I have noticed on Facebook lately that there are lots of people having babies or about to have babies. The reason I have noticed this is because I have also noticed that these poor super-pregnant-in-the-height-of-summer women, are being harassed, oops, I mean asked, if they’ve had their baby yet.
At the end of pregnancy, it’s highly likely that you’re uncomfortable, you can’t sleep and you are just painfully waiting to have your baby. Being asked via text message, Facebook or over the phone, “Have you had your baby yet?” probably isn’t something you appreciate.
Prior to having a baby I am SURE that I did this to many people. I’m truly sorry about this now that I have been on the receiving end. I realise that people asking are well meaning. They don’t mean any harm and they are really just taking an interest in an exciting time in your life. But I wonder how much they have thought about that question. What possible responses do people expect? “Actually I’m in labour right now, thanks for asking.” Or perhaps they think they’ll get, “Yes, I have had the baby and forgot to tell people.” :)
As I’m sure you can tell I did not appreciate this question in my final weeks of pregnancy. It was like rubbing salt in a wound. Here I am, super fat, super uncomfortable, super low on sleep, super impatient and I have people at me to find out something that I am obviously not going to forget to announce at the right time for myself and hubby.
But… I realise it’s possible I’m the only one that feels this way. What I really want to know, is where all the current and past preggos stand on this. So if anyone cares to place their vote, simply write ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the comments section under this blog entry.
Yes = I’m happy to be asked in my final weeks of pregnancy “Have you had the baby yet?”
No = I’m not happy to be asked in my final weeks of pregnancy “Have you had the baby yet?”
I think it’s probably clear where I stand on this. But where do you stand?
You know how we all have characteristics that we aren’t particularly proud of? I have many, but for the sake of my illustration, let’s look at my lack of flexibility. I’m naturally very rigid and don’t like flexing my plans. People who know me though, wouldn’t necessarily describe me this way. That’s because I’m aware of this and have always made a conscious effort to work against it. However, when I’m running on very little sleep, it’s not surprising I come undone in this area.
In a nutshell, that’s how I have changed since becoming a mum. All the things I’ve tried not to be are starting to come to the surface. Eeek!
For starters, I have never been one for small talk. I realise how important it can be in relationship building and networking bla bla bla. Because of this I have spent years and lots of energy engaging people in small talk. I know this is easy for some, but I’ve always seen it as fluff that’s preventing me from getting things done and have had to really work at it – especially in the work place. Of course there is a time and place for everything and sometimes it can be easy for me, but generally speaking, I’m not a fan.
Secondly, I have always been someone who guards their time. I’m very careful as to how I spend my time, with who, how long and for what purpose, as I need to make sure I set enough time aside that’s just for me. Moments in my life where I have just given my time away without taking any for me, have caused me to shut down. To counteract that, I take back ALL my time and won’t give any to anyone! Ha ha. How strange am I?! Actually this is sort of what happened when we had our baby. As I approached my due date I had more and more people hassling me, er, um, I mean, asking me how I was going and if the baby had arrived yet. I know people weren’t doing anything wrong but it all got too much for me. So I shut down my communication systems as much as possible. I stopped answering my phone for the most part and I turned my Facebook wall off. And of course I avoided going outside of the house as this seemed to be an invitation for people to talk to me. But like I said, lack of sleep and in that particular instance just being SUPER uncomfortable, drove me to be the person I have spent a lot of energy trying not to be.
Thirdly, something that has changed for me is my relationship to obligations. Throughout my life I have been fairly obliging because I thought that is what you’re supposed to do. My husband has shown me the light though. This all came about when we were discussing if we wanted visitors in hospital when we had the baby. I knew without a doubt I didn’t want visitors but felt that I couldn’t turn people away. I felt obliged to others. Hubby drummed into me that I needed to do what was best for me and not for everyone else. So after several conversations, and feeling guilty about it, we decided not to take visitors. It was the best decision I ever made. So it got me thinking about all the obligation in my life and how I can cut down on it. Obviously you can’t live your entire life obligation free, unless you want to live the lonely life of a hermit and have no part of society. But I think the lack of sleep has made it easier for me to create more of a balance in my life. Being so tired all the time has forced me to ask myself if certain things are really worth the cost to me and my sanity? So yes, I’m definitely learning to oblige others less.
So combine time hogging with a lack of interest in small talk and someone who is becoming less likely to oblige others, and you end up with… well, it certainly isn’t someone that’s awesome, that’s for sure. Despite knowing this, I have no immediate plans to change anything. For this time in my life, I just have to hope that people let me off the hook and don’t hold me to too high of a standard, because life isn’t easy for the time being.
All of the above are really just things that rob energy from me. At this time in my life, any energy I have is precious and for now I give it firstly to my baby and husband and then the few close people I have in my life. I don’t really have any in reserve for the times that I would have in the past, obliged others.
I think the real reason I’m writing about this is because despite sounding like I don’t think I need to apologise for being the way I am, I’m actually walking around feeling guilty about it. So all of the above is something I’m saying in the hopes of convincing myself that it’s ok that I’m like this right now. It’s ok that I haven’t been as hospitable as I should be. It’s ok that I don’t go to every social event I’m invited too. It’s ok that I’m not able to give as much of myself to others as I used to. Being a new mum who is constantly sleep deprived is a valid reason, excuse, whatever you want to call it. Right? Right??
And here I thought becoming a mum would make me a better person. Huh!
This week I think I would be more appropriately titled the Crazy Lady as opposed to the No-Frills mum. You’ll see…
Recently bub has become a lot more mobile. Which has really forced me to straighten the house out and remove as many potential hazards as possible. Actually, I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence of timing or not, but I’m all of a sudden seeing more and more hazards everywhere I go. In fact, everything I look at is a potential hazard.
I was at a family gathering recently where all the kids were in the pool. There were seven children under six plus some older than that. My cousin happened to mention to me that for a baby, all it takes is 10 seconds for their lungs to fill with water. I suppose the insinuation was that it only takes 10 seconds for them to die. That got my heart going. This just happened to be a few days before I took bub to his first swimming lesson. I was totally freaked out about slipping or tripping in the pool with bub. I was on edge the whole time. As we were leaving the lesson, the teacher gave us a booklet to read about swim safety. So when I got home I started reading through it. I was immediately drawn to all the testimonials. There was one on every page. I only read two of them though as I soon realised they were all testimonials of people who had lost their children to drowning. I couldn’t bare to keep reading. When hubby got home I was close to telling him that we needed to pack up and move to the middle of Australia, to a place where there are no dams or pools of water near by. What are we all thinking living on the coast of Australia?
