That’s My Normal


My husband is away with work this week. For some of you, that’s no big deal. Your husbands go away regularly for weeks at a time. It’s your normal. I do get that.

But it’s not our normal. I put off thinking about it until I actually woke up yesterday morning at 7:30am. Yes, I cried. I cried again as he left. Maybe it’s the hormones! I am 30 weeks pregnant after all. Maybe it’s the thought of being 30 weeks pregnant and looking after a little one by myself. Luckily I have a hugely helpful family and wonderful friends who are doing anything and everything this week to help us out.

As the little one splashed about in the bath and I got his towel off the radiator I started thinking about how our little person is actually a little piece of my husband. And, with a happy song playing on Spotify, I got him out of the bath, wrapped in a towel and we had a little cuddle and a dance. It was a really beautiful moment. I was watching him in the mirror and picking out the little parts of him that were his dad’s and not mine – his blonde hair, his blue eyes, his cheekiness.

The song ended and Spotify shuffled through the playlist landing on David Gray’s The One I Love – a song that is one of “ours”. You know, most couples have a list of songs that are “theirs”.

“Send a little prayer out to you across the falling dark…”

That did it. I was ruined. The tears started again and I wiped my eyes on my child’s towel as he watched me and blinked (it’s his new thing… blame Mr Tumble!) He never seemed upset by me crying, in fact I’m pretty sure he thought I was playing a game with him.

But today, my bad mum confession is that my 20 month old “read” his own bedtime story, whilst I composed myself enough to sing Twinkle Twinkle to him.

My little boy is a tiny piece of his dad that I can cling to when his dad’s not here and that is a beautiful thing. My bump is currently making the laptop move as it sits on my lap. I am not alone. But a little piece of him is not him.

Last week when I was ill and didn’t blog, I posted a link on my Facebook page to an article about putting spouses before children. Go and find it if you didn’t get chance to read it, it’s very good. It reminds me that although my children are such a huge priority in life at the moment, I must continue to put my husband first. And if I’m honest, for me, that’s easy. He will always come first. That’s my normal. That’s why breaking down over a line in a David Gray song doesn’t worry me, or waking up in the morning in tears because it was the day I’d been pretending would never come doesn’t seem like an issue.

I’m a mum, yes. But that ring on my finger makes me a wife first. That’s my normal.

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Face, Wall, Smack

10593374_302062070001428_1148104922_nI woke, uncomfortable because I’m pregnant with what appears to be a very tiny footballer who only likes to move when I want to be still, and needed the toilet. I know most Mums know the inner conversation between staying in the cosy, warm bed and getting up for what feels like the fourth time that night to hop across to the bathroom. Pregnancy has those moments and they suck. The choice is difficult. I chose the latter.

Awake but not quite awake, I reached for the dresser to steady myself as my other hand reached for the door to open it. Unfortunately the dresser was somehow not where I thought it was going to be. My hand slipped through the air just inches next to it’s intended destination and in those fleeting moments I realised that the wall was exactly where I thought it was going to be.

As I said… face, wall, smack.

Luckily, I have a husband who held me through the quiet sobs that followed as I held my poor head and my hip which had somehow found the dresser that my hand had missed. “It’s just the shock,” he told me as I started to check for bumps. Eventually I felt steady enough to actually make the trip to the bathroom and it was only then when I checked the time. It was 7am. Had I known it was so close to wake-up time (as I’ve previously mentioned, we have a good sleeper – 8am is not unheard of in our house, especially at the weekends) I’d have just held it in. Clearly our blackout curtains do their job well!

So apparently pregnancy makes me clumsy. This is the third time I’ve given myself bruises, the first two incidents involving the stairs. The first one confused the heck out of me as my foot turned purple on the top, even though I’d slipped and taken an open stair gate clean off the stairs with the edge of my foot (picture above).

