scary thought because I've always seen myself as a stable, have my stuff together kind of person.

Accepting that I may be suffering from some kind of depression is difficult for me. Maybe this is normal? Maybe every new mother feels like this? At this point I have no idea. All I know is that The Hubby is worried about me, and I'm worried about me too. So I owe it to myself, The Hubby, and most importantly,,, to Frostina to figure it out. And to get help if that's what I need.


  1. I could have written this. Oh yes I could. All I wanted was for my "rainbow" baby to live. I promised myself I wouldn't complain if he did live, because surely just him being alive would be the best part. But it was hard. It still is hard. And those early few months when he seemed to cry 22 hours out of 24. Whoa. I felt so crappy, and ungrateful and like the universe was playing tricks on me. Everyone said it got easier. I wanted to slap everyone as easier felt impossible, and easier felt such a long way away. But everyone was right. It just happened slowly and over time (but as soon as one thing gets easier, then something else gets harder - that just seems to be the way of it with parenthood).
    I read a great article the other day and I'll share it here, in the hope it brings you some comfort.
    And I want to say yet again, I think you're doing a wonderful job, even if it doesn't feel that way some days.
    Hugs to your dear little one, and to you, mama.

  2. Hi,

    I have been following your blog for a while, but have never commented. Have you either read the "Happiest Baby on the Block" book or watched the video? It was truly a God send to us. Amazing what a really tight swaddle, holding them on their side and "shushing" in their ears will do! It is written by a well-known pediatrician and it is almost like you flip a switch - they get quiet and peaceful.


  3. not sure if this is going to show up twice...

    I'll echo Hope's Mama. When R died and I took her twin sister, C, home, I promised to be nothing but thankful for every grunt and wail and sleepless night. Within a couple of days, I was out of my head with exhaustion. Like, I'd see her cute little face with her giant open eyes in the middle of the night and feel like the entire world was conspiring to prevent my sleeping for more than 45 minutes at a time. It was god awful. Things improved once she was big enough to co-sleep and nurse on demand (even though that was terrifying on a whole different level).
    She's going to be five in a couple of weeks and sleep is still challenging for us. We still co-sleep most nights and she just seems to be the sort of person who doesn't require much sleep. So, this is a qualified "it gets better". It didn't really get any better for us, I just got better at feeling ok about deviating from the recommendations of other folks.

    With that said, I wish, in retrospect that I'd gotten my hands on one of these while she was an infant -

  4. also, I posted my comment before I saw Lauren's. I was not implying that you shouldn't take her advice. I've also heard good things about that book. It didn't work for us but the folks who suggested it to me are all people that I trust.

  5. I was having trouble getting K to sleep, and One Night he woke up every hour. I decided I couldn't take anymore. I watched him, and he was jumping from the startle reflex, so I started swaddling him again (I had stopped after his first few weeks bc he hated it), and although he sceamed when I swaddled him very tightly, he was able to sleep. I also got a sound machine and he listens to waves crashing. The combo of those two things has us all sleeping FINALLY!!! I hope you find something that works for you soon!

  6. Your are doing a great job!!!!

    Second....what you are experiencing IS normal but it doesn't make it easier. The less sleep you have the less easy it is to cope with the difficulties if having a newborn. The expectations any mother has of herself are tremendous let alone a BLM who feels guilty over frustrations because you should "just be happy they are alive". I struggle with that and my 3.5 year old and my rainbow baby hasn't even been born yet. I had post partym depression after Kai was born but didn't take meds. I ride it out. But I may go back onto them after this baby is born because I know how hard it can be with a newborn but don't know how I will feel with a rainbow baby newborn, no sleep and mothering a 3 year old on limited sleep. It scares ne a little. If you need help to cope it's okay. It WILL pass but it's a bear before it does. They say that the first three months is like a fourth trimester. The baby is learning how to exist in this world and it's a very hard task. Sending a giant hug.

  7. Sweetie, please tr to let go of any guilt or shame you may be harboring around postpartum depression. I myself had a tough time leading up to my diagnosis (6 moths after losing my twins). I was no stranger to depression; I spent 7 straight years in my 20s in counseling and on Prozac for major depression. Still, I had been "over it" for 8+ years. I was expecting to get PPD so watched myself like a hawk for those 6 months postpartum. I was pissed when someone suggested I might have it...and then relieved when I was diagnosed.

    The thing is, PPD isn't at all about how well we cope (or don't), or how stable we are (or aren't). It's ONLY about the combination (for me, anyway) of grief/loss/trauma coupled with those fricking postpartum hormone imbalances that we have ZERO control over.

