Archive for the ‘Sleep’ Category

I think I might have found my motivation?!

Yep, I think I may have just stumbled upon it! And of course it is in the least likely place.

This morning I got up early.

Now my son is a nightowl so I am not going to tell you our definition of early, it would just be cruel. But I am up and about while he is still splayed out taking up 3/4 of a queen sized bed (as only babies toddlers all children can)

But anyway…I’m up. My husband is thrilled to not be the only ‘creature’ prowling round the house at this hour (the dog is still asleep too!) I have eaten breakfast,¬†(which in itself is a small miracle), the swim bag is packed, my week is planned, folding has been done, clothes have been taken off the line. So far I have done more this morning than I have the entire weekend ūüôā

And I think I like it.

I too am a nightowl, I would much prefer to be up into the wee hours of the morning and then get a sleep in the next day. But my life with a toddler doesn’t seem to work that way. I used to be able to get all the household jobs done when my husband and I were home from work, after dinner and a bit of relaxing. Now, by the time my lovely husband walks through the door, I am hanging out for my ‘shift’ to finish, so I can have some time to myself. And after the little sample of me time, there is no way I want to get up and start housework. I pretend I will, but it never happens.

But today is a bright and shiny new day! I have even had time to write about it! So I want to know…am I the first person who has made this brilliant discovery? Where and when are you motivated? Do you think I can keep it up? And please, if you do this, please tell me I can sleep in on the weekends?…

Please wish us sleep

Tonight, we begin attempt #273 to DO SOMETHING about little girl’s sleep.¬† Regular readers may notice the change in nickname, which is the problem – she is moving beyond babyhood.¬† It’s not that I think there is an arbitrary point where she should learn to sleep, it’s that she is now 22 months old and I can count on my fingers the number of times she has slept longer than 2 hours.¬† I am exhausted.¬† She’s not even consistent – the extremely rare occasions when she’s slept for 5 hour blocks are generally preceded by a feeding orgy where she might give me 20 minute breaks between 3 or 4 hour long feeds, so I’ve paid heavily for my oblivion.

Of course it’s not really #273, we’ve tried hard to be consistent and give an approach a decent time to work.¬† We walked many miles during the early reflux nights.¬† When that passed we discovered she was an extremely light sleeper and would be woken up by things like moving position or someone walking past.¬† She refused wrapping, but we got a monitor and closed all the doors, avoided the toilet, and discovered that I could feed her to sleep lying on our bed then roll off without waking her.¬† That’s how the full-time co-sleeping started.

We expected the 4 month monsters, which turned into the 5, 6, 7 and 8 month monsters with no improvements.¬† Every now and then we would try something like cuddling after a feed but it always ended with hysteria and throwing up, a legacy of the reflux?¬† Then we rode out the 2 months, or possibly 3 or 4 my memory’s blurred, when she wouldn’t sleep without a boob in her mouth.¬† Eventually I stopped trying to detach her, made the most of it and caught up with my reading.¬† It was a major celebration when she let go.

We had a very stressful time with a lot of interstate travel at the height of her separation anxiety (did I mention she’s extremely clingy?), but surprisingly it led to a breakthrough – we got her onto a mattress next to our bed.¬† At that point, up to 2 hours with extra space in both beds felt like heaven.¬† I don’t sleep well when she’s sucking, probably because so much of it is comfort sucking, so I’ve never had the luxury of just letting her attach and not really noticing.

Throughout all this we tried dummies many times, lullabies, meditation music, white noise, wrapping, sleepsacks, fans on and off, air conditioners on and off and several variations of light.¬† I’ve tried pulling the nipple out, patting, rubbing, holding, singing, cuddling and Daddy.¬† But she’s very simple and very consistent – I want a real nipple until I decide to let it go.¬† Do not touch me, do not sing, do not cover me with anything, and do not turn the lights out.¬† And if you’re very lucky it might take less than 40 minutes and you might not have to do it again for a couple of hours.

Maybe.