The other night when I had finished putting bub down for the night, I came out to see hubby inspecting his car, which is parked outside. He had just looked under his bonnet and saw evidence to suggest that rats had been there. So without a thought outside of his car, he grabbed some ratsac and carelessly sprinkled it all around his car. I watched him dropping it on the ground and then walk over it in the very pair of thongs bub had had in his mouth the previous day. I was in disbelief as I watched this happen. Am I the only one that sees how easily this poison could get to our baby, let alone anyone else? Needless to say the next day I spent the time sweeping it all up and threw the rat sac in the bin. And threw out the broom that I used.
A fear of mine is that someone will try to take my child. Whenever I’m out and about I am super diligent about watching bub. If I have to look away from the pram, my hands and often feet are securely on it/in front of the wheels, to prevent anyone from coming along and racing off with it.
The other day while at home, I heard a noise out the back. Before going to check it out, I made sure the front door was closed and locked just in case the noise was a distraction so that someone could sneak in and take my baby while I was busy out the back. This has probably come from watching too many CSI type shows.
Then I saw on Facebook that someone who lives in my area had their child almost kidnapped. If I wasn’t freaked out enough already I am now. I don’t know the details but it was all over Facebook that a couple on a motorbike had tried to take this woman’s child. And they live in my area!!! Since then, when I’m out and about, I’m always looking over my shoulder.
If I’m out for a walk with the pram and I see dogs, especially the scary looking ones, I watch them so closely and I’m ready to jump into action and do whatever is necessary to keep them away from my baby.
The other day I was getting bub out of the car into the stroller at the shops. There was a step to get the stroller from beside my car to the footpath, so I tipped the stroller back to get the front wheels up. At the same time a man was walking on the path. I know I shouldn’t do this, but I instantly judged the man because he was dressed in old clothes, lots of facial hair and fit the typical description of someone that could be homeless. He started coming toward me and the pram, and actually lent down towards bub. I had no idea what he was doing. All I knew was that a strange man was coming towards my baby for no apparent reason. I got a bit of a fright and stopped, possibly even started moving backwards. He backed off immediately. I then realised he was leaning down to help me get the pram up the step. I quickly said, ‘Oh thank you’ but kept going. I’m sure that some might think I’m not very nice for my reaction. For all I know he could be the most gentle and friendly guy out there. But this is the world we live in and I’d do it again on the off chance that I'm dealing with someone that will hurt my baby.
Bub’s room has a sliding door to the backyard. I pretend that it’s not a door and I make a habit of never opening it because I don’t want to accidentally forget to lock it one day. I lay in bed at night straining my ears to hear if anyone is breaking into his room to take him. For extra safety I’ve placed a fan in front of his sliding door so that intruders would trip over it thus making noise to alert me, if they tried to break in.
Everywhere I look there are batteries, chords, choking hazards, kidnappers, deadly germs, chemicals, dogs, criminals, bad drivers and the list goes on. I’m forever asking myself the question, ‘how could this thing or situation potentially hurt our child?’
So you tell me; am I crazy or is this normal? I’m new to this mum thing so I have no idea if others do this. But I suspect it’s quite likely that I lean more towards ‘crazy’ on the sane-crazy scale.
I’m usually pretty good at knowing what ‘feedback’ to take on board and what to ignore. Lately a few comments and situations have stuck out to me. My son, who is now around seven months, seems to be rather attached. “He’s really attached to you” has been said a few times. It hasn’t been said as a bad thing or a good thing. But it is something that has stuck with me.
These days it seems that EVERYTHING is potentially harming our kids. Finding that middle ground seems impossible. Either kids are too attached to their parents or they don’t have much of a bond at all. They are too naughty or they are so extremely disciplined that they don’t have the freedom to be kids. I always strive for that middle ground, I’m just not sure how often I hit it. So when I hear a few comments and witness this attachment for myself, I start to question what has brought us to this.
We don’t live near immediate family. The relatives that do live near by all have their own kids so whenever we see them I don’t feel like I can just hand my kid off to them. That’s really something that grandparents are good for.
A few weeks ago, hubby and I went for a trip to visit my parents. Bub was being a bit clingy and I needed to get something done without holding a baby – and didn’t have anywhere to put him down. I tried to give him to my mum but he got very upset. My mum, not wanting to force the relationship so as to allow bub to get to know her at his own pace, didn’t think it was a good idea to take him. So I went and dumped him on hubby saying “Can you take him? He won’t go to anyone else.” Hubby was shocked. “What? Really?!” I was in a hurry and didn’t have time to discuss, so just yelled out “Yep,” as I exited the room. This trip was the first time we really noticed this kind of behaviour from our son.
Since then I’ve continued to see it more and more. When visiting relatives he immediately gets cranky when someone else takes him from me (with my permission of course). On the weekend we had a friend drop by and she was worried about picking him up and I said, “Just pick him up. He’ll cry but he’s ok.” He did cry but she put him straight back down!
Then this morning, I took him to his first swimming lesson. The lady that took the class was great. The class had babies as young as six months up to over one year old. On occasion she would take a baby to gently put their face under the water. When she took bub he started crying. She made a comment after the second time this happened and I didn’t quite catch the end of it. Actually I think she caught herself and didn’t finish what she was saying. Something along the lines of “Make sure he’s facing you when I take him so he can see you as he’s got attachment…” Attachment what? No other baby had this problem. I wish she had finished that sentence.
I’ve discussed it with hubby. He’s not concerned at all. Given our situation in that we’re not living near family, it’s probably pretty normal. It’s probably also an age thing. I’ve heard that around this age they get very attached.
I guess I’m just always concerned about where current, seemingly innocent behaviour could be headed. Prior to becoming a mum there were a few things I drummed into myself:
- Never parent out of selfishness. What I mean by this is, never hold back doing something that will be of benefit to my child/children such as disciplining them, just because it makes me feel bad. That would be making it about me when it should be about them.
