How can a breastfeeding AP mom go back to work?

We get letters… here’s another one, from a Canadian Mom who is worried about the ramification of co-sleeping with her young son…

I live in Quebec, Canada and am a proud mother of a 7 month old son. I am not quite sure whether my son is high need. He is certainly not fussy, but he used to nurse hours and hours for the first few months after he was born. He could drink for four hours in a row quite easily and once drank for 15 hours straight. It was not only comfort sucking because he did swallow all the time.

He also cannot sleep alone. He wakes up very regularly (up to once every 10min during naps and somewhat less but still often at night) to check if someone’s there. If he’s alone, he starts crying immediately, if someone’s there, he falls asleep again. So I started co-sleeping mostly out of fatigue.

Here in Quebec they warn us not to co-sleep, and when I tell people they tell me the usual stuff, like it spoils my son and I risk his life etc. Actually since the time I started to co-sleep he has doubled the time he sleeps – he slept only 8hrs for the first month of his life, and since the time we have started co-sleeping and never leave him alone, he manages to sleep 15hrs! Since I never got anything done in the household because I need to lie down with my son every time he sleeps (I really do enjoy napping with him – but our household looks dreadful!) I started carrying him, which allows me to do much much more than before, and my husband does the rest when he has time. I am breastfeeding and my son loves it.

I have become an ap parent because my son required me to. Due to this parenting style, my son is a very sociable and friendly child. He likes people and people love him. People tell us all the time how friendly and balanced our baby is. He is extremely curious and active, and less afraid of strangers than many other babies his age. He actually likes people a lot. He never cries and when he does we are really upset because it happens so rarely. He cries maybe 5 minutes total per week.

I think that my parenting style is good for him.

Apart from hurting, the only moment he cries is when he wakes up and no-one’s in the room. My son is very very attached to me (much less so with my husband) and I guess that is somewhat normal for a breastfed baby. He always looks out for me and when I am there everything’s fine. When he spends time alone with his dad, it is hardly ever for more than an hour (my husband doesn’t know what to do with him for this long, so he takes him for walks (stroller not the sling) or plays, but never more than an hour.

My paid maternity leave will be over when my son will be 54 weeks old, and I will need to either go back to my previous job (up to 11hours absence per day but I will try to negotiate with them to work part-time) or work from home. Either way my son will need to go to daycare and I do not feel good about it! He is much less sensitive now than he was before, but I fail to see how I will be able to place him and go back to work. I am so attached to my little baby that I have never left him yet, except for maybe half an hour or so to go to the supermarket.

My family is in Europe, and my husband’s family works. Everyone in this province sends their kids to daycare (full-time) after a year and it seems that the kids can manage, but it seems to cruel to me! I would like to continue breastfeeding him part-time even after he’s entered daycare.

I don’t know anyone who has a baby like me – I mean a baby who doesn’t sleep alone, wakes up frequently to drink (3-12 times a night, at random) and is so attached to his mother. In addition, being so physically close to him all the time, I easily get nervous when I am not close to him. If he is in another room with my sister or friend, I am getting nervous if I cannot hear or see him for 15min or more. I do not think that I have made my son what he is. I think he was born with these needs and they will only go away if we respond.

Is there anyone out there who has a baby with high needs and has had to place them? Has anyone experienced this kind of situation? We desperately need advice…
Btw if I don’t go back to work we’d be able to survive but we would be really poor. Moreover, if I don’t go back to work we will not receive any financial support from the government if I have another baby. Yet I want my son to have a brother/sister soon because he is such a social person who loves to have people around!

I’m tired just reading this message and imagining the never-ending nighttime checks by a baby to see if you’re there. I remember having this sort of experience when my teen daughter was little, where she’d fall asleep and as soon as I even rolled over she’d pop up, fully alert, trying to figure out where I had gone. Ugh. Tiring.
So, fabulous APparenting readers, d’ya have any advice for this mom?

4 comments on “How can a breastfeeding AP mom go back to work?

  1. Thank you so much Dave. Your advice below is helpful already. Maybe retrospectively you think you’ve made a mistake, but if you were in the same situation again tomorrow, would you be able to act differently? My dilemma is that I do not have the emotional strength to just leave him with someone and see what comes out of it. Other mums I know have children that are much less anxious, so I guess that made their decision pro/con daycare somewhat easier. William and Martha Sears claim that their high-need child always remained high need. Was that the case for your daughter too? If so, I think you did the right thing to take her with you wherever you went.

  2. Cheers and hugs for doing what your babe tells you he needs!
    No sober parent has ever killed their baby by rolling over on them. If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs then don’t sleep with your baby and don’t let anyone else (even aunts or grandparents), but at this point he’s actually old enough that he should be okay.
    Buy the DR. Sears Attachment Parenting book. It will give you all the science you need to validate your choices and show you that what you are doing is helping your son grow into a well adjusted emotionally healthy person.
    I think with childcare you just have to search and make sure that they will follow attachment parenting principles. We looked at a lot of daycares and nanny’s and I freaked out when they all insisted on getting him to sleep on their schedule, having him cry it out if he wasn’t sleeping, and making him play in a baby gym. I got all stressed out because I HAD to go back to to work and the nanny we were trying out a few days a week was NOT practicing attachment parenting and it was NOT good for my son (he cried a lot – which was not his personality). Your son sounds very similar.
    We eventually found a home based daycare that was small (three kids and two adults) where they agreed to wear him instead of a stroller, rock him to sleep, and work with his schedule. He has never cried one day there (except for a month when he went through separation anxiety when I would leave), he loves them, and I know he is getting what he needs from other stable care givers.
    Just keep looking. Don’t settle. The guilt will eat you alive.
    Plus, 7 months and a year are really different. He’s going to nurse MUCH less at a year and be able to communicate well (are you doing sign?).
    It might be good to find someplace where you can drop him for a few hours once a week or so now so he can get used to it.
    Hugs!

  3. Oh I feel your concern and pain. I have 3 children and went back to work almost full time after my first two. All of mine are considered fairly high needs, my third by far the most. Have you considered giving up eggs and dairy? When I gave them both up, my very clingy son all the sudden was much happier. He let others hold him and stayed happy doing so and he slept much better. I always nursed my kids on demand but I knew it was more than that because he never seemed settled.
    After I introduced solid food, he went back to being more fussy and needing to nurse, waking often at night. After months of struggle and trying different things and no doctor taking me seriously, we realized he had silent acid reflux and was in much pain. So I am bringing these up to make sure those are not problems first. He was our only child who we co slept with for such a long period – well over a year. But he needed it and it worked for us.
    I did find each of my children needed me to a degree less after a year. They wanted to be with other kids and going to childcare or small in home care worked well for them. I always had them in part time. Look at lots of places, stay and visit a good while or go back several times and if you do not have a gut instinct that it is safe and good, do not try it. I also had to work out, what did I feel sad about and what was good for them.
    As a mother you want your child to be okay but please take care of yourself, including taking time for just you to refuel. High needs children can really take a lot of your life force and you need to refill it, even if in short periods. It is so much harder to rebuild your strength down the road. I have found part time work is a happier balance for me. It adds to our income, I enjoy it and my children have been in supportive, nurturing environments with caregivers who are rested and energetic.
    Hang in there, you are not alone.

  4. I’m thinking maybe the best thing you can do is go back to work and do part-time hours. Of course this is only possible if your work allows this.
    As the other commenters have said, there is quite a big different between a baby of 7 months and a 1 year old baby. You may find that he isn’t as clingy with you when he reaches 1 year of age. Only time will tell, but I hope everything works out well for you 🙂

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