At 18 months it got beyond a joke so we tried partial night weaning.¬† I didn’t feed between 11 and 4am and she didn’t sleep.¬† At all.¬† At least thats what it felt like after yet another night of going to bed at 2am.¬† She would wake up (again) sometime between 11 and 1am and then cry, ranging from screaming hysterics to gentle hiccups for 2 to 5 hours.¬† Some of the time she would sit on your lap quietly, but the eyes didn’t close.¬† In 10 weeks I got her to sleep without feeding a total of 3 times, one of those I went to bed at 4am, another 5am and the third I fell asleep with her on the couch about 3am, not good.¬† DH found me and I tried to move at 4am, which predictably woke her up.¬† DH had a much better record, which was why we persevered so long, and there were those elusive nights when she slept for 5 hours which kept making us think that maybe she was getting it.

Then we went away.¬† It’s not really polite to stay in someone else’s house and have your baby cry for several hours every night and it makes it rather hard to enjoy the holiday!¬† So she and I slept in one bed and DH and the big girl slept in another and she actually did quite “well” so long as I was with her and didn’t try to get up, only feeding 4 or 5 times a night. But I’m not willing to spend the next however many months or years with her attached 24 hours a day (remember the clinginess?), 22 months with only the odd half hour here and there free is enough.

Coming back has been disastrous.¬† She’s jetlagged and will either get up and play for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, or suck for a 4 hour block plus hourly wakeups and she’s back to waking when anyone breathes too heavily.¬† The big girl is also waking up every night and DH is dealing with her so we’re all exhausted.¬† I can no longer cope, crying is a nightly event and there are times I’m scared I might hurt her seriously (Note: my idea of hurting her is to hit her.¬† I know people do this on purpose every day, but I don’t hit my kids.¬† She is in no danger).¬† I know I’ve accidentally hurt her a couple of times in a minor way by squeezing her too tight or accidentally digging my nails into her.¬† And the guilt from it all piles on top of the frustration and the helplessness.

I’m sorry, believe it or not this started as a fairly positive post because we do have a new plan we’re starting tonight, but it’s now 1am and I’m writing because I’ve been trying to get her to sleep since 8.30 (ETA – she slept from 1am – 6am!).¬† Friday is a good day to start because then we have the weekend to recover if needed.¬† We’ve put a queensize bed in the big girl’s room and they’re going to co-sleep sideways across it, that way DH or I can fit in too when we are in there.¬† It’s worked quite well on holidays, and the idea is that maybe with someone else next to her she might be more settled.¬† And maybe without us coming in and moving around she might not be woken up.¬† And maybe without me right there she might not want a feed.¬† And who knows?¬† Something’s got to work eventually.¬† We’re going to put big girl in our bed to go to sleep at first and move her in later, until we see how it goes.¬† If we can get the rest of the night to improve then we’ll look at putting them to sleep together.

So that’s the plan if you’ve got this far.¬† I’d love to hear comments and ideas (or gasps of admiration that I’m still semi-functioning), although I have to admit I think we’ve tried most of the suggestions out there.¬† Except weaning off feeding to sleep, and given the complete lack of success of partial weaning and the huge problems it caused with her sister it ranks somewhere below anti-depressants for me on the list of things to try.¬† And unfortunately, I would happily have gone to a sleep school or paid a professional or even got a Granny in to help many months ago except we live in a remote town interstate from our relatives.

So there it is, I’ll accept any offers of luck but I’d really like people to wish us some sleep!

13 Little Luxuries

  1. A long, hot shower.
  2. Sweet, fresh grapes.
  3. Buying a block of the good Swiss chocolate.
  4. Wearing perfume.
  5. Sitting still and watching my children play together.
  6. Sleep for longer than a 3 hour stretch.
  7. Having the house all to myself for half an hour.
  8. A trip to the library.
  9. Not cooking dinner.
  10. Filing and painting my fingernails.
  11. Getting my family all dressed up to go out.
  12. Buying fabulous fabrics and imagining what to make with them.
  13. Slipping off baby girl’s mattress and sinking into my new mattress and feeling my whole body relax.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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Wordless Wednesday – Tired

More Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom and Wordless Wednesday

13 Things I Have Learnt This Week

  1. It’s not actually possible for your head to explode.¬† You may want it to, but that’s another story.
  2. I’m ridiculously in love with my big girl.¬† She has been so worried about me being sick and she’s been adorable, cleaning, playing with her little sister and a pleasure to be around.
  3. The little one can sleep for 5 hours straight.¬† Several other nights there’s been a lot of crying, but that one gives us hope.
  4. I’ve never had sinusitis before.¬† I thought I had, but a dull ache above and below the eyes is nothing to the drill/knife/jackhammer that’s been active this week.¬† My entire eye socket and even my teeth hurt.
  5. There are actually about 15 trains a day from Rome to Venice, but for some reason I can’t get tickets after the 12th of December.¬† Later ones had better become available in the next couple of weeks.
  6. There is a Charlie and Lola live show in London on the 23rd of December.  My girls are going to LOVE it.
  7. I’ve worked out how to put together a yoked jacket with a lined hood and bodice with minimal instructions.¬† Now I just need time to finish the hems and buttons and for baby girl to actually try it on.
  8. It’s ok to let something go.¬† I always over-commit myself ridiculously and stepping back from something has changed my stress levels enormously.
  9. There is a local woman who does clothing alterations/repairs who put a new zip in my favourite jeans.¬† Now I just need to lose the weight so they’re comfortable again.
  10. It’s much less painful if you don’t look at everything as you sort it.¬† Two big boxes of baby clothes ready to go to playgroup and be passed on.
  11. I should have left the corn on the cob for both girls.¬† They ended up hijacking ours and we ate the kernels I’d cut off for them.
  12. I love my husband.¬† He’s helping deal with baby girl at night, doing his normal job and painting our new investment property after work.¬† And he’s been looking after me while I was sick.
  13. Between 1 and 2 is such a happy, loving, exciting, adventurous age.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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13 Things We Did Today (well, yesterday, I’m writing this Wednesday night)

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1. Played in the paddling pool – with warm water!

2. Pretended they were puppy dogs – fetching balls and bringing them back in their mouths.

3. Did the grocery shopping, sans underwear for baby girl because it took so long to get ready I forgot she’d taken them off.

4. Attempted to get baby girl to sleep while big girl was strapped in the highchair (her choice) with extra food and the remote control.

5. Got up to deal with big girl being stuck, gave up on bed and ended up getting baby girl to nap in my arms.

6. Big girl whispered ‘Fox in Socks’ to me and I did the long pages.

7. Collected and filled a million water bottles while both girls ferried them to the fridge and poked them in any gaps they could find.

8. Cooked chocolate cupcakes and decorated them with bright pink icing and sprinkles.

9. Sang nursery rhymes on my bed.

10. Daddy came home!

11. Chopped up chicken while big girl put it in the egg and flour and told me how much she loved having chicken for tea.

12. Counted each mouthful of salad for big girl and coaxed her to eat one tiny piece of chicken because she doesn’t like it.

13. Got out 50 pieces of ice because big girl ran into a pole while trying to sneak up on Daddy and split her lip and baby girl decided that sucking on ice sounded pretty good.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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13 Milestones of Parenting

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1. The Emergency Shower…

Yelling “Come here quickly and take your clothes off!” to my husband and watching his face as he realised that it was never going to mean what it used to mean…now it meant getting in the shower to wash our son down after a ‘poo-nami’

2. The Poo Scoop…

Along the same vein as number 1. The horror of realising that your child has ‘number two-ed’ in the bath and the best way to get rid of it is to scoop it straight into the toilet with a bare hand. (Please note: My husband is very open to suggestions of better ways to deal with this situation)

3. The ‘Burmuda Triangle’…

Formally known as ‘the car’, the day you realise that¬†toys, half eaten biscuits and odd shoes have all become part of the Burmuda Triangle in the footwell.¬†Perhaps that’s where all the odd socks are too…

4. The Family Bed…

Anyone who tells you sleeping with a baby will kill any chance of romance¬†needs to think outside of the box.¬†While I know it’s not for everyone,¬†there is nothing so special to my husband and I as waking up to our son’s big morning grin stretching across his face as he sees his favourite¬†people.

