How do Working Parents do this? & A bit about sleep

Working Parents-

Yesterday morning at about 5 AM, while I was nursing Julia, I noticed that she felt very hot, so I had Ken take her temperature and sure enough, it was 102.7 so we gave her some Tylenol.  When Ken was getting ready to leave at 7 AM, we took her temperature again and it was 100.7.  Daycare has a rule that anything over 100 is a “fever” and that babies can’t be at daycare with a fever.  Once their fever breaks, they have to be fever-free for 24 hours before they can go back to daycare.  So I texted my boss and apologized for the inconvenience but told her I was not able to come to work yesterday.  (Maybe it was a blessing in disguise since I got to spend the day with Julia?)

I can’t take more time off from work so this morning when we saw that she still has a little fever, I started sending frantic text messages to our friends to see who might be able to take Julia for the day.  Nobody answered in time, so I ended up taking her to daycare anyway (she took Tylenol at 6 AM, so that should keep the temperature down until at least 10 or 11 AM).  Aside from the fever she really doesn’t have any symptoms of being sick (she wasn’t sleeping well overnight, but she wasn’t being particularly fussy, she doesn’t really have a runny nose or cough or anything…)

I just really don’t know how working parents, without family close by, are supposed to deal with this… I mean we already pay $600/month for daycare.  I’m lucky that my boss is relatively understanding and flexible, but if she weren’t, I would need to find a babysitter to take Julia for the day.  Babysitters are generally $10-12/hour, so that would be about $100 for a 9-hour work day!  Say she’s sick 2-3 days a month (which seems to be the trend)–that’s an extra $200-300 per month to spend on childcare!  I guess you have to figure out the math at that point and decide which makes more sense financially–is it better to take the day off from work unpaid or to pay a babysitter?  Or is it better to just be a stay-at-home mom while she’s this young and getting sick this frequently?  We wouldn’t have my income, but we wouldn’t have to pay daycare.  It’s definitely a trade-off and one that parents seriously need to think about!


A Bit About Sleep-

The sleeping situation in our family has gotten a little out of control and Ken and I are both getting close to the end of our ropes… for now our plan is to do whatever works but at Julia’s 6-month checkup on April 12th (which is 2 weeks from today), we are going to talk to the doctor to find out what she would recommend. We are both starting to think that some form of “sleep training” might be necessary, as difficult as it may be.

We have a couple of problems:

1) Transitioning out of the swaddler: Julia is still having a hard time transitioning out of the swaddler.  We’ve been using the sleepsuit with some success, but when she gets worked up, she starts flailing around those arms and legs and is still unable to calm herself down on her own.  Sometimes in the middle of the night I give up and put her back in the swaddler which does help to get her back to sleep.  Eventually she’ll need to learn to sleep without the swaddler or the sleepsuit… just her in her Pajamas!

2) Nursing to sleep: Julia is so used to nursing to sleep when she’s at home that she won’t have it any other way… she doesn’t want to be rocked or bounced to sleep, she doesn’t want the pacifier.  She just wants to be nursed to sleep.

3) I’d be okay with nursing her to sleep if she would fall asleep and stay asleep for a while… but when I do nurse her to sleep and then put her down in the crib, it’s hit-or-miss.  Sometimes she’ll stir and wake up immediately, sometimes she’ll stay asleep for a while, but sometimes she’ll wake up within 10-30 minutes, expecting to be nursed back to sleep.  This sometimes goes on for 2+ hours and is physically and emotionally exhausting for all of us.  Ken has tried to go up and soothe her but she won’t take the pacifier from him, and especially when she’s already really tired, she just gets more and more worked up the more we try to soothe her without nursing her.  This just makes Ken frustrated and angry, which then makes Julia get more and more worked up, so then I come up to rescue them both and end up nursing her again.

4) Length of sleep: For a while Julia was having a long stretch of sleep that would last anywhere from 5-7 hours, then she would wake up to eat and would go back to sleep for another 2-3 hours before being up for the day.  That, I would be able to handle.  If she legitimately needs to eat at night, I’m okay with feeding her (and since breast milk is digested more easily than formula, I do think she legitimately needs to eat 1-2 times at night).  But lately (for the past month at least), her “long” (notice that is in quotes) stretch of sleep has been at most 3 and a half hours, and then she goes back to being up every 1-2 hours.  When she’s up, she wants to nurse and cuddle.  It’s not necessarily that she’s hungry but just that she wants to cuddle and nurse.  We need to do something to try to get her back on a more regular sleeping schedule so that she’s getting enough sleep and so that Ken and I are getting enough sleep to function at work during the day.

5) I don’t know what the solution is… or if there is a solution… and I feel really uncomfortable with some of the proposed “solutions” that I’ve heard about from different people and read about from various resources.  I’m starting to think our options are either to co-sleep (i.e. Julia in our bed with us) or to try one of these cry-it-out methods, where I nurse her until she’s drowsy and then we put her in her crib and let her cry until she falls asleep.  The problem with this is that I’ve heard about some strong-willed babies who will cry for up to 7 hours before they give up and fall asleep.  Listening to Julia cry is painful to both of us.  It makes me feel like I’m being a horrible parent and makes me so uncomfortable.  I feel awful knowing that there is something I could be doing to help her feel less alone but that I’m not doing it.  The advice some parents have given us (which sounds so cruel and unusual) is to sleep downstairs for the week when we are “sleep training” her, to put in earplugs or go outside if we need to… basically to ignore her crying.  How can I, as her mother, ignore her crying?!?!  The thought of that brings me to tears!

6) Another thing that’s really frustrating is that there are mothers who’s parenting styles I often seek to emulate, and who have strong and healthy relationships with their children.  I trust and respect these women and yet they fall all over the place on this “sleep training” continuum–our friend Holly and our Rabbi’s wife both recommended cry-it-out sleep training methods–put the baby in her crib when she’s drowsy and let her cry.  Go up to check on her every 15 minutes to soothe her and try to calm her down but essentially just let her cry until she falls asleep.  Then there are women at the La Leche League who say to just co-sleep until she’s weaned and is no longer nursing.

I just don’t know what to do, and this is one area where my instinct is failing me!  I don’t know what to do because it’s starting to be detrimental to Ken and my own happiness and our mental health and well-being.


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