Sleepless at Gladstone Place

I’m not entirely sure where the saying “sleeping like a baby” comes from but if what they are actually referring to is someone who screams everytime they go to bed, wakes up almost every hour and actually has no idea how to sleep at all then OK I agree with it but it doesn’t mean that does it. So in fact it is total rubbish and extremely misleading. Babies don’t sleep, well mine doesn’t anyway. Elbie used to be a great sleeper and treated us to whole nights of sleep at one point. We could put her down in her moses basket, she would have a little look around if she wasn’t already asleep then close her eyes and off she went for at least 8 hours. This was for a very short period of 5-6 weeks but we thought we had nailed it. We tried not to be but deep down we felt pretty smug. We thought we had produced a sleeping angel but that halo didn’t just slip a little, it came tumbling down and crashed right into a sleepless hell. 

Although smug and secretly hoping that Elbie was now going to sleep through the night until she moved out of home and went off to university, I knew down in my boots it wouldn’t last. What I didn’t think was that she would revert back to sleeping the way she did just days after she was born. I don’t want Elbie to sleep just for selfish reasons either. Well at the moment it’s mainly for our benefit but in the not too distant future Elbie will need to concentrate during the day on school. I don’t want a kid who is up all night and unable to sleep and settle themselves. I want her to be able to get the most out of her days without being tired. 

Those first nights of Elbie’s life are all a bit of a blur of sleeplessness but I do remember people saying “it gets better”. They lied to me along with that stupid saying. Things have most definitely got worse. At least when Elbie was a new born she had no idea if it was day or night so it didn’t matter if I sat up at 3am watching Mad Men to keep me awake and entertained. Now though I have to promote sleep at night so when she wakes it is nothing but tears and feeding in the darkness, that goes for myself and Elbie. Struggling with all my might to keep my eyes open and my frustration at bay. For the last few weeks Elbie has pretty much been waking every hour and now her new thing is to wake in the middle of the night wanting to play. I think she feels like she needs to practice her new skills and party which I totally understand but mummy really doesn’t want to join in on this party. 

It’s so difficult to know what to do for the best. I have read many books, blogs and forums and each and everyone says something different. Advice from health visitors is different and of course offerings from friends differs too! We have tried one strategy one night which seems to work then fails catastrophically the next night so how do we know what to stick to?! 

After many many conversations about our little party monster’s habits the one thing that crops up time and time again is the “crying out method”. Although controversial it seems to be the only thing that has had a blanket effect (no pun intended) on sleeping issues with most of my friends and friends of friends. Eddie has been keen to try this method out as we are close to the end of our tether but all that we have read says not to attempt until 6 months. I would definitely prefer another way of gaining some much needed shut eye back but we seem to be running out of options. I have definitely found the sleeping issues of parenting the hardest so far and I’m sure we still have a very bumpy ride ahead of us. For now though I’m just going to have to embrace and treasure that Elbie still needs us to fall asleep. One more month of hourly awakenings for cuddles with mummy and daddy isn’t the end of the world. A lot is going to change at 6 months so I need to cherish her being so small and needy as I’m sure once she figures out how to settle herself I will somehow miss our night time snuggles, even if it doesn’t feel that way now.

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Dear Elbie #4

Dear Elbie,

This week we have given a lot of money to local buskers. I’m all for supporting artists normally anyway but it turns out they are now my best friends. You can be on the brink of meltdown because you are so unbelievably tired but refuse to accept the fact that you are 4.5 months old and need to nap, then magic happens. We walk past one of the many wonderful buskers in town and just like that the tears stop and you let your eyes close. I have started to hover around buskers at nap times rocking you back and forth for half an hour. You’re not that fussy about the music although reggae is not your favourite right now. Thank god for street music! 

Love mummy xx

Combination feeding continued

The way you decide to feed your baby is such a personal choice and all parents I’m sure make their choices for the best reasons. Some on the other hand are forced into formula feeding for reasons out of their control. I have recently been in contact with a new mum who has had a rough start to motherhood and due to having such a traumatic time is having difficulties breastfeeding. She had planned on breastfeeding and as a mother is finding it hard to come to terms with the possibility that this is now something she may not be able to do. This of course has left her riddled with mum guilt. I don’t think she should feel guilty, she is a fantastic mum with a thriving little baby who is surrounded by love but I do totally understand the way she is feeling and if it was the other way round I’m sure I would be feeling exactly the same.

 
I have realised just how lucky and easy I have had it dealt to me as a first time mum. I have so much respect and appreciation for those strong women who have encountered obstacles at beginnings of their motherhood journeys. Feeling guilty about the way you feed your baby is the last thing you need as a new mummy but as I have already discussed I think it is something we all encounter whatever the reason. After talking about my mum guilt before though I now feel gratitude that I was given a choice at all.

 
Eddie and I have always been social butterflies and it wasn’t until I fell pregnant and couldn’t drink anymore that I realised how much I enjoyed a glass of red wine. I missed it so much! Don’t get me wrong we weren’t raving alcoholics but we did enjoy a glass after a stressful day or liked to share a nice bottle of Rioja over dinner at the weekend with friends. And I missed that more than anything. Although I missed wine while pregnant I wasn’t fussed about missing the party or having to go home early, as let’s be honest I was knackered and would much prefer to be in bed. The first few months of being a mum was the same story. Despite wanting a glass of the red stuff just the thought of having one and then having to be up all night gave me a headache. I still didn’t mind missing out on social events either as my preference was to be sat at home on the sofa with my snuggly new baby instead of a noisy pub. This was lovely for the first three months but as we found our feet as parents I started to crave a fraction of my old life back. I also started to resent Eddie. I resented that he could still play football, that he could still drink and that he could pretty much do everything he could before we had Elbie. Now this was where my battle was. I had chosen to breastfeed and that wasn’t about to change but I was starting to feel like nothing but a milk machine. I felt like I was losing a bit of me and all at the same time wanted to breastfeed, which means having a baby stuck to you every 2 hours or so. I was starting to look forward to going to sainsbury’s for half an hour so that I could be free to wonder up and down the aisles thinking about anything but babies. I didn’t want a big night out or go and get drunk. I wanted to go to the cinema and yes you guessed it, a large glass of wine with my friends. I hated that I resented Eddie as it’s not his fault, I’m sure if he could he would breastfeed. And this is of course where mum guilt comes in. I felt guilty for even feeling like this let alone saying it out loud and admitting it. I felt awful that I would volunteer to pick up the pizzas just for 10 minutes alone time. Or enjoy taking the bins out. But I did say it out loud and it was the best thing I could have done.

 
I know I wanted to exclusively breast feed and you are probably wondering why I didn’t express so that Eddie could give bottles. I did begin with expressing and I still do but I don’t get much out each time and to be honest that was also contributing to me feeling like a milk machine. If I wasn’t feeding then I was expressing. We now give Elbie bottles of either full formula or half breast milk and half formula whenever I need a night off. It is working well for all of us. Elbie gets her much needed nutrition, Eddie gets some daddy/daughter time and mummy gets a bit of her old self back and everyone is happy.