5. The Public Tantrum Solidarity Nod…

Ok, I admit it. I used to be one of ‘those’ people in the shopping centre who always thought there must be a better way to deal with tantruming children. Now, I don’t pretend to know what parents should do…I just give a sympathetic nod of solidarity. There but for the Grace of God I go!

6. Time Share Toileting…

The day I left work to begin maternity leave I assured my boss that I would never, under any circumstances, allow a child into the toilet while I was in there. Two weeks later I was eating my words as I sat on the toilet, breastfeeding my baby. Ah, it begins…

Flash forward a year and we are still time sharing the toilet, only now my little boy sits on his potty and sings, until it’s time to press the button, clearly one of the favourite parts of his day. How can I deny him this very special treat?

7. The Public Stripdown…

This may occur if you unwittingly decide to try on clothes in a small change room with a gap underneath the door.¬†Unfortunate timing may mean that your child crawls underneath and you find yourself with a major dilemma…the unwilling nudie run to retrieve them, or the child on the loose. Now I understand why people use strollers.

8. Those first few words…

They give everything away about your family. Smidge’s are:

“Tiggle tiggle” (tickle, tickle)

“Oooh look!” (along with pointing finger, which translates as “Mummy, tell me all about that!!”)

“Pat, pat, pat”

“Kiss Daddy, kiss Daddy”

“Blab-blab” (the new name for the dog. She even comes when called this)

And of course “Ooooh, gentle!”

9. The Mini-Me…

This is the day that you flashback to your childhood, when your own child does something so totally you that the last 25 years just drop away and you are the little boy laying on the rumpus room floor driving a Matchbox car back and forth as you rest your head on your outstretched arm. Grandparents love seeing these ones!

10. The “Oh no, why did I teach him that” moment…

The other day my son lifted his shirt, and with a look of surprise in his eyes, poked himself in the belly button. At that moment, without a single thought in my head. I made a raspberry sound. And now our life will never be the same… Every day since¬†I have woken to the lifting of my shirt, the poke in the belly button and that sound, followed by a hysterical laugh and then the same process repeated on Daddy, then himself, then me again.¬†And¬†13 month old children¬†apparently have no sense of when and where it is appropriate to lift up your Mum’s shirt.

11. The joy of Christmas…

It’s back. The feeling of anticipation…the endless wait…the magic! It’s all back. Last year Smidge was just 4 months old and I had spent most of the last 6 weeks in and out of hospital, so the magic wasn’t as strong as it already is this year. I love that Christmas is the time of year where anything is possible, that wishes really can come true.

12. The Mummy Lioness within…

I expect every Mum will know what I mean by this one. The day that you have to¬†protect your child. It doesn’t matter that you are the least confrontational person, or¬†have never defended yourself.

I experienced my first Lioness moment the other day when I saw 2 older children hitting my son on the back as he climbed out of a ball pit. I looked around for their Mums, but seeing no-one, knew it was up to me. I calmly¬†picked him up out of their reach and said “Oh dear, we can’t hit babies, we pat them gently” and stroked his back. The little boy repeated “Pat bubba, gentle” And I felt proud of myself. Because as much as I would have liked to freak right out on those rough kids, I know that a Mummy Lioness treats other kids the way that she would like other people to treat hers.

13. Falling in love all over again…

While I sit here, trying to think of a last milestone, my husbands voice drifts up the hallway. He is reading Smidge a story as he puts him to bed. Every few pages I hear a yawn- Daddy’s, not Smidge’s. Even though he has had a long day at work, he still has time to give me a break, time for his little boy who he adores and who adores him so much. And so, even though our life has become all about our son, we have these precious moments where I fall in love with my husband all over again.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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13 Things that are normal baby behaviour!

