How Time Flies…

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I came across an old photo album the other day and it only contained pictures of Sam as a baby. These were the days before Maisie and Isabelle, days when Ferg and I looked YOUNG! It was astonishing, I looked enviously at my own skin and my non bag-laden eyes. I wish I knew then that I had nice skin, I’d have enjoyed it a bit more.

Anyway, looking at the album, made me feel all nostalgic and warm, remembering how simple it was with only one child, how happy we were with our little chubby baby. We felt really grown up and even though it was only eight years ago, I looked at us then and thought about all the lessons we’ve learnt and all the things that have happened to us and our families since then. When that photo was taken we didn’t know if we’d have the three kids we wanted, we didn’t know what the future looked like but as a little family we were ready to go through it together.

Parenthood changes you doesn’t it? Not only in terms of looking and feeling older (Darn you to heck, you sleepless nights!) but in terms of priorities. Before kids you can afford to put yourself first, after kids that’s just not an option. One thing I didn’t realise though, was that you also have to make a conscious effort to consider your husband/wife/partner when children come on the scene. I’m not saying that as soon as you have a child you forget about them, I just mean that other things suddenly seem much more important.

I remember quite clearly, how Ferg and I would sometimes play the, “I’m more tired than you game,” when Sammy was small. We would take turns trying to get him off to sleep and Ferg would wander around the spare room for hours trying to comfort him. In the end though, the hours of wandering around would eventually lead back to me for a final feed. I remember nursing him In the dead of night, delirious with tiredness and struggling to ignore the excruciating pain of non-stop breastfeeding. I’d look at my sleeping husband and think, “I’m obviously more tired than you Ferg, I definitely win!” I’d imagine of all the opportunities he would have for a rest, on the train to work, lunchtime… Er… on the train home. In reality, we were both exhausted. Was it Ferg’s fault that he didn’t have breasts to feed the baby? Was it his fault I didn’t want the baby to be fed with formula? No of course not! That was our decision. At the end of the day, whether or not you’re more exhausted than your partner is irrelevant. When you have a baby, you both get really, really tired and struggle to function in the same way as you did before having a baby.

It’s sooo easy when you’re super tired to be snappy and argumentative. Little grievances can turn into big grievances, especially after a day alone in front of Cbeebies, feeling like nothing more than a tiny person’s milk-bitch. If you’ve given up a career or even just put it on hold, then resentment can easily worm it’s way into your relationship if your other half is off at work with their identity firmly still in check. At the end of the day, it’s mentally, physically and emotionally hard work having and looking after a baby. But it doesn’t get any easier by allowing resentment to creep into your relationship.

I remember a woman in my friend’s NCT class who decided to leave her boyfriend when her little boy was just a couple of months old. She had to do everything on her own. She did it brilliantly by the way, but it did make me stop and actively thank God that I had Ferg and that he’s a great dad and a loving husband. I thought then, “This is hard, but I’m really glad I’m doing it with Ferg.”

So eight years down the line, with three children all over two, we feel like we’re coming out of a tunnel. Don’t get me wrong, the tunnel has been great, if a little intense, but, we REALLY enjoy the relative freedom of having slightly older children. We recently celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary by going away for 2 whole nights. Nana and our besties looked after the kids and we wiled away the hours with spa treatments, eating good food, walking and chatting. It was glorious to be alone and not worry about cutting up food, wiping bottoms and defusing tantrums, but it was also just long enough to start missing our little terrors.

These days, my chubby baby Sam is now a lean, sporty big brother who looks after and winds up his sisters in equal measure. Life is more complicated now, but it’s fundamentally good and were still happy. I’m determined to actively treasure it and be thankful for it. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so show your nearest and dearest know how much you love them today.

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The Results of the Sleep Consultant Visit

Well, Tina Southwood from Sleep Baby Sleep visited me last week to talk about Isabelle’s sleep or rather lack of sleep. At this point Izzy had already started sleeping better with only one wake and feed in the night and I really do think this was because her teeth had all come through.

Anyway, after talking to Tina (Who is absolutely lovely btw) it became apparent that Isabelle hasn’t been getting enough daytime sleep, which means that tackling night-time problems with controlled crying was basically just counter-productive. This made perfect sense to me, so we’ve been trying to get her to have 2 naps a day, ideally a short one in the morning and a longer one in the afternoon. In theory this is brilliant, in practise however it’s virtually impossible. Sometimes, Isabelle will have a nap in the afternoon, sometimes she won’t. Add to this the unfortunate fact that life with 2 elder kids means every day and circumstance is different means that she doesn’t always get that 2nd essential sleep.

Ho Hum, I think essentially the sleep consultant felt like a lifeline and getting to the point where I actually admitted that I needed help, meant that I had time to recuperate and recover from being fundamentally sleep deprived. What she said made sense and I would definitely recommend her if you are local and need help with a bad sleeper, or a newborn or twins! At the moment Isabelle’s sleep patterns mean I’m getting enough sleep to be able to function like a normal person again and I think that as soon as she can do without that 2nd sleep during the day, we’ll be fine. Well that’s the theory anyway!

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You may have guessed this isn’t a current picture of Izzy sleeping, it’s actually of a baby Maisie! You get the idea though!

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.
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Izzy icing the hob.
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