- Always look at where certain behaviour may be headed long term. Such as bad sleeping habits or tantrum throwing. When they’re little, throwing tantrums isn’t great. But if it is not addressed and continues, then as they get older it can be harmful behaviour to those around them as well as to themselves.
So when I see that my son appears to be more attached to his mummy than the average Joe, I do ask myself, where is this behaviour headed if not addressed now? Is it a stage? Do I need to help him get over this? Did I make him this way? Do I need to make a conscious effort to give him to others to hold as often as possible? Or will this make it worse? I don’t have the answers to these questions. I guess all I can do is a bit of trial and error and see what happens.
But this has confirmed that moving near family is definitely important. The benefits for everyone are limitless. Time to pick up some moving boxes I’d say!
Tuesday: Day 1
Today went TERRIBLY. I feel like pulling my hair out and slitting my wrists. It feels like bub cried all day. I don’t know how he has the energy to cry that much. It’s not just crying though, it’s screaming!
I think I did what they taught me but it seems to have produced no results so now I’m doubting myself. Bub had a sleep this morning (after an hour of crying) but didn’t settle into a second sleep cycle.
I took him out for his six-month shots and he fell asleep 10 minutes before we got home. Fortunately he transitioned really well into his cot. When he woke I couldn’t resettle him into the next sleep cycle as he’d done a poo. So I gave him some awake time. It was only 10 minutes before he displayed a sleep sign. As taught yesterday, despite it only being 10 minutes, I put him back to bed. He cried for what felt like the rest of the afternoon. To listen to your child scream all day is emotionally exhausting. I wanted to join him. This is harder than I thought it would be. I feel like giving up.
What made it worse was that hubby was home sick (instead of work) and was questioning what I was doing. He hadn’t been at the sleep clinic so I was trying to remember all the reassuring things they had told me. I was too frazzled though. Who can think clearly with all the screaming! His questioning shook my confidence a little though.
Although today was a nightmare, now that bub is down for the night and I don’t have to listen to the screaming, some reassuring words from the ladies at the clinic are coming back to me.
“It’s important to be consistent.” “It may feel like nothing is happening at first but eventually it will click for him.” “Your child is not being harmed as a result of this process.” “It will get worse before it gets better.”
Yes, it’s definitely worse right now. Uggggghhh!!! So frustrated!!! Wednesday: Day 2
Today was a bit of a fizzler. Bub had a slight temp (probably from yesterday’s shots) and I had to go out in the afternoon for a few hours so I wasn’t very strict or consistent. He did get three naps though, which was a first. At one point he was so tired and so worked up that I ended up rocking him to sleep. I know that breaks all the rules but I was headed out for the afternoon and was sure he wouldn’t sleep so I thought it better that he get sleep any way possible.
Having said that, they did stress you should only do what you can stand so there aren’t really any ‘rules’.
Much to my surprise bub did sleep while I was out. It took 55 minutes of screaming in a portacot (going in to pat him every five minutes) but he eventually went down for 40 minutes. I think it helped that I committed to patting him. They had actually told me at the sleep clinic I may have to spend a bit of time patting him initially as a way of transitioning him to non-assisted sleep. I must remember that tomorrow. I might have more success.
Tomorrow I mean business though and I am not going anywhere for a week so I can fully commit to this process. Even though there is a Tupperware party I want to go to on the weekend. I mean it! Thursday: Day 3
Today I started a record of when bub sleeps, how long he cries and so on. That way I can see progress when I look back this time next week.
The morning did not start well. There was lots of crying and screaming and bub was very hard to settle. It doesn’t help that bub is so over tired that his senses are heightened (this is what they told me at the sleep clinic) to the point where he’s super sensitive to any little noise – such as hubby coughing and sneezing and blowing his nose… all day! Did I mention hubby is home sick? So that’s just been another challenge to throw in the mix.
I did have some wins though. After taking over an hour to get bub to sleep around midday, I was able to pat him into a second sleep cycle with only 10 minutes of awake/fussy time. This is significant progress. Yay!
After I fed him to sleep for bedtime (I’m sure I shouldn’t be doing this but oh well) he woke the second I put him down. I tried patting him to sleep but he was too awake so I just left him for a bit. I went back about 10 minutes later and he’d put himself to sleep with no tears! Win!
Prior to starting this, the average total amount of unassisted day-sleep bub would get was roughly 40 minutes up to 1.5 hours if I’m lucky. So at least I have a seemingly easy goal to beat! Total daytime sleep: 2 hours 15 minutes Friday: Day 4
To think that on Tuesday I wanted to throw in the towel and was questioning everything I had learned. Nothing so far as a mother has brought me as close to snapping as this sleep training business. But I’ve worked really hard and it’s starting to pay off!
Bub’s longest sleep today without interruption was 1.5 hours. Yay! He’s falling asleep much more easily too.
I’m feeling more relaxed and I’m getting so much done! I’m also very surprised at how long bub will happily play on his own when he’s awake. Normally he’d last five minutes and then demand my attention, want to be held, scream and so on. But today I sat him in his high chair with a toy while I pottered about the kitchen and he played silently (with some cooing here and there) for over half an hour. He seems to be a much more chilled out, happy and relaxed baby. Wins all around! Total daytime sleep: 3 hours 30 minutes Saturday: Day 5
Today was a disappointment after yesterday’s success. I’m trying to think if I did anything differently that may have caused such poor results? Bub was very unsettled and although he spent a lot of time in his cot, he just would not go to sleep. When he did go to sleep his longest sleep was 35 minutes with no hope of getting him to continue. In some instances it took over an hour to get him to sleep as well. As I’m now an expert on his sleep signs I know without a doubt that he’s tired, but he just flat out refused to sleep. I did have a lot of dark chocolate in the last 24 hours though. Ok, I ate a whole block. Oops. Perhaps he’s still teething or teething again? Or maybe it just happened to be his unsettled day of the week.
