Dispatches from the Feeding Cave


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dreaming of food…

I’m emerging from my sleep-deprived stupor to let you know we are doing fine here at Casa Lemonade despite being trapped in my bedroom with the baby doing nothing but feeding him.  As you may know, I was unable to nurse Noodle because she was in the NICU for months and had feeding issues (a very weak suck among them) which was related to reflux from her birth injury.  I exclusively pumped for months to provide her mama’s milk, and I can’t tell you the exhaustion doing so caused all of us.

When Ben was born, he latched right away.  Hallelujah!  Dream come true!  By Day 2, I was browsing nursing covers on Etsy I was so confident it was working.  He ate all the time, and with gusto!  Day 3 rolled around, and by then nursing was so painful for me that Ben was throwing up blood– from ME, if you can make the connection.  After meeting with several lactation consultants, we came up with a plan that involved nursing, supplementing with formula, and pumping.

Ummmmm, I also have a toddler at home.  Who we feed 7 times a day, with food that takes 10 minutes to prepare each time, and a plan that involves a very specific ritual from the feeding clinic.  Let’s add a newborn with a process that now also takes over an hour to feed.  Great idea!

But I was determined, and locked myself in my room with the baby and went for it.  Turns out he eats once an hour and doesn’t really sleep.  I was literally up all night long feeding, washing bottles/ pump parts, nursing, mixing formula, and soothing Ben as he lay awake not sleeping.  Finally on Day 6 at 4 AM I gave up the nursing.  It was too much.  Immediately I felt better taking this major part of the stress out of the equation.  But I still needed to pump and feed, so here I am– in my room, shades drawn, feeding feeding feeding! 

When I see that sweet face, it’s all worth it of course.  And I’m beyond grateful that he feeds at all– even if it is voraciously.  He’ll probably surpass Noodle’s weight by July at this rate.  I’m also extremely lucky that my husband has been home AND we’ve had a mother or mother-in-law here so I can nap in the morning after my up-all-night antics.  That will change on Wednesday, so watch out!  That is going to be good for no one.  The feeding cave might need to close, and I’ll need to make the tough choice about whether to continue to stress my body/mind with pumping or go for formula feeding.  What I need to remember is that formula is NOT poison, but it does feel like I’ve failed.

a photo from about the last time he slept (3 days old)
I’d love, no, NEED, advice about Ben’s sleeping patterns.  {also, ideas for a bloggy nickname for him: Abby is Noodle, Ben should be… Hoover?  Shop Vac?  Probably something a little cuter…}  He literally wakes up at night, feeds, gets burped, goes down for about 15 minutes, and then by the time I crawl into bed he’s rooting for more food.  Amazingly he doesn’t cry much and is a really good boy, but I don’t think he’s getting enough sleep.  I’d love any advice you can give!  This cave dweller thanks you!
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  1. I know it is controversial, but have you tried co-sleeping? Baby B wouldn’t sleep very well when she was a newborn either. I would sleep on my back and she would lay in the crook of my arm with her head on my shoulder.

    Good luck! He is absolutely beautiful!!

  2. I know how you feel, and it is so tough! I did the nurse/pump/supplement thing with my daughter for over three months before we could find a doctor willing to treat her particular feeding issue. So exhausting and stressful. My feelings on formula were the same as yours. The good thing is your baby boy is absolutely beautiful, and will grow up to be happy and healthy no matter what route you take 🙂

  3. No suggestion from me since I am just pregnant with my first LO, but just wanted to say GL with whatever you choose & he is a cutie!

  4. It is ALWAYS the right choice to do what’s best for your family as a whole and for your personal health/sanity (I always think about how on a plane you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, right?).

    As for sleeping, I’ve got nothing! He just sounds like a very very hungry boy who must be growing very very fast!! Can’t last too many more days, can it??

  5. I did the whole nursing thing with my daughter for a LONG time, so I know how you feel. I would STRONGLY recommend reading “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. It is THE best book I have ever read on sleeping. I still refer to it to this day and my daughter is almost six years old! Good luck…he is precious!

  6. Have you tried giving him a pacifier. You might not be into it but it might push him a little longer because he just may want to suck and not necessarily nurse. Formula is definitly not bad but keep on trying breastmilk if you can!!

  7. First of all- he is ADORABLE! My little girl is 8 months now and sounds a lot like your guy. Although she cried A LOT when she was hungry. We ended up supplementing her and she was finally happy and satisfied. I think she was just really hungry- I had supply issues. I also did the nurse, pump, supplement thing but that got exhausting FAST and I was not a happy person doing that around the clock. It leaves you SO sleep deprived. So I pumped when I could until I had to go back to work- also supplementing her with formula because I wasn’t producing enough, and then pretty much full formula by 3 months. Anyway I just want to say that formula is not bad, whatever is best for you is good for the family. When I started supplementing I did it just at night. I would maybe just try nursing before bed and supplementing with a bottle- then maybe pumping after he is in bed? Then at night just do the formula bottle with no pumping or nursing. I know this can affect supply but as far as sleep goes it may help. 🙂 Good luck on whatever you decide!

  8. Oh my, i completely feel for you with the formula is not evil sentiment! I completely felt like with my monster and it absolutely killed me having to give him formula because i felt liked id failed! But you havent failed you are just doing what needs to be done so everyone can function better.
    I found that once my milk had gone and he was on more formula, he slept much better because he wasnt as hungry.
    Have you thought about doing both? I did both until my milk had completely gone, so even if he was only having one feed from me it somehow made me feel much better!
    Hope it gets a bit easier for you!

  9. ouchhhhh that sounds painful! breast feeding is sooo hard, i gave up at the 6 week mark, but supplemented as well.

    he is such a cutie pie!

  10. Although it’s been 32 years since my baby boy came in to the worls, it seemed like yesterday reading your blog. My big strapping father of 4 was exactly like yours and I had a 22 month old besides. I do remember that he lived in a baby pouch thing that I wore almost 24/7 and he also ate constantly. He was 20 pounds by 4 months ! Hang in there, he will be worth it all and you will long for these days in the future.

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