A co-sleeping one off?

Last night we did something that I said I never wanted to do. It is a discussion Eddie and I have had many times but I am trying to maintain my ground on. We took Elbie into our bed when she woke at 2am and co-slept for the rest of the night. It’s not that I am against it or frown upon it as it is something that works for many families but it is just not right for me.

I was brought up in a family where my parents room was theirs and theirs only at night. It wasn’t some scary mysterious place that we were never allowed to enter. I spent lots of time as a child in there playing around with my mum’s make up and trying on her shoes or sat on their bed reading my books. I would sometimes prance around in front of their full length mirror when no one was looking pretending to be Madonna singing into my mum’s hairbrush. At night though it was different. If I had a nightmare or felt ill in the night I knew getting into my parents bed wasn’t an option but sneaking in to wake them up for some comfort definitely was. My mum would then get up with me and take me back to bed and if I really was feeling unwell or scared she would sit with me until I drifted back off, comfortable and snug in my own bed. Not getting into my parents bed was never an issue as it was never introduced to me, I didn’t feel like I was missing it or ever want to get in. I loved my bedroom and my bed and who doesn’t prefer to sleep in their own bed? I believe that it is important to show children that their own bed is a safe and comfortable place even when they are having a scary dream and it also shows them some independence. I don’t want Elbie to be reliant on us to sleep or get into a habit of having broken sleep.

Now that I’m a parent myself I can understand wanting to keep some space sacred too. A small place that we keep as a couple and child free. We live in a small flat so there isn’t much room that is not shared but our bed for me, is for Eddie and I. I want to be able to roll over as much as I want and stretch out if I need to.¬† I want to have the option of pulling the duvet up to my ears if I’m cold and most of all, some privacy for Eddie and I as husband and wife.

When pregnant I dreamt about the days our small little child would burst through the doors and jump on our bed waking us up at the crack of dawn. Lazy Sunday mornings with the three of us tucked up in bed chatting and being silly. This is not a dream now but our reality and these mornings are something that I cherish. Some of my favourite times that I want time to freeze so that I can capture the moment and make sure I never forget. This is all wonderful but only past 5.30am. That is my cut off. I know it probably sounds mean but before 5.30am it’s still sleeping time and sleeping time is for sleeping in our own beds. This is where Eddie and I disagree. Eddie is a firm believer in letting Elbie get into bed with us if she wakes in the night. He says that if she is frightened or simply can’t sleep then we should move over and make some room for her to hop in. We agree with most of our parenting but this is something we are struggling to agree on.

Last night happened by having no other option as Elbie was sharing a room with her big cousin and we didn’t want her to be woken as well. This is the first time she has woken in the night in months so it took us by surprise and we panicked a little about how to settle her again without the whole house waking so we chose the easy option. Elbie fell asleep curled up like a little warm football between us. And just like a football she rolled around all night long and kept me awake. I agree with Eddie in that having her so close and feeling her warmth while you sleep, or at least try to sleep, is amazing. Listening to her little breaths while she dreams is one of the best things ever but not while I am trying to get some shut eye. It of course has brought up the whole debate between us again and I’m sure it won’t be the last time it comes up either but fortunately for me, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, Eddie doesn’t often wake up to Elbie in the night if I’m there. This is where I’m hoping I can win this battle but only time will tell if this was a one off or if I will be sleeping on the edge of the bed.

Love vs hate

I don’t even know where to begin with writing this post as there are no words to describe the sadness of the barbarities that happened in Manchester a week ago today. My heart breaks for the friends and families of the ones that lost their lives in such a mindless act of evil. There are too many lives lost for senseless hatred and so many of them innocent children. As a mum I can’t contemplate the unimaginal pain that parents have to go through when losing a child and this past week I have been telling Elbie that I love her more than I usually do and hugging her that little bit tighter and holding on for longer. 

 

