9 x 7 x 498 – 16 + 52* or thereabouts

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9 = the number of baby jigging steps** it takes me to get from one side of my bedroom to the other.

7 = the number of seconds it takes me to walk the nine steps.

498 = the number of times I paced up and down staring longingly at my bed and the wide mouthed sprawled snoring man in it at 4.30am this morning.

16 = the number of times Peach fell asleep only for her eyes to swing open again as if nothing had happened. What? Oh no, I wasn’t sleeping [laughs], I was just momentarily checking out the inside of my eyelids.

52 = the extra laps I did after she was finally asleep, just for good measure.

I don’t have a mathematical brain but I’d say that the above algorithm took a fair percentage off my recommended/preferred nightly hours of sleep.

So. Six weeks. The six week mark. A wonder week if I remember correctly? I’ve spent the last couple of nights like this, it’s been the first time since she was born that I’ve had to work really hard to get her back to sleep. They’re tricky, aren’t they? The way they look so deeply asleep one moment, then wham, the eyes are wide open again. But then you feel that comfortable warmth as her body finally relaxes and moulds to you. Got her!

It’s a strange kind of walking meditation, if you let it be so.

* estimates only.
** smaller than regular steps.

A BREAKTHROUGH

I almost don’t want to write this post. For fear of it breaking this thing I’ve got going on. This thing that has lasted 24 hours so far: the Pixie can go to sleep… BY HERSELF… WITHOUT CRYING… Do I dare press post and see those words illuminated [semi-] permanently on my screen?!

I’ve thought many times over the past couple of months that I was just about hitting breaking point – whether it be dramas with breastfeeding or dramas with sleeping. Either way, no sleep plus a fussy baby plus a long period of time with seemingly no end in sight has made it hard for me to focus on the [many] positives.

I had an appointment with the maternal child health nurse two days ago. The dear lady keeps booking me in for extra appointments with somewhat transparent excuses as I think she is trying to keep an eye on me and the bags under my eyes. “Oh goodness, well her head measured 5 millimetres below the average, best get you in for an extra appointment hmm?”

She is a really lovely and sensible lady, and as much as she is trying to support me it has got to the point where the only support she is able to give is a pat on the back and a sleep school brochure. She really, really wants me to go. I feel a very strong reluctance within myself, and I had to come home on Tuesday after the third time she tried to convince me, to ask myself why. I’ve decided it’s a couple of things. One because I have friends who have gone, whose opinions I trust and who have similar parenting styles to me, who have not had great experiences. Two because to be really honest I’m scared that a home-birthing, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, semi-stubborn lass like myself would find it difficult to be open to advice from someone whose methods might be a bit too strong (?) for my liking.

Nevertheless, two days ago I was seriously considering going. I felt like I had reached a point where I had no options left.

I just HAD to get some sleep! But not just me – it was really looking at my little baby’s face while she played on her mat that made me realise something had to change. Her little smiling face, with eyes hanging out of her head. You know that look your baby has when you are know they are just beyond tired? When people say, “Gee they are so awake” and as the mother, you know it’s actually hysteria brought on by complete and utter exhaustion? Well, that had become little Pixie’s regular face. Pale, yawning, face rubbing tired – all. the. time.

Tuesday night at yoga I lay there in meditation, and instead of thinking of popcorn like I usually do, I devised a plan.

I just had to pick one thing, one settling method, be consistent and give it at least four days.

I texted a good friend who has both been to sleep school and had a sleep consultant visit her at home. She suggested this website. So when I got home from yoga to a baby who had had five x five minute sleeps while I was gone (GAH!) I jumped online.

Lo and behold, there was an app. It was 11pm and the Pixie was still awake. I bought it. When she finally went to sleep in my arms I briefly read it through my stinging squinty eyes. I decided then and there that safe sleep space was going to be my “method”, and I was going to stick at it for four days. It doesn’t advocate controlled crying which was very important to me. It advocates responding to your baby but in a consistent and I guess quite a structured manner. It made me feel comfortable because as soon as you reach a point that does not feel comfortable for you or your baby you just go back to whatever works or whatever you have been doing (in my case, rocking). It sounded like something I could cope with and be consistent with.

