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.

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.

is she a good baby?

I had a dream last night. It wasn’t a bad dream, but it was dark and dim. Full and heavy. One of those dreams that lingers with you throughout your morning. I can’t even remember what it was about now, although this morning when I woke up was woken up I was sure I wouldn’t forget as the day went on. A weird cloud to have over the start of the day today.

Times have been a little trying this week, I think I have finally confirmed that the little gal has reflux. Hence the crying during and after feeding, dislike of being on the mat, five minutes of on and off breastfeeding sometimes equalling an hour of resettling and so on. I found a website on reflux in babies and she has 90% of the the symptoms. Oh dear. I’m hoping the osteo treatment will help and this will just be a distant memory in a couple of weeks. Despite that, and being pretty sleep deprived I am in surprisingly good spirits.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the funny things people say to you when you have a newborn. The two I am mostly puzzled slash amused about are:

Is she a good baby?

and,

Are you getting much sleep?

In my eyes, yes, she is a marvellous baby, I think I’ll keep her! And am I getting much sleep? I usually answer, “As much as can be expected!” Maybe it is just my kids that don’t sleep much. Last night I had what I would consider to be a great night at the moment, with the baby sleeping for 9 hours in 3 blocks (4 hours, 3 hours, 2 hours) from 7pm to 6am this morning. I do have a friend whose baby sleeps a hell of a lot. Is she a “good baby” and mine a bad one? They are both quite cute, regardless!

Personally I think all babies are pretty great, despite the challenges that someone small can bring.

Is Achieving Nil

How quickly things change.

In my last post I was thinking I was the best mother and most amazing achiever in the world. Now I am just back to being a regular old sleep deprived mother who is unsure of pretty much everything. That’s right. Baby has decided that the middle of the night is her kind of time. As well as the start of the night, the deep hours of the morning and generally any time when I might think it would be the kind of time to sleep. An amazing mother would cope with this well, smiling as she whisked her baby out of the bassinet and into her arms. I dragged Baby into bed with me and lay there repeating, ‘What am I meant to do?’ until Prince Charming heard me and suggested I change her nappy. Any award winning mother wouldn’t have had to ask.

There is a problem with this picture. It’s 8.30am now and I am here, in my pyjamas, alone. Alone, awake. Alone, awake and talking about sleep deprivation. Baby is asleep, snoring probably. Just a few hours ago when the sun was still in bed, and I would have liked to be, Baby was awake for hours. Laughing, crying, trying to have a discussion with me. I’m feeling a little crazy right now. Not dangerous crazy, by the way, just the general kind of craziness you feel when you think about sleep and coffee. A lot.

To top it off, Prince Charming is home sick from work today, so he, too, is asleep, snoring probably. I’ve tried to do my regular amazing mother-of-the-year kind of routine this morning. I’ve wiped the kitchen benches, put a load of nappies in the wash, fed the bunnies and made my breakfast. I’ve even patted the dogs. But my tea is cold. My hair is a mess and there is dog hair all over the floor. I’m frowning. My eyes are drooping, there is no spark. A mother-of-the-year has spark. I don’t. I still have slippers on. This is all wrong.