Stepping away from the edge.

Ha, that’s quite a dramatic title, but seriously, this weekend I was very close to feeling completely overwhelmed. Isabelle’s sleeping has been absolutely awful since the beginning of January. For some reason, all of her big, back teeth decided to come at once, so all our months of hard work with the controlled crying just went straight out the window in a few nights.

She has been waking at random times and screeching in pain, so I just gave in and decided to feed her in the night again to give her some comfort and to give me some rest. Unfortunately for me, the comfort goes on for hours. And hours. And FREAKIN HOURS! In fact she can often feed/suck for 5 hours straight, whilst sleeping next to me in bed and stretching my poor, beleaguered nipples to unnatural lengths.

Now, I’m the sort of person who needs to have time alone. As far as I’m concerned, being crawled over and pinched and pulled and sat on all day, is only bearable when I know I can get an undisturbed evening with Ferg and a decent sleep at the end of an undisturbed evening. Having a toddler who can sometimes start screeching from 9.30pm and then attach herself to my knockers all night does NOT equal a happy, well rested and patient mummy .

I don’t know how other co-sleeping mums do it but I find that it’s just not good for doing any actual sleeping. For one, there is NO room for my arms when Izzy sleeps next to me. Ladies, where do you put your arms?! Izzy hates it if my arm falls across her whilst she’s feeding, so as I’m on my side feeding, my arm can only go up, joining my other arm which has also been forced up, making it look like I’ve been tied to the bed. What with the permanent grimace, the stretched nipples and the arms, I must look like I’m being tortured and not in any sort of, Fifty Shades of Grey way.

On Saturday, my lovely father-in-law came over to see us all and in a moment alone, asked me if I was OK as I didn’t seem myself. Well, that was it, game over. I immediately burst into tears and told him I wasn’t really ok and that I was really struggling with the sleep deprivation. He suggested going to the doctors and maybe even getting a night nanny. Ferg had come in at this point and was quite alarmed to find me crying, but he was lovely and listened and was ready to find us some sort of solution.

It’s so hard to ask for help when things are difficult, but after that conversation I did. I even called a sleep consultant who I’m meeting today. My mum has been amazing and took Izzy for all of Monday afternoon and helped me with dinner for the kids and all other manner of wonderful things. I go to a group called Headspace and this Tuesday the ladies there gave me encouragement and made me laugh. Yesterday, a good friend took the girls for the afternoon so I could have a rest and Ferg decided to give me a break over Easter and booked us a little holiday with child care!  Just being supported and having a few hours alone gave me the strength to start tackling her sleep issues again and since Saturday, things have definitely improved.

Today, after my afternoon of rest, I almost felt normal again so the girls and I made some (admittedly awful) fairy cakes. They got completely filthy and ruined the icing by adding lots of flour, but we all had a lovely time because I wasn’t on the verge of a total meltdown. I feel very blessed right now to be surrounded by people who actually helped me. So, thank you Stu for asking the question, thank you Mum for taking Izzy, thank you Ferg  for giving me time alone,  thankyou Headspace ladies for listening and thank you Leila for looking after the girls. With all your help I’ve stepped away from the edge and rejoined the land of the living.

The girls spreading some floury love around the kitchen.

Izzy icing the hob.


…it’s 7.52pm and everything should be quite peaceful and quiet. HOWEVER, Izzy is screaming and Im trying to ignore the fact that she’s SCREAMING.

We are staying with our best friends in the midlands. Their house is in an idyllic farm house overlooking beautiful countryside. We have good company, good food and good booze. However, all I can think about is the fact that my baby girl is screaming. Not whimpering, not grizzling, just SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HER TINY LUNGS!

I have to be honest, I’m very fed up. I want to relax with my bezzies. I do not want to be doing controlled crying before she’s even gone to sleep! Izzy, as fabulous as she is, just needs to get a grip, because I am actually on the verge of losing my mind. Go to sleep kid!! Right, time to shush, I’ll be back…

So, obv, she’s still screaming. My hub and I have been very consistent and persistent with the controlled crying over the past 2 Months and I know that we’ve done well, as she’s at last sleeping until 5.15am (God give me strength).

I find this whole thing thoroughly depressing if I’m honest. It’s not as if I don’t have anything else to do, I have 2 other children to look after, a husband to cook for and a house to clean. My God, did I ever dream of such heights?! I’m a modern woman for God’s sake!

