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!

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.

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