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Desperate for some sleep 1 year in with DD2 - what the hell can I do?

(17 Posts)
Dozer Sat 20-Aug-11 08:57:06

Am at end of my tether! Any advice or ideas would be really welcome, feel really down about this, in a negative fog of exhaustion.

DD1 is 3.5, DD2 is nearly one. On maternity leave from my part-time (3 days a week) job, have both kids full-time. Due to go back to work at end of September, will leave house at 7am and get back at 6pm. DH works full-time, leaves at 7.30am and returns at 7pm, then often works in the evenings from home. We both commute.

DD2 is breast-fed, co-sleeps for most of the night and has always fallen asleep on the boob. Has always woken a lot in the night and fed, usual pattern is feed at 6.30pm, 11pm, 2am, 5am and from 5am onwards chuntering around trying to suckle (basically ready to get up).

DH has been sleeping in separate room. He doesn't help during the night (baby just wants boob), but will sometimes take the baby at 6am so I can get an hour's sleep.

Have been trying to stop breast-feeding in preparation for returning to work, and in the hope that it'll help with sleep, but not been going well. She's teething too (first few teeth), which isn't helping.

A month or so ago I read about a sleep strategy involving withdrawing milk between 11pm and 7am, but still co-sleeping. This seemed a good idea, but don't feel I can do it alone since it'll probably mean at least a week of being up for hours in the night and lots of screaming. I am already so knackered that I sometimes feel too tired to drive safely or supervise DD1 when out and about.

DH, although initially positive, has kept delaying the start of the plan. When I press him he says "but I'll be too tired for work if I have to get up in the night". He can't take annual leave as not enough left, although we do have a holiday (abroad) coming up in early September. I think he's hoping that I'll just carry on as I have been AND work as well. The thought of that fills me with dread.

I would also like more rest at weekends, but we have a lot of visits to / from both our families (all live far away). DH also keen to visit / have visits from friends, but I have said no as am just too damn tired!

Am also resentful. I just look at DH who is running, cycling, looking well-rested, has new clothes etc. Then I look in the mirror and cry! I don't think he really gets how draining breastfeeding 24/7 can be.

theyoungvisiter Sat 20-Aug-11 09:06:27

I had this with both my babies - they weren't ready to stop feeding in the night at a year and I wasn't ready to make them - but I was back to work and very tired.

The solution for me involved letting DH getting a good night's sleep but then getting up at 6am every morning to take the kids. Then I slept in until he left for work (in the case of days at home) or until I had to get up for work (in the case of working days).

It meant I got at least an hour's extra sleep, sometimes 2 at weekends, and it was enough to tide me through.

Your DH has to step up basically - just lay it on the line that you are going to crack if he doesn't take on more of the load. If he wants to visit friends - great! Send him out for the whole day with both kids and you can get a day's rest!

jubilee10 Sat 20-Aug-11 09:14:57

Who is going to look after the children when you go back to work? Could you make some arrangement for this to start now at least on a part time basis then you could catch up on some sleep? Could you take unpaid leave and delay your return to work? I can understand dh feeling that with the hours he works you should be able to sort out the children.

LiegeAndLief Sat 20-Aug-11 09:23:37

I had very similar with my dd (dc2), except we weren't cosleeping (well not purposefully!). Fortunately I had a dh who actually helped me in the night and got up with the kids at the weekend. Otherwise I think I would have collapsed.

This just isn't fair. Is your dh a neurosurgeon or a fireman? If so, I might cut him a little slack in the week, but he has to let you have a decent sleep at least one day on the weekend. If not, then in my opinion looking after 2 small children all day on very little sleep is much harder than most jobs. You need to have a proper talk with him and tell him how difficult it is.

Even better, the way one of my friends tackled this was to go to her mum's for the weekend and leave the kids with her dh. When she came back, no more breastfeeding, much more appreciative dh...