It scares me knowing that we are bringing Elbie up in a world that has so much hate. And as we sit here on the Eurostar where there are lots of strangers and crowds of people it makes me feel worried. I am so sad to say that I am but it’s the truth, I panic about taking her to busy areas or big events but of course I shouldn’t let myself panic because we cannot let them win because hatred can’t win. Hatred is a strong word but the one word that is stronger than hate, is love. I can’t keep Elbie away from hate or keep her wrapped up in cotton wool. I can’t never let her leave my side for the rest of my life and we most certainly won’t stop travelling but what I can do is educate her and teach her how to love. The evil that is out there right now that is promoting terror prey on the vulnerable and brainwash them to hate. I want to bring Elbie up knowing hope and to be brave and have courage. I want her to see the good and never discriminate for any reason whether it be gender, race, religion, sexuality or what hair colour someone decides to have. We are all humans and stripped back of all of these things this is all that we are, all exactly the same, human. I recently listened to a TED talk by Caroline Paul about teaching your daughters to be brave and have courage and it made me think. She spoke about studies that had shown parents consistently tell girls to be careful and not to do things like climbing while letting boys climb without the warning. This is why girls grow up ‘not being brave’ and boys grow up to be ‘brave’ because they have been taught from such a young age that girls shouldn’t have courage and  boys should. I want Elbie to be brave and I’m not just talking about the physical stuff like climbing trees and skateboarding. She is already pretty brave when it comes to that and is always the first baby to go off exploring and after I listened to the talk I realised that part of that was probably down to her naturally having some confidence but a lot of it was probably due to us as parents. We let her go off and find some adventure and discover her abilities rather than keep her by our feet at all times and constantly tell her to be wary of things. Don’t worry we don’t ever let her out of our site or let her play with knives or anything but I do feel that we are pretty relaxed about her gaining new experiences and encourage her to push her boundries. I also want her to have courage in what she believes in and to be brave and respect others. Not to be cowardly and fearful and to never choose hate over love. 

 

The night after the Manchester bomb a few of my close friends and I, who all children under the age of 5 were all saying how scared we were and that every tiny part of us wants to protect our children from everything that is bad in the world but as I have already said, this is impossible. We can’t and the same as our parents couldn’t all those years ago. I’m sure they still feel like they want to shield us from the bad but what they have done for us is that they have tought us right from wrong and shown us how to love. My friends and I have all been extremely lucky with our guidance and we all have the same hopes for our children. I’m sure all the parents that have had their lives ripped apart last Monday had the same hopes too. Let’s not let hatred win, not ever. Let’s teach our children to be brave and be full of love. My thoughts are with the people of Manchester and all the other families around the world who have had someone taken from them. 
Love rules. 

 

Love rules

One

It has been a while since I have written anything and to be honest I regret not writing things down. So much has happened since my last post and I’m worried I will forget the little things. It’s difficult finding the time these days as every moment I get to myself I either want to sleep or sit mindlessly staring at the tv. This I know is not very helpful to life but sometimes, most of the time, it’s all I can find the energy to do. So before I get distracted again and get cross with myself I’m writing about it.

 

Tomorrow my little Elbie turns one and I’m feeling so many emotions. I could never put into words how incredible the past year has been and also could have only imagined how much my life was about to change a year ago. Becoming a mother as I have said so many times has made me feel like this is what I have always been working towards and what I have been put on this planet to do. It is beyond magical. The day I found out I was pregnant with Elbie is the moment my life changed forever. My mind and body was consumed with nurturing and loving this tiny little bean inside of me which at the time I referred to as Blip. Our tiny little Blip. On my cycle to work I would talk to it and tell it how much I would love it and protect it while constantly worrying about it not becoming a reality. I was 17 weeks pregnant when I first felt a flutter of movement and as the months past Blip became Bump and our dream was definitely becoming reality. I couldn’t believe how much I loved this thing growing inside of my belly when I hadn’t even met it yet. My whole world was now about protecting my bump and watching and waiting while my belly grew. 

Pregnancy felt like a spiritual journey for me and I felt so lucky to be a woman, to be able to grow a human while doing my day to day business. How fucking amazing is that! Our due date was getting closer and closer and nesting became my favourite pastime. With the nursery painted and the cot up I began to wash and iron all of baby’s tiny new clothes (they were never ironed again that’s for sure). I read Katherine Graves‘ hynobirthing book over and over again, which I couldn’t recommend more and I was starting to look forward to labour and couldn’t wait to meet our little baby.
 

Just two days ago I was walking down the street pushing Elbie in her pram like I do almost every day and I had a flash back of waddling on the same road on the same route to the park. I was heavily pregnant with just days to go, trying to imagine what it was all going to be like. So much excitement and anticipation into the big unknown of motherhood. Thinking about this made me so happy and also made me chuckle to myself to think about how naive pregnant me was about labour and becoming a mum. You can try to prepare as much as you like but the truth is nothing can prepare you. On reflection I shouldn’t have wished my last days of pregnancy away and enjoyed being able to have a hot cup of tea. Appreciated being able to sleep for a solid period longer than two hours, although sleeping was getting pretty tough at 9 months pregnant anyway but at least I had the option of staying in bed. I should have read a book, had long uninterupted showers, enjoyed having a tidy flat and most of all taken in how incredible my husband was and savored our last days together before we became three. Of course a year on I can do most of these things again (I still haven’t read a book and definitely don’t have a tidy flat) but my goodness a year ago my life was about to get turned upside down, inside out and shaken about but in the best way ever!

