Shall we pop out for lunch?

Babies don’t have a routine. 
Good luck getting your baby to stick to that.

Baby not sleeping/feeding/waking when you planned? It’s a baby!!! 
We’ve all heard it a million times, preemie or not, from every single person offering advice about motherhood. We get told over and over again, don’t bother making plans, babies have their own routine. Yet at the same time So much about a baby is trying to get feeding and sleeping into some sort of pattern so that the little rascal can grow and develop in a nurturing environment based on full bellies and rest. A tired, hungry baby can’t function and a tired mum can’t function either. So we all battle for the routine. And we breathe through as people support us by telling us our efforts are futile. Thanks for that. 

A baby that spends its first 6 months of ‘life’ in hospital has a routine. A baby on medications for the delicious goodies they didn’t get in that mystical third trimester has a tight routine. A tube fed/medicated baby has an even stricter routine. And a tube fed/medicated baby with feed/medication intolerance has a routine so regimented that mum and baby fall off the wagon if the breeze so much as changes direction.
There’s no such thing as demand feeding, and as often as we can we let them wake on their own, but that can’t happen all the time. There’s volumes that need to be reached, if we don’t get the feeds on time then we lose volume. We lose volume, we lose weight. We desperately need weight. If we don’t get weight then we will be dropping our kids at the high school ball with a tube taped to their face. 
Our little Oliver is in such a well planned routine that his awake time is allocated to physio, tummy time, play mat, sitting, solids, reading and cuddles. His sleep time starts the minute his milk feed starts and he’s stuck in that bed for at least two hours, one for the feed and one to get out of the spew zone. Then there’s an hour of grace that technically should be sleep time, but it’s our time to get out and walk, or go for coffee, or anything to be normal. Then? It’s awake time again. 

And around we go. 
Within this schedule there are medications, some can go together, some can’t, some are pre feed, during feed, post feed, some need refrigeration, some don’t. 

If we miss one that’s just extending the time we have to be on them all as we try to help these little bodies catch up. 

As much as babies have their own routine, and sometimes Oliver does fight the layout of his day, he generally does exactly as he is supposed to, because he has been doing it for so long. In fact, some days, when I’ve gone CRAZY flexible and the feed is 30 mins late, or the awake time is used as a lunch date without all the ‘jobs’ he’s an actual mess. 

Mum??? What IS going ON???
This is why sometimes you get kicked out of the house rather swiftly if he’s woken up mid feed, or why we suddenly bail on plans we tried to make, or why we lock ourselves in the house some days. Because we tried to NOT be in routine that day, and it failed. Because we wanted a little bit of normality and so we sacrificed our normality and sometimes it works and sometimes it really doesn’t. 
Nicu mums, mums of medically fragile kids, mums of kids with special needs, we envy flexibility, spontaneity, the ability to feed elsewhere, the nappy bags that just hold a few nappies, toys and wipes. But we also hold so tight to our inflexibility, as it means we are in control. Geez how many times have I written about control?? 
Our routines are a blessing and a curse and whether it’s more one than the other is inconsequential as we have no choice. If babies have to have a routine, then they have one. And on the days that they don’t want it we cuddle them, tell them we love them and then do the routine anyway, because as much as we would like to just listen to our baby and be flexible, it’s almost impossible. 
Do we have a sleep/feed/awake routine? Yes. Does that make us ‘better’ parents because we can do it and others can’t? No. 

But sometimes on the days when I struggle with our normality and how much I wish it was different I count it as one success we have had. But don’t worry, tomorrow I’ll curse it again because I just want to go out for 3 hours in a row so I can try every duck island ice cream flavour in one sitting.  

  

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Author: rfclews

I'm just another mum trying to figure all of this out, with the added bonus of getting to start extra early, and well and truly on the back foot!

4 thoughts on “Shall we pop out for lunch?”

  1. When my daughter came home, in the course of talking about her, I would say she ate every three hours (at the time) around the clock. “How do you get her to do that?” “We wake her up every three hours.” “OMG NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY!” Trying to explain that preemies generally won’t wake themselves up for food was futile. Trying to explain that she needed ALL of her feeds EVERY day was a waste of effort. Explaining about failure to thrive was also not helpful because “surely shed wake up if she was hungry.” Preemies/nicu babies make their own rules and no one but other preemie or nicu parents really gets that.

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    1. You’re exactly right. The one benefit to having this damn feeding tube is that when O sleeps 13 hours overnight, as he usually does, I can breathe because I know he’s still getting the volumes. He just literally would not wake up to feed even if we tried!!!! Not that I get that much sleep, up and down to the pump all night!
      It does seem that we are all exhaustingly explaining things to people over and over again, who eventually say ‘oh yes I see’ and you know they don’t. And I try to remind myself to be thankful that they don’t know, as it means they haven’t had to live it. Sometimes this works…here’s to the Nicu mums we connect with who help us feel understood!!!!!

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      1. Oh don’t get me started on pumping lol. When she was in the nicu people were like, at least you can sleep through the night, since she’s in the nicu! I was up to pump every two hours after getting home late from the nicu and getting up early to head back before I had to go to work. And it’s Sooooo easy to sleep with your baby in the hospital…

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