I guess we’ll see tomorrow. Pretty disappointed though :( Total daytime sleep: 1 hour 50 minutes
Sunday: Day 6
I reached my breaking point today. Trying to sleep train a baby while your husband is at home watching action shows with loud gun shots and sudden rises in sound and then coughing loudly every other second is too much. It’s like I’m swimming against a rip. I’m working so hard to go in one direction but there’s something working against me and I’m just not making any progress. Actually I think we’ve gone backwards today.
It doesn’t help that I still question the timing of bub’s sleep signs. The battle that goes on in my head is exhausting.
“He just displayed a sleep sign. Yeah, but he’s only been up for 10 minutes. Should I put him down? Maybe he just needs me to play with him. Oh wait, he doesn’t need any additional stimulation. Watching me work in the kitchen is plenty stimulation for a baby his age, especially my baby who is super alert and ‘high on life’, so I’m told. Demanding attention is a sleep sign. But the clock? Maybe I should just wait for more sleep signs. Although the longer you leave it the harder for him to go to sleep. But he’s just woken up. Should I or shouldn’t I put him back down? Hmmm…”
Painful reading that isn’t it? I’m having that battle less and less everyday but it’s still hindering progress. I don’t fully trust those early sleep signs.
Sleep time was shocking today. Going out for lunch didn’t help. The sleep clinic did tell me it was really important to stay home for at least the first week and as much as possible after that – for the first month. I’ve broken this a few times which hasn’t helped. So I am not going anywhere all week! Except Thursday as I already have a commitment. But apart from that, I’m home all week. It’s harder than I thought it would be to stay home for a whole week.
I feel like giving up after such a shocking day, but I’m very stubborn and I will persist. Hoping bub hasn’t inherited stubbornness from me otherwise this could take a lot longer than it’s supposed to. L Total daytime sleep: 1 hour 20 minutes Monday: Day 7
It wasn’t a great start today with bub sleeping for 10 minutes, waking for 10 minutes, sleeping for 10 minutes, waking for 10 minutes. Very frustrating!!! So I called the sleep clinic as I needed some reassurance. Friday was great but everything has gone downhill since then. They said it’s not uncommon for there to be ups and downs in this process and that if bub is doing short sleeps then he’s still very overtired.
Today seems to have us back on track though. Hubby went back to work so having a quiet house had me more relaxed and possibly allowed bub to get more sleep too. Hoping it’s all just progress from here on out but I’m sure there’ll be more downs yet. Total daytime sleep: 2 hours 25 minutes Tuesday: Day 8
Today’s total sleep time was poor. But I’ve accepted that I can’t control my baby sleeping. I can only give him opportunities to sleep. He spent a lot of downtime in his cot, which they tell me is good rest even if not sleep. At least he’s not screaming. For now, I think I will persist for a month as recommended. If there’s little progress by then, I might go back to the sleep clinic. Will see how we go.
Feeling deflated. Total daytime sleep: 1 hour 10 minutes Wednesday: Day 9
I am thinking about giving up. Maybe two 35 minutes sleeps in a day is as good as it’s going to get. Bub doesn’t scream any more when I put him to bed. He spends a lot of time rolling around and not sleeping though. He did this for a whole hour today. It’s making me wonder if I’m putting him to bed too soon. Maybe he’s not tired. Maybe I was right about those tired signs. Maybe this whole thing is pointless.
Still feeling deflated. Total Daytime Sleep: 1 hour 30 minutes Thursday: Day 10
Although I don’t think we’re making major progress with total sleep time, I think we’ve made massive progress as far as bub being on board with naptime. He doesn’t cry much anymore at all. Just rolls around and enjoys some quiet non-stimulating time. I think at this point it’s just a matter of seeing if his sleep time increases by the end of a month. I would really love him to be doing more than one sleep cycle at a time. If not, I think I will have to settle with the things that have improved significantly since visiting the sleep clinic.
Bub is getting lots more rest even if not sleep. He’s happy about having a rest. He doesn’t cry when I put him down in his cot. He’s a much happier and relaxed baby when he is up and about. He is learning to put himself to sleep with less and less help from me. And not having to entertain him all day is saving my sanity, which let’s face it, benefits everyone in the long run.
Below are just a few of the key tips that I found really useful from the sleep clinic:
- Trust the sleep signs no matter what the clock says!
- If your baby protests when you put them down for a sleep, they ARE tired.
- Consistency is key.
- Results will come. Be persistent and patient.
- Do not go anywhere for at least the first week as it will make it harder for you and bub.
- When waiting those few minutes before checking on bub who is crying or screaming in his cot, do something. Do the dishes, fold some laundry. Focus on it, don’t rush and make sure you complete it. Then go and check on bub.
That last point is really important. I didn’t do this that first day at home and I think that’s why I found it so painful. Inbetween settling bub, I would just sit on my bed feeling the agony of his screaming protest. But since then I’ve done dishes, swept the floor, done some laundry and flossed. I never floss so this was a bit exciting.
Sleep is such a huge topic and also very individual for each mother and child combo. There’s no blanket solution that can successfully be applied to everyone at every age. I share my experience in the hope that something I’ve said might help someone else. Even if it’s just to remind you that there are child health nurses in your community that are there to help you. Doesn’t have to be sleep related. Whatever you’re struggling with as a mum, they have resources so ask for help!
Monday: Sleep Clinic Visit
Today was awesome! I learned so much about sleep and understand a little of what I have been doing wrong. What a fantastic free resource we have available!
The whole reason I ended up going to a sleep clinic is because my baby, although a great night sleeper, is a shocker when it comes to day sleep. He has never slept well in his cot, if at all. So he’s been sleeping on the go – in the pram, the car, the bouncer (although he’s too big for that now) and in the carrier. Obviously this is not going to work long term. Plus it means I haven’t been getting any down time during the day. Bub needs good quality sleep so it is in everyone’s best interest to get on top of this and early. Otherwise this could be an ongoing issue for years to come. Why wait?
I think my main problem has been failing to recognise the early sleep signs. Poor bub has just been getting more and more tired and therefore it’s been getting harder and harder for him to get to sleep. Apparently he has weeks of sleep to catch up on. I feel bad about that. But I can’t dwell on it. The best thing I can do is take on board the information I learned today and put it to good use.
