Wake Up Little Hazy, Wake Up! Tuesday January 10th

Hazel woke up Saturday night. Instead of her usual ten minutes of wakeful but silent contemplation, she woke up with a startle, as if waking to the world for the first time.  And she started to wimper. Then she started to hiccup a little and cry softly. Then her face got red, her chin started to quiver, and she wailed.

Nothing to worry about though, because Tom and I had a plan for this very situation.  Before Hazel was born we both read Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg and decided this would be our argument settler.  Whenever things got out of control, we would agree to follow the advice of this one book.  No internet hysteria could usurp the calming influence of The Baby Whisperer.  This was the theory we used to raise our dog with great success.

When Hazel first started crying on Saturday night, I said to Tom confidently: “Don’t worry, I know her cries SO WELL.  She’s just hungry.”  So I nursed her for 30 minutes and when she popped off I put her back in my lap.  She sat there, stared contentedly for 10 minutes, then her face started to get red again.  ”Oh, hmm, she must still be hungry” I said, still fueled the hubris of naiveté.  I put Hazel back on my breast for another 30 minutes.  15 minutes later, she was crying again.  We changed her.  We walked around.  We sang to her.  We lowered the lights in case she was over stimulated.  She cried and cried and cried until we could see a little vein over her eye.  An hour passed.  ”I guess she must be hungry.” I said again, less sure of myself now.

This went on for a few more hours.  I convinced Tom that she must be sick, since she now had developed loud and obviously painful gas.  Her tummy burbled and produced man-sized boosters that made us laugh until she cried.  My hands got red from wringing them and my nipples spewed milk every time she started crying.  The constant feedings had increased my milk supply to the level of mediaeval wet nurse. I ignored the burning pain I felt when my breasts filled back up after a feeding, and the blisters that distorted the tips of my nipples.

Around 1 in the morning she tired herself out, and slept for a heavenly 4 hours.  The morning brought the calm baby we had grown used to and we were lulled into thinking that the night before was just a fluke.  We got out our book to review the Baby Whisperer’s stance on feeding and crying.  I pretended to believe that Hazel’s crying and rooting could be caused by factors other than starvation or a fear that her parents were torturing her.  Tom and I had a renewed commitment to stop and listen to our baby, instead of blindly reacting to her crying.  It wasn’t until we were sitting down to dinner that the crying jags started again.  ”It must be a growth spurt?” I said, bringing her to nurse again.  Tom watched my wince every time she latched on until he couldn’t stand it any longer.

“Honey?” he said, clearing his throat politely.  ”Remember how we were reading in our book that Hazel isn’t hungry every time she cries?  That she only knows how to do a few things and one of them is rooting, but it doesn’t mean that she’s necessarily hungry?”

“Oh.  Yea.” I said sheepishly.

“And remember how we’re going to try and get her on a three hour feeding schedule?  And we just have to figure out ways to sooth her between feedings?  Especially because her little digestive system can’t handle eating constantly and that’s probably what’s giving her gas?” he went on gently.

“Yea, oh yea” I said.  ”Ok I’ll try and be strong when she cries.”  We smiled at each other.

A few minutes later Hazel started whimpering again.  Then she started sobbing, breathlessly crying and rooting against Tom’s shoulder.

I tried to smile serenely.  I tried to convince myself that she was ok, that all babies cry.  I tried to imagine that she wasn’t crying “Mommy!  help me!  Mommy!  Please, please help me!”  Tom smiled back at me with genuine confidence.  ”It’s ok,” he said “she’s ok, she’s just crying a little.”  I nodded back at him.  I waited a long three minutes.

“Alright that’s enough,” I said “Give me my baby, she’s starving!”  I was only half kidding, and spirited her away to a couch, where I could safely nurse her away from Tom’s completely sympathetic and non-judgemental eyes.

The next day we went to the pediatrician for Hazel’s one month appointment.  The doctor assured us that Hazel was not sick and was perfectly capable of waiting three hours to eat.  In fact, as the Baby Whisperer wrote and Tom tried to remind me, it was better for her little digestive system to have a full meal instead of snacking all day.  I, on the other hand, was suffering from mastitis, which explained my excruciating pain and blisters.  So I was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics and a resolve to do what’s right for my baby, even if it meant letting her cry a little.

It’s been two days now, and Hazel and I both feel much better.  I’ve stopped imagining that her cries mean “Why have you forsaken me mother?!” and am finding more creative ways to sooth her between meals.  We’re back to 2.5- 3 hours between feedings during the day, and sleeping 4 hours at a time at night.  I feel much less bovine and had to thank Tom 100 times for his patience with my near-hysteria.  Ramona watched the whole scene passively, trying not to roll her eyes and remind us that she whines for food all the time and we happily ignore her.

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  1. Leslie Ann says:

    Sounds like you, Tom, and Hazel are working through things the best you can. Good job! I believe in feeding on a schedule. Some people believe in feeding on demand. “On demand” didn’t seem reasonable to me – I basically never even considered it because the rest of the family eats together on a schedule (breakfast, lunch and dinner at approximately the same time daily), so let’s get the baby on the schedule with us if possible. It worked out. Oh, in case no one told you, it is very important to feed Hazel in different positions so the milk can come out of alternating ducts and not the same ones all the time due to not switching positions. Also, if a duct is feeling hard and a little sore, try to feed from that side and also maybe put a hot compress or hot water bottle on the hard/sore area. That helped me. BFing might be a natural bodily function, but that doesn’t mean it is easy!!! You know that by now for sure!! LOL! When the books write about being a BFing “team” that is true. xooxoxoxooxo So happy for you!!! How does Ramona like Hazel?

  2. Amy H says:

    It’s funny you mention that Hazel’s cries sound like, “mother, have you forsaken me”. With my first child I was absolutely crazy when she cried. I would have literally run someone over had they gotten in between Alexis and I. I distinctly remember feeling like everytime she cried she was doing it because she was scared or lonely or I wasn’t doing something right… I hadn’t gotten it that babies just cry sometimes. Looking back I realize my baby was crying as a way to release some steam in order to get to sleep. My advice? Ditch the parenting books. You don’t have to be a ‘good parent’ in general… you smiply have to be Hazel’s parent and she’ll teach you how to do that. Parenting books just make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. Parenting is a gut reaction. Go with your gut. Do what feels right and forget what everyone tells you you should be doing.

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