Saturday, 7 June 2014

Momentous news!

Earlier this week R and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary, which was lovely. You can see M here approving of our festivities! But, this post is not about that. It is about something more important than marriage...'s about sleep. 

If you have children of your own you will know that for at least the first year all parents talk about is sleep, or the lack thereof. We've had our own fair share of challenges. M is nine months old tomorrow, and has been waking up every two hours, or even every hour, for a feed from R. And it has been taking its toll. Everything is harder without sleep - the other night R asked me to change the batteries in one of M's toys. It had been a very busy day, following a vey disturbed night. She may as well have asked me to run a marathon. It felt like a gargantuan task. And that's just me. R has it far worse than that. 

So we needed to make a change. After a long discussion, reading lots of (naturally conflicting) online advice, and a chat to the health visitor, we felt we had to allow M to have some independence. We needed to teach her to settle herself to sleep, we had to stop rocking/feeding her to sleep. But how?

On Wednesday we started. Instead of feeding her to sleep, we made sure she was in her cot *before* she went to sleep. I took the first shift. The commitment was that we wouldn't leave her alone to cry. But equally we wouldn't get her out of the cot if she was upset. She screamed, writhed and generally complained for 40 minutes. I sat in the corne of her room so she knew I was there. It was tough. I had to stop myself from picking her up, which was really counter-intuitive. I verbally reassured her a few times and, finally, when I thought that things couldn't get any worse, she dropped off. I was stunned. Ok it had taken 40 minutes. But she had settled herself. This process was repeated several times through the night, and it's safe to say that both me and R were wrung out by the morning. We soent some time trying to reassure ourselves we were doing the right thing. 

On Thursday, with some trepidation, I put M to bed, using the same approach. I settled in for a long sit down, and indeed R had left me some earplugs. But then something exaordinary happened. She moaned for five minutes, and then fell asleep. When R and I awoke at 7am the next morning, we realised that she had actually *slept through*! Yes, the holy grail of child rearing. I couldn't be more thrilled if someone doubled my salary!

Isn't everything so much better with sleep?! What's even better is her napping is better and her general mood is better soon. I'm sure we're not totally out of the woods yet, and she still has a few sleep-related curve balls to throw us, but it feels good to think we're heading in the right direction. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

She looks just like you...

At seven months old now, M is absolutely adorable. She can sit up on her own, smile, giggle, babble, pick things up, drop them and generally chew anything she can get her mouth round. We are slowly beginning to get an idea of the child we will get to know over the next few years. 

Recently I took her into work for the first time. R was with me too, so it was a great chance for the people I work with to meet them both. Everyone knows about my daughter and that R gave birth to her, which is why the following exchange made me smile:

Colleague: Oh she's beautiful. I can see you in her R, but not you yet S, I'm sure we will though...
[no trace of irony]

Me: oh thanks. Well, yes, I see a lot of R in her too.

Bless my colleague, she seemed to be in blissful ignorance of the biological dimension to having a child. It was actually rather sweet, and reminded me that people have no doubts that I am M's Mama.

Conversely, in character, my mum thinks she resembles me uncannily. She is noisy and chatty and very good natured. Apparently I was exactly the same. It's really nice to think that, in spite of the lack of a genetic connection, she is taking after me already!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Mummy, Mama and Mothering Sunday

My daughter is beautiful. I love her more than I could ever imagine. I love being a parent. 

On Sunday it is Mothering Sunday. I can honestly say I have absolutely no feelings about it whatsoever. It's not that I don't feel like a mum, it's just it feels so artificial to me. 

A little while ago me and R had a chat about Mothers Day and decided that it would be 'her' day to receive a card and small present from M. I have decided to claim Father's Day as my own. Not becauseI identify as a father per se, but so that when other children are making cards for their Dads at nursery, M can make one for me and not feel left out. 

In some ways, I fulfill a really traditional 'dad' role. I go to work while R stays at home, I look after the car and general maintenance, and R does the cooking and tidying and household management. It's weird to be such a stereotype - although given we are both women, perhaps society will let us off?

Maybe I'll have some kind of epiphany on Sunday, but I doubt it. In the meantime, roll on Father's Day. Perhaps I should start jangling keys in my pocket and talking about traffic on the motorway to complete my cliched role...

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Sleep o'clock

M is now six months old, and among other things, can sit up unaided and enjoy a swing! However, it is also time for us to organise a more reasonable bedtime for her. For the first few months she just came to bed when we did. But recently we've noticed she gets very grumpy around 7pm and then has a long nap. So, the time has come...

...sleep training!

Night 1 (yesterday): 40 mins of crying from a small baby with a very cross face as I carried her around the bedroom, finally settling her in the cot. It was a real head over heart thing - I felt really mean but knew that she was safe, fed, warm and simply tired. It was such a relief when she finally dropped off. 

Night 2: about the same amount of crying, but it started earlier this time - she was definitely very cross with me! But now, here we are, downstairs, wondering what we did with our evenings before M. She's been asleep upstairs in her cot for an hour. 

A new beginning - we have our evenings back!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Time for dinner

I have written several times about the minefield that is parenting. Whether it's sleeping, feeding, television or nappies, there is always a plethora of opinion on what is right and what is wrong - with the emphasis on wrong!

We are very soon to be hitting the six month mark with M, which according to current guidance means weaning. But of course, there are those who feel weaning should start earlier. Indeed, when I was a baby in the late 1970s, weaning began for me at four months. This was standard practice then. But the time of starting it isn't the only decision to make. You also need to decide about the type of weaning you undertake - yes, there is more than one. It came as a surprise to me too. All the trendy babies it seems do 'baby-led' weaning, which involves fewer spoonfuls of goo, and more fistfuls of cucumber. In reality, most mums I know seem to do a mixture of both.

Last week we made a start with food for M. At the moment it is more about her getting used to the idea, which means she's licking a lot of different food, but generally then squishing it up and discarding it. Given the amount of milk she is still drinking, that won't do her any harm. The idea though is that she will slowly learn to move food around in her mouth and then swallow it, at her own pace.

In the meantime however, she is somewhat bemused by the new 'toys' that are placed on her high chair tray - they are almost always green, and don't make a noise when she shakes them...

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Five months older and wiser

My daughter will be five months old later on this week. It's hard to believe really. In one sense it has flown by, but in another I can no longer recall my life before she arrived. 

Both me and R are working out how to balance our needs with hers. It's important that our needs are prioritised too - without happy mummies, M won't be happy herself. For me, the balancing act of course also involves work. 

Most of the time it is fine, I manage to get most of what I want done and fulfill my responsibilities. It's a role, as many fathers can I am sure attest to, that is hard. There is a cult of motherhood which makes those of us who go out to work feel sometimes we can't complain about the sleep loss or the old life we miss. Whatever we are going through, it is perceived, mummy is going through worse. And perhaps that is true. But it is important that I allow myself to feel how I feel without guilt.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Beeps, squeaks and the Sound of Music

Do any other parents find themselves in a world of strange sounds involving beeps, squeaks clicks and woos? And I don't mean the babies, I mean us. I spend an inordinate amount of time oretending that my daughter's nose goes beep and that jogging up and down on my legs is like being on a horse - to a largely non-plussed baby.

The other day I sang Edelweiss, famously in the Sound of Music, and ended up re-enacting the whole of the last third of the Sound of Music, including hiding from Nazis in the convent and escaping over the mountains. M was largely unmoved, but I enjoyed myself. 

Here's a thought - maybe all this playing about a noise-making is about us, and not them!