Posted by: birdsandsquirrels | April 11, 2010

sleep issues, part 2

We have made some progress in the sleep department, but then took a few steps back. Thank you guys so much for the sleep suggestions. We have a fan on in her room. We have been swaddling with these muslin swaddling blankets. I had been swaddling her with one arm out so she can suck on her fingers, but maybe that is a mistake. What I have been doing is preswaddling her just around her belly with arms out until she falls asleep, then I reswaddle her. Normally it works just fine once she is asleep. We have a miracle blanket, but it’s so complicated to put her in and it’s damn near impossible to get her into it once she is asleep, what with all the arm flaps and such. Are there any tricks to the miracle blanket? If I try to get her in it when she is awake, she screams bloody murder.

Breastfeeding has been going a bit better, except for lingering blocked duct issues. I’m taking fenugreek and blessed thistle, and at times my milk supply seems bountiful (usually 3.5 ounces if I pump both sides after several hours), but sometimes pitiful (1/2 ounce from BOTH sides). I think maybe I wasn’t taking enough fenugreek. I’ve been taking 4 capsules 3 times a day for a few days now. We will see how that works. I have this one duct on my right side that keeps getting blocked. I’m so freaked out about getting mastitis. I’ve tried everything they suggest – warm compresses (filling a disposable diaper with hot water works great!), nursing first on that side, making sure to nurse frequently and pump to empty that breast, massage, using a wide toothed comb to try to work out the blockage. I still kept having issues. Then I read somewhere the odd suggestion of using a vibrator on it and sure enough, I used my h.ita.chi mag.ic wa.nd on it a few times (gently of course), and the duct unclogged. Crazy, I know, but if you get a blocked duct, try it!

My aunt visited for a week over Easter. She is amazing and can get any baby or child to sleep in minutes. While she was here, we transitioned me out of the guest bed in the nursery, she got Birdie to sleep 6, 7 and 8 hour stretches, and there was little if any crying in the middle of the night. We discovered that she needs about 14 hours of sleep a day, including a 3 hour morning nap only an hour after she gets up. She needs a good long afternoon nap and then go to bed around 8pm. While she was here, I pumped so she could give Birdie a bottle at night, and I got lots of sleep. Somehow, she is able to give her a bottle and get her back to sleep within 15 minutes, and Birdie sleeps another long stretch.

I have tried to replicate her techniques, which include swaddling with her right arm out, rocking her a little to sleep, putting her hand on Birdie’s forehead (which when she does it, B closes her eyes immediately but when I do it, she just thrashes her head around!), and once Birdie is mostly asleep, lays her in the crib and puts her hands on her tummy and legs to apply gentle pressure. She does that for 1 to 2 minutes and Birdie is out for hours.

The problem is, when I do these SAME EXACT THINGS, I get different results. I can get her asleep and in the crib with slightly more difficulty, but without fail once she is seemingly sound asleep, she will wake within ten minutes. I go back in, lay my hands on her, put in her binky, and get her to sleep again, and AGAIN she will wake up within a few minutes. Then I get so flustered and tired and frustrated and my back hurts from leaning over the crib, and I think Birdie picks up on that energy and gets riled up. I bought a white noise machine. We have tried giving her extra expressed breastmilk before bed. She is on zantac for reflux, which seems to be helping.

Clearly we know Birdie is capable of sleeping on her back in her crib for long stretches. We had 5 nights of that when my aunt was here. But why can’t we do that ourselves? Ugh! And then today, she wouldn’t nap.  She only slept for 30 minutes in the morning and completely fragmented bits in the afternoon. Finally she crashed around 8pm. My efforts for trying to get her to take an afternoon nap failed and afternoon morphed into evening. Right now she is in the swing and she will be staying there until she wakes up. The poor girl needs to sleep. She was SOOOOO tired but kept fighting it.

What am I doing wrong?



  1. Nothing, in all probablilty, it’s just hard in the early days. Consistancy, swaddling and routine all help, but that deosn’t mean it helps equally for all children. It does get less 3-am waaah ing with time,


  2. I wish I had some advice for you…but this will soon be a new world to me. I think you’ll be giving me advice in a few months. Hang in there.

  3. Whatever you are doing wrong, we are doing too. So no help from over here. Although I am pretty sure the best way to get sleep when you have a newborn is to be the HUSBAND. hmph.

    Have you tried massaging your breast while Birdie feeds? I start in the back and move toward the front to prime the pump. I did this out of desperation in the beginning when my milk had not come in, and then because Peter is CODE RED ANGRY if he has to wait. Now I sometimes just do it out of habit and have to stop myself because too much milk comes and he sputters.