Yesterday was day one.

First sleep of the day – 25 minutes including me resettling her twice. Not off to a great start.

Second sleep – 35 minutes and I had to rock her to sleep.

Third sleep – SHE FELL ASLEEP ON HER OWN WHILE I WAS IN THE HALLWAY. It only lasted 45 minutes but I didn’t care. For me, this was THE biggest breakthrough I could ever imagine. She has NEVER done that before (aside from when she was a newborn and would fall asleep anywhere). This was on the THIRD sleep on the FIRST day of this new method. I am very aware this is starting to sound like an advertisement on pay tv and I’m sorry, I’m just in absolute shock.

Last night at bed time, again, she fell asleep on her own. She woke four times over the evening but after her feed at 10.45pm she slept… UNTIL 5AM!!!!!!!!

This morning she has gone to sleep on her own – TWICE!

Can you believe this?

And now, the most exciting thing of all – I have literally just had my very first successful resettle at the 45 minute mark. I have never been able to do this.

So I’m sitting here with two sleeping children, because Birdie is sickie and having a once-in-a-blue-moon-day-sleep and I just had to get on here and share this. Because I know there are other mums out there who are struggling like I am was. Because I know there is a point where you feel like nothing and no one can help you. Because I know what it is like to be so absurdly tired that nothing seems good. Before downloading this app I read the testimonials and quite literally thought: this will never work for me. And so far, so far, so far, it is working absolute wonders in a ridiculously short period of time.

I have to go and collect my jaw from the floor now, and maybe have a cup of tea? I don’t know? What do other mothers do when their children are asleep, I have entirely forgotten… And I’m certainly not about to start washing the dishes or anything silly like that!

just one big fat hippy yo-yo

Yo. Hope you’re having an awesomely marvellous night.

I am having a ripper of a night. You know why? I’ll tell you. I have literally just learnt how to type TWO handed WHILE holding the SLEEPING Pixie WITHOUT the use of a sling. Can you believe that? Can you picture it? Me, here, right this very moment, typing this out at a ridiculous speed because I am a bloody fast typer even with one hand but TWO handed phew my fingers are all a blur and the Pixie is lying across my lap with her head in the crook of my arm sleeping away?

Anyhoo. Spectacular stuff. But that wasn’t what I came here to chat about.

I am seriously losing out here peeps. The Pixie: 98633676545 / Mummy: 0. Sad face.

This kid Will. Not. Sleep.

I’m getting lots of “Oh yeah, mine is a terrible sleeper too, they slept only two sleeps yesterday of like an hour and then two hours in the afternoon and then totally woke up once overnight too, oh gosh they were so tired! And I’m exhausted!” (Please note I do have good friends who are having sleep issues with their babies too – THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. I love you and wouldn’t be mean like that.) This situation is usually reserved for mothers that I smile at and befriend in the shopping queue or at the library when you’re doing the motherly thing and smiling at each other and rolling your eyes at your children grabbing chupa chups (I think that may be the wrong spelling) while you’re waiting in line and so on (Please chupa chups get your stupid lolly sticks up and out of my kid’s eye level!!!) But there I am giving my new found friends the evil side-ways squinty glare and nodding my head trying to be sympathetic but actually turning a mouldy green colour inside imagining all the things I could DO if my baby slept for ONE HOUR!!!!! Just ONE HOUR! Damn you shopping queue mothers and your hour-long-sleeping-babies!

If you haven’t noticed.

I’m delirious.

On lack of sleep.

I’m tired ladies and gents. So, so tire.d. [Typo ignored on-purpose to emphasise my point.]

I ask google what to do about 74 billion times a week but they aren’t really much help.

Get baby to sleep.

Baby doesn’t sleep 7 months.

Catnapper 7 months.

Sleep solutions.

Sleep problems.

Tired mothers.

Entertain toddler while baby not sleeping.

