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Coming Clean – Mummy Struggles

This blog is not what it was. When Elvis was newborn, when I was struggling so hard in the early months, I blogged and tweeted all of the time to try and cope with it. I don’t know what this blog is anymore, but it isn’t that.

I’m struggling.

The past 4 nights, Baby Robin has cried, screamed from 7-9. She cried everytime she’s tired and needs to go to sleep. She won’t take a dummy. She won’t nurse to sleep. She screams when I rock her. She screams when I put her in the pushchair for sleep. This screaming for sleep is all the time. All. The. Time. But after 7pm it’s Hell.

The past 4 nights, from 7-9 I’ve pretty much cried constantly.

I can’t handle it anymore.

She only sleeps on me during the day. She wakes as soon as she’s put down. She has no routine. She needs to nap at tea time when I’m trying to feed Elvis and SHE ONLY NAPS ON A PARENT!

I spend my day trying to get her to sleep and SHE SCREAMS.

It’s too draining now.

It all feels so hard when I know things are better, easier than they were. It feels so hard to me.

How do I get her to sleep that final nap when I have Elvis?

How do I get her to sleep for long enough independently?

How do I get her into a routine when Elvis already has one and she wants something different?

How can I do what she needs when it contradicts what Elvis needs?

Every time she’s screaming I feel like everyone nearby is wondering what I’m doing wrong. If I’m home alone, I think my neighbours are thinking I’m rubbish. That I’m a bad mother.

Why can’t I stop her screaming? I’m her mother and I should be able to.

How the fuck do I stop crying?

~ P

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6 Months of Sleeping With Your Baby?

I had trouble sleeping last night after reading an article that popped up on my news feed. In fact when I got up this morning, leaving my 13 week old baby alone in our bedroom, I got really panicky. It isn’t the article itself (which tells the sad story of a 7 week old who died in their co-sleeping crib when left alone) it was more a comment someone put on facebook when the article was shared.

Why was  a 7 week old left alone to nap? When guidance is all naps and sleeping to be in the same room as a parent?

The comment was probably same room as mum because I feel there’s a huge bias on the parenting pages that it’s all about the mum. Anyway, is it really practical and possible to always have your sleeping baby with you for 6 months?

With Elvis, he was younger than six months when he moved into his own room, younger than 6 months when we started to emphasise that the cot was for sleeping and not playing. But we lived in a small house. Could it have been possible? 6 months of all sleeping in the same room?

How about when it’s your second child?

Every morning I leave Robin alone in her Moses basket as I get up and see to Elvis. If she cries, someone goes to check on her except on a Friday when I’m alone with him and he’s having breakfast.

Please do not get me wrong here, I completely understand why babies should sleep near their parents for as long as possible, but can it be done? 100% of the time?

Robin sleeps in her Moses in her cot right next to me overnight. On nights where I can’t sleep, I go in another room but Daddy stays near her – I could not leave her alone at night. Not yet. Her naps are in the pushchair or, if rocked, put down in the Moses in the lounge. Her pushchair is kept in the hall or kitchen, all doors open if she’s asleep. Am I going to wheel the pushchair into the lounge making the carpet dirty? Should I sit on the stairs next to her pram? Should I keep her near Elvis who’ll wake her? Take her out to the garden in the heat whilst I play with Elvis?

Do parents for at least 6 months keep their sleeping babies nearby in the same room?

Naps and night times?

Have you?

~ P

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Sleeping Like A Baby

My baby is the noisiest sleeper ever. And I thought Elvis was a noisy sleepy baby. Right now Robin is lying on me as we rock in the nursing chair making her tired noise. She’s bloody loud. She’s also sucking or chewing her finger. The moment it comes out more noise!

The past two nights have featured a lot of snuffling, grunting, noise in general. The past two days have featured a problem with deep sleep napping on me or daddy. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m only awake today as she slept on my arm for 4 hours last night. Due to cosleeping she went 7 hours between feeds and only woke for a feed at 4am because I shifted her into her cot.

I think she has a cold. I hope she doesn’t want to cosleep all the time, it causes all manner of aches and pains in me.

So I can either get no sleep as she grunts away, sleep in the spare bed or cosleep.

