Spending too much time together

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Looking back on my maternity leave, my husband and I were very fortunate, although technically allegedly the Turk was rennovating the house, we were both at home throughout my 14 months.  For the first six months I found this frustrating, we never saw him.  I felt so alone.  We would hear him a lot, he would shout up the stairs “why is the baby crying so much, have you fed him?” and I would throw something at him…it wasn’t great…

He worked so hard that at 10pm in the evening I would have to go and find him and beg him to stop work and come to spend some time with us.  Aside from missing out on valuable time with his baby I really needed some support and company.

After Christmas 2013 the momentum on the money pit lessened.  Our builders had disappeared with our money leaving us in an incomplete house so it was just the Turk working on the rennovation, he had lost a lot of motivation and so spent more time with us “preparing to do work on the house” and less time “actually doing work on the house”.  This meant that we spent a lot more time together as a family, admittedly mainly traipsing around DIY stores or in front of the computer trying to work out how to fix the toilet.

This is a good thing…or is it?

I have to say for us it really wasn’t.  I think we spent too much time together, we started to bicker, and pick at each other.  Of course I think every couple does this when you have a new baby and not enough sleep, but to do this more and more as the baby was settled and slept more is a bit strange.  Suddenly my tactics for enforcing naps were questioned, someone else had a view and wanted to try putting Jem down for a nap.  There were two of us there at every mealtime – great – you might think, but actually that’s two people arguing about how much the baby eats, how much is thrown on the floor, whose turn it is to get the water and who left the bib in the living room.

Since going back to work it’s hard to hand over control, but I’ve had to let go.  We still try and have our evening meal all together and we have our weekends, but actually there’s a lot to be said for spending a little less time together.  It means we seem to bicker less, and we actually each have something different to talk about during mealtimes as we haven’t spent all day doing the same thing.  Yes we argue about how many nights out I really need, and why the housework isn’t progressing quite as well as I’d like, but I think we each now have a better understanding of the role of the person at home and give each other a little more slack than we might have done before.

Sleep…the shock

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I’ve always loved sleep, I could literally sleep 23 hours a day and be happy (I would wake for food of course…)

I knew that sleep would be an issue with a young baby, but I didn’t think it would be too bad.  My biggest worry was the Turk…he also likes his sleep.  Given that on one occasion when I heard footsteps in our flat and tried to wake him up (and it took a LOT to wake him up) he turned into a monster who found it quite unreasonable to have to wake up for a burglar and said “what is it you think I’m going to do if it is a burglar…” (note: it wasn’t a burglar, it was our upstairs neighbour creeping around her own flat…) so I was a tad concerned that (a) he might not get woken up by the baby when it was his turn; (b) that he would get angry at the baby waking him up.

I needn’t have worried.

He managed to sleep through any noise the baby or I made except on 3 extreme occasions…

I didn’t do so well, the first day he was born he slept a lot so we napped together, and that first night apart from mad screaming to try and feed he slept pretty well too, admittedly with me on my hospital bed (of course with mandatory nighttime leakage…this was to become my friend over the coming months).  Our first night at home he slept a straight 6 hours (not a good thing…but lovely) before he fell into his routine…

Routine = good…?

No, Jem’s routine was to nap after every feed for about 20-30 minutes.  Only on me, he would wake as soon as he was put down (which I appreciate is very very common).  We would all go to bed at around half 10, I would sit up with the baby feeding and crying until 2am, when he generally fell asleep for 2 hours…then it would all start again for the day.

It was hard, much harder than I expected.

With hindsight I should have been firmer, but I had no confidence.  The baby really didn’t need feeding every time he cried, he needed sleep.  He was very tired.  I was very tired…I cried a LOT.

At some point during the first week or so I was waiting for the 2am sleep, but he didn’t go down…it took another hour.  I felt horrendous.

During the fourth week I attempted sleeping sat up on the sofa with the baby on my shoulder (I know how dangerous this is, but I was desperate, I literally hadn’t slept more than 2 hours in one go and that was only once a day!) which worked a little better, he slept longer and I could doze a bit, but it wasn’t great for my back and I was scared something might happen to him.

If I could go back and speak to myself at that time I would say “it will get a lot better…then a lot worse…then better again”.  In fact I feel slightly guilty that this is the advice I give to anyone with a new baby who asks me for advice, it sounds a bit negative, but I think if you’re really down it helps to know!

I would also send Jem out with someone (literally anyone I could find, the Turk wasn’t around to do it and was pretty unwilling when he was) for an hour or two a day and give myself strict instructions to nap during that time.  It would have done us both a massive amount of good, I didn’t appreciate at the time how much sleep a baby would need or should have.  I assumed if they were tired they would sleep…no?!

Do you monitor your baby…?

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When I was pregnant I started shopping for a baby monitor.