Get my baby to sleep.

How to get baby to sleep?

How to get baby to stay asleep?

How much sleep needed 7 months.

NEED SLEEP HOW TO GET?

I don’t really ever find any solutions. I suspect I am really just searching to find someone as damn tired as I am with a baby who sleeps just as badly as mine to make me feel like I’m not alone. Like I’m not doing everything wrong. Like I haven’t failed as a mother by producing the non-sleeping baby.

I am getting embarrassed and sick of telling people the truth when they ask me the dreaded question: how’s she sleeping? Because through all this my sweet little Pixie has been given the nasty-pastie label: Bad Baby. I hate her being seen as Bad Baby because aside from sleeping she is the most perfect and happy and cute little lady who sits up and giggles and concentrates and smiles endless smiles. And I also suspect my friends and family are getting quite bored with me being the Tired One all the time, I mean, haven’t I fixed the problem already? She’s still not sleeping??? [Insert me looking sheepish and feeling like Bad Mama who can’t get her kid to sleep when all the others are.]

But back to the title.

The hippy yo-yo.

That’s me.

I’m so confused guys!

I am like a giant-two-hand-typing-quinoa-salad-eating-fisherman-pants-wearing pendulum swinging from one side of the fence to the other.

Love the baby. Cuddle the baby. It will pass, it will pass.

You’re going in too quickly, you’re not giving her a chance. She has to learn to “self settle.”

Sleep with the baby. 

Don’t sleep with the baby. 

Trust your instincts, listen to your heart sweet mama.

Toughen up lady, you’re aren’t doing the kid any favours acting all nicey-la-la.

Give her the dummy.

Don’t give her the dummy. The evil dummy is causing all of these problems! If only you hadn’t given her the stupid dummy!

(Which one of these ladies do you like best? Hence the reason I’m here cuddling my baby I suppose and telling Mean Mama to get lost.)

Truth is, I thought I was all spectacular like, doing this for the second time. When I was pregnant I didn’t have a care in the world about parenting another baby. Everyone said “every baby’s different” and I rolled my eyes. How different can they be? 

Ok, yeah! Really different. I get it now. Ok, ok! She’s different alright? Yes, Pixie, you have proved your point darling baby!

I have never felt so conflicted about my beliefs. About what is right and wrong for me. I suppose I am realising that beliefs and what is right and wrong isn’t concrete throughout your life. That you have to adjust and change and some things work for one baby/situation and not the other, and that’s ok.

So for now, I try to relax. I try not to stress when my baby sleeps for 30 minutes at a time. I try not to worry about her needing sleep for her brain to develop. I try to go with the flow and smile and remember my post from yesterday. I try to make the most of all the cuddles and the TV I am getting to watch (unbelievable), the late nights and the driving around in the day.

But gee everyone, I find it hard. I sure do feel helpless and wish there was something I could do that would help her to sleep longer. It would be good to have A Plan.

A Plan usually makes things seem better, right?

I’m Planless. Sad face.

oh so tired

I miss you when I’m not here, little blog.

I think of you often. Sometimes I thread words together along tiny lines in my head. Sometimes I think I should write them down. I mainly don’t. I think: that is such a great sentence, I totally won’t forget it. Then it floats away and the memory of each word becomes faint and distant.

So here I am, sleeping baby in left arm, typing with right hand. Looking out from the couch at a sea of dishes in the kitchen. Thinking about the stewed apple and cream I wanted to make for my dessert. I may be able to type relatively well one-handed but unfortunately for me I can’t cut up an apple. In the spirit of honesty I will admit to you that in my one-handed frustration I may have had a few spoonfuls of cream straight from the tub.

I am so very tired, little blog. This baby that I continually come to tell you about is not much of a sleeper and it has me in all manner of muddles.

She has taken to bottle feeding like a… hmm can’t think of the saying, the only thing coming to mind is “like a dog on heat” and I think that is highly inappropriate… [so insert appropriate line here, reader]. What I mean to say is that she really likes the bottle. It’s peaceful and lovely compared to breastfeeding and I’ve slowly come around to our decision. I can even go so far as to say I’m so happy we took this path. She likes food too, amazing as I didn’t predict this. All of these things had this mother fooled. You see, I thought that once she started feeding and eating happily and well, the sleep thing would just fall into place.