Ok, deep breath. You know what? At this moment, when I’m here, struggling to cope with my baby screaming and crying, I want to say a big, well done, to all the mums out there who are holding on to their sanity by a thin thread. You are not alone! I’m standing on the precipice of sanity with you and we CAN get through this moment. This moment WILL pass and they WILL stop crying. We CAN cope. We LOVE our kids and life IS really good. Big deep breath lovely mums and dads out there, be calm and carry on. This time will pass, these years will pass and then they’ll be gone, without a backward glance. Blimey, I’m even more depressed than I was before.

Crying. Generally.

So, almost 3 weeks ago, my Mum had her bladder, womb, ovaries, lymph nodes and anything else spare, removed. She also had a new bladder created inside her for good measure. When she came out of her operation she was delirious but delirious for too long and not in a “normal” way. I was told she may have had a stroke, or that the anaesthetic may have triggered dementia. Neither was actually the case, she was suffering from severe post-operative delirium, but for a couple of days I wondered if I’d ever talk to my real Mum ever again. The reason she had the operation was because doctors found a “little” tumor in her bladder that was removed and then returned shortly afterwards. It’s all been thoroughly awful and it’s still not over, it’s still awful.

After her op, Mum came to recover and rest with us, which is ridiculous because our house is about as restful as happy hour in Vegas. Obviously Isabelle is still not sleeping through and one night when Mum could really have done with a good kip, Izzy decided to scream. And scream. And scream. During controlled crying we heard Mum go into Izzy’s room to try and comfort her. I went in to see Mum shortly afterwards and found her weeping on the edge of her bed because she couldn’t bear hearing little Izzy cry. Oh the hell of it!

Since then, she’s been rushed to A&E with a sudden infection and told her new bladder leaks. On the bright side however, she’s now cancer free! The road to recovery though isn’t easy and honestly, right now everything feels hard and complicated and rubbish and exhausting.

I’m really looking forward to boasting about how fantastic Mum’s new bladder is. I’m really looking forward to when everything inside her body works again and she’s comfortable and she doesn’t feel sad anymore. But for now I suppose I just have to have hope for both of us, because life with Mum is good and really worth being hopeful for.

Day Seven controlled crying – earplugs rock!

Ok, so last night Izzy woke at about 2.15 and was whining but not crying, so as I knew she couldn’t be hungry, I popped in my trusty silicon earplugs and merrily ignored her. My husband had the pillow over his head but as he’s a light sleeper, I knew he’d wake up if she actually started crying. Next thing we know it’s 7am and she’s awake. I call that a result and feel pretty encouraged.

In the lead up to that, I gave her as much food as she could possibly handle and she goggbled it up heartily, which makes me wonder if Shes finally got her appitite back after being poorly. She also had a great 2 hour nap after lunch which seems to be what she needs to get through the night.

So I guess everything’s going to plan, next I’ll have to start thinking about getting my three year old out of night time nappies. Oh the joys of motherhood.

Day six controlled crying. Oh dear, I spoke too soon.

I had a horrid feeling this would happen. She didn’t nap at all yesterday and barely ate anything, so it wasn’t a surprise to me when she woke at 4.15am. I went in to shush her and give her back a rub for a couple of minutes, hoping she might be settled back to sleep, but when I returned she REALLY started to scream.

I mentioned “the no-cry sleep solution”, yesterday and actually started reading it anyway as I was sure she would start waking again at some point. Unfortunately I hadn’t got to the the bit that gives solutions. What was useful to know however, was that according to sleep experts, sleeping through for babies is defined as 5 hours of sleep. So technically she is actually sleeping through. Also I was challenged to go for a calmer sleep training programme if possible as I really don’t like the idea that she’s freaking out and terrified. In the end I just thought, she’s probably ravenous, I’m going to feed her. Arghhhhhh! I’m breaking the rules, I’ve gone all rogue and spontaneous, but hopefully I made the right decision. She fed for about 20 minutes and went straight back to sleep.

Today, she’s napping at the right time, and I’m going to stuff her full of as much food as possible so at least I’ll know she shouldn’t be hungry. The funny thing was, although I’m completely knackered and pretty grumpy, last night when I was feeding her, I made sure I treasured it. It won’t be long until my last ever baby stops feeding altogether, so each feed should be enjoyed.

Right, on that note of positivity, I’m going to make myself a sandwich.

Day 4, controlled (whatever!) crying.