Smacking my head on the wall is not something I intend to make a habit of. You see, after the “OhMyGoodness” and the “Ouch” and the “Are you kidding me?” thoughts had passed, the next one was “Please don’t let that have woken my child.” And it was the same thought I’d had as I sat crying at the bottom of the stairs, foot in hand, stair gate on floor.

Since becoming a Mum I seem to have been reprogrammed. “Please don’t wake my child” is a regular thought, every day – whether it be the postman knocking or the phone ringing or the microwave beeping. My washing machine beeps when it finishes so I don’t set it to finish after I’ve put N#1 down for a nap. My wardrobe is on the other side of the same wall next to his cot so I don’t open or close it after he’s asleep.

What is it I’m so afraid of? If he woke I could easily get him back to sleep. I often do if he wakes from a bad dream or for some other reason. It’s just the way I’m wired these days. My face hits a wall and I don’t fear I may have concussion, I fear my child will suffer from my pain by waking too early. I slide down the stairs and hit the stair gate – whether my toes can move is second behind whether my son has noticed the noise.

I’m trying to think of other examples where my thinking has been changed by becoming a parent and it all really bottles down to this – my child comes before me.

Yes, being pregnant does mean that I’m carrying a child and need to protect that one just as much. Believe me, I’m doing all I can not to fall down another flight of stairs! But I’m talking about in general, as a parent, my child’s needs and wants come before my own.

How strange. That I spent nearly 24 years of my life putting myself first. I mean, I’m a nice person (I hope!) and I’ll make you a cup of tea, bring a meal round if you’re ill, give you an old piece of furniture if you need if and we don’t anymore – but I was selfish. It was me first. It’s in our nature to be that way. You might not like to admit it, but you should. It’s kind of freeing to realise your own inner selfishness. But how completely ridiculous that the whole idea of that can turn on it’s head within minutes of meeting another human being. My human being. I made him, he’s an amalgamation of me and my husband. And now he comes first and I never made that decision, it just happened.

So now for every “face, wall, smack…”

there comes a “child still sleeping?”.

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From Attachment Parented Child to Ferber Mum (Part Two)

Last week I wrote about the first half of our journey into “sleep training” (of sorts). Thank you for all the responses, it was my most read and commented post! You can read part one here if you missed it. So here’s the second part of our journey, although I will say it is by no means the end of the road. Dealing with children and sleep is a major issue for many, many parents and goes on until they leave home! Enjoy reading the next part of our story…

And so something changed. We stopped spending hours per day or night rocking him…

My research into sleep training was extensive. No way was I going to do something I was uncomfortable with or put my child through anything that I thought could harm him. It took a while of reading different methods and people’s reviews and experiences but eventually I found what I was after – Ferber. Our boy had become dependent on being rocked to sleep. As Ferber described it, this was his sleep association. N#1 knew that when he was rocked that meant it was time to sleep. What he didn’t know, and what we’d never taught him was that saying goodnight, turning out the lights and putting him in his cot also meant it was time to sleep. He was waking up in the night and thinking “Hey, why am I not being rocked anymore? Mum? Dad? Why is no one rocking me? This isn’t right!” Ferber compares it to an adult falling asleep with a pillow and waking up without one. How annoyed would you be?

In my heart of hearts I felt that this was the right thing, but the more I researched the more I found the one thing I’d always been scared of – judgement. Boy, were some folks on the internet mean! The backlash that parents were receiving for simply admitting that they were considering using Ferber’s method was horrible. Why? Because it involves crying. Sometimes not much, sometimes hardly any, sometimes a lot. Having read and reread so many accounts of parents who have used Ferber’s ideas I am convinced that this method was not the right method for those children who cried a lot. Maybe they didn’t read Ferber’s book properly, maybe they didn’t read it at all, but “Ferberization” as it’s known in the States, is for training a child to sleep who has a specific issue. It doesn’t work for every child who sleeps badly. It won’t work if your child’s sleep concern is not to do with sleep association.