What is this baby trying to do to me?!

Not only is she an unsettled sleeper overnight, but she has now decided that day sleeps aren’t all that much chop either. In the last fortnight she has had two (TWO) naps longer than 40 minutes. Today she had two sleeps (out of the five times I attempted to get her to sleep). One was a 30 minute nap, the second 40 minutes. That was it. At seven months old I really think it would be beneficial for everyone involved if she had a little more than that? It’s 9.30pm now. Between 7pm and now she has gone to sleep and woken four times. So here I sit, enjoying the cuddle time very much but worrying and scheming and thinking about how to get her to sleep for longer. Because all those good things like growth and healing and dreams happen when you sleep, right?

I’m at a loose end people.

Tell me, do your babies sleep? Do you rock them, do you let them cry? Do you wear them in a sling, do you take them for a drive, do you pat them? Or do you just put them in their cots to have them drift off into peaceful slumber like some of my friends… (grrrr!)

I would love some good advice.

a full night’s sleep

A brilliant, blissful, full and deep night’s sleep. Yes, I got to have one. The lovely Prince Charming gallantly and bravely took on last night’s night shift with the kids. I hid away in our back room under many woollen blankets and slept. I even slept long enough to remember a dream. It was a bit of a spooky one, but it was a dream nonetheless. I used to remember my dreams every morning. Now, I can’t remember the last time. I woke vaguely each time the Pixie (or Birdie) woke but was able to drift back off with a bit of yoga breathing and quiet thoughts.

The Pixie only had 2 wake ups compared to the 3-4 she has with me, and I was wondering if she was more satisfied with a full belly from the formula in the night rather than breastfeeding overnight. This morning when I expressed I expressed a substantial amount less than the amount she drank from the bottle with Prince Charming overnight. Questions, questions. Trying to let it go and just relax with the memory of waking up in the night simply to roll over and go back to sleep again. Absolute bliss!

The biggest difference of all with such a giddy amount of sleep? I woke up feeling happy.

Dreams or no dreams, that hasn’t happened for a while.

sleepy times

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I haven’t been able to spare much time for this little space lately, in my mind or in real life.

Sleep has been rather scant around here, to say the least, at a time when our days have been full and busy. One of the things keeping us busy this week was little Birdie turning three! We had a party for her here over the weekend and with the help of a lovely and very patient friend, I made an attempt at my first proper birthday cake. Before this cake I had only really ever baked one cake, one which requires nothing more than all the ingredients thrown into the bowl at once and mixed together. No sifting or this before that or fold this and stir that. So to bake a cake of any sort was quite a scary thought for me. I am totally thrilled with the result and am no longer afraid of baking. It sounds funny but I think following crochet and sewing patterns has improved my cooking skills, and makes it easier for me to follow recipes and do as I’m told (the first time, at least).

I used the classic butter cake recipe from Wholefoods for Children by Jude Blereu. I love this book and often turn to it (although I often don’t have all the required ingredients for her recipes so a bit of improv goes on).

Yesterday after around 2-3 hours of broken sleep (yes, I must be the only person who stuffs up the one night a year post daylight savings when we get an extra hour of sleep!) we headed out for a friend’s 40th. I must admit I was dreading it a bit as it was an all-day affair at an adventure camp in Gippsland. In the end it was just what the doctor ordered, spending a day out in the fresh air, with friendly conversation and sunshine. Something I certainly wouldn’t have done if I had spent the day at home. I dare say I may have spent the majority of the day crying from exhaustion if we hadn’t been forced to leave the house. We then continued on to the caravan for dinner with the intention of staying the night, but after a very full weekend I convinced Prince Charming to take me home to my own bed and sacrifice a walk on the beach this morning. Waking up at home today I was really pleased we had made the drive home last night.