So what did I learn? That I need to stop clock watching. I’ve been so confused as I’ve read the typical awake time for a six-month-old is about 1.5 to 2 hours. I also know what the sleep signs are on paper such as rubbing eyes, yawning, squealing, jerky movements, and so on. But these signs are usually displayed almost immediately after bub has woken up so I haven’t thought they were reliable. These signs conflict with what is supposed to be his allotted awake time. Even as I write this I feel a little stupid as I now know better, but surely I’m not the only one that has struggled with this conflicting information?!
When the staff at the sleep clinic told me almost immediately upon arrival that my baby was tired even though he slept in the car on the way to the clinic, I couldn’t help but question them. “He’s just had a sleep though.”
“See how his head is dropping and his movements are jerky? He’s ready to go down.”
Oh. Here I was thinking that we’d have two hours of fluffing around while waiting for bub to become tired. But I was there to learn so I gave myself fully to the process and help that was on offer.
The general putting-to-sleep routine taught at the clinic was firstly to act immediately upon seeing the first sleep sign. (They had to go over the sleep signs with me as I had taught myself not to trust them.) Put some calm music on, darken the room, talk to bub in a calm and soothing voice and put him down. There is no special art to it, you just put him down and walk away. He of course cried because he’s not used to that happening. After a little while (five minutes or whatever you can stand) go back in and either pat him, pat the bed or stroke his head – whatever your child tends to respond to. Reassure him in a calm tone saying things like “You’re ok,” and so on. Do that for a bit and then leave the room again. While out of the room, listen to the type of crying and assess your next move based on that. If he continues to scream, then obviously go back in – but after letting him cry a little. It’s important to go in regularly to reassure your child so they know that you are not far away. If it’s just a grizzle then let them keep going. The idea is to continue with this for an hour. An hour!!! Fortunately bub fell asleep just 45 minutes. What a marathon. If bub wakes after only one sleep cycle (that’s all my bub will do during the day), go in and attempt to resettle using the same techniques just mentioned. This time give it 20 minutes before giving up. He never went on to do a second sleep cycle for me while at the clinic L. Then you get bub up for some playtime and start all over again.
While chatting to the nurse and social worker, I expressed that I often doubt my ability to know if bub is tired. “For the time being, if in doubt, put him down,” the lady told me. “Really? Even if he’s only been up for 15 minutes?” I asked. “Well, what’s the worst that could happen if you put him down and he’s not tired,” she questioned? “He’ll scream for an hour.” “Actually, if he’s screaming that means he is tired. If he’s not tired and you put him down he will happily play in his cot on his own.” Well, that actually made sense and gave me some confidence to put him down more often. When he has resisted so strongly in the past I’ve foolishly thought, “I guess I was wrong about him being tired.” Feeling a little stupid for thinking that now.
I was at the clinic all day and I don’t think my child was out of the cot for more than 20 minutes at a time. They explained to me that this will likely continue to be his pattern until he catches up on sleep. Once he’s caught up, then I will learn if he needs more or less sleep than the average baby. But until he’s caught up (how will I know that by the way?) he’s likely to display sleep signs shortly after waking. And I’m going to feel like he’s in his cot all day.
There was a social worker on staff to chat with at the end of the day. I suppose they’re dealing with sleep-deprived mums and it’s an opportunity for them to see how you’re feeling about the new method of getting your baby to sleep. So I talked to the lady and expressed my concerns firstly being, is this going to cause any harm to my child? “No,” was the answer. “Your child not sleeping is going to cause way more harm than this. Your baby won’t remember this. Your baby wants to sleep but doesn’t know how to do that on his own yet. This will help him get there.”
I expressed another concern, “I guess I also struggle with this a little because I know so many people out there would judge me for allowing my baby to cry. There are so many people that say you shouldn’t do this.” This is a bit of a theme with me. I worry way too much about being judged. “There are one third of babies that are naturally good sleepers,” the lady explained, “another third can be rocked and put down easily and the other third need a lot more help. Those who don’t agree with this probably don’t have the latter.” Good point. She then went on to tell me, “Just don’t tell those people you’re doing it.” :)
Ok. I’m psyched. I can totally do this. It’s going to be hard but it’s for such a good cause. I left the clinic feeling confident and excited. Here’s to better quality for us all!
Little did I know that confidence would be shattered the following morning. :(
We have just come to the end of our first teething stint. Is it a stint? I’m not really sure how it all works. I read somewhere that when bub is teething you should expect three to five unsettled nights. It’s been six weeks for us. Having said that I think half of that was the bottom teeth coming through and the other half was the top teeth which are apparently coming through at the moment. I can’t see anything myself. My child health nurse told me they’re coming through though. We’ll see.
It’s been a rough road. We have had such a good baby as far as night sleep goes and then all of a sudden he started waking several times throughout the night. On average I would say he was up about three to four times each night. I feel a little bad even complaining as I know this is the norm for some people. It was quite a shock for us though. For this to last six weeks, has been trying. Nothing for teething really seemed to help much either. We tried Panadol, Bonjella, Brauers, gave bub teething rings. It was all pretty useless.
I had to abandon day-sleep training just when it was getting to such a great place because bub was just too cranky. Also during this time he learned to roll from his back to his front. So trying to pat him to sleep on his chest while in the cot proved very difficult as the second I started patting him he would roll over in protest. So I’ve been surviving the days by getting him to sleep in the pram, the carrier, the car, or I have fed him to sleep in bed and taken a nap myself. I know these are all bad habits as the only way of getting a baby to sleep but nothing else has worked. And you do what you have to do to survive.
With the lack of sleep during the night and day going on for so long (long for me anyway) I was just dying to get bub to the six month check with my local community health clinic. Maybe the nurses there would have some great tips or something that could help. The last time I went there I majorly hinted that day sleeps just weren’t happening and the nurse made a house visit to help me out. Win!
So I kinda went there with the same tactic. I may have played up my tiredness and bubs lack of sleep a little. I was just so desperate for some help. I may have gone a little too far as the nurse asked me to take a test to see if I was depressed. Whoops. I was just really tired and with no family around and no one to leave our baby with, both hubby and I are hanging on to our sanity by a thread. We are so desperate for a break. But that's another story. Anyway, I obliged and took the test which came out all good. But my slightly over dramatic complaints about bub's lack of sleep actually worked out well because the nurse gave me a referral to a sleep clinic. “That sounds expensive?” I questioned when she suggested it. “No, it’s a free service. It’s just that the clinic is an hour away.” Free? I’m not going to say no to free help. If I had to travel two hours for this kind of help I would. Poor sleeping habits can be an ongoing issue for years and years. The longer it goes on, the harder it is to deal with for everyone. Getting on top of this as early was possible was a priority. So I eagerly agreed to the referral.
