virtually delirious

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I’ve begun a number of posts in the past couple of weeks. I get a few sentences in, or sometimes just a word, and it’s all gone. My mind is a tangle of half finished thoughts and stray sentences. I have been here before. And I know I will come out the other side. It’s always around this six month mark with each baby that I’ve had a little malfunction, a few technical errors, solely due to lack of sleep. The first four or five months with a new baby I seem to sail on through, feeling fairly energetic for someone who is being continually woken over night and never getting a full night’s sleep.

But come six months, I’ve had it.

Almost like clockwork, Pea turned six months old and the next night she began waking every 45 minutes to an hour. She’s continued like that all week. It will pass. IT WILL PASS. Prior to that she woke three to four times each night, and has done since she was born (apart from a couple of odd nights where she only woke once or twice, I can count those on one hand). They talk about a six month sleep regression, but she wakes so much anyway it’s hard to see exactly what this is, and I don’t really care to find out, I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I wasted so much energy with Bird and the Pixie worrying about why they did or didn’t do certain things. It’s with a light heart that I let all that go the third time around (provided it’s not something serious, of course!). It’s wonderful to just enjoy having a baby.

So this is just a ramble, really. A delirious cacophony of thoughts and half baked ideas from a lady who is silently going loopy from lack of sleep. I can see why it truly is a form of torture. It’s a good thing my torturer has wonderful fat thighs and she allows me to grab onto them and kiss her chubby cheeks whenever I like. She’s good like that.

I was chatting to another mum this morning, she has a babe of similar age who also wakes every two hours or so. It’s amazing how many babies do this, and we only hear about the ones who sleep through the night. I won’t go on and on about it…

I’ve had two coffees and it’s going to be mid to high thirties for the next few days (celsius)… the baby is sleeping (surprise) scratch that, the baby is awake, and the girls are playing on the iPad… we will have a bit of lunch soon… and hopefully go for a swim this afternoon… if I can manage to stay awake… sentences coming and going… you can see why I haven’t posted… I hope you’ve all followed me up to now. If so… have a great day! And to all the other mothers out there who are feeling exactly the same way, have a lovely day with your babies, squeeze their thighs and kiss their cheeks and remember it will, will, will pass!

Next post: Christmassy updates, news other than baby talk, etc, I’m sure…

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!

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.

fighting time

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When either of the girls are ill, I move through a natural process of shutting down. Cancelling activities and catch ups, closing the house in, lighting oil burners, dripping droplets of herbs into little mouths. Touching foreheads, [attempting] to sooth angry sick tears.

The last few days however, it has been me who has been sick. Uncharacteristically sick. Nausea, dizziness, aching bones and utter, total and absolute exhaustion. I have had to remind myself to give myself the same care as I would one of the other members of my family. But I have found it almost intolerable. When I needed help yesterday to get out of the bath and dry myself, I felt so annoyed. I have things to do! A day wasted! A wash that didn’t get put on! Homemade pizzas turned into cheese toasties! A rabbit’s hutch that did not get cleaned out and my list abandoned! More importantly, frustrated that it’s school holidays and time as a family goes down the drain while I’m lolling around in bed.

Today I’m feeling much better, but still weak and to be honest, quite depressed. My appetite has come back a little and I have ventured out of the bedroom. I have tried to remind myself that on a normal day I would kill to lie around and watch trashy shows in bed, stay in my pj’s all day and close my eyes when the urge arose.

So, dear readers, I need to resign from the battle of time. Fighting each hour and each day that goes by that I don’t do something useful. Before I got sick I was fighting a market deadline then my Birdie’s birthday, an occasion that was full of joy, however the entire week leading up to it was much less than joyful due to all the self-imposed deadlines I set myself for what had to be done and how it all had to be. I wonder what would have really happened if I didn’t have the house clean on the day of her birthday, or if I had (heaven forbid) bought the cake…

A gentle reminder to myself and all the other mama’s and papa’s out there, thrashing through lists in the day and up all night with non-sleeping babes: It’s actually ok to imperative to look after yourself. Take that bath, lie on the couch when you have five minutes. Make a cup of tea. There is always time for tea. Nothing much will happen if you don’t put that wash on. You’ll just have to put two on tomorrow. No biggie.

