When am I supposed to sleep…?

When am I supposed to sleep…? April 15, 2009

baby bottle with drip

 by Laura

When my 11th baby was born, he had feeding issues. He just wasn’t getting the hang of nursing and I think my “plumbing” was getting a bit worn out.

After two weeks of trying and trying and him crying and crying, I took him to a Lactation Clinic an hour and a half away. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and remembered me from the last time I had a baby with these problems. They told me that I needed to use a breast pump every two hours all day and every 4 hours at night and keep track of how much milk I was making and feed every drop to my baby and supplement him with formula so he would gain weight.

Now, being a QF mom, I felt that bottles and formula equaled failure. I mean, my main purpose in life was to bear children and here I couldn’t even feed them myself. I remember talking to another QF mom about her child that had similar difficulties nursing and she reluctantly admitted to me that she had resorted to the bottle. BUT…they hadn’t used that nasty pre-made formula. They had done research and found a recipe that was better for their baby and fed the child that. Maybe she felt she needed to say that because not nursing your many babies was such a stigma in my circle. I was devastated I would have to supplement but one look at my sweet baby’s spindly legs and I knew I had to do it.

I picked up some formula on the way home and then talked to Dale about the plan I had been given from the clinic. I had a rented breast pump with me and felt a bit overwhelmed with the idea of caring for the 10 kids living at home, pumping every two hours and taking care of the new baby.

I told Dale I would need his help at night because not only did I have to pump but I had to make sure that the baby got a certain amount of food each time I pumped, either from my milk or supplemental formula. He would have to get up every 4 hours to help out so I could be all done in 45 minutes or so. Otherwise, it would take me an hour and a half to do it alone.

He looked at me incredulously and said, “When am I supposed to sleep? I have to go to work every day. You can take a nap.”

I was speechless.

I called to my older daughters and spoke with them privately. I told them the situation with their little brother and before I could ask for help, they offered to take turns sleeping nearby so that I could wake them when I needed them. So for a few weeks, I woke one of my older daughters, aged 11 to 18, in the middle of the night to help me. While I was pumping away, they fed their newborn brother not 10 feet away from me. It was a bit humbling to be doing that as I never could figure out how to pump discreetly. They would wait patiently for me to finish, sometimes falling asleep sitting up trying to burp the baby over their lap.

As soon as I was done with the pump, I would take over and let them go back to bed. Another half hour or so later, I would get the baby settled back to sleep and then I would drop exhausted into my bed, alone, only to start the whole cycle again maybe 3 hours later. All the while, Dale slept peacefully on the couch, his chosen place to rest every night.


Laura’s Story:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13

More from Laura:


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Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

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  • SargassoSea

    I guess that ‘helpmeet’ thing is a one way street :/It’s that white male privilege oh-woe-what-about-me crap that just makes me Dude-o-cidal.They just don’t effing get it because they don’t have to. Yay Patriarchy! notAnd many, many congratulations on your anniversary/birthday. Brave women rock on!Sea

  • Becky

    There is a time to cry “uncle” and use the bottle with formula. This was “past time”. I had 5 and nursed all 5 but never thought anything but “I’m sorry ‘cuz it’s so much more work” to women who didn’t have enough milk to nurse. We do live in the 20th century and have options for women who are such situations. Laura, were you afraid of what others would think of you if you switched to formula, was it the cost of formula that was the issue, or did you just not want to “give in” to using formula? You were quite the “superwoman”! I’m amazed. I would rather use formula than pump. I tried pumping on my first when I was out of the hospital and he was still in but it was complete disaster for me and I couldn’t do it. Thankfully, once home from the hospital (day 3), the child began to nurse regularly and things were okay.

  • kittywhumpus

    Wow.I cannot imagine what this must have been like. I pumped exclusively for the 71 days my son was in the hospital, but I did not have any other kids to care for.You are amazing!

  • Anonymous

    rach, sydoh Larua thats sounds awful. can’t imagine letting my bf (if we have children) do that. But then he’s a feminist.

