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?