Hope you’re all well as we transition into a very late Autumn here… or a lovely bountiful Spring elsewhere!

 

in the thick of it

We are in the midst of a heat wave here, apparently the hottest temperatures ever for us in March, since temperatures began being recorded in the 1800s. I used to enjoy the heat, and look forward to summer, but since having babies, I’m not so much of a fan. Gone are the days that we could chuck a towel on the backseat and a dog in the boot and head down to the beach to soak up what the ocean, sun and earth had to offer. Well, we can, but only at sun-safe times of day and with a hell of a lot more preparation. And more towels. And beach paraphernalia.

On the radio this morning the presenter said to the weatherman: “There are a lot of sleep deprived, hot and grumpy people out there this morning.” The weatherman’s response was “Yes, but it’s probably those people who will be the first to complain as soon as the cold weather hits.” Hmmm. He probably has a point. I for one though, cannot wait for the cold weather. My autumnal post a few weeks ago, written in the few cool morning hours before the heat hit again seems like a cruel joke in the face of this weather. 

So here we are, in the thick of it, drinking black coffee to see if it’s soy that the pixie has an aversion to in my breastmilk, trying to think of things to eat for meals that do not require us to turn on the oven or the stove, taking cool baths and dipping our feet in the paddling pool. Pushing Pixie’s bassinet around to different corners of the house trying to find a cooler spot in the hope she might sleep a wink so that I can sleep a wink. Drinking a bit more coffee. Explaining to Birdie why we can’t go to the park. Having nightmares about our electricity bill. I don’t think we have ever used our air conditioner as much as we have the last month and I dread to think how much each cool minute is costing us.

Trying to ride out the hot, hot, hot weather in any way we can.

So. Is this insanely hot summer weather in autumn going to be a thing of our future? Or is this just a fluke slash joke?

it will pass, nothing is permanent: the things I am learning

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I was staring out my window yesterday, as I was pacing up and down the lounge room with the pixie in my arms. I was looking out at a gumtree in the neighbouring yard, its trunk blackened as though charred. I’m not sure what sort of gums these are, but there are a few here amongst the polished lengths of ghosts and twisted skinny silver princesses.

At times like these my mind often swims and wallows and drowns in all the Things I Could Be Doing Right Now. Sometimes I become overwhelmed with all the Things I Could Be Doing Right Now and my heart is all aflutter, anxious for the big eyed babe in my arms to go to sleep. Generally this is not a good recipe for sleep, as my step becomes a bit jittery and sometimes I even get impatient and start moving things here and there with my free hand: a laundry basket, a deserted toy.

I have nearly finished reading Buddhism for Mothers. From cover to cover this time, like I promised myself. When Birdie was a baby I just read snippets here and there, and now that I’m near the end I truly cannot believe I didn’t devour it in one sitting while I was hanging about with just one little baby and not much else to do (I mean, really, I now understand that I was NOT as busy as I really believed I was… and yes, I realise all the parents with three or more children are laughing at me right now…)

One thing I am slowly learning, and constantly reminding myself with the help of this marvellous book is: it will pass, nothing is permanent. I won’t remember this specific moment, this step I am taking, this wriggle I am trying to calm in my small one. I won’t remember much of the frustration I feel, continually looking forward or backward in these times when I have nothing else to do except think. Pace and think, think and pace. I won’t remember what day it was that she didn’t sleep a wink, or what it was I missed out on doing. But if I keep on butting heads with all the Things I Could Be Doing Right Now I will remember all the time I wasted, all the minutes and hours gone, all the time I missed that I could have spent being present with my baby.

So yesterday, I paced. Up and down and up and down. I tried not to bother with the Things I Could Be Doing Right Now, I pushed those things away. Instead, I felt my baby heavy in my arms, I looked into her eyes, I ran a finger along her soft foot. I touched her hair. I looked out my window at the charred gum and pondered on the green and the blue out there. I reminded myself: this will pass.

And with that, nothing looked as bleak, and I was able to be there, right there, and spend that moment with my baby.

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.

Babies. Mysterious things.