This should have been simple, I applied my same system that I used for every baby related purchase:

  1. Make a new page on my spreadsheet, entitled “baby monitors”
  2. List every baby monitor that has ever existed and been sold in Europe the UK
  3. Panic about how many there are
  4. Read reviews of every single item on my list, making notes of particularly salient points on said spreadsheet
  5. Delete every monitor with a bad review
  6. Reinstate monitors with bad reviews which don’t appear to be justified
  7. Attempt to look up safety records
  8. Re-read reviews
  9. Go to shop and attempt to view each monitor
  10. Speak to 10 people and ask for their views
  11. Post in a forum about baby monitors asking for views on your top 10
  12. Check Kiddiecare website regularly to see which baby monitor is selling quickest
  13. Order remaining baby monitors in order of price
  14. Finalise decision
  15. Purchase baby monitor and learn to use it

Unfortunately on this occasion I didn’t get to the end of my 15 step programme before my baby arrived (…and he was 12 days late…)

During my NCT course our teacher had advised that baby monitors were largely unnecessary if you lived in a flat as you would be able to hear the baby.  Naturally we, the group, disagreed.  My own preference was for a monitor which had a pad under the mattress to monitor breathing, but others were adamant that they had to have video monitors.  We all had valid reasons, mine being how could I be assured that the baby was breathing if I didn’t have this?  I had never held a baby at this point, I assumed that this was an essential and therefore made me a good parent (surely with a video monitor I would have to watch constantly to check baby was still breathing…very time consuming and difficult when I will of course be doing many other vital and important things…)

Naturally I didn’t have the monitor by the time the baby was born (it was a lot of money and despite all my research the Turk was not convinced we needed to spend quite so much…

In fairness the NCT teacher did have a point, at the time we were living in 2 rooms right next to each other, even when not in the bedroom I could hear Jem breathing (he was, and still is, rather wheezy when he sleeps.)

However, we would one day be using more of our 5 bedroom house (you see I still had faith) so I persisted in my plan to buy a baby monitor.  My priorities had changed by this point…having passed the 4 month point I was a lot more relaxed about breathing (the baby rarely slept more than 2 hours at a time…I got over it and cared more about sleeping) and I was anxious to move into our real bedroom, and more importantly shift the baby into his.

I redid the process.

Only with a baby it went more like this:

  1. Google “baby monitor with lullabies”
  2. Pick the top one
  3. Attend shop to buy it
  4. Discover that Tomy actually make a variety of these…
  5. Return home and read reviews on all Tomy baby monitors
  6. Debate between 2 for 2 weeks until the Turk says “just buy one and stop asking me what I think, I don’t care I can’t tell the difference between them”
  7. Order said baby monitor online
  8. Stress about whether it is the right one until it arrives…

First night of using baby monitor I put Jem into his moses basket awake (the Holy Grail of baby sleep), put the lullabies on, and he fell asleep…

…Love my baby monitor….

…Never worked again.

In short, what I have learned is this:

  • It is possible to overthink baby related purchases
  • Of course you want the best for your baby (I’ll tell you about the saga of the car seat another time) and what you buy should be right for you
  • What is right for you isn’t necessarily right for someone else
  • You will always worry, no matter what you buy
  • Just because the first time you play your baby electronic lullabies results in instant sleepage does not mean this will be repeated…ever…again

Post script:

What the NCT teacher did point out to me was that if I was so bothered about checking baby’s breathing I should probably go on a First Aid course to check that I would know what to do should breathing stop…I did a first aid course and would thoroughly recommend to all.

But when…?

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This is my first attempt at poetry since secondary school…please don’t laugh!

 

If I could have my time again,
I’d never use the phrase “but when…”
But when will you sleep?
But when will you walk?
But when will you grow?
But when will you talk?
If I knew then what I now know;
I’d stop to watch you bloom and grow.
I’d keep you near;
I’d savour those snuggles;
I’d listen for you,
and relish those cuddles.
When I think back to hours wasted asleep,
I really could curl up and weep.
My shining star,
That little boy,
You really are my pride and joy
Copyright Adventures of an Unprepared Mother 20.5.14

 

Woo hoo nappage success

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Whilst I am fairly sure it’s not the done thing to double blog in one day, something so exciting happened today that I just have to share.

I put the little man down for his morning nap, nothing unusual there.  I leave the room, wait, there’s no screaming so I do my little “successful nap” dance and wander off to clean my teeth (it’s only 10.30am…don’t judge me he’s tough work).  In our house no screams when I leave the room = successful nap time (aka “nappage”) for anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours (obviously only long when we need to go out…)

After teeth cleaning I peek through the door to Jem’s room…he’s not asleep…he is playing with the toys on his mobile…which I thought he couldn’t reach…

What to do?

Do I go in and lay him down?

Do I ignore him and head downstairs?

Surely either option will immediately lead to screaming…so I choose the latter, which means I can put the kettle on 😉

Anyway a short time later the Turk is heading up the stairs so I ask him to stick his head around the door (ahha, excellent trick, that way if Jem screams it’s not my fault and/or I can blame him for ‘waking up’ the baby)…

The Turk: “He’s asleep with his bottom in the air”

Me: “what?”

The Turk: “He’s asleep”

Me: “He can’t be…”

The Turk: “But you put him down…?” *puzzled face*

Me: “Yes, yes I did”

WOW

So, he occupied himself, then simply lay down and went to sleep…how did this happen…what parenting trick did I use…how can I replicate this…?  Amazing nappage, love it 🙂