    Peace to you...and best wishes at your appointment today...and most of all, congratulations for planning to ask your doc about what you're experiencing, especially in light of the self-doubt you described!

    Hugs, always...

  8. I'll be boring and echo a lot of the pp's on this. It's totally normal for Frostina to behave this way, it will get better (and other challenges take it's place), and it's totally normal for any new Mum to feel overwhelmed, nevermind a new Mum with our history. It's also ok to be worn out, it doesn't mean we don't love our rainbows with all of everything we have.

  9. The fact that you're asking for help is proof that you're a good mom. I know how helpless and scared I feel when Caroline is fussing and I can't fix it--it is SO stressful. It's not about feeling ungrateful or complaining, it's about being worried that somehow she's hurting or unhappy and I can't make her better. I'm sure you've read all the advice books (The Baby Whisperer, Happiest Baby, etc.). I've tried a bit of everything to find things that work for us. But mostly I remind myself that she won't be little for very long.

    Still, if you're feeling increasingly sad or anxious, it could definitely be a PPD hormonal/chemical thing. I think it's so hard to know the difference between normal new mom stuff (particularly for us as bereaved parents with complicated emotions) and actual PPD. So asking a professional for their opinion makes sense to me.

    Wishing you the very best, and hoping Frostina catches on to her peaceful bedtime routine soon.

  10. Okay with the sleep...those are tough times, for sure. It's so exhausting when your baby is beyond sleepy, but just won't sleep. And it's stressful for you because all you want is what is best for your little one, and that happens to be sleep! I think it's 100% normal for you to feel overwhelmed and depressed. Having crazy hormones, as you do post-pregnancy, and being tired always make nerves more raw. I know I had some issues after Addalee was home with us.

    For getting her to sleep, though, we swaddled. She hated it when she was very small, and I can't remember when it started to be "the magic ticket." But I know we bought the Summer Infant SwaddleMe blankets, and they were a lifesaver. We also used a white noise maker/fan (that didn't blow on her), and the combo seemed to really make a difference.

    Hang in there, you're doing a great job. Good luck at your appointment!

  11. Asking for help itself is hard, so kudos to you! You're a great mom! I felt the same frustrations and hopelessness when my oldest was 3 weeks old and we were all sleep deprived. And I am sure you will quickly be inudated with tons and tons of advice. So I'll keep this short. I used Tracey Hogg's The Baby Whisperer books and they were amazing! And I quickly learned that consistency and routine is always the key when raising babies. Good luck!

  12. I agree you are doing great. Sleep deprivation gets to you no matter how much you love your baby. It will improve...prob never get to sleep like before kids but better than the newborn phase. Check with your doctor and I hope that the guilty feelings subside. Crying is natural for babies though and it's nothing to do with your ability as a mother.

  13. And yes keep up the bedtime routine. That was such a lifesaver for us and worked like a charm for a long time once it clicked.

  14. I think you are doing awesome!!! The first 8 weeks are sooooooooooo hard. And it is like this big secret. You watch these shows on tv, and it is just like the baby comes out, there is instant love and joy and happiness, and everything is honkey dorey. But it is hard, and you aren't sleeping, and there are these hormones cascading through your body. I cried A LOT the first few weeks after both of my kids were born. I think it is baby blues partially, and partially just all the stuff going on. I do think that there is a difference between baby blues in the first few weeks, and post partum depression.

    Regarding the frequent waking, I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to have her poopy diaper checked (for occult blood in the stool) which could be a sign of a problem digesting milk proteins. It is often a reason for fussiness at this age. Otherwise, I think what you are doing between starting the routine, and giving her the love and attention she needs and wants, is exactly the right thing to do. You are walking the tightrope of parenting (with giving tons of love on one side, and giving some consistency and discipline on the other) really well.

  15. Post partum depression is actually perfectly normal, even for stable well-put-together mothers. Don't be down on yourself if you need help.

  16. Checking with your dr is a great idea, by all means go ahead! I do have to say that I felt EXACTLY like you do with both of my kids. I know it is hard to believe right now when you are exhausted and sleep deprived and people tell you this too shall pass, but it will, I promise - it will! I have two kids and with my first one I was at my wits end for the first few months, just like you described, with her endless screaming and not being able to sleep, and now she is a smart and sassy six year old, we go to museums and movies together and she is my best friend! Please hang in there, the newborn phase is brutal, no matter how much we love our babies. You are a great mum!!!!

  17. Forgot to say - bedtime routine worked great for us, just stay consistent and give it a couple of weeks! And swaddling too - I swaddled both of my kids in miracle blanket - not sure if it is available in the UK, but for me it was the only thing that worked as my kids were able to work their way out of all the other swaddling blankets in just a few minutes. Miracle blanket = the best $40 I have ever spent!