I’m sitting on our bed, two hours after we put Baby to bed for the first time tonight. We had such a busy day today with friends and family over on and off all day. It was lovely and wonderful, but I am now feeling that drained kind of quiet tired that comes from eating lots of food and talking too much and looking around your messy (lived in?) house and feeling your heavy limbs and just not caring about anything but the couch. All I wanted to do tonight was zone out in front of Bondi Rescue or some other monstrous television show and eat my ice magic (naughty), but alas. Baby is still awake. Again! I don’t know what is up. I just can’t figure it out. It’s so out of character for her. She spent last night from 2am in our bed, waking up and tossing around. Crying out little whines in her sleep.

We’re all tired.

So we have both taken turns at coming in here to comfort and soothe her heartbreaking sobs with little made up songs and cuddles.

She held onto the bars of her cot and squished her face up against the bars and sobbed. She rolled around on the mattress and cried. She sniffled and squealed and snotted. She yowled and screamed and banged. She head-butted me for the second time in the last 24 hours. It hurt. Remind me of that thing called patience? I think I’m all out.

I’ve breastfed her twice, we’ve given her a drink of water, we’ve changed her nappy. We’ve paced up and down the room with her in our arms. We ate dinner in shifts and mine was cold.

After all our efforts over two hours, I brought the computer in here five minutes ago and have just been sitting on the bed. Not doing or saying anything, just being present in the room.

I peek over the rim now. She’s asleep.

Could we not have figured this out at 6.30pm tonight?

One of Those Days

I’m wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday. My hair is dirty and hangs in lank chunks around my ears. I have no makeup on. My hands are sticky and the soles of my feet are filthy. I have been out like this all day.

It’s been one of Those Days. I need to clarify though. This Day has been completely Self Inflicted.

My day started off just swell. I even did 10 minutes of yoga after Baby went down for her morning nap. Then around 10am a lovely friend of mine rang.

‘I’m around the corner, I could meet you for brunch in 15 minutes? I have to be home at 12 though.’

Hmmm, I thought, hmmm. Well, Baby has just woken up. And I am hungry. Oh boy am I hungry. And she has to be home by 12, so I would have plenty of time to get back home and tidy the house and put Baby to bed again and eat lunch and do some homework and go to my osteo appointment…

I ran around the house throwing toys into the right places and nappies into the bag. I wiped Baby’s face and breastfed her. I looked at myself in the mirror, shrugged my shoulders and cleaned my teeth and ran out the door.

But then brunch began to elongate, as brunch tends to do, particularly in good company. Before long it was 12pm, then 12.30pm. Like two naughty teenagers salivating over alcohol stolen from our parents’ cabinet, we were giggly and silly with the aroma of freshly ground coffee. We looked at each other from the corners of our eyes and slowly, delicately, subtly began to test the other.

Friend: ‘Hm, that coffee was pretty good, surprisingly.’

Me: ‘Why yes, it was, wasn’t it?’

Friend: ‘Yes, it was.’

Me: ‘Yes, a great coffee, yes.’

Friend: ‘I wonder if I might have another one.’

Me: ‘I was wondering that same thing.’

Friend: ‘Maybe if the waiter guy…’

Me: ‘Yeah, maybe if he walks past…’

Friend: ‘Oh here he – excuse me, can I please get another flat white?’

Waiter: ‘Sure, would you like – ’

Me: ‘Yes! Can I have a soy latte? Soy latte please?’ I realised I was yelling. ‘That would be great, thanks, thank you.’

Soy lattes, brunch and lunch later I am in the car. It’s late, Baby hasn’t had her afternoon nap nor has she had her lunch, yet mysteriously I find myself driving towards my Mum’s house. I’m tapping the steering wheel with nerves. I’m filled with Mother Guilt.

Was it just yesterday that I was reading ecoMILF’s blog and marvelling at her relaxed daily rhythm, determined to try it myself?

Was it just Sunday that my naturopath told me to try to drink coffee only every second day?

Was today not my day off coffee, yet I seemed to have downed two in the space of a few hours?

Was or was it not one of my New Years Resolutions to SLOW DOWN?

Mother Guilt, Mother Guilt, Mother Guilt. I tap the steering wheel some more.

Baby falls asleep in the car, but I need to stop and get her some lunch at the supermarket. I gently ease her into the pram, yes! She stays asleep… then wakes in aisle four about three minutes later. Mother Guilt, Mother Guilt. I buy her some spelt flour Dinkel-Zwiebacks (Swiss rusks… I just had to find an excuse to type Dinkel-Zwiebacks) in my cloud of Mother Guilt. She has never had rusks before but it certainly makes her day. At the car I have to remove said Dinkel-Zwieback and once again I am in the bad books. Mother Guilt.