Meanwhile, my new decision to get off the sofa and go walking on a morning means she sleeps a lot better in her pushchair but I rarely put her down for other naps at home. I guess I’m worried that she’s losing her ability to sleep alone – she’s not getting into a deep enough sleep unless on me or in a pushchair.

And she still won’t take a dummy.

But, hey, we’re 11 weeks in. Is this a sleep regression?

~ P

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Mothers Make Strangers Known

There’s a lady I see, a mother, always walking in the opposite direction to me no matter the time of day. As I walk towards Elvis’ nursery after lunch, she’s walking in the opposite direction. After I have collected Elvis, I return home and pass this mother. She has a double pushchair, one of the ones where one child sits above the other. As I go to nursery, she has one child, a boy, in the lower seat and I have an empty pushchair. On the return journey, my pushchair has Elvis in it and hers has a girl in the upper seat, the younger brother still hidden away underneath. We smile at each other although we have never met.

There is no recognition from baby groups. I’ve never seen her at a Sure Start Centre, although I have seen her around town with one child in her double. We “know” each other purely from walking our nursery runs in opposite directions. The other morning, I went out to yoga alone at half 8 in the morning and I saw her doing her morning nursery run, both children in the double. She was across the road. We had never seen each other at this time of day and I was without a pushchair – empty or full – and our eyes met across a busy main road and we smiled at each other.

Her children are both older than mine so I doubt we’ll ever run in the same circles. Maybe some under 5 groups. Probably not. But we smile and nod at each other. I don’t know what she thinks of the stranger who smiles at her. Does she think back to her days with only the one child, the single pushchair and a growing bump? Does she look at me and realise that I see her as my future? Not that I want a double pushchair where one sits above the other (I’m hoping for some baby wearing and toddler walking before a side-by-side stroller for certain journeys), but soon I will be the mum pushing a pushchair with one child, on my way to collect the other. Making the journey every day, times as strict as anything as the eldest can’t be left to go over their time. Does she look forward to the time soon when her oldest goes to school and her youngest starts the nursery? Does she think that when that happens, she will pass me with my one, her pushchair empty? And then we’ll pass again, me with two and her with her son. A few hours later, she’ll be needed for the school run for her daughter.

When these changes have all occurred, will we stop seeing each other? Will we forget each other? That nameless woman and her two children who are simply living their life, passing me by as I live my life.

~ P

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The Unknown

I just want someone to be able to tell me that Robin will be just like Elvis. She’s 7 weeks old, Elvis was about 16 weeks old when he stopped needing any over night feeds and he never had them after then. Are we 9 weeks away from Robin being the same?

Are we closer?

Are we further?

I get insomnia. When I wake for a night feed, despite Robin being by my side in a co-sleeper cot, I wake up fully. Despite me relaxing during the feed, drifting off to sleep a bit, too, I wake up when I’m carefully putting Robin down. Then her snuffles keep me awake, questioning if it’s her not fully asleep or just settling herself back down.

It’s tough.

The past two nights I’ve tried side lying to feed. The first night was amazing but did end up with far more co-sleeping which makes me achey. Last night, either due to insomnia or fearing full relaxtion, I didn’t sleep as well.

Oh, and she’s spent the past two nights on a 3 hour routine rather than 4-5.

Is it just a few day phase? Is it because she feeds less when lying down, nursing more sitting up? Do I drift off and pull away when we’re lying down?

And I don’t want her to get used to sleeping right by my side.

If I’m going to wake up fully no matter which position I may as well go for the one that leads to me being more comfortable.

It still leaves me with the unknown – 9 weeks to go? Or more? Or less?

~ P

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Nap Training

Baby Girl Robin is just over 6 weeks old, okay almost 7 weeks old, and so far she’s pretty damn perfect at nights. I feed her to sleep somewhere between 8 and 10pm and put her in her co-sleeping cot. At whatever time she stirs (could be 3 could be 5 hours), I pick her up, feed her and put her back in her cot. We’re having 2 night time feeds at the moment on average and she’s awake for the day by half 7 maybe 8.

So the nights are brilliant.

The days… not so much.