  4. I feel for you, and see myself in your posts. At least you get 3.5oz – I usually get 0.5-1oz after feeding her. Not terribly impressive, so I get really upset when I clumsily spill 0.25oz now and then.
    I still can’t get K to sleep for more than 5 min anywhere other than on me. She also hates the miracle blanket, and screams like mad when her arms get tucked in. She seems to need to have them up by her head, available to suck on.
    Hope the sleeping gets better, and you somehow magically get some of your aunt’s baby whisperer talent. And then send some my way!

  5. Ha ha on the vibrator thing! That would be about the only way mine would get any use these days!

    I think it just takes lots and lots of practice and repetition to get the sleeping pattern down. Even if your aunt has a magic touch, is she had stayed longer, I’m sure she would have run into the same problems. M follows almost that exact same schedule, on good days. On bad days, once he is up I can barely get him to sleep all day, resulting in about 2 hours of crying in the evening before I can get him to go down.

    We just use a kiddopotamus swaddle. We start with his arms in and he always pulls one or both out by morning. I’ve tried doing an “unescapable swaddle” which is similar like the miracle blanket, but it is a total pain to get him in it, and I think he sleeps longer when he can chew on a hand so we don’t do it very often. And we love our aden and anis blankets. I always take one when we go out, they are so versatile and good looking. We were using them in the hospital and McSoothy was so in love with them she wanted to know what they were so she could give them as shower gifts.

    When I put M down around 7:30 or 8, I get back up and change him and offer him a breast at that time too. Sometimes he takes it, sometimes he doesn’t. Then I get back up at one and dream feed him at 1 am and he sleeps until 6:30. And then in a perfect world he goes back to sleep for 1.5-2hrs around 7:30 or 8.

    Keep at it. She’ll get better at it.

  6. I was just thinking… you might consider renting a hospital grade pump for awhile. I rented a lactina and those things are just so different from my little freestyle. You can get such a strong and slow suck from those that I can’t get from my pump. For me, my little pump is fine, but since you are still working on your supply, maybe spending a little money to rent one for while could help out. I was able to rent from the pharmacy that my LC worked at. It was only $40 a month (plus a deposit, and I needed to get a collection kit) and they would prorate the rental fee if I returned it early. If you can find a deal like that you really don’t have much to lose at all.

  7. Hey there. hang in there, they do this. They know what they can and can’t get away with when it’s just Mommy. Lol Try swaddling her BEFORE you rock her or feed her to sleep. Annika was swaddled all the time completely until about 5 months. She would just cry if she wasn’t. Then one day she was ready and now sleeps fully unswaddled and does great.

    You are doing awesome and she will get it all figured out soon I promise. I know it seems like never but there is light at the end of the tunnel 🙂

    Take care. Talk to you soon.

  8. i agree with everyone else. you just have to get into the groove with birdie. it’s not linear. 🙂 just b/c one stretch of nights was good doesn’t mean that it will continue that way. it’s totally crazy.

    i love that you used a vibrator! lol!!!

  9. I looooove the miracle blankets. If Squeaker’s fussy she will not put up with being swaddled, so I nurse her a bit until she calms down. Then swaddle her. She doesn’t like it, but has gotten used to it, and knows that I will nurse her once she’s swaddled. I don’t leave any arms out, as she flails like crazy if I do. Even though she doesn’t like it, she definitely sleeps better. As for swaddling her while she’s asleep, it just takes practice, and she needs to really be down for the count. If she falls asleep early, I’ll swaddle her before I go to sleep and do a dream feed.

    I agree that they sometimes pick up on our anxiety and can be better for others. It’s very frustrating. I have found that Squeaker sleeps SOOOO much better at night when she has a busy day. And getting out and about is good for mommies too.

  10. Hey, I had a midwife help me out to avoid mastitis and a couple things she suggested doing was putting cold pieces of cabbage leaves on your breasts for 20 minutes at a time because they draw out the moisture. She also helped me breastfeed my son over my shoulder. It was the weirdest thing, but I had a red, firm area above the nipple, and apparently the baby’s jaw is the best for clearing a clogged duct, so you sometimes need to change up where their jaw is pumping from. I had to lie down on my bed with pillows propped behind me, have the midwife hold the baby, while I held his head and did compressions. It worked amazingly! Anyway, I hope that helps, if you’re looking for any other ways to help with blocked ducts!

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