Elbie Marjorie Josephine Noel was born at 19.59 on the 18th May 2016 weighing 6lbs. I was overcome with relief and the amount of love that I had for this tiny little slippery wrinkly bundle I had in my arms. This small human that was half me and half Eddie, we had created the most perfect baby that had ever been seen. Everything felt so surreal. I was a mum and this was my daughter. I remember scooping her up in the water and holding her for the first time, holding her tight to my chest and she looked up into my eyes. That was the moment my whole world changed again. I didn’t know that love that strong was possible, it scared me. I never ever wanted to let her go, not even for a second to get out of the pool.

 

The next 6 weeks were a haze with a mix of euphoria and tiredness. Tiredness like no other, tiredness, just oh so so tired. How can a baby that practically sleeps all of the time not sleep at all?! I couldn’t believe how tired I was. Even when I did sleep I slept with one eye open, constantly checking that Elbie was still breathing. Looking back now though I look back with such fondness on those nights that I would be up while the world around me slept. I would hear the little husky cry of Elbie next to my bed and drag myself up into the living room, wrap myself and Elbie up in blankets and put on Mad Men. I watched episode after episode with Elbie intermittently guzzling and falling asleep for a few minutes then feeding some more. No one told me that new borns feed for hours at a time, like many other things I would come across as a new mum that people don’t talk about. Each day we learnt something new and got to know Elbie and she got to know us too. We would spend our days gazing at our perfect daughter in absolute awe. We couldn’t believe she was ours to keep. One night after Eddie had sent me to catch up on some sleep I heard him playing Prince’s The Most Beautiful Girl in the World to Elbie on his phone. I was the happiest girl in the world.

The weeks past and so did the months. Each milestone celebrated and I found my self constantly working towards the next. Elbie’s first smile and first laugh. She made us work for that laugh and the first time I heard her laugh was when I was dancing and singing in the kitchen. It was the best sound I had ever heard and still is. She began to roll then sit and then came the weaning stage which was so much fun. She felt like she was on the cusp of crawling forever but as soon as she got it boy was she quick. This was when I learnt to stop earning for the next milestone. Why oh why was I so keen for her to crawl? Watching and guiding Elbie’s growth and development is both the biggest joy and fear I have ever known. I’m sure this is something every parent feels, it is such a huge responsibility and what if I get it wrong? I do know that I try my best every day though to teach her right from wrong and how to be mindful and strong.  

Now here we are about to celebrate a whole year, a whole year of Elbie Marjorie Josephine Noel. A whole year of being parents. A whole year of pure unconditional love and happiness. 

Happy 1st birthday little chicken! 
Xxxx

 

 

Dear Elbie #7

Dear Elbie,

Today was a big day for both of us, well it was probably a bit of a bigger deal for me than it was for you but even so it was big. It was your first day at nursery! It was actually only two hours for you to settle in but still. If I’m being honest it was only supposed to be one hour but I looked at the wrong week in my diary and thought it was supposed to be two. That was until I got a phone call from the nursery asking me where I was. Sorry about that. They assured me that you were having fun though so my mum guilt wore off slightly. I promise I will try to look at the right week in my diary from now on.

When we got there you had just woken up so I was a bit concerned that you might be feeling a bit sensitive but as soon as you saw the other kids your face lit up, I knew you were going to be fine. The nursery staff sat you in the little chair at the little table next to the other little people and you were beaming. You are so interested in other children and get so excited about meeting new babies it makes me smile. You are going to be a social butterfly I’m sure. The staff asked me if I wanted to kiss you good bye but I didn’t want to spoil your moment, so I took your moment in. I stood there with my heart about to burst with pride watching you join in and hold your own, sitting in that little chair at that little table with the other little people. I walked home feeling sad that time has gone so quickly but overjoyed that you are such a happy little girl. 

You had a great day and showed off with the amount of food you can eat and even did some potato painting. You did however fight with another girl over some toys but I guess you aren’t even nine months old yet, we can work on that. Next week you really are going for two hours, I double checked.