My nurse also took the time to point out that perhaps bub wasn’t sleeping so well through the night because I had not started him on solids yet. She clearly disapproved. By this point I had had many people suggest that’s why he wasn’t sleeping well. I knew it was teething and not a hunger issue. But no one seemed interested when I said that. I think their shock of someone exclusively breastfeeding until six months blocked out anything I said after that. “Yeah, I don’t think that’s the case,” I told her politely, “as when he wakes up in the night, he really doesn’t feed much. He mostly comfort sucks because the teething is making him so uncomfortable.” “Yes, well, if you start him on solids you might find that he starts sleeping better throughout the night.” Like I said, it was as though no one heard my perfectly sound explanation as to why solids was not an issue.
It was always so disappointing because I would say it with pride. Being your baby’s only source of nutrition for six months is a huge effort. Well, I think it is anyway. But I was mostly looked down upon for it.
Much to my delight bub actually slept a whole 10 hours the following night. And this was prior to starting him on solids. I took this to signify he was at the end of his teething woes for the time being. I’m so glad he did that prior to starting solids just so that I could prove my point to everyone that doubted me.
Meanwhile, I’m booked in to that sleep clinic tomorrow with my main complaint being that bub won’t sleep more than 40 minutes at a time during the day. But as I’m writing this I keep checking on him because he’s been asleep for over an hour and a half. This is the first time since he was about two months old that he’s slept this long in his cot during the day. If he does this tomorrow at the sleep clinic I’m going to feel pretty stupid.
Wish me luck!
Prior to having a baby, hubby and I loosely discussed parental duties and how we thought they should be split up. We never really talked about them in detail or too seriously. In fact I think there was a lot of laughter when we talked about who would be doing what.
I have always thought that parental duties should be fairly evenly split. This is likely because that’s what was modeled to me when I was growing up. I don’t think anyone can split duties exactly down the middle but my parents did a good job of sharing duties. More specifically they did a great job of chopping and changing depending on what was happening at the time. If mum was really busy with work and got home late, then dad would pick up more duties at home and visa versa. There was very little that was specifically a male or female duty. I think mum even mowed the lawn a few times. I must say though, I don’t think my dad ever cleaned a toilet – that I know of. And my mum never did any ‘home improvement’ type jobs. Apart from that, everything was fairly interchangeable between them.
So here we are with a five month old and to be honest, it’s not really clear to me how best to split duties at this stage of life. I feel like for now, most of it is falling on me. Don’t get me wrong, hubby is an excellent husband and a very involved father. He’s super interested in our son and loves spending time with him. When he gets home after a long day at work, I like to give him half an hour to unwind from his day before I ask him to be on baby duty. He knows this, but most of the time he’ll come home and take bub to give me a break anyway.
On weekends, hubby will take bub first thing either Saturday or Sunday morning to give me a sleep in, which I look forward to all week long! But beyond that, there isn’t really anything clear about who should be doing what and when. Most of the time I’m passing bub off to hubby so I can cook or clean or tidy or research the latest problem with bub or do work of some sort. Once I asked hubby to take bub for a bit because I had some work I needed to do (it was probably writing this blog!) and when he saw me on Facebook he said “If I’m looking after bub, I don’t want to catch you on Facebook.”
This got me thinking. Why can I only have bub-free time if I’m doing a chore? Why shouldn’t I be on Facebook? He goes on Facebook. So then I started to think about what else I don’t have that he has. I never eat meals without a baby demanding of me, I don’t go to the toilet or shower without having the added pressure of trying to entertain bub. Anything I do, there’s always a baby at me for attention or wanting to be held. I’m not getting any time to myself. Sometimes when hubby gets home I’ll hand over bub so I can take a shower. Even if I’ve already showered that day, I do it because it’s the only time I have where I’m not on duty. So I make it long shower.
I often find myself jealously thinking about how hubby has probably enjoyed a quiet lunch while at work. Meanwhile bub has stayed quiet and happy long enough for me to make lunch, just not long enough for me to eat it. I scoff meals down so quickly now that I don’t think I even remember how to eat at a normal pace. I watch hubby get up in the morning with the first order of business being the loo followed by a shower. I used to do that. Now I’m lucky if I’ve showered by lunch and even luckier if I manage to brush my teeth at all during a day. I jealously watch hubby settle into time in front of his computer for the evening as I head off to start the sometimes two hour process of getting bub to sleep. I hear hubby hit snooze of a morning and wish I had a snooze button.
It seems that a lot is expected of us mums. We’re expected to manage making all the meals, doing weekly groceries, running errands, losing weight, doing the laundry, keeping on top of the house, picking up after a baby, picking up after hubby, generally looking after household admin, all on top of everything that comes with the huge responsibility of caring for a child/children.
I shouldn’t be too surprised that all of this is what’s expected though. Before I had a baby, a good friend of mine warned me. “When you’re a mum, you are always on. When you’re sick, no one will step in and take care of you. However, when ‘dad’ is sick, he’ll stay home and you’re expected to take care of him because the priority is getting him better and back to work - even if you’re sick. We mums suck it up and make do for everyone else's benefit.”
It’s that last sentence that stuck out to me. I’m not sure that’s what I had in mind when I signed up for this mum business. We suck it up and make do for everyone else’s benefit? Is that right?
But this is just one perspective. I’m sure we would get a very different story if this were written from a male’s point of view. Perhaps all of this comes down to that - perspective. Over the years I have watched friends and family become parents and see how quickly and easily their world gets so much smaller as their children understandably become their world, especially in the early years. Perhaps my world has shrunk too and seeing anything outside of my own difficulties is a bit hard some days. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a stay-at-home mum more than anything I’ve ever done in my life. As awesome as it is though, it’s a lot of hard work and at times it’s so incredibly draining that you have no idea how you’re going to get through the next hour, let alone the next day, week, month or year. But I’m sure we mums aren’t the only ones doing it tough throughout this stage of life. This too shall pass. Right?