The range of normal is wide, if your baby doesn’t do these things they are probably normal too and you’re very lucky!¬† If your baby does all of these, my sympathy but they really do become toddlers eventually.

  1. Newborns feeding 8-20 times a day and averaging 11, NOT every 4 hours.
  2. Feeding every 2 hours.¬† Or less.¬† My second fed every 45 minutes around the clock for the first 3 weeks or so.¬† She still doesn’t manage every 4 hours at 18 months and she loves her solids as well.
  3. Waking up at night until at least 12 months.¬† ‘Sleeping through’ means 5 hours, not 12, and quite a few don’t even manage that!
  4. Starting to dribble at 3-4 months – they haven’t learnt to swallow it yet, it’s not teething (necessarily).
  5. Getting much quicker at feeding suddenly around 12 weeks – it has nothing to do with supply, they’ve worked out how to do it!
  6. The 4-month monsters at, well, 4 months.¬† They start waking up and feeding what feels like all night, because the world is just far too interesting to feed during the day.¬† And if they’ve been sleeping through it’s a rude shock ūüôā
  7. Starting to reach for food, keys, pens, phones, … basically anything you have in your hands from around 4 months.¬† It doesn’t mean they want solids any more than they want to drive, write or talk, they just want to be like you.
  8. Feeding pretty much continuously in the evenings – it’s called cluster feeding, and yes, they can be hungry again already.
  9. Wanting to suck, and suck, and suck, and suck, and suck a bit more.¬† It’s got nothing to do with hunger or supply, it’s a comfort thing.
  10. Only sleeping in 40 minute blocks.  This is the length of a baby sleep cycle.  While some will go for 2 or 3 cycles, some will only do 1 no matter how much you pat them.
  11. Waking up 20 minutes after you’ve just got them to sleep – there is a dip in the sedative hormones at that time, a top up should get them back to sleep.
  12. Having days, weeks, months when they just don’t want to be put down.¬† A good carrier is essential for living with koala baby!
  13. Needing help to learn how to go to sleep.¬† It’s weird, but it’s a learned skill.

You may also be interested in ‘The Human Baby as an External Foetus’ to explain some of it.

(As an aside, see if you can now describe my children’s feeding and sleeping habits :D)

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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Why is formula the saviour?

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and we are celebrating at Fusion Parenting.¬† Come back for a new post on breastfeeding every day!

 

I have had 2 friends in the past few days tell me that they’re so tired they almost gave their baby formula. Both of them have children under 16 weeks. I haven’t slept more than 4 hours in a row for over 17 months and it has never once entered my mind that formula would be something that might be my saviour.

Not that this is a sleep-deprivation competition! There seems to be many other reasons why people state that formula is their saviour whilst in the same breath saying “I wish I could breastfeed though, I would have if I could have”. However if you sit down and nut it out with them their love for formula seems to stem from either ill-advice or expectations of their baby that just weren’t realistic.

I do not judge parents who feed their baby formula – that should go without saying. We’re all trying to do the best job we can do and that also goes without saying. However when I get my back up is when I’m accused of making someone feel guilty because they fed formula. “Not everyone’s as lucky as you Tiff” or “I wish I had as much milk as you” are comments I have heard frequently. Why have I not needed formula? Why do I have so much milk? Could it be because sleeping through the night is not a priority for me but feeding my baby regularly whenever they tell me they need me is? Sure, what I wouldn’t give for a block of sleep longer than 3-4 hours but not at the expense of my milk supply and certainly not in the first 6 months. That’s not to say that breastfed babies don’t sleep through the night (considered a 5-6 hour stretch) and formula fed babies don’t wake during the night but by and large it seems that many people consider formula to be the sleeping through the night saviour. Formula top-ups for babies that could be exclusively breastfed without a problem seem to be becoming the norm. Recommended by child health nurses and GPs are routinely as the reminder for your 2, 4, and 6 months vaccinations. Why? I have no idea! My breasts work just fine, my babies love breastmilk and it wouldn’t occur to me to buy a tin of formula let alone hope for better sleep patterns after giving it!