I mean there’s nothing wrong with our days. I’m not at my wit’s end, drowning in depression. Her feeds are still between 2.5 and 3 hours apart and I do try and plan them to fit with Elvis and his routine. She can’t feed at 0930 to want another at 1230 as I leave then to pick up Elvis. So there’s a 2 hour window for the nursery run. Ideally there’s a 3 hour window in the evening where I don’t want to feed her due to Elvis’ nap ending, cooking, eating, bath and bedtime. But that’s unrealistic at the moment.

The problem isn’t her feeding; it’s her napping.

She can fall asleep from a feed but she doesn’t always during the day. I can rock her to sleep either standing up or sitting in the nursing chair. Daddy and Nanny have got her to sleep too during the day. In the evening she prefers me and boobies, but is that an element of her cluster feeding?

She’s also happier awake and “playing” so I can get on and do bits as she lies on my bed taking in her surroundings but it doesn’t last long. Then again sometimes her naps don’t last long.

I guess the real problem is that during an afternoon, as she sleeps on me, I get tired. But Elvis is napping in his cot all afternoon so how do I stay awake? It’s getting to the point when she has to start napping on her own.

With Elvis, we basically co-slept 24/7 and somewhere between 8 and 10 weeks old I just couldn’t hack it anymore and made a stand: I was determined to get him into his Moses basket day and night. And it worked. With Robin we already have the night cracked. That should make naps easier, right?

Or could it screw up the nights?

She’s not in any proper routine yet but I maybe do see a few patterns. Can I recognise when she’s tired? If she wakes straight up is it because she’s had long enough or because I put her down?

Do I know her well enough to force this stress on us both?

Can I keep my brain active on warm afternoons as she sleeps in my arms?

Does she only do a 1.5-2 hour nap on an afternoon as that’s our uninterrupted time?

Is it simple perseverance?

Anyone have any tips?

Or I could sling her, but how practical is that for cleaning the bath or washing up?

I might give her a few more weeks, if I can stay awake!

Help!

~ P

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What Makes Family?

At around 6 months of life, there became a serious issue known between members of Elvis’ family. I assume by the time that this scheduled post actually gets posted, it’ll be Elvis and Robin’s family. I’m writing this at 40+6 as I consider my contact list for people to be informed about Robin’s birth and that contact list has seriously made me consider what family means.

So, when Elvis was 6 months old some adult members of his family had a falling out. Even if I knew what happened, whether it’s about me, because of me, my fault, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The reasons behind some adults having a falling out is completely irrelevant. The only thing that is relevant is my child. This adult falling out occurred and a few weeks later it was Christmas. Now, in this exact example it was nothing to do with me. I spent a few days in tears, sobbing to some of the parties involved that they only get one shot at this, but all other parties are still over a year later being stubborn. In this exact example, I have no idea what happened. I was not told in an effort to protect me, I believe. I think the rationale was that there was a chance of the other parties eventually getting over their issues. But I remember and I don’t forgive, so I wasn’t told as I would never forgive the other parties.

Then it was Christmas. Elvis’ first Christmas. And there was no card from these members of his family.

And then it was his birthday. Elvis’ first birthday. And there was no card from these family members.

I don’t care what happened between the grown adults, either side, what I care about it is the people that chose to let it affect my son.

My son, at 7 months and then 1 year old, completely innocent in life let alone whatever family issues that were/are occurring, dipped out on cards from people he should/would/could consider family. It should not matter what so ever what happened between the adult members of the family, they should still consider themselves part of Elvis’ family. They should still send cards addressed correctly to Elvis. They should hope that my husband and I are grown up and mature enough to allow our son to have them. This is not about gifts. This is not about money. This is about recognition. This is about innocence.

From that moment that my son did not receive a birthday card from someone who is his family (who he would have normally received a card from), it no longer mattered what happened with the various family members involved. You do not make my son pay for something his parents have or have not done.

As soon as we discovered we were pregnant, I asked if we were telling the people who had already dismissed Elvis from their family and the answer was no. They still don’t know. These people were the second people to visit Elvis after he was born – completely out of the blue and with a host of rude comments directed at me about my feeding choices and weight gain – that was how excited they were to see him. Except 7 months later, through no fault of Elvis’ whatsoever, there was no card. 5 months after that there was no announcement from us that a sibling was due for Elvis.

