As soon as you realise that sleep deprivation is the root of all evil – which pretty much occurs the minute you come home from the hospital with your little miracle – your greatest aspiration in life becomes getting them to ‘sleep through’ (*translate* – you want to sleep through).
It becomes a bit of an obsession in fact, an ongoing quest to seek out that magic formula as though there’s some ‘cure’ to get your baby to ‘sleep through’ – if only you could work it out. The idea that your baby is actually capable of sleeping through – but just isn’t doing – becomes all-consuming. You quiz your friends who seem to have sussed it – they must not be telling you something. You change your mind about what the magic formula must be on a weekly basis. Our journey has gone something like this:
One week: “Perhaps she’s sleeping too much in the day, let’s try cutting her naps”
The week after: “Sleep most definitely breeds sleep”
One week: Let’s just top her up with as much milk as possible before we go to bed”
The week after: “She still wakes up at the same time anyway, let’s not disturb her”
One week: “Just keep putting her dummy back in, she’s not hungry”
The week after: “Now she’s just crying for her dummy – I think we should take it away”
One week: “Maybe she is hungry after all, perhaps we should just offer her a feed again every time she wakes up”
The week after: “She’s definitely not hungry, let’s try hot water.”
When Taylor hit five months we thought we had finally cracked it. She actually slept through. And I’m talking 7pm to 6am sleeping through, so definitely something to celebrate. We started to stay up past 10.30pm to watch ‘just one more episode’ of House of Cards and even indulged in a second glass on wine on some nights. We thought we were one of the lucky ones.
This lasted for an entire six nights…
And then on the seventh night, Taylor woke up and exclaimed “Ha! Not really! I was just playing with you guys!” Not quite, but she may as well have done. And now we’re up every couple of hours again, adamant that we’re not going to feed her (“she’s not even hungry!!!”) until I finally give in (following nappy changes, cuddles, teething powder, hot water, Calpol and every other remedy in that book), knowing that a little milk is the only thing that will get me one more hour of sleep (“but she’s not hungry – look she’s just fussing.”) Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
And it’s not the first time she tricked us. At three months she went for a whole two weeks of just waking up at 4am, feeding and then going back to sleep until 7am. I felt normal again. Fresher than ever in fact. Until again, she decided that ‘actually mum, I quite liked being fed every three hours afterall’. What the hell????
So my dear friends, do not let them trick you. Just when you think you’ve finally cracked it, your little bundle will probably have other ideas. I’ve finally accepted that I just need to go with it, not over-analyse and enjoy those good nights while they last.
Who needs sleep anyway?
Being a new parent is no easy feat. Despite getting by on four hours’ sleep a night and having to adjust to a whole new way of life, there’s an expectation that because you are now a mother/father you should all of a sudden become the most organised, responsible and capable person overnight.
Alongside this, there are also those ‘rules’set out by the healthcare professionals that put the fear of god in you from day one – if you don’t abide by them you are a very bad parent. Not to mention your baby eyeing your every move with suspicion and wailing whenever you don’t quite understand her needs – ‘seriously, what kind of mother are you?’And to top it all off, there seems to be a whole host of very organised, responsible and capable parents everywhere you go – the ones with four kids in tow who don’t seem in the slightest bit flustered and smile at you with pity for not knowing that your pushchair wouldn’t quite fit in the lift.
So here is my list of those times (so far) I’ve been very aware of my ‘newbie mum’ status:
1) I realise baby has been in her car seat for a whole 2 hours and 10 minutes. I’m not quite sure what’s happened to baby during those extra ten minutes, but I know it’s really bad.
3) Those pesky vests are sooo difficult to put on, especially when baby’s screaming and throwing her arms and legs all over the place. After a particularly stressful episode, I finally get it on. Only to realise it’s on BACK TO FRONT.
4) I forgot the red book – again. The health visitor, nurse, doctor asks encouragingly, ‘has it been a bit of a stressful morning?’ No it hasn’t actually, I’m just a terrible mother.
5) I’ve been winding baby for at least 20 minutes now and she hasn’t burped yet. I convince myself that I must have just missed it and put her back in her crib and crawl back into bed. She’s immediately sick all over herself.
6) I was sure I tucked baby’s blankets into the mattress but wake up to find that she’s pulled them up over her face. I’ve been lead to believe that she will die if this happens. Luckily she’s alive and smiling.
7) I decide to go out for a nice walk. Half way through it starts to piss it down and I didn’t bring the rain cover for the pram. Baby is not happy.
8) I momentarily forget I have a baby and plan a night out…
I don’t think I ever thanked you for those months at the beginning of my life when you doted on me no matter what. I confess that I was just testing you, trying to see how far I could push you – you were just so nice to me all the time…So I played a few cruel tricks on you. Just for kicks really.
Now that I’m experiencing this first hand myself (karma hey?) I think a few apologies are long overdue. So here goes…
I’M SO SORRY FOR:
- Throwing the dummy out of my crib for the seventh time that night. I decided I didn’t want it after all.