At Mum’s I feed Baby and give her back her soggy Dinkel-Zwieback and try to ease my Mother Guilt. But then I look around the house and I can’t help thinking about my friend’s Hens Day this Saturday and wondering what I am going to wear. I start running up and down the hallway, until there I am. In front of my Sister’s Wardrobe. Darling sister is in Thailand…

I pause to think for a millisecond.

Ten minutes later half her wardrobe is in my car and I am back on the road, shaking with the anticipation of New Clothes when I am two months in to buying no New Clothes for six months. (Mable. I’m so sorry you had to hear about it like this. If only things could have been different… Please Forgive Me.)

I turn as I pull away from Mum’s and realise Baby’s car seat isn’t latched in properly. Luckily the lights are red, I run around the side of the car barefoot, fix the strap and run back again. I reach for the Rescue Remedy in my handbag. My naturopath has written ‘7 drops when needed’ on the label.

I drip Seven Drops onto my tongue. Then I squirt the remaining contents into my mouth. Then I tip some into my drink bottle.

I don’t have time to go home as it’s already time for my osteo appointment. I rush to the appointment, drive home and finally our feet land on the doorstep.

I put my comfy pants on.

Baby is still awake.

I breathe.

I vow not to do this again tomorrow.

Baby looks at me as if to say, ‘I’ve had one of Those Days – thanks to you.’

I pass her another Dinkel-Zwieback.

If she could roll her eyes, I’m sure she would.

Nudie Rudie

I have spent a lot of time naked lately.

Well, you might say, the weather has been heating up a bit.

I should rephrase. I have spent a bit of time being caught, sprung, stuck, stranded in the raw of late.

The first time was the other week, when I was seriously questioning our choice of having a ‘family bedroom’, eg. sharing our sleeping space with Baby. I have not questioned it up until now. Up until the moment, when, I was found: crouched, naked, nude, and hiding from my child behind my bed.

Baby and I had a little battle that morning… me: wanting her to sleep, her: not interested in the slightest. After an hour and a half of stories, patting, shushing, having a break, up and down… she fell asleep. I went and had a much needed shower and as I crept into our room to get dressed a floorboard creaked in the wrong place and… she started to stir. In a slow motion dive screaming noooooooo (silently in my mind) I flew behind the bed. I peeked over the top of the mattress to see her rubbing her eyes, blinking, but then thankfully drifting back to sleep again.

I thought of all the other sensible mothers, the ones that wear aprons and loafers and blow dry their hair, popping their sensible babies into sensible cots in sensible bedrooms and closing the door, free to wander in and out of their own bedroom down the hall, have showers and get dressed at their leisure. I suppose though that these mothers would not be having showers at midday, as I was.

The second situation was just a couple of days ago. I was getting ready to go out for dinner and once again I was in my natural state. There was some clean laundry piled on the couch in our lounge room and I was looking for something to wear. The couch sits below our front windows which face out towards the street. We have a fairly bushy kind of front yard and it was around 6pm. Who would be peering in at that hour? I wandered out to the lounge starkers at the exact moment that a salesman was wandering down our driveway. We caught eyes for what seemed like an eternity. There I stood, startled. A rabbit in headlights, etc. I came to my senses and dove behind the couch motioning madly for Prince Charming, who was on the back deck cooking himself a BBQ dinner, to come inside and answer the door. I stayed there, squatting on the floor, naked, waiting for Prince Charming to usher the salesman away.

The only thing was, Prince Charming was all over the salesman, keen to hear more about his newspaper deal. He kept blowing my cover, popping his head around the corner and asking me questions between his conversation with the salesman, who knew I was there, on the other side of the couch. And we all know that I know that he knew what I was wearing.

Do you want the Age every day of the week?

You only have to pay for the Saturday one. The Saturday one, right?

What do you think?

The rest are free! Free? Are you sure they’re free?

We have to sign a six month contract for that?

Do you want to sign a contract?

I was rather cold by the time Prince Charming finally decided he could get a better newspaper deal through work.

Moral of the story: wear dressing gown permanently.

image from www.sheknows.com/au