Now the dust is settling and I have one more week with Prince Charming on holidays. I’ve set myself a curfew – bed each night at 8.30pm, lights out at 9.30pm (if the baby allows). I hope that by the time we swing back into our regular rhythm next week I will be feeling a bit more refreshed than I am now. So as much as I have a million things I want to do while we are all having a break, I am putting everything on the back burner, slowing down, shutting down and making my number one priority to get as much rest and sleep as I can.

Oops… it’s 8.42pm.

sleep and my reluctant realisation that… I AM NOT SUPERWOMAN

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{two photos of the happy blankie, totally unrelated to this post, but they do brighten it up a bit, don’t you think?}

I’m sorry to break the news to you like this. I know you may have been held under false pretences. But, alas, I am slowly allowing myself to admit the obvious: I am not superwoman.

It seems I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and as a result I’m feeling rawther tired and flat.

I’m sick of feeling annoyed and disgruntled in the morning when I am woken by either one of my children or Prince Charming, nudging me to say he’s off to work and it’s about time I signed in for the day. I wake up most mornings exhausted and it leaves me feeling quite depressed for about the first hour every day. That’s a lot of hours wasted over the course of the week – too many, I’ve decided.

When I let the children, especially Birdie*, rise before me, I am in a constant state of “catching up”. She wants her breakfast: now. She wants me to read her a book: now. She wants to play outside: now. She wants to cook something: NOW! Meanwhile I’m stumbling round behind her with the baby, bumping into furniture with squinted eyes, looking for the coffee pot but unable to find it through the haze of things being waved in my face by an impatient two year old.

No, this is no way to start the day. Things need to change, and unfortunately for me I know the change needs to begin the night before. You see, I am a true night owl, I love being up in the cool night, when it’s dark and things are quiet and everyone is asleep. I might be exhausted for the entire day, but at around 8pm I get an extra burst of motivation and my mind clicks into gear. I want to make and read and cut and sew and watch and write and stitch and cook… The freedom makes me giddy and next thing I know it’s after 11pm and I’m surrounded by piles of wool and scraps of fabric and paper and have watched three Downton Abbey episodes. Before the pixie came along I was much more equipped to cope with this type of routine. Nowadays however, I most certainly am not. Particularly not when – without fail – as soon as I lay my head against my soft pillow and close my eyes, Pixie decides is the perfect time for her first feed for the night. This means there are many nights where I don’t get to sleep before midnight, then have a few hours of broken sleep to follow, depending on how many more times she wakes up.

Last night was my first attempt at going to bed early. I actually had no choice as I was so exhausted I just could not comprehend doing anything else. I ignored the kitchen mess, tried not to think about any of my projects, walked past the television with my hand up as a blinker and fell into bed. I tossed and turned until around 10pm and that is the last I remember. This morning Pixie woke me up at about 5.30am, and I had set my alarm for 5.50am so as to have an hour to myself before Birdie woke. So that was it, I fed the pixie and got up. I put on a pot of coffee, unstacked the dishwasher, cooked Birdie’s porridge, typed half of this blog, accidentally posted the draft (sorry if you received a scrap of this blog and then it disappeared!), removed the draft, kept typing, and when I heard “Mama?” being called from the other room, I greeted that girl Birdie with a smile and an enthusiastic “Good Morning!” which I really, really meant.

* You may have noticed that since the pixie was born, I have been very confused. Confused about many things in fact, but mainly about what to call my first baby who was, until that point, known on this blog as “Baby.” When I began I did wonder if one day it would become a problem, but lacked the ability at that point to see past the next nappy change. Now that even the word “toddler” is a stretch to describe her, it’s time for a change. Seeing as our new baby has been dubbed The Pixie, both on this blog and in real life, we will from this point refer to the first Baby as “Birdie”, given her love of birds, the fact it was her first word and sticking with the “B” theme. More confused than ever now? I hope not, stick with it and I’m sure we’ll all be fine. Adios and be cool until next time…

go the #$*! to sleep

You all know the book, right? I thought of it tonight as I stood in the middle of my bedroom, N screaming the house down from her cot, “I NEED A TI-II-II-II-SUEEEE!” the baby wailing in my arms, “WAHHHHH” and Prince Charming knocked out on the couch with gastro. It was — IS — one of those situations where I have to laugh, or I might just end up huddled in a corner.