- Letting you change my outfit and then weeing all over it in the 4 seconds you took to swap my nappy. I thought I was being funny. You clearly didn’t.
- Pretending to be asleep every time the health visitor, midwife, friends, family visited so that you would look like a big fat fibber.
- Letting you take ages swaddling me and then breaking out of it as soon as you put me down. I thought you were testing my motor skills.
- Waiting until you settled down to watch the next episode of that drama you were in to and then screaming for you. I just wanted to see whodunnit.
- Eye-balling and smiling at you during the night feeds. I knew you were trying not to look at me.
- Crying for food for two hours and then falling back to sleep once you got up to make the bottle. I was just playing with you.
Please forgive me, I knew not what I did.
On 18th December we welcomed our beautiful daughter Taylor Ann into the world! The best Christmas present we could ever dream of.
With Christmas and New Year festivities alongside getting to grips with parenthood and daily visits from family, friends and health visitors, I haven’t had a minute to myself. So I’m looking forward to getting into some sort of routine and enjoying having our little munchkin all to ourselves. Birth story post to follow but for now here are some shots of Taylor’s first two weeks…
A long-standing trend in the US, baby showers have seen a huge rise is popularity over the last few years here in the UK. Yet despite the Daily Mail (who else?) reporting this week that mums to be are totting up to £10,000 on the celebration with professional planners, lavish venues and expensive gift lists, there’s something about the baby shower which seems rather un-British. For a start, we are utterly useless at self-celebration and I for one start to noticeably squirm whenever I’m the centre of attention in a large group.
So the idea of all eyes being on me whilst gracefully accepting gifts from all of my guests wasn’t instantly appealing to me. But my lovely friend Jo offered to arrange mine for me – and I’m so glad that she did! Having a baby is the biggest event to ever happen in your life, and after having now had my baby shower, I can’t actually think of a more fitting way to celebrate. Spending £10,000 to turn it into a self-indulgent reflection of the mother-to-be is not necessary, however a low-key affair with close family and friends to enjoy together is what every British mum-to-be needs in her life.
So thank you Jo, for arranging my baby shower and thanks to my lovely mum who relished the opportunity to bake ample cakes, scones and make the sandwiches.
With the celebrations commencing at 12.30 on a Sunday afternoon, we decided on an afternoon tea theme for the food. After each enjoying a glass of pink cava (myself excluded – bah!) we tucked into mum’s feast of mini sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cake, cake and more cake.
Mum even insisted on bringing her own tea cups and saucers (I did tell her I have some more than adequate mugs but apparently they need to match for such an occasion). She also brought some posh miniature butter knives and forks – the type that only your mum has and that you only ever see on Christmas day (or at baby showers apparently).
As I’m expecting a girl, the theme for the food was of course generally pink! Mum baked the most amazing chocolate fudge cake encircled with Cadbury chocolate fingers and topped with strawberries and white chocolate buttons. Jo added to the spread with these adorable teddy cupcakes made at a local bakery – almost too cute to eat!
Whilst mum set about turning my kitchen into the Ritz, Jo busied herself adding some sparkle to our living room with balloons, confetti, banners, and – to everyone’s glee – horrendous baby photos of us all which she hung on the walls.
As not many people knew each other this was a great way to break the ice, and also formed the basis for a couple of games we played later on. If you fancy going all out on your decorations there are loads of companies now specialising in baby shower themes and decor from bunting to table centre pieces. You might want to start with the following links for some initial inspiration:
Alternatively, you can pick up various items on Ebay and Amazon and the supermarkets also sell a great range.
Knowing that I’m expecting a baby girl meant that all of the ‘guess the gender’ type games were out of the window, but there are still loads of fun games you can play. Here are some of ours:
Fun quizzes – Jo had arranged some fun quizzes (celebrity babies and nursery rhymes). Needless to say the mums in the room were much more clued up on the nursery rhymes than the rest of us – I had better swot up on those!
Match the baby photo – Everybody had brought along a baby photo of themselves and we had to guess which photo belonged to which guest. This definitely created the most laughs and brought out the competitive side in us all.
Guess the size of Nat’s bump – Cut the ribbon to guess the size of the bump. Apparently I look humongous as everyone’s guess was pretty much twice my size! Fails all-round.
Jo had also brought along a chart for everyone to fill in their guesses of baby’s size and name. The chart was made out of sturdy card and guests used a cute stamp for their chosen date, so it will also serve as a lovely keepsake – I might even frame it for baby’s nursery.
Afterwards came the opening of the gifts (everybody was far too generous!) with even more tea and cake.
The day left me feeling warm and gooey inside and even more excited for baby’s arrival. It also made me realise what a fantastic support network of great friends and family I have around me and admittedly, I actually enjoyed being the centre of attention for the day!
So, thanks America for introducing this great celebration to the UK. And Brits – loosen up and indulge in some self-celebration!
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