I stopped feeding in the night about 15 months. Yes, it was really tough, and was about a week of walking up and down for hours with dd to calm her. Couldn't have done it on my own. It did work in that she still woke in the night but not as often and could be calmed with a cuddle rather than a feed, so either of us could do it.

Dozer Sat 20-Aug-11 09:24:02

Thanks theyoungvisitor, snatching some sleep in mornings may be poss on the weekends.

The dds will start with a childminder 3 weeks before I start back, and will try to get some sleep then, but also have lots to do (stuff I don't get chance to do at the moment).

Can't delay returning to work as job could be at risk.

Jubilee, I haven't minded doing the nights while have been off, but a year in do feel that something isn't quite right when I am a total wreck and DH is peachy!

FabbyChic Sat 20-Aug-11 09:26:38

Guess this be a point that some should consider when determining whether to breast feed on not, certainly a reason not to. I'd give up the breast completely and suffer for a few weeks.

Dozer Sat 20-Aug-11 09:28:28

We both have desk jobs. Mine will be a new job within same organisation but totally different area ( they gave my old job to a full-timer, grr!) so hard as will have lots to learn and perform well to impress new boss etc. DH's is hard work and he has always had issues with work/ life balance, but he enjoys it a lot and rarely gets stressed by it or the hours.

Thanks liege and lief, good to know that it can be done! I would like to do your approach with dh's help, at least try it, but if not will be tempted to try your friend's way!

Whatmeworry Sat 20-Aug-11 09:29:18

I am absolutely convinced that for mums with babies the most important thing is getting sleep, and everything else should be optimised for this. We used bottle feeds for the 11pm feed asap and DH did that so I slept from about 9pm through to the 2am feed. DH did 5 am feed as well on weekends. I'm not a fan of co sleeping as i found i couldn't sleep properly once they were bigger, had a basket then a cot in the room with me.

LiegeAndLief Sat 20-Aug-11 09:29:27

jubilee10 - "you should be able to sort out the children" - seriously?! Part of being a parent (not a mother) is that sometimes you are exhausted and you just have to get on with it. The OP hasn't had a decent night's sleep for a year, is on her knees, and her dh is feeling just fine. Unless he has some kind of job where he would be putting other people at risk he should be perfectly capable of getting up for a few hours in the night and going to work the next day.

Dozer Sat 20-Aug-11 09:30:17

I agree fabbychic, I think one of the main disadvantages with breastfeeding is that it puts much more pressure on the woman to do all the nights, and it can be hard to stop. I didn't think it'd be so hard to stop (dd1 happily switched to bottle at 9 months).

Appleton Sat 20-Aug-11 09:34:37

Dozer - I'm in pretty much the same situation, although my DS is 10 months. I go back to work in a week and I have no idea how I'm going to get through the days. DS has the same pattern of feeding through the night that you describe - including the 5am onwards constant squirming unless he's latched on. I have only been surviving because he does usually go off again about 7am, and my 3 year old doesn't tend to wake until 8. The days she wakes up earlier are hell.

I have bought the "No Cry Sleep Solution" book, and read a few pages but need to get back into it - hard to read anything when your eyes just want to close! I think I might try getting my DS into his own room as this really helped with my daughter - she slept for much longer without us near her. But I also dread the sleepless nights that this will entail!

My DH is also sleeping in a different room, and doesn't usually help at night time. He seems to think I have a easy life at home with 2 kids - sitting on the laptop all day(!), so he sees no need to make my life any easier. If I ever moan about lack of sleep he says "I told you to get him on a bottle", but since I'd have to get up, make bottle, sterilise etc I don't really see how this would help!

Sorry, I'm not really offering any help - it's just nice to know that other people are in the same situation. Ever my mother rolls her eyes when I talk about how DS is sleeping and talks about the old days when all babies slept through in their own room from 12 weeks!