  18. I could say so much but I think it is all said.

    Just hold on; in 4 months it will be utterly different, but in 4 weeks it will be a lot different. You will get there. (it must get easier or I would not have had six!)

    I remember this feeling. You have to learn to be a mum yet and it is really hard going. It will all come together. You will do great. You are doing great. You've got so much to recover from and. Whole new way of life to learn. She is all busy figuring out life too. You will get there. You will.

  19. We loved our Dr. Browns bottles and also the bedtime routine started to work for us after a few days as well, but little man still has set backs occasionally when he's sick or going through a developmental change.

    Things do get better in time, it's all so overwhelming in the beginning. For us if we looked back to where we were even a couple of days prior we could see improvements gradually (although Ian being a preemie brought home on O2 and an apnea monitor, we saw changes pretty much daily).

    It's good you're going to talk with your doctor and are seeking out help. A good friend just went through something similar and after being on meds & seeing a counselor for just a short period she felt so much better. Hope you're soon feeling a little less overwhelmed and yourself.

  20. I could have written this post 8 months ago. Word for word.

    No offense to well meaning moms who offered suggestions, but I wanted to stab the eyes out of everyone who asked "Have you tried swaddling?" or "white noise?" because I had tried every. single. thing. I spent 6 weeks sleeping in a recliner chair in our bedroom holding Owen because that was the only way either of us would sleep. It was miserable. And I kept beating myself up feeling like if I just did something different he'd sleep well. And then I felt badly for being exasperated - how could I possibly be so ungrateful for my LIVING BREATHING SON? It was just so hard.

    Around 3 months, he finally started sleeping - swaddled. We had to double swaddle him, nurse him, bounce him on a yoga ball and ssh him, and that would get me about 4 hours sleep. It was all stuff we had previously tried, but for some reason it finally started working. We also got him on meds for acid reflux.

    Around 4 months, I finally went on antidepressants. I had spoken with my dr at my 6 week follow up, and she discouraged me. Said it sounded like I was exhausted and needed to get some sleep. Another doctor told me it sounded like maybe I needed to exercise to deal with my anxiety. Finally, it got to a crescendo where my husband had to throw me in a hot shower at 5 in the morning because I was shaking from the panic and anxiety that had kept me up through the night even while the baby had been asleep. (Over a very trivial event, mind you.) I felt SO OFF - so unlike myself. I heard from so many mothers "this is normal, no new mothers sleep, your fear is normal, your worry is normal....especially given your history" and so on, so I rationalized. I didn't want to go on meds. I think I knew all along I should be on them, but I kept believing all I really needed was a good night's sleep.

    I think I've already said this to you, and I don't mean it as pressure, but really rather as encouragement to ask for meds if you want or think you might benefit from them - I want to take away any stigma or shame if I can - I really, really, really wish I had started them at my first inkling that what I was feeling wasn't above and beyond "tired" "exhausted" "overwhelmed" new mom.

    Within a week, I realized what a cloud of mixed up brain chemistry I'd been living in. The meds helped so tremendously. Of course I was still tired, exhausted, overwhelmed...but I could feel ME in there again. The lack of sleep became challenging, but no longer completely debilitating.

    I'm on the lowest dose and the support is nothing short of miraculous. I've had no side effects, and I continued to breastfeed Owen as well - in case either of those things make you nervous about taking an AD either.

    No matter what though, it will get better, it will get easier, I promise. Someone said to me "the first year is SO HARD," and I freaked out at the thought that I had to make it A WHOLE YEAR. It felt completely undoable. But it gets easier in spurts and fits and the challenges ebb and flow. You will get there. Hang in there.

    1. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES. That is all I have to say on that. Right down to wanting to stab the eyes out of the recommendations to read books I already read and such. I've learned to only seek out help from other BLMs on this matter-- not because others aren't equally intelligent with experience, but because my emotions and how I am handling everything/raising B has a LOT to do with losing Andrew.

      You are normal.

  21. I want to give a huge thumbs up to Sarah's comment above as well. We also tried it all. Every miracle sleep cure you could think of. Wraps, swaddles, swings, medications for reflux and colic- herbal and otherwise, THE LOT. He still did not sleep. Angus also slept on our chests for about the first 12 weeks. In our arms, in the pram, just not in his cot - day or night. It was utterly maddening and exhausting. Unlike Sarah though, I think I made a mistake not going on the meds. So I want to encourage you to seek all the help you can, as I think I put myself, and my family, through hell trying to get through those first months without the real assistance I needed.
    It is so hard. So so so hard.
    Hang in there.

