Day and Night

Joey had fallen into a pretty regular sleep pattern until this bout of teething started; he’d go to bed about 7 or 7:30, wake up an hour later but settle quickly if tended to, wake up around midnight to nurse, and then sleep until 8 or 9 a.m. Then a nap around 10 or 11, which would last about 3 hours if I napped with him, and another short nap or two on his own in the afternoon. I don’t know how typical it is, but it worked pretty well for us.

And then the teething started.

The Booklet is a sweet and obliging baby, which means that I am uncomfortably aware of how miserable he must be to be so whinging and droopy all the time. He is drooling like mad, gnawing like a creature possessed, and sleeping poorly. After Saturday night, when he woke up crying every half hour (he usually doesn’t cry when he wakes in the night unless no one offers him a breast in a timely fashion) all night long, I broke down and started giving him pain medicine before bed, which has helped. We have baby chew toys, crackers, and a teether that lives in the freezer when Joey isn’t smashing it against his gums. We have a soft-tipped sippy cup that I fill with ice water. I’m also nursing him for hours-long stretches, a few minutes at a time; apparently he wants to nurse because his mouth hurts, but the act of nursing causes blood to rush to his mouth—which hurts—so he pulls away, but then his mouth hurts so he wants to nurse. . . .  When I met with the therapist, she was surprised by how subdued he was.

I’ve had any number of kindly people tell me that it’s time to put him into the crib so that he can learn independence, and since I think that a six-month-old cannot be independent in any meaningful sense, I smile and ignore the advice. Now that he’s so unhappy, I’m especially glad to be cosleeping; I can let him sleep in my arms, and that seems to help, and I would do anything to help. But even when he’s at his best, I’m happy about the way that bedsharing has gone. Sure, I get kicked sometimes, and I still am not quite sure what to do with my arms—but it’s reassuring to be able to drift off while watching him breathe, and I never have to get out of bed for a midnight feeding. Mr. Book and I have talked recently about when we’ll move him into his own space, and we’re thinking that probably at the end of the year we’ll start moving him—and I’m sure that it will be an ordeal, and we might put it off awhile longer. But right now I can’t really imagine putting him to sleep on his own. He’ll get there eventually. We have time.

In the meantime, I am soliciting advice on what to do about teething; he’s so unhappy, and I can help so little. I’ve heard that baby orajel is not a good idea: true or false? Should I be going totally drug-free? Icing my nipples before I nurse him?


16 thoughts on “Day and Night

  1. It’s just a rough process, for all of you. No need to go drug free – if the drugs help, then use them. Whatever it takes to survive – here’s hoping those teeth pop through soon!

  2. I’m with Sue — it’s just hard and it just sucks so whatever you can do. I haven’t used baby orajel and I can’t remember why I didn’t — there was a reason but I have no idea what it was or even if it’s valid. My sister used a little jack daniels on her baby’s gums but with a recovering alcoholic in the house, we didn’t even entertain that idea. (Not because Brett would have gone on a bender if he’d found an airplane bottle of jack in the diaper bag but because the idea of putting alcohol in his baby’s mouth was more than he could imagine.) Anyway, that worked for her kids.

    Whenever people brag to me that their two month old is sleeping through the night I always think about teething and don’t say a word because I think the first year or so has so much upheaval. Both the kids used to sleep really rocky right before they did something developmentally amazing, too. Noah used to wake himself up ALL THE TIME trying to walk.

  3. There are many natural remedies that we tried. Rusks, onion stalks (yep) and the list goes on and on. What’s the only thing that worked for us? Infant’s Ibuprofen. My children have a horrendous time with teething. It is really, really painful for them and they would frequently have blood coming out of their mouths during teething periods. Although at least now we know why. Their jaws are too small and the teeth don’t fit, so even their baby teeth are stacked on top of each other. (Baby teeth should be spaced out and not touching.)

    Yes, we are already saving for orthodontics. This will not be cheap!

    I try to go with natural remedies as much as possible, but will turn to medications if the natural route isn’t working. For me, the only thing worse than using drugs is to know that my children are suffering when there is something available that could help them.