  • Anonymous

    Laura,Wow. My heart goes out to you. I loved breastfeeding my first child but I had nothing else to do and it was a sweet, sweet time alone with her. By my second child I wanted some freedom of movement and started pumping in order to keep her on breastmilk while also giving myself some time away from her. Pumping was simply awful (for me!). I remember my first daughter at a very solemn two and a half standing next to me as I pumped and looking sadly at the teeny amounts I was producing and saying, sternly "not enough mommy!" I can't remember now but I think we must eventually have gone to a bit of a formula supplement towards the end of that period with my second daughter. What seems like a life or death moral decision at the time turns out to be utterly silly in retrospect! The kids turn out fine either way. But I can well imagine how frightened you felt at not being able to nourish your eleventh the way you were used to doing, and how stampeded you must have felt by all the "helpful" advice about pumping and weighing and etc…OT but I well remember my mother advising me that I had to keep a detailed record of the number of minutes my first daughter nursed on each breast *because the doctor would want to see it!* Of course they didn't ask for any such thing. somehwere I have sheets and sheets of hysterical scrawls of "five minutes R. breast, 3 minutes L breast."What I'm trying to say is that Dale should be ashamed of himself, and the women in your social circle who allowed themselves to be so overburdened that none of them could or would come over to care for you in your hour of need. Not much of a community, in my opinion. Of course I'm just an *&^% atheist but I'll be heading over to the hospital to bring gifts to a single mother I know and cooking dinners for her next week.aimai

  • Anonymous

    He looked at me incredulously and said, “When am I supposed to sleep? I have to go to work every day. You can take a nap.”Translation:”ME MAN. ME SAY FILL-IN-THE-BLANK!YOU WOMAN. YOU SHUT UP!”And ELEVEN KIDS? I once knew a woman who went into total burnout on her fifth — just completely overwhelmed. For 11, you need either an extended family switching off in shifts or a serious speed/meth habit.

  • Rosa

    Okay, that's just wrong. That man wasn't a father, he was just an overgrown child you happened to have been responsible for. My son (my only child) was a preemie who didn't nurse well at first, so I pumped and we "topped him off" with a bottle at the end of every feeding – which meant his dad took him from me & bottle fed him from the previous pumping while I pumped/washed bottles. I do not understand why people who claim children are blessings then act as if they were pets, or punishments. Aimai's right, Dale should have been ashamed of himself.

  • enlightenmentgirl

    Dale’s behavior was vile. That’s not acting like a father or a husband, that’s just being a stud dog. This reminds me of a story my dad told me. He was a teenager back in the late ’40s or early ’50s and he griped about having to learn how to mop a floor. His father, a Swedish immigrant, chided him for this. My dad replied, “Why do I have to learn this? I’ll have a wife to do all the housework.” My grandfather fixed him with his icy blue eyes (imagine a Swedish Henry Fonda) and said coldly, “Oh, if your wife is recovering from giving birth to YOUR child and is feverish and sick in bed, you’re going to force her to get up and fix YOUR breakfast and clean up YOUR mess?” That knocked the stuffing out of my dad, who turned out to be a truly loving father and husband without a real Christian faith.

  • Anonymous

    You know, even when I believed my husband was “in charge” and I was supposed to give in to his authority, he would never have abused the privilege like that; and if he had tried it, I would not have hesitated to give him a piece of my mind. lolI keep asking myself, whatever happened to “husbands love your wives and lay down your lives for her”? Did that part of the verse just fall out of the QF Bible? It’s terrible, reading what you had to go through, Laura. My heart goes out to you.KR Wordgazer

  • Anonymous

    ok, this may be a little off the way this thread is headed but there is something I have been wondering about.Laura mentioned about a recipe for homemade baby formula.Does anyone know if this stuff is really as good as boughten formula? I have my doubts and worry about a family that uses it. Some of the kids have learning issues and I wondered if it could be from using this homemade formula rather than regualr formula.

  • Anonymous

    This blog has been very interesting. I almost fell for the QF movement, and am actually pregnant with my 6th child. We do believe that children are a blessing, but geeze, how much can a woman handle. I plan to tie my tubes after this. I am excited about this baby, but just as excited to enter into the next stage of my life. I am ready to really enjoy them now. I cannot imagine my hubby not helping me! WOW!! We have always homeschooled, but put the older ones in public school this year… one time my hubby got up and let me sleep in, which I gladly did until 11am!! Anyway, when I got up he gave me a big hug and asked how I did all these years, taking care of the house and homeschooling and I told him it was very hard. I am glad he saw that. I might add that when I woke up the house was spotless, and lunch was being prepared. He also always gets up at least an hour before I get up to get the kiddo’s ready for school and if there was any mess from the night before, he always cleans it up for me in the morning. The only thing about your story that saddens me is your loss of faith. We are Christians, and love Jesus with all our hearts, but we don’t fall for man’s doctrine at all. We are sinners saved by grace and cannot, in any way, be perfect. Nor, can I do anything to please Jesus because He is already pleased with me! His love is unconditional and I hate it when the church makes you think otherwise. I do pray that ya’ll will find your way back to your saviour… but I understand how you must feel after everything, including the major legalism ya’ll have been through!!Blessings to you!!Jennifer in TX