What about you? How do you split responsibilities in your home and how did you come to that arrangement? Would love to hear from anyone willing to share!
Recently I decided that my baby not sleeping well during the day was not going to work for either of us long term. I felt like it was slowly eating away at my soul and soon I would have nothing left to give anyone. I wasn’t getting any down time at all, which translates to no sanity time. Entertaining a baby ALL day, every day, is so exhausting. Now that he was four months old, it was time to do something about it. So I dropped some major hints to my local community nurse and she offered to come and see if she could help. Prior to this visit from the nurse I was all over the place as far as trying to get bub down during the day. I would mostly sit him in the bouncer and bounce him to sleep. But he’d wake up when I stopped bouncing him. Alternatively I would rock him to sleep on me. Again, the second I stopped rocking or tried to put him down, he’d wake up. He would sleep in the pram or in the car, but I could not for the life of me get him to sleep without assistance. Long term I could see thing being a problem. Especially as it was my goal to eventually do some work from home. So once I hit the four-month mark I thought it was the perfect time for us both to learn how to get some day sleep happening in bub's cot.
The nurse arrived at my house at around 10.30am one fine Tuesday morning. She actually kept trying to pass me on to Tresillian but I didn’t think we were at that stage just yet. Anyway, we got to work straight away. My nurse, Kim, instructed me to simply put bub (who was rather sleepy) down in the cot. “What?” I whispered, “there’s no way he’ll do that.” “What do you usually do?” She asked. “I rock him in the chair, sing to him and then when he’s asleep I put him down. If I’m lucky he stays down for about five minutes.” “Oh no, don’t do all that. Just put him down and walk out of the room.”
Well, I had asked the nurse for help because what I had been doing wasn’t working, so I would be a fool not to try whatever she was suggesting. I submitted completely to everything she told me to do, even though I was a little skeptical as to whether it would work.
So I put bub down and walked out of the room. Of course he cried. She instructed me to leave him and we walked into the kitchen “So tell me about this blender,” Kim said. “Trying to distract me?” I questioned. She continued to do this for a few minutes. “See now, he’s not really escalating that much in his cries. Just let him go for a little longer. He’s obviously tired so he’ll go down.” Again, I was skeptical but did exactly as she instructed. After what felt like an eternity she instructed me to go in and pat him. “Where do I pat him?” “On his chest. I’ll do it so you can see.”
So we went into the room where my poor baby was crying. Kim patted him on the chest and also on the mattress next to his head. He didn’t seem to like that. I had actually tried the bed patting before and he hated it. She did it for a few minutes and then instructed me to have a go, ensuring I did not give any eye contact. “He needs to disengage so don’t give him eye contact.” He settled only slightly. She then instructed me to leave the room again. In which case he got worked up. We waited about five or 10 minutes and then went back in and repeated. “You’d better pick him up,” she said. Was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one that his tears were getting to. He settled immediately. I patted him for a little while and she instructed me to put him back down. And of course he started crying immediately. There was even a bit of tantrum in there as he kicked his legs in protest. I resumed the patting on his chest and on the bed next to his head. “He’s very determined not to sleep,” she said. I could tell she was being polite as I think what she really meant to say was that he’s being super stubborn.
We left the room and basically continued this pattern of letting him cry for a bit and then going in to pat him and so on. Each time his cries got less and less intense. Eventually, what felt like 10 hours later (ok, was actually only an hour), he was asleep. We both left the room and I silently prayed he was stay asleep.
We debriefed in the kitchen. “Ok, first up, it’s way too quiet here and bub is very sensitive to noise. He was almost asleep when a car drove by and that seemed to aggravated him.” “Oh I didn’t even hear that.” “It might be an idea to play some music or have some sort of noise constantly going.” This lady was originally from Sydney so of course she thought my peacefully small town was too quiet. She went on to say that she thought I had done a really good job as far as allowing him to cry as she could see how difficult it was for me. “I promise it will get better,” she encouraged, “give it a few days and provided you are consistent with it, you’ll see results. I promise.” There’s no way I would have had the confidence to do any of that without a professional present. I found her great in that she worked in with my baby and was taking note as to what worked with him and what didn’t. The bed patting ended up working, but I just had to be a lot more rough. The theme with him is that any sort of movement gets him to sleep so whacking the mattress seemed to settle him, oddly enough.
“You know, some days I just think I’m no good at my job,” Kim confided. “But then I hear from mums that this has actually worked for them. Provided they are consistent with it, they get results. So just give it a chance and you will see results.”
As mentally draining as the morning had been, watching my baby cry, knowing I could settle him simply by picking him up, there was no point going through any of that if I wasn’t willing to see it through. I decided I would keep going with this for a week and if there was no progress, I would drop it. Plus, bub stayed asleep for a full sleep cycle after this, which is the longest he has ever slept in his cot during the day.
That afternoon when I went to put bub down for his nap, I mentally had to psych myself up. The morning stint had really drained me. I felt like I’d run a marathon and here I was about to do it again. But to my surprise it only took half an hour this time. I did it again the next morning and it only took 15 minutes. Bub only ever stays asleep for one sleep cycle but I’ll take whatever I can get. Getting 40 minutes here and there is a lot better than what I had been getting.
Over time he slowly made more and more progress. He regressed when he was particularly cranky or teething, but for the most part he seemed to accept this was the deal now.
I can’t tell you how much this has changed my life. It was only once this started working that I realised how trapped and stressed out I had felt. All of a sudden I felt a huge weight lift. Not only that, I had been living in fear of the day naps, knowing that it was all work and very little reward. My daily mood totally changed. I felt like I was alive again!
We’re now at a place where he pretty well goes down with very minimal fuss in the morning, however, it’s still a bit of crying and patting in the afternoon. I tend to give up after half an hour of going in and out. If he’s not asleep by then, I will either put him in the pram, car or carrier, or take him into bed and have a nap myself.