Last night Isabelle decided to mix it up a bit and woke at 4.30 am, which Ive decided is an improvement. She didn’t scream, just whined loudly, so I foolishly thought she might give up and drift back off to sleep. Fat chance. After an hour I decided to try giving her a shush, which woke her up, completely. Excellent. So as I lay awake, Isabelle screamed, and screamed and screamed. And then, after half an hour of going in after 5, then 6, then 7, then 8 minutes, she whimpered. I saw my chance and shushed her off to sleep, which this time worked, (oh the inconsistencies of sleep training!).

I’m too old for all this. A friend encouraged me to hang in there today, it took just over a week for it to work with her kiddies. A WEEK? I’m not sure I can survive for a whole week. The hardest bit, apart from the crushing exhaustion of course, is the doubt that sets in in the middle of the night, when there seems to be no end in sight. Is it working? How long until it works? Will she ever go to sleep? Etc etc etc. Tonight I’m going to use earplugs, I won’t ignore screaming, which I’ll hear, but I will ignore whimpers as I think she needs to learn to get herself back off to sleep. But then what do I know, I’m making it up as I go along.

If you’re awake in the middle of the night, then think of me and all the other mothers out there awake. We can do it, we really can! *gently whimpers and collapses in the corner.*

Day two of controlled crying. Oh dear…

Well thank God it’s my turn for a lie in. She managed to keep going for 97 minutes last night, but we made it through and once again without the aid of boobs!

It’s funny what you think about when you’re awake in the middle of the night. At one point I noticed how when you breathe in through your nose with your mouth open, your tongue automatically touches the top of your mouth. Even if you try not to do it, a part of your tongue will move up. Fascinating. I was also conviced in the way only a mildly delirious, sleep deprived person can, that I am a carrier/spreader of the common cold not ever a victim of it. This idea came after a particularly satisfying sneeze (one of several in the past week) at 4.20am.

So anyway, the first part of the controlled crying was done by my husband who (I think) was shushing her and giving her back a little rub every two minutes. Lord alone knows what actually happened but he returned to the bedroom, forlorn and defeated after 25 minutes and declared it wasn’t working. After that he got into bed and put a pillow over his head. Thanks. No really, thanks for all your hard work.

So it was down to me. The shushing and patting wasn’t nearly as affective as last night, she must have cottoned on to my strategy and was actively fighting it. At one point, during a particularly strenuous shushing session, I felt a rogue stream of snot begin to flow from my left nostril as I was leaning over the cot trying to comfort her, (that’ll be the cold carrier theory out the window then…). Bear in mind that I had one hand on her bottom and the other rubbing her back, so there was no way to stem the flow.  It reminded me of the scene in Mission Impossible where Tom Cruise is being lowered into an alarmed room and although if my snot escaped an alarm wouldn’t go off, it may have landed on the baby’s face and woken her up. That didn’t happen of course but it certainly added a little spice to an otherwise tiresome event.

Anyway after about 50 minutes I picked her up, which as before didn’t help and then began to notice her cries were becoming half hearted which is always a good sign. Eventually after 15 minutes of whimpering she gave up and fell asleep.

I think it’s worth mentioning that sometimes when using a method where you go in every 2 or 5 minutes, you occasionally have to use your judgement as to whether your shushing and patting will wake the baby up. If you think they’re nodding off, leave it for a bit longer and see if they do.

So technically last night was a success, I just hope I have the strength of character to keep it up…

Let me sleep!

I’m so tired. My gorgeous little girl refuses to sleep through the night. So, last night, we ( i say we…) resorted to controlled crying after 11 months of waking up at least once every night. When my little treasure awoke at 3.15am I finally bit the bullet and decided no more night-time boob, only shushing and patting.

Well, stressful does not even begin to describe the experience. I am in no way a touchy feely earth mother, but the sound of her cries made me feel unbearably anguished. It doesn’t help that the pitch of her screams would be enough to send Ghandi himself into a fit of violence. As I lay in bed, absorbing the sound of her blood curdling screeches, I could feel the threat of a panic attack coming on. The sound trampled on my sanity, it threatened to send me over the edge into mental oblivion, it it… Someone give me a paper bag! Ok, maybe sleep deprivation is making me a little over-dramatic, but you get the idea. Did it work? I’ve no idea, but she finally went to sleep after less than an hour and with no boobs in sight, which is certainly an improvement. For anyone interested in what I did, I just went in and briefly shushed her every 2 minutes for about 40 minutes. I tried picking her up but that didn’t work, and eventually I just rubbed her back whilst she was on her tummy and it worked after 2 attempts.

I’m committed to doing this until she sleeps through, otherwise I’ll be advertising her on eBay for 99p (not really) and booking myself into the Priory. I’ll let you know how it goes, wish me luck!