I can’t wait to have two kids. I really, honestly, can’t. I’m so looking forward to seeing them interact and learn about each other and, eventually, play together. But I can’t say the prospect is totally fear-free. In fact, there are a few things that I’m scared of…
This is probably my biggest fear. I remember not long after having my first, being proud of myself for managing to get the tea on the table and the baby asleep at the same time so that my husband and I could eat an evening meal together. How am I going to do that whilst entertaining a toddler as well? Yes, he’s getting better at playing by himself and the likes of Peppa Pig are often a blessing – especially when I’m trying to make dinner! But with a baby too? A baby who, in the first few months, is going to be totally unpredictable in terms of feeding, sleeping and pooing.
Mealtimes are something we’re working on with my little one at the moment. He loves finger food and hates actual meals like Stir Fry or Pasta Bolognese. So we’re working on a schedule with him at the moment where one day we eat a meal that I know has at least two preferred foods of his in, and then the next day we have a regular family meal. He’s just having to deal with it and it’s hard. (Strategies welcomed!) But doing all of that AND feeding a baby? Aargh!
We have a great routine at the moment, but that will all change as we hope to get the first one into a bed before baby comes! So it’ll be all change there. But it’s so handy having two adults and one child to deal with. We tag team and it works well. But what do bigger families do?
Do two-child families have a kid each? Do you take it in turns so that each parent gets a night off? Or is it just all hands on deck, whatever goes? Again, strategies for this kind of thing would be great! Can we bath a baby at the same time as bathing a two year old? (The eldest only has oil in the bath because he has dry skin patches). Or will we have to do two bath times, two bedtimes and two routines entirely?
3) TV Judgement
Can we be honest here for a minute? Yes, our child watches TV. He also uses the iPad. Now, out of the two of them, we actually prefer iPad time because of the interaction, but he does have a couple of favourite programmes and (as I mentioned) Peppa is a genius at getting dinner ready!
Of course, we won’t just plonk the baby down in front of the TV. And there’ll be the new added element of sibling interaction to take some attention away from TV time. But when our two year old needs that quiet moment with Mr Tumble after an upset or an episode (or two) of Peppa so that tea can be ready on time… that’ll be when the health visitor turns up and sees a baby in the same room as a toddler and a TV. My second child’s first word will be Tumble. I can see it now. I’m not looking forward to the judgement (as there always is) about screen time.
We will be as adept as we can be at providing other activities for the two of them. But I think there may well always be time for Tumble…
4) Getting ready to leave the house
It’s already hard enough to get “coat, shoes, hat…” sorted for the boy whilst finding my boots, coat, scarf, keys, phone, purse and whatever else. I swear we carry the world around in that changing bag! I downsized at Christmas and got an absolutely beautiful, patterned bag in readiness for the new baby. I chucked out everything unnecessary that had found its way into that blasted thing and restocked and reorganised my beautiful new one. It works lovely at the weekends. Not so much on Grandparent Days (currently my working days) during which they might want his wellies, or posher clothes, or clothes for getting dirty in, or a waterproof coat, or extra nappies or… anything! I never know, so I try to stuff it all in there. We’re still using the old bag for that!
Will my beautiful new bag stay beautiful and not get completely ruined by the addition of extra nappies, muslins, spare clothes and bottles? I’m sure our old changing bag used to be lovely once… How is it going to be possible to get both of them ready, not sick or pooey or muddy, but dressed and clean AND myself on days when my husband isn’t in?
5) This may well be us.
Number four. This could be it. The last one. There are no plans for another. There were always plans for another after the first, despite how badly pregnancy and birth treated me! Now there are no plans other than to keep the four of us healthy and happy.
I’m not sad about that. If I was sad there would have been serious discussions and we would have come to some form of agreement, even if it was an agreement that for now we wouldn’t talk about it but maybe one day… There is no “one day…” discussion waiting to happen. So if I’m not sad about it, why does it scare me that maybe this is it? Can other mums shed some light?