And now, as I type this at almost 41 weeks, a birth is impending by some means, and Robin has family that don’t even know he/she exists and is about to be born. There are ex-family members that will not be told about Robin’s birth because of how they have dismissed my innocent toddler over the past 20 months. I do feel sad that Robin won’t have those photographic memories that Elvis has. I do feel sad that I might remove those photos from Elvis’ life so that there can be no jealousy. And I do feel sad that there are adults out there that can remove a child from their family because of other adults. Why should my child pay for the sins of his parents or for the sins of other family?

I guess, you have your own family and you realise who exactly is worthy to be called family. Some aren’t. You realise that some people are petty enough to put children in the middle, as in a horrendous divorce. You realise exactly how much you would do for your child, even over a lack of a birthday card or a present being labelled incorrectly, the disrespect it shows an innocent child.

~ P

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Toddler Proofing: The Sequel

The original toddler proofing post was scheduled from Christmas and, honest to goodness chance, meant that it posted just as I started to consider inviting toddlers over. With the baby here.

And I’m scared.

Perhaps melodramatic. Maybe I should say I’m anxious and apprehensive.

Luckily the mummy meets do not involve my toddler, just my baby and their toddler. But is my house suitable for their toddlers?

There can be no fights over toys, but will there be chewing of crayons, ripping of books, climbing of furniture, destruction of car tracks?

Will they climb and roll over any of Robin’s things?

I don’t like the idea of telling off other people’s children. Is that even allowed? When Elvis was newborn a friend visited with their pre-schooler who kept climbing on his rocking chair (now Robin’s) and on his play gym. This was despite their mother telling them not to.  They almost kicked my newborn Elvis in the head. I felt, and feel, like I can’t say anything to other’s children. And if that was a pre-schooler how am I supposed to deal with toddlers?

Maybe it would be better with Elvis here, I have a feeling he’d tell off the toddlers and protect his Baby. (Because every time she cries he tells us – in case we can’t hear her screams – and then passes us her Bing – a Bunny comforter that she doesn’t care for – because he thinks she needs it.)

Wish me luck!
~ P

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Irresponsible Mothers

On the 10th January, I took Elvis to a birthday party and the next day I was informed that someone at the party now had chicken pox. About 19 days later, Elvis got them and about 17 days after that so did Robin. From my understanding you’re contagious the few days before spots come and maybe whilst you have the spots. So for those 19 and then 17 days neither child was contagious until maybe day 16 and 13.

How was I supposed to know that?

The moment Elvis came into contact with pox, should I have kept him at home just in case?

Should I have kept him at home for those 19 days and then a further ten for the spots to clear? Should I have taken a month off work?

Just in case he had it and could pass it on at nursery?

Should I then have not allowed Robin out of the house, just in case, and despite medical professionals telling me she’s was protected against it?

Was I irresponsible in both cases?

I rang the nursery immediately to tell them. I cancelled all plans for both of them in the week they each got pox. I rang/contacted everyone that had visited/seen Robin.

Was that irresponsible?

Yet I then get told by a friend that a bunch of work colleagues were unhappy that I was joining them for a lunch. Because of Robin and her pox. Uhhh, except I’d already cancelled. Despite how she probably wouldn’t be contagious by that point, I’d already cancelled.

Was that irresponsible of me?

It’s really upset me. Mainly because I was already upset that I’d let people, babies, come into contact with Robin at her contagious times. I feel awful about it. We’re not talking the toddlers at nursery, we’re talking babies – some under a month old. And I feel awful that I could be responsible for making those babies ill. I really don’t need someone making me feel worse.

Especially not a mother so irresponsible that they can make another mother feel so awful.

It’s made me paranoid that the group I went to, allowing Robin to potentially infect other babies, will never allow me back because of my irresponsibility. That they will make me feel awful and unwanted, too.

The mother in question might just simply have been worried about her own child but perhaps she should have spoken directly to me rather than make me feel like crap and irresponsible.

~ P

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Poxy Chicken Pox

When Robin was 5 dayd old we noticed that Elvis had an odd spot on his shoulder. Then there were more and more spots. It was clear that he had chicken pox. I didn’t bother, or even consider, taking him to the doctor. I rang nursery, they told me how long he had to stay off and then Daddy took him to a local pharmacy and came home with Piriton and Eurax – antihistamine and soothing cream. We already had bath emollient from my pregnancy rashes but baths didn’t seem to relieve his itching.