Love mummy xx

Home

We made it back! We were greeted by a grey sky and rain but I wouldn’t expect anything else and after such a long journey of being cooped up in a dry aired plane I was happy to feel the rain on my tired cheeks. The journey really surprised us coming home with the first two legs being the longest were actually more enjoyable and easier than our very short flight from Paris to London. The flight times home are always slightly longer than the outward journey due to winds (so I was told once) and I was also a tad worried about getting ill again mid flight but we all managed to sleep on the second leg and this made it so much easier and more enjoyable. We were then viewing our final part as a breeze, a forty-five minute flight after nine and twelve hour flights consecutively would be no problem at all right? Wrong. Oh God it was awful. Firstly we had a five hour stop over in Paris which was actually fine but added to our tiredness even if we didn’t feel it at the time. We were allowed onto the aircraft where we were then delayed. At least being delayed in the airport you can walk around but when on the plane you are stuck, this is not good when you have a tired baby on your hands. There was only so much breastfeeding I could do to calm her down and she was getting herself wired. I knew we wouldn’t get her to sleep on board as she is not the type of baby who will fall asleep on you no matter how tired she is. So we had a groggy baby, we were stuck on the runway and I could feel myself starting to panic about the flight. My panic grew as the plane finally started to taxi and once we took off the fear set in. Like I said the first two flights were fine and for some reason I don’t get as scared on larger planes. This could be due to the size and not being able to feel and hear every noise the flight makes but the smaller flights my deary me do I shit my pants. The exhaustion definitely wasn’t helping the situation for both myself or Eddie who was getting frustrated with me. His frustration with my irrational behaviour which is understandable only made things worse though. And while this is all going on Elbie is super wired and trying to pull and grab everything in sight and crying if she couldn’t get what she wanted. It was a forty-five minute nightmare. Then of course we landed, safely may I add and once we were eventually let off the plane all was forgotten and Elbie could sleep. Home! Well almost, we still needed to drive back from the airport but no more air travel and the rest of our journey was uneventful. Back to reality and to try and introduce some sort of routine again. 

Australia 

This blog post has been sitting in my draft folder since we arrived in Sydney on the 21st of December. I have been meaning to post it but we have been so busy I haven’t had the chance. Now as we start to prepare for our epic journey home I thought I better get it up. Who knows travelling home may be a different story altogether.

It was our first Christmas in Australia as a family. Actually it was both Elbie’s and my first Christmas in Australia so it was all pretty exciting while packing at home. The long flight though was something if honest I was dreading before we left. I’m not the best flyer and usually struggle with the 24+ hour journey anyway but the thought of having to look after a baby on top of worrying about death every time the plane makes a new noise filled me with anxiety. We have travelled a lot with Elbie already and it wasn’t her first flight but long haul is very different to a flight to France. It is a long time to be awake looking after a baby in a confined space while trying not to have a panic attack. But like most things with babies that I have discovered, the thought of it compared to the reality is usually vastly different and it was actually OK. 

Elbie was a superstar and dealt with everything in her stride. I fed her going up and down which not only helps her ears but also calms me down (mostly). She looks up at me nipple in mouth and if she could speak I’m sure she would be saying “sort your shit out mum, this is fun”. So with that little face and those big eyes looking up at me I calm down a notch. Elbie is having a great time. We were super organised and had booked seats with a bassinet months in advance thinking the bassinet was essential to our journey but we hadn’t quite thought it through. Elbie sleeps on her front and we use ‘crying out’ to get her to sleep so this threw up a couple of issues. She didn’t have much room for her arms and her little chicken wings would knock against the side, this made it near impossible for her to get comfortable. We also decided ‘crying out’ wouldn’t make us very popular with our fellow passengers either so we ended up using the ergo baby. This meant that one of us couldn’t sleep when she slept, well, mainly Eddie who is my hero travelling buddy husband. I have to say I was close to useless 37000ft up in the air at hour 15. It was long but we made it though. If anyone is thinking of taking a long flight with a baby who is older than six months I would say a baby carrier like our ergo baby is essential. We would have gone crazy without it.

The next challenge we encountered on our big trip was the inevitable bastard jetlag. I said I was dreading the flight but this was the big monster I was really worried about. Every time we come to Australia I take about five days to adjust and I was very concerned that we were going to be like zombies in a far away time zone dealing with our daughter who had no idea what time of day or night it was. I think it made a huge difference taking a flight that arrived in the evening but again though I was pleasantly surprised at how easily she adjusted. Now don’t get me wrong the first three or four nights weren’t much of a laugh but between the two of us we managed it and I also think it made us get over our own jetlag quickly. I used delicious baby blog to help guide me with our baby jetlag, I found it very helpful and kept night awakenings as quiet as possible. Once she had stopped waking at 3am to play she started to sleep amazingly. Her sleep has been an absolute dream since. I’m definitely not counting on it continuing when we get home but I’m in full appreciation right now. Jetlag is usually worse coming this way so there is a glimmer of hope when we return. 

We leave in just one day and although my fear of flying is still there hiding at the back of my mind, my dread of travelling that far with a seven month old has gone. Good job too as our family live in Australia and this is a trip we will be making every year. 
 

Dear Elbie #6

Dear Elbie,

Right now I am sat downstairs after putting you to bed listening and watching you on the monitor. Normally you either like to have a little protest or will go straight to sleep but not tonight. You are lying in your cot having a little chat with Pon the polar bear in the dark. You have him tightly gripped in your left hand like you always do, just in case he tries to escape and are having what sounds like a very interesting conversation. Although I’m not entirely sure it can be classed as a conversation when you are the only one talking but maybe you can hear something I can’t. Whatever it is though you are adorable to watch and listen to. I hope you manage to put the world to rights before you fall asleep but I also would like very much for you to fall asleep soon. 

Love mummy xx