Is it just that I need other friends to continually have children so that I can always enjoy new-born cuddles? Or is waiting for grandchildren my next round of nappies and muslins? I hope not, I’m only 25!!
Is this just the motherly instinct? Will that always be there? For now, let’s just deal with getting this one out safe and the eldest used to all the changes. Because there are a lot to come…
Thanks for reading! If you share some of the same worries, or have ways of dealing with them, PLEASE share your expertise. You can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/mumwriting or on Twitter at @mumwriting. You guys are brilliant, and your likes, shares, retweets and comments make me happy! Happy Friday!
I 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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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.
(Whilst my blog is still majorly small and at the beginning stages of it’s life, I thought I’d take the risk of posting something… controversial. This is Part One of a two-part blog on how and why we decided to “sleep train” our son – if that’s what you want to call it. Please read, please comment, but please be aware that I know this subject causes a lot of judgement. Comments of a bad nature will not be approved. Thanks for reading!)
When my sister and I were little we were always welcome in our parents’ bed. Nightmares, “can’t sleeps”, bedtime cuddles, even Saturday morning breakfast – our parents’ bed was the venue for all of those things. I don’t know for sure if my Mum would say she followed the rules of Attachment Parenting or even if the term ‘Attachment Parenting’ existed back then, but if she looked it up now I’m pretty sure she’d say that’s what she did. My sister and I were happy. Our childhood is something we look back on fondly and we’re proud to say we have great relationships with our parents now. We wouldn’t change a thing.
So it came as no surprise that when I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy, it was my Mum that I went to for advice on pretty much everything. When my son (who I’ll refer to as N#1) decided he didn’t want to sleep on his back any more my Mum came, placed him on his side (as she had done with me when I was a baby) and looked after him while he slept peacefully, allowing me to get a couple of hours rest too.
I decided to breastfeed for as long as possible, and eventually at four and a half months started to introduce formula due to other health issues that I had. I was proud of my four and a half months and I think (hope) my Mum was too. She never questioned the move to formula; in fact she was on hand to help when N#1 refused the bottle, bringing me latex teats which were apparently the only ones that I would accept as a baby. He eventually got to the point where he took any bottle, latex or otherwise, like a champ.
It was no revelation for my Mum when I admitted that for his early morning feeds I brought N#1 into bed with me and my husband. After all, she’d done the same with us. It was a relief to know that there was some support out there for co-sleeping – the now official term for letting your children sleep in your own bed. Posters and adverts were constantly telling new parents about the risks of co-sleeping and the dangers it might bring about for your child. I worried that people would judge. Instead, I found that most were doing the same thing or had done in the past, it’s just that no one told anyone. We found something that worked for us as a family.
Then one day, it didn’t work anymore. We spent a few weeks noticing N#1’s gradually worsening sleep patterns. He refused to fall asleep unless he was being held, rocked, patted, or a combination of all three. Once asleep we would try to lay him in his cot and he would immediately wake and fuss. So we picked him up again and resumed the rocking and patting until we thought we could attempt the cot-manoeuvre again. This routine could take hours.
And it wasn’t just the beginning of the night either. My husband and I would find ourselves taking shifts in the middle of the night to rock and pat N#1 back to sleep after a feed while the other attempted to get some rest. It was hard and people that we spoke to about it were adamant – that’s just how babies are sometimes. But we were surviving on just a few hours of sleep a night and that set off other problems.
My lack of sleep was causing me to have seizures, a condition which I has suffered with through pregnancy but seemed to disappear after giving birth. So the return of my seizures meant that I didn’t feel comfortable co-sleeping anymore, an arrangement which had often been our 4am fall-back plan. One night, while rocking N#1 at something past three in the morning I had felt a seizure about to come on and had just made it to get him out of my arms and back into his cot before it started. I felt like an unsafe mother. Something had to change.
Thank you for reading Part One! Part Two will be up next Monday as is my schedule (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.