the Incredible Sleeping Zoë

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Zoë is sleeping in my lap.  Mike is going to bed.  I’ll be up at 3, 6, and 9 to feed Zoë.

Nursing is going slowly. Four days in the NICU meant our daughter started life with a bottle in her mouth. Her low birth weight (our girl was definitely a “green apple”) plus the jaundice has instilled a certain fear of exclusive breastfeeding in me. Additionally there were, um, size problems in the beginning (my baby is tiny, my breasts are not, you do the math).

Nowadays size isn’t the issue: drowsiness is. As much as I want to nurse my daughter, I worry about her getting enough to eat; nursing tends to knock her out almost instantly. Like, two gulps and she’s asleep, and it takes half an hour for me to wake her up again. No bueno when your daughter is already underweight, and really, really needs those two ounces at each 2-3 hour feeding.

So we compromise. I nurse until she falls asleep, and then we break out the bottle with the pumped milk. She doesn’t have any problem finding the boob, and her latching on has gotten much better…when she’s awake enough to do so. She’s still a very sleepy baby. We expect this is due to her being early and jaundiced, and so I’m waiting for her to “wake up” a bit more before I transition to exclusively nursing.

A week from tomorrow she’ll be three weeks old. More importantly, she’ll be “full term” then. We’ve watched as she’s gradually become more and more alert, but it still is sometimes a huge effort to get her awake and actively nursing. Until she’s more present, we’ll continue to bottle feed and I’ll continue to pump to keep up supply. Starving a baby this sleepy is just not something I can or should do.

And there is another upside to this: her dad and family get to help with feedings. Though I feed her a lot of the time, she also gets to spend that time with others. And I get much-needed sleep. It works, in its own way.