And you know what? The more parents I spoke to about what we were doing, the more parents opened up about their own experiences. People will generally ask “And does he sleep well?” but no one ever offers their own experience until someone opens up and does it first.

So, confident that we were doing the right thing, my husband and I set about on night one of “sleep training”. I fed N#1, burped him, sang to him and put him in his cot. He began to cry. I sat and listened as I waited out the first interval of five minutes. I went back in to him after the time was up, spoke gently, sang again and then left. The crying continued as we waited out the next interval of ten minutes. I started to cry. After the ten minutes I did the same thing again and left. Luckily we never made it to the fifteen minute interval – he fell asleep. He woke twice in the night and after a feed we started the same routine. Both times he fell asleep before the fifteen minute interval.

Night two came and I was terrified. I knew I couldn’t go through it again. I’d cave in knowing he was crying for the second night in a row. I needn’t have worried – he fell asleep as soon as I left the room. No crying, nothing.

I’m not saying it worked straight away, was a smooth transition or especially that we’ve never had to deal with a bad night since. Teething, changes to routines and all sorts of issues have messed with what we just call our “bedtime routine”. But at twenty months old we now put N#1 in his pyjamas, read a bedtime story, sing “Twinkle Twinkle” and he goes to sleep. Most nights, we don’t hear from him again until morning.

I can’t sit here and tell you to do what we did because it was so fantastic. It worked for us, and for all you sleepless Mummies out there that’s as much as I can offer. Find something that worked for you and your family, that you feel comfortable with – whether that’s co-sleeping, Ferberization, or a mixture of the two. Even now we have nights where something goes wrong and we sit and deliberate how to deal with it. With N#2 on the way I can’t even say we’ll do the same thing again. We’ll do whatever works.

I will give one piece of advice though – trust your instincts as a mother. I have never been so sure that as your child grows, so do your internal motherly instincts. Those gut feelings are usually right and I would suggest you go with them.

Thank you for reading Part Two – I hope you enjoyed reading about another part of my life as a mum! I know the idea of sleep training can be a touchy subject but all views and opinions  and encouragement are welcomed here! My next post will be up on Wednesday, focusing on writing (Mum Mondays, Writing Wednesdays, Friday Five). Your comments and constructive criticism (on the blog itself) are welcomed. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @mumwriting.

Mornings as Mum

IMG_2489.JPGOne of my favourite moments of my days with N#1 (my eldest child, 18 month old son) is the mornings. I sit on the sofa with my cup of tea and breakfast and he sits next to me with his bowl of breakfast and we have a quiet 10 minutes.

Occasionally, he decides my breakfast looks tastier and discards his own, peering over at mine saying “This.” But generally breakfast is his favourite part of the day, and mine. He’s most cuddly, most sleepy-cute and most chilled out.

It’s before any of the issues of the day arise. Any of the “no, you can’t just turn the TV on whenever you like”, “please don’t throw your food on the floor” and, most recently, “not that bauble!”

I don’t love him any less during those moments. They are teaching moments when I realise I’m being given the opportunity to shape and mould him and his little personality – not to make him more like me but to try and teach him morals and values. And that’s a privilege!

But I do love my quiet breakfast moments. When I sit, drinking tea, breathing in my baby and loving the feeling of his warmth sitting next to me. That’s when I feel that even 18 months down the line it still hasn’t quite sunk in…

I’m a mum.

(If you’re reading this, and have somehow found my blog, thank you! Your encouragement, even just in page views, means a lot! But I’d still love a comment or two 😉

Bear with me as I get to grips with this blogging thing! My plan is to blog mum things on Monday, writing things on Wednesday and then my Friday Five – but please stick with me through the holidays if that doesn’t hold tight!

I’ve also just joined Twitter at @mumwriting so join me over there too! And obviously any tips or constructive criticism is welcome if you wanted to email me! Thanks again!