S has been treated today by my lovely osteo friend, as the breastfeeding was going downhill and tears increasing after each feed. It was like I was given a different baby after she left, I even managed to feed her for 20 minutes on one side this evening! That is a record and up from the two-three minutes she was taking at a time earlier today. Turns out the poor little pet has had a really knotted up tummy, which I suspected. If you have a newborn and you’re in doubt… actually, if you just have a newborn full stop, I highly recommend a trip to the osteo. Anyway, maybe the thrill of breastfeeding my baby in a calm and orderly manner has given me the positivity to get through this evening… although I know it’s not over yet.

N drifted off around 7.30pm after I went in and promised to come back after S was in bed (knowing she would most likely fall asleep before then!) S has fallen asleep about 20 times only to wake again a few minutes later. Each time I thought I had her I would go out to the kitchen and shove a few liquorice allsorts in my mouth and go to… heat up my dinner.

WAHHHH!

… stare longingly at my dinner that I cooked at 5.30pm, stone cold and hard on the bench. Walk back into the room, pick her up, rockety-rock. Eyes closed, back in the bassinet, tiptoe out… The fact that half the pack of liquorice allsorts is gone gives you an indication of how many times this was repeated. Two hours later as I type this she is in her rocker next to me, eyes half open, but not quite closed. Pretty much time for the next feed now. The good thing is she has been settled long enough for me to eat my dinner. Steak sandwich, minus the sandwich. The bread had gone crusty on the bench by the time I got to it.

Night all xo

* * * * *

Update, 10 minutes later: Aaaaand now I’m covered in spew. The baby’s, that is, not Prince Charming’s. That would really be something to be upset about.

in the dark night

Feeling tired and worn,

In the dark night.

Changing a little nappy,

Mending a sore tummy.

How quickly my body forgets,

These small hours.

Holding baby close,

Her head on my shoulder.

We pace around the edge of my Nana’s handmade rug.

Four generations of laughter, rest, tears, conversation inside this round, blue rug.

Her breathing slows to sleeping pace,

Long and deep.

My feet move softly, quietly.

I peek down, closed eyes.

Our cheeks gently touch,

I pause beside the cot.

Just one more time around the rug,

In the soft lamp light tonight.

a big girl

We moved Baby into her own room yesterday. A really big, big moment. I never went into the whole ‘sleep’ thing knowing what we would do or how it would all pan out. We were open minded about own room/co-sleeping/family bedroom/etc. We began with her in our room in a bassinet next to me combined with a bit of co-sleeping here and there… and there and there… and there. When she outgrew the bassinet we realised the cot would fit in our room and it just felt right to keep her with us.

Each stage we have encountered since having Baby has felt big at the time, or big in the stage of contemplation. We have found that if you listen really hard, really hard to you own intuition, you will not only easily find the ‘thing’ that suits you, you will also just know when it is the ‘right’ time for you to do different things. A month ago we talked about moving Baby into her own room. We have talked about it every now and then, just checking in to see the other was still comfortable with the set up. But this conversation was different and we both knew that the time was coming near. We were ready to have a bit more space, ready to turn the lights on and off as we pleased, ready not to have to whisper in bed.

So we moved the cot. Boy was there a lot of dust under there. We took Baby in and out of her new room today (which has been used as my sewing room for the past while… sigh) and wandered around and looked at things. We talked about how she was going to sleep in there now. Even though she doesn’t understand exactly what we are on about, it made me feel better.

It didn’t go so well last night. At 8.30pm I was still in her room sitting on a beanbag and she was quiet, but not appearing ready to sleep. It was ok. It’s a big change for her too.

I feel a bit sad. Happy and sad. Mixed. But I know it’s the right decision for our family at this moment.