For the breastfeeding - do you want to stop now, or is it just because you are going back to work? Because I found with my daughter that going back to work (and so restricting access to boob during the day) kind of helped her to stop wanting to feed at all after a while - I went back to work when she was 12 months and by 14 months she wasn't interested in feeding anymore. It did make the first couple of months hard - trying to fit in big feeds morning and night, but didn't last long. She soon started enjoying cow's milk just as much. And I didn't feel so guilty that I was "making" her stop because she still had the option to feed whenever I was around. It just sort of sorted itself out IYSWIM. I hope to do the same with DS, with the added complication that he can't have cows milk yet - so will be expressing for the first month or so. Joy!

LiegeAndLief Sat 20-Aug-11 09:35:25

How would you feel about putting her in a cot, maybe in your room or one of those bedside cot things, or maybe even in a room with your dd1? I can imagine it might be very hard to stop feeding if she is right next to you. I am still feeding dd at 2.1, usually one feed a day, but if she is tired and grumpy and happens to be right next to my breasts in a lowish top she'll ask for a feed. If I'm wearing a polo neck she's very happy with a cuddle!

ZhenXiang Sat 20-Aug-11 09:39:13

Your DH has no excuse for his behaviour, I have been working since DD was 7 months and breastfed until she was 22 months. DH is SAHD.

I got up in the night even though I had work the next day to breastfeed DD, sometimes every two hours.

It is so tough when they are teething and boob is their main source of comfort.

Have you ever tried DD2 on a bottle? You can express and leave DH co-sleeping with DD2 for a night.

Alternatively you can switch slowly to cows milk if that is something you want, when I stopped breastfeeding DD in the day, I found I had a lot more reserves for the night.

Or you can go milk free at night by being firm and offering water only between the hours of 11pm and 6am for example. You get lots of screaming at first, but it quickly settles down after about a week.

During the heavy teething period, I found a dose of calpol when the teeth started pushing around 10pm helped DD sleep for a few more straight hours so that I could get more unbroken sleep.

Dozer Sat 20-Aug-11 09:47:35

Appleton, yes, it's good to know others are in similar situation! Hope your little one starts sleeping soon....your DH doesn't quite get it does he!

Dh is avidly pro-breastfeeding and has been supportive in other ways up to now, but have hit a snag!

Liegeandlief, dd2 now naps in her cot and starts off the night there, but ends up with me after midnight. Agree that it must be tempting for her to suckle when am right there (I try to wear high necks turn back on her but she screams). Someone in rl suggested garlic on nipples!

Dd1 is keen to share a room with dd2, but may be less keen if woken up!

I would like to stop feeding for myself as feel so rough and hoping it might help. Also scared that she'll just want even more feeds at night for comfort once am not there in day. Wouldn't mind doing a bedtime feed once back at work, but will have to leave so early for work that a morning feed won't be possible.

Dozer Sat 20-Aug-11 09:50:33

Wow Zhen, that is total commitment! Thanks for the tips.

Appleton Sat 20-Aug-11 10:06:42

One thing I did read in the No Cry Sleep Solution that works with my DS is for trying to stop them feeding to sleep - you feed as normal on your side, but when you feel the rhythm of suckling change, but while they're still awake (you know, when they're not gulping milk anymore, but just sleepily using you as a dummy!) take boob out of their mouth, and if they start rooting around to latch on again, just close their mouth by putting your finger under their chin and closing the jaw. It really does work most of the time - DS tends to just go straight to sleep. It's supposed to be one of the first steps of breaking the link between feeding and sleeping so that in the end baby will be able to re-settle themselves without feeding. The author co-slept and breastfed her babies, so I've found it very relevant to me (the bits I have read!) whereas other books didn't seem to "fit" my way of parenting.

I do think I'd struggle not to bf while still co-sleeping - my DS also has an inbuilt sensor so if I turn my back on him in bed (no matter how deeply he's sleeping) he will start crying!

Dozer Sat 20-Aug-11 11:39:43

Thanks appleton. Think DD2 has the inbuilt sensor too, argh.

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