I do trust the medical profession. I'm not someone who is suspicious of doctors. After working with doctors for many years I believe a lot of them are lacking in communication skills, but nevertheless they are doing their best and want to help their patients. With all their good intentions, though, I think sometimes doctors and nurses have no clue what they're doing!
At five and a half months Jeff and Aaron are still not sleeping through the night. Is it better? Yes. There are times when we get four or even five hours without a feeding. But some nights we're still on the every-three-hours feeding schedule as well as Aaron waking up once or twice between those feedings just because he...well...ummm...just because. Yeah. Just. Because.
After 167 days of four and a half hours of sleep each night I called the doctor yet again to ask what to do. When you call with a question during the day you usually get connected with a nurse. The nurse I talked to was nice. She seemed genuinely sympathetic. She understood why I was frustrated. Here was her advice:
1) They shouldn't be needing bottles overnight.
I know...tell that to THEM!
2) You should give them cereal.
Against the American Academy of Pediatrics' advice (but in following my doctor's advice) we've been giving them cereal two times a day since they were about four months old and they still want to eat every three hours...or two and a half hours.
3) You should wake them up at about 9:00 p.m. if they don't wake up on their own for a final feeding before you go to bed.
When I wake them up and try to feed them they take an ounce or two and then fall asleep. Plus, how does waking them at 9:00 and feeding them do anything? All it does is make my feeding schedule become 9:00pm, 12:00am, 3:00am and 6:00am instead of 10:00pm, 1:00am, 4:00am and 7:00am. Plus I run the risk of having a cranky baby.
4) Are you sure they are actually hungry? Do they actually take a bottle?
Yes, they take a full five ounce bottle. We even tried giving them six ounces for a few days. The nurse told me that six ounces was too much. Again, tell that to THEM, nurse!
And my favorite...
5) Give them an extra tablespoon of cereal before bed and that will end the night feedings.
Really? Two tablespoons of mush a day isn't sufficient but a third will solve all of our problems? Ummm...did you not hear that we already give them cereal? We do one during breakfast time and one around dinner time and after those feedings we still have crying babies two and a half to three hours later.
To recap: my children should know that they shouldn't be waking for several feedings in the middle of the night, feeding them 15-18 ounces at night isn't good and apparently one tablespoon of cereal should take the place of three bottles. Oh, and I remember being told that babies know how to regulate themselves so we shouldn't force them to be on our schedule, but apparently that changed at some point even though I wasn't told.
By now I've learned to make peace with the fact that I haven't slept for months. It has been going on for so long I don't know what I'd do with a real night of sleep. When I finally do sleep I think it will be weird. Tomorrow I'll be staying at a hotel (in a king size bed!) for a conference and we'll see if my body automatically wakes up every few hours. Maybe the opposite will happen and I'll sleep for 24 hours straight and miss giving my presentation!
As hard as this is, I really do believe that babies do what their bodies tell them to do. If that means they still need to eat every few hours, so be it. For now, I think Derek and I will just stick to what we know how to do and what our babies tell us they need. I'm also sticking to my theory -- doctors sometimes have no clue what they're doing.