  22. I just want to second the yoga ball bouncing--some babies really dig the up and down motion and it was the ONLY thing that worked for us. We swaddled and bounced, all day long for about the first 3 months. I signed up for a new mothers group before the baby was born and then called them afterwards to make sure it was alright if I went to the meetings even though my baby cried all the time and it was great to go and see that a lot of the babies there were fussy and everyone struggled with how to best soothe. Just keep trying stuff, don't beat yourself up over it and know that it will pass.

  23. I have a very cranky babe and like you I swore I would never complain if I ever had a living breathing baby. I'm not complaining, but it IS hard. In my case my boy hurts because of reflux. At just over 3 months it is starting to get better, but I had to get to the point where I could be okay with him crying. It's still hard, but sometimes he cries and there is nothing I can do. The swaddle, white noise and the swing have helped the most, but sometimes there are just screams and cries. I just wanted you to know that I am with you. Hang in there.

  24. Just wanted to say that it sounds like you are doing all the right things. just a thought though, maybe consider changing her formula to a different one. when we mixed fed our little girl she really didnt approve of hip organic so we changed her to aptimal and she was better x

  25. like many have said, i culd have written this too. my daughter cried if she was awake. she didn't sleep for long periods of time, and when she did it was because we held her. people told us to put her down, but i answered with this may be the last time i get to hold her. i won't be putting her down. they labeled my daughter colic and they also found she had acid reflux. she was on cereal by 4 weeks old! she was on 2 meds for a while to control it. she got better around 3 months, but honestly, she's just a fussy, hornery 24 month old now. DEFINITELY better, way better. but sometimes they want what they want and you just have no idea what it is at that age. i thought i was going to pull my hair out, i thought i would just curl up in a ball and rock myself into insanity because the crying was so incessant. i prayed that if i could just have a child i would love her/him and never complain like so many parents i know do. God has a funny sense of humor. but in my worst moments i just told myself over and over again she is here with me. this will end. someday the crying will stop. God can get me through this, cling to Him.

    while that may or may not help, just remind yourself at those moments where you feel like there is just no more of you to be able to listen to the crying/hold the fussy baby....A just needs mommy. kiss, whisper loving words, will get better. stick it through. you can do it.

  26. You are being a perfect mommy. It is hard at this age.
    You have gotten lots of wonderful advice above.
    One thing that wasn't mentioned was hiring a babysitter for at least one night, not 2 in a row but 2 if not in a row. Be somewhere that does not let you hear the baby cry. IF you are nursing you will need to set an alarm so you wake and pump about every 4 or so hours, engorgement hurts.... but even that will let you have better sleep. Sleep for you will help with resilience.
    Another thing is a video monitor so you can look at her and see she is wakeful and crying but OK and let her fuss for maybe 5 mins. NOT SCREAM, fuss. Huge difference there. Knowing that every sound does not need an AT ONCE response is helpful for all of you.
    Above all remember you are being a perfect mother.

  27. I just want to say I think hiring a babysitter at Frostina's age would be very hard, nursing or otherwise. I didn't have a night away from my son until he was 18 months old and even then, it was hard. The next time was when his sister was born when he was 21 nights and I spent three nights in hospital. Little babies just want and need their mummies, so while the sleep deprivation is brutal to say the least, some time out and time away from the baby will come in good time - just don't feel any pressure to get away just yet if you don't think you're ready for it. I think for me at least, I would have caused myself more stress and trauma by being away, despite how hard it was to be home with the screaming baby.
    Just my two cents again, and I mean no disrespect to the previous poster.

  28. I know I've been 'gone' from commenting for a long while, I'm sorry. I've been keeping up though.
    I have no brilliant answers for Frostina's fussiness that anyone else hasn't said, and I'm guessing you've tried most or all of it by now anyway.
    I do just want to say that two of my BLM friends who had their rainbow babies last year both went on meds a few weeks after their babes were born - one definitely had postpartum depression and the other one may or may not have - but they both said the only thing they regret was not having sought out medication or help sooner. They also both stopped breastfeeding within the first 2 months (actually by 6 weeks, I think).
    So you're not alone, and there's no shame or otherwise in getting or doing whatever you need. Being a mother to a newborn is hard enough. Colic is way harder. And being a BLM is another universe altogether.
    The other thing I have to remind myself of...this part doesn't last forever. It can't. There WILL come a time when this is simply part of her story and she'll laugh at your tales of how difficult she was when she was a baby and how you didn't sleep for weeks. (I know, because I smile when my Mom tells of how I tortured her in my infancy.)