  4. I know a lot of people are all about not using any meds with babies. I felt like if it made them feel better I was willing to do it. I don’t feel any better about being “all-natural” when my kid is miserable & in pain, you know? Anyway, Asher wears an amber necklace & while I think a lot of that stuff is woo-woo hooey, it really did seem to help a bit. (And anyway, it’s adorable…) It sounds like you are doing everything you can – and sometimes even when you’re doing everything right it isn’t enough to make the pain go away. So you have to accept that sometimes all you can do is hold them & rock them & comfort them. xo

  5. Now the amber necklace isn’t a mystery!

    One thing that’s for sure, no right way to endure teething. Or sleeping. Or not sleeping but wishing to sleep (that would be me, right now).

    Hang in Susie. It’ll get better (then worse, then better again… etc).

  6. we used every herbal remedy we could find before trying baby motrin. some worked better than others, but when it was at its worst, only the baby motrin helped, if anything.

    my 2 faves are these:
    > hyland’s gel
    some people love their dissolvable tablets too, but they didn’t work (for us) as well as these homeopathic drops:
    > boiron camilia

    some docs recommend alternating between baby motrin and tylenol, but I never like dosing J up on too many things. still, there were many a sleepless night when motrin did the trick.

    last tip, and this comes from someone who doesn’t even take aspirin: don’t be afraid to use the meds to prevent the pain. once they feel it, it’s MUCH harder to do pain relief.

    ok, one last thing on co-sleeping/bed sharing. I wasn’t even nursing (with any success past 3 months) and we co-slept until J turned a year old. by that point she was SO big and our bed was SO small and we were all SO restless that no one was sleeping well. see also teething above. you’ll know when it’s time.

    • The prevention thing I have been resisting—but I might break down, especially if he’s still having a bad time on Wednesday, when we’ll be traveling from noon to midnight.

      I think I’ll be sad to stop cosleeping whenever that happens, but already there are some nights when Mr. Book sleeps on the futon because someone is unwell and it’s just all too much. =/

    • Shoot, I shop at amazon all the time–I get laundry detergent there, for heaven’s sake!–so it ain’t no thing. 😉

  7. Hylands pills worked for us, except for when they didn’t, and then I guess we just suffered–I was leery of meds like Tylenol.

    My adopted son arrived at 15 months with eight teeth and a whole gallon ziploc bag of Motrin and Tylenol his foster mom gave him EVERY NIGHT before bed, according to her “how to put him to bed” notes. I was totally freaked out worrying about what that might have done, but he’s healthy as a horse, so maybe she just knew what she was doing after 20 years of fostering babies. Not that I recommend it for every night!

  8. Icing your nipples before you feed him???? YOU are am awesome mom!!!! The thought of it makes me shiver… Lol. As for teething advice, we used a naturalopathic remedy called highland teething tablets. And before that we tried Camilla drops. We loved the teething tablets. Good luck!

  9. Advil. Advil. Advil. We had a terrible time with teething and I tried all sorts of stuff during the day – anything cold to suck on/gum seemed to do the trick – but at night, when it was at it’s worst? I gave her the drugs. I just couldn’t bear to see her cry and in such obvious discomfort.
    Go with what feels right to YOU.

  10. Teething is rough. We are pretty ok with using meds when needed, per our pedi. Generally we start with natural and only amp up when needed. We have used baby oragel with limited success. The amber beads seemed to do more frankly. Which is to say both were not perfect. Dosing before nursing helped a lot around these parts particularly for babies 2 and 4. Otherwise they acted just like Joey and would only get fore milk, were always still hungry, were gassy AND his mouth really hurt. By getting meds in before seemed to allow a full nursing which helped more then anything.

    Co-Sleeping saved my life, I swear. Its too hard to be tired and chase other kiddos so sleeping with the baby makes life easier for everyone. Eventually the negatives of a crick in my neck because of the weird things I would do with my arms, my hubby sleeping on the sofa or getting generally kicked or mauled by a toddler would cause us to make the transition. You have plenty of time and don’t worry you’ll know when your both ready to move on.

    • There must be some perfect thing to do with your arms while cosleeping that no one has discovered yet—I’m not giving up!

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