The old “breast is best” debate seems to be frequently rehashed when it comes to the question of whether formula was necessary in a breastfeeding relationship. This is where the guilt-trips come into play too. I hear “I was exhausted and it was best for my baby because I wasn’t the best mother I could be. You are not going to make me feel guilty for doing what was best for my family”. Ummmm no. I have no intention of making you feel guilty. In fact a guilt-trip was never on my list of things to impart when we sat down and started chatting about our babies yet it is the first thing I am accused of giving when I dare to mention that I have been breastfeeding my 2 children for 39 months.¬† Why is that? Are Mum’s feeling guilty for their own choices and looking for someone to blame? Is the media responsible with it’s “breast is best” message? I read an opinion piece in Saturday’s West Australian Newspaper that ended with (paraphrasing) “it doesn’t matter if my baby suckles on a human nipple or a silicone one” – well of course it doesn’t but what is coming out of the nipple DOES matter. Breastmilk can come out of the silicone nipple in the form of expressed breastmilk or it can come straight from the breast and there is no debate that that IS best for both baby and mother.

If you chose not to breastfeed and you made an informed choice then own it. If you ended up not breastfeeding due to misinformation and poor advice then own that. The more we place formula on a pedestal as the saviour when it comes to infant (and toddler) feeding the more I believe our breastfeeding rates will decline. With only 1 – 2% of women actually medically unable to breastfeed there is either a lot of women given poor information so that they think they couldn’t breastfeed, had no milk, their milk dried up or was bad or their crying baby wasn’t crying because that’s what many baby’s do but because of a problem with their milk supply or that figure of 1-2% is incredibly inaccurate.

Shhh, I have a secret.

Actually, I have two (let’s be honest, I have lots, but I’m going for an effect here).

My first secret is that I co-sleep.¬† In some circles that wouldn’t rate a mention, but others would be horrified.¬† I have had my one year old in the bed pretty much for a year, the cot sits in a corner of the room and I stare longingly at it.

Because that’s my second secret – I hate co-sleeping.¬† I would love to get her in the cot, even just for a few hours, even for a nap.¬† I hate being squashed to the edge.¬† I hate having to lie in the right position because she’s sucking.¬† I hate not being able to snuggle up to my husband.¬† I hate having to sneak into bed because it will wake her up.

So both ‘sides’ of that particular parenting divide can be upset with me.

If I hate it, why do I do it?¬† Well I hate it less than the alternatives.¬† Midget had reflux, which meant many hours of pacing the floor¬†then very carefully falling into bed exhausted (because if she was jiggled in any way it started all over again).¬† Plus she would only go to sleep by feeding – even being held by Daddy while I went to the toilet meant hysterical screaming to the point of throwing up.¬† So seeing as I don’t want to deal with screaming (not crying), vomit, throwing herself around and hours to calm down, it’s into bed with her.

And I have to admit that I’m doing very well for someone whose¬†one year old¬†feeds 4 or 5 times a night, every night, still.¬† I¬†manage to get up and be coherent every day, I occasionally think of really inventive things to do with my toddler, although there have been some really hard times.¬† But on¬†balance I think it’s been easier than the alternative.¬†

There are several take home messages here (other than the fact that I am so jealous of any baby that sleeps longer than 40 minutes).

  • Accept reality.¬† Sometimes there are things we don’t want to do.¬† Sometimes we’re stuck with only bad choices, and we just have to go with the least bad.
  • I’m an adult.¬† It’s a lot easier for me to understand what is happening and change than it is for a baby.¬† And I’m the one who got myself into this situation by having a baby, she didn’t ask for it.
  • Do whatever you can to minimise the stress.¬† It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so you have to make sure you’re there at the end.
  • The only people whose opinions matter are yours and your family’s (including your baby).¬† It doesn’t matter if everyone else thinks you’re wrong.

And I’m sure there are lots more.¬† I hope my year long experiment in how little sleep we need/how many hours you can be attached to a baby helps others feel better about some of their decisions.