There are so many television shows and documentaries (ok, it’s Dr Phil, yes I watch Dr Phil) that show parents who don’t want to say ‘no’ or discipline their child. The poor child ends up much worse off later in life because of it. So before I had a baby I told myself I need to regularly ask myself the question, ‘Am I doing this for my own needs or for the long term good of my child?’ Sure, saying ‘no’ may upset your child in the short term and make you feel terrible because they’re telling you that they hate you, but the long term consequences of making decisions because they make you feel good in the moment, are much worse. And that’s what allowed me to persist with this method of getting bub to sleep. I can see that it’s not for everyone, nor every baby, but it certainly has worked for us in our situation and for that we’re both grateful. If you feel like you’re out of options and need some sanity, use your resources and call in your local community nurse. It could change your life!
So to follow on from last week’s entry, I was encouraged to give the Lose Baby Weight shakes a go. I had seen these advertised and was rather skeptical. There are so many weight loss programs out there. How do you know what’s any good? Plus I’ve always been wary of any sort of shake diet. I’ve never tried one before but I have worked with people who have. I have watched them make up their shake and have it for lunch every day at work. “Does it taste good?” I would ask. “Not too bad,” they would shrug. It wasn’t exactly an overwhelming response and more importantly it didn’t appear to be sustainable long term. But I was pretty desperate and I think I had proven that I couldn’t do this only by my own efforts.
So after looking into the shakes I decided it was worth a try. I chatted to hubby about it. He was not keen at all. “Shakes? Really? Do you really think you need to do that? How much is this going to cost? You don’t need shakes. You just need to stop eating crap.” His response gave me reason to pause and think about it some more. But it wasn’t long before I heard my own sister’s words ringing in my ears. Shortly after I had a baby she was talking to me about how to handle different situations. I was saying that hubby didn’t always get it. “And he can’t get it. A lot of this journey you’re on is unfortunately something that hubby isn’t going to understand. It’s a very personal journey for you and you need to decide what is and isn’t ok for you. He can’t make a lot of these decisions or even have much input because he’s a guy and they just don’t and can’t understand the journey we women are on.” I decided I was going to get the shakes. I’m the one whose body had been trashed, I’m the one who is working her guts out to lose weight, I’m the one who looks in the mirror every day frustrated that I’m not losing weight, I’m the one that’s struggling with this. He’s a great encourager but I’m the one doing the work so I need to decide what I feel will help me reach my goal.
So I ordered the chocolate smoothie mix and got started on my new weight loss journey. “If you’re going to do this,” hubby said sternly, “then I better not catch you eating crap. Take this seriously and don’t waste what these shakes are supposed to be for you.” No problem! I was super motivated now because I felt like I had some help.
At this point I turned up the heat on my exercise. I went further, faster and more often. Even though I had taken a break from exercising, I was impressed with how fit I was compared to when I had initially started this journey. I decided to use the shakes to replace my lunch only. This was a meal I often struggled with because I wanted a sandwich or burger for lunch. I was trying to avoid the heaviness of bread and wheat so this was a great substitute. I was also using the shakes to help satisfy my chocolate craving and therefore help me to cut it out, or at least have it less.
When my starter pack arrived in the mail I was very excited! I went through the 28 day meal plan. I’ve never been very good at following a meal plan in detail. I knew that was not for me. But I had a look through it so that I could get a rough idea of what my meals should look like nutritionally. First up I noticed that the portion sizes were significantly less than what I had been eating. When you’re pregnant and breastfeeding, people tell you to eat as much as you want. So I would eat whenever I felt the desire to eat. Not necessarily when I was hungry though. This whole thing forced me to take a closer look at what I was eating. I realised I was snacking a lot and not because I was hungry, but because I was bored. I also got a good idea of what types of foods to avoid and the portion size a snack should be – only 15 seaweed Sakatas. Normally I would eat the whole packet. Oops! I implemented this new knowledge straight away.
I was pretty excited when I made my first shake. I looked through all the smoothie recipes and got a good idea as to what I could do with my shake in a way that I could change it up frequently and depending on what I had in the cupboard. The first shake I made was the Chocolate Coconut Surprise. Yummo! It was great and it did help to satisfy my chocolate craving. What I love about these smoothies is how it’s not just the protein powder and milk or water, like I have seen with others. You add varying combinations of fruit, some almond/oatmeal or LSA etc, yoghurt, shredded coconut or cinnamon and mix it all up. I don’t think I ever have the exact same shake. I love the variety because I get sick of something very quickly no matter how delicious it is, if I have it all the time. I was also quite impressed with how full I felt. When I finished slurping down my first shake, I thought “That was yummy. I could go another one right now.” But because of my recent education on portion sizes I of course did not indulge. I was a little skeptical about it filling me up though. But 10 minutes later I noticed that I did not feel hungry. Impressive!
Another great thing about the shakes is that on those days when I can’t think of something to eat or am too tired to make something healthy (where I would usually make something quick and unhealthy), a shake is my backup and it’s better for me than a quick, greasy and unhealthy meal. I also love the flexibility with this diet as I don’t feel like I have to be super strict with it. If I go out with friends for lunch I can skip the shake and not feel bad about doing that every now and then.
Within the first two weeks of having the shakes once a day and watching more closely what and how much I ate, I lost two kilos. I couldn’t believe it. The scales were finally starting to move!
I do have to say that I don’t think any shake alone will help anyone lose weight. It does have to be a combination of diet and exercise. I think I had the exercise part down, it was my diet that was holding me back. Sometimes it’s also a matter of being educated. In this instance for me, learning portion control, being mindful of what I was eating, the shakes and exercise, all contributed to my weight loss. Having said that, I am a little worried about reaching the ‘maintaining’ stage. It’s one thing to lose weight but to maintain it is a different thing. But I can’t tackle that problem until I get there. In the meantime I’m just trying to remind myself that this is a lifestyle change.
I’m now down to the final five kilos. I hear the final five are the hardest for people to lose. But with summer just around the corner, I’m more motivated than ever. Motivation plays such a huge role. The times I stopped exercising and watching what I ate were the times I felt most unmotivated. I also needed support outside of myself and that’s where the Lose Baby Weight stuff came into play. There’s a whole community of people out there just like me, trying to lose weight while balancing the duties of motherhood.
So here’s to the final five. Hope I can knock it over before summer hits! And more importantly – keep it off! Stayed tuned :)