I also rang the midwfery center where I was reassured that Robin was covered by my pregnancy plus I’m breastfeeding.

Yep. Well, at 21 days old, we noticed a few odd spots in her hair. I hoped they were simply some hormonal thing. I knew they weren’t.

Sure enough the next morning she was pretty much covered and some had already blistered. After her first feed, I rang my GP where the receptionist told me I had to come in for a walk in appointment, waiting up to an hour. I tried to explain to the incompetent woman with zero medical training that I had surgery 3 weeks prior, walking is difficult, that my newborn was contagious, that my newborn was susceptible to all the other patients germs. Tough luck, I was given the option to make the walk in clinic or wait a day to get a GP phonecall.

Apparently on clinic days with a walk in, GPs refuse to do home calls. Even for an at risk, vulnerable, 3 week old? According to the stupid woman who refused to budge and even try to ask a doctor, yep. It’s a joke.

So, I sped my way there to not miss the end time of the walk in slot. Then had to fill in her paperwork as Robin isn’t even registered. And I’m in floods of tears – worried about her. And what if she wakes, feeding no longer hurts but she’s dribbly and it’s awkward still.

55 minutes of germ exchanging and we get to see a doctor. Robin stays asleep during the exam and everything! Then the doctor starts talking to herself about possible treatments. Out loud she’s discussing how Robin might need oral medications. Or even intravenous ones. Now I’m trying to stay calm.

She calls the hospital, the consultant paediatrician says nope, no meds needed. So I leave and head to my mum’s as Robin is about ten minutes away from a feed and my boob has felt like exploding for over half an hour. Half way there the doctor calls me. The paed changed their mind due to Robin’s age and I need to get to the hospital. Take a change of clothes she says. For both of you.

Well, that’s nice – I’ll be allowed to stay because I was already panicking over feeding her. I continue to mum’s – Robin needs a feed – and call my husband to get what we need and come get us. I ask mum to get Elvis from nursery, ring the nursery, feed Robin, have a cuppa and then head to the hospital.

I hate hospitals.

We got seen very quickly and shown to our own room. Well, Robin was contagious. We saw a nurse and then a doctor. Both of them made it clear that, even in a newborn, chicken pox is not a huge problem itself. Obviously it is a viral infection so she would be tired and fighting it even with my immunity but the problems are side effects. I believe pneumonia and brain swelling were mentioned.

Then the doctor started describing the 2 to 5 days course of meds that she’d need. Two days of IV drugs via a cannula in her wrist and then see how she’s responding. And off went the doctor to check with the consultant. At this point, her temperature and heart rate were all normal.

I lost it, however.

I was relatively ok with the thought of being in hospital for two nights. I didn’t want to go that long not seeing Elvis but Robin needed it. I’d already discovered that a parent is encouraged to stay, they get free parking, there’s free TV unlike on the maternity ward and breastfeeding mums get three meals a day (luckily I got a lunch as I was starving). But she mentioned cannulas. And how small her veins are. Now, I’ve had cannulas at both c-sections and they hurt.

And I had two this last time as the midwife couldn’t find a vein. How wete they going to find hers? The doctor even started looking at Robin’s ankles. She said it would be best for us to leave as they did it because Robin would take no comfort from us and she wouldn’t remember. We would.

I kept trying to reassure myself that at least she wasn’t actually ill, at least we knew what was wrong.

But a cannula… she’s too tiny.

The doctor came back. She and the consultant had done some research. Apparently the recommendation for IV drugs is when the mum catches chicken pox close to birth. I guess because the baby wouldn’t have any immunity through the pregnancy. That wasn’t our case. The doctors decided that when awake, Robin was alert and happy. Clearly she was fighting the pox relatively well. Or my body was for her.

So they agreed to discharge her, after taking my bloods to check my immunity (although 2 days later and they haven’t told me my levels) so no drugs, no overnight stay and no cannula, but a kind of wasted day. It left me knackered! But it was emotionally draining and how much am I fighting the pox for her without me having the virus?

We’re snuggly at home, she’s spotty and blistery but generally okay. I’ve gone back to co-sleeping as she was mucousy at night. It sounded awful, like she couldn’t breathe. But it doesn’t seem to be hurting me. Yet.

I hate chicken pox!

~ P

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