  • Jadehawk

    oh! how can ANYone be so heartless!?you know, it’s starting to sound like you didn’t have 11 kids, but 12. and one of them was a bossy little know-it-all hormonal teen :-pas for home-made formula… both my brother and I were fed homemade formula (basically buckwheat porridge with milk) after 6 months of breastfeeding, and so were a lot of other kids in Poland. I don’t think it’s bad per-se, but with kids that are already underweight, it might be a nutrition issue (both my brother and I were fat babies)

  • Becky

    How old are the kids now? Did Dale get remarried or is he caring for the kids alone?I guess if he is caring for them alone, he is seeing how many naps he’s getting! 🙂 (wink, wink!) That was a pretty heartless comment he made. He was, as someone else mentioned acting like a child and not like the “patriarch” who was willing to lay down his life for his wife and children. While obviously he couldn’t pump, if you needed help, he could help. You didn’t “create” these children by yourself. By this time in your marriage, was he still convinced that “quiverfull” was the right thing?

  • mouse

    God Bless your restraint! My daughter had a rough time getting moving on nursing and was screaming her head off. My husband had merely rolled over and begun to snore. I thought about rolling him right off the bed for it, and he usually is an incredible Dad.I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. Fathers are meant to care for their children and their spouses. To ignore your health and your children’s is just heartbreaking. Melissa

  • Tapati

    It just shows how utterly clueless he was about your life during the day to say that you had time to take a nap! No wonder he didn’t get why you needed a mixer! He gives new meaning to the phrase “self-absorbed.”I agree with those who said he was like another child in your family. Good riddance!Your daughters are so sweet to help out in the middle of the night like that. They were better parents than Dale will ever be.{{{hugs}}}

  • aimai

    Jennifer in Tx’s blog post is just so sweet. I think its been something I,personally, have needed to hear more from women with large families in the Christian tradition. I love, love, love my babies and if I could have had six probably I would have! I got started so late we only had two and I am satisfied with that. But babies are wonderful. However, there’s nothing more godly about more babies. Loving and caring for all the people in our lives is just as important. Jennifer, it sounds like things are going wonderfully for you. Many blessings on this next child and, as you say, this next period in your life as you transition–doesn’t it take about 18 years?–towards not being a mommy of little kids. aimai

  • jemand

    Becky, oh how I wish that were true! Unfortunately I imagine Dale is still soundly sleeping through the night while his daughters do all the “housework.” It’s not HIS work, not REAL work, y’know!

  • mostcurious

    wow.Just that, wow. I never would have gotten through my single baby’s babyhood without a lot of help from my husband – even when I said I didn’t want it, even when we argued, he still helped. Without being a team… well I just… IDK, I’d have fallen apart. And we have only one, as I said.Kudos to you to figuring out how to get through it, and how to get out of it.And many happy returns of the day, tax day baby Laura!

  • Anonymous

    Obviously, Dale was not being a good father or husband, but, Laura, was this a baby Dale was hoping to conceive?I know this next part is going to get people mad, but I am trying to understand the whole picture.Please help me understand. Didn’t you say that Dale wasn’t even sleeping with you, but snuggling with you? Did you also say you were hoping to get pregnant, for the sake of keeping the marriage together? If I have those facts correct, would it not make sense that Dale would not be all that happy about things? Perhaps he was not happy with the fact you conceived, again, when he was hoping to not have more children, could that be part of the picture? Or do I have that wrong? Was he hoping to conceive another baby? I was under the impression that by his ‘cuddling vs. togetherness’ was perhaps a way to have birth control without having to call it that. Since you stated you were hoping to conceive, and you were wanting the intimacy you were not receiving form your husband, that a baby would make things better.My questions to you are, was Dale wanting another baby? Was he at all happy at the prospect of another child? Again, trying to get clarity on the subject.Kelly

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous asked about home made formula. With baby #3, I had to use a home made formula to supplement my nursing. That’s 19 years ago, so I can’t remember the recipe.My reason for choosing home made recipe vs. using store bought was for the concern of the high levels of aluminum found in formula, not because I felt like a failure or anything like that. I don’t know where those levels are, today, vs. 19 years ago. You will have to do your research on formulas.Kelly

  • Vyckie

    The discussion for this post has been moved over to our new NLQ forums: http://nolongerquivering.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=sleepNo further comments on this post will be accepted here ~ please go to the forums. Thank you 😉

  • Vyckie

    Note to “anonymous” who submitted a comment this morning ~ please follow the link in the above post where this thread is being continued. We have closed comments to this thread here on the blog ~ but would love to hear from you over at the NLQ forums. Thanks!