I’ve been grieving lately, grieving the loss of sleep so I thought I would take you through my five stages of morning… or should I say mourning.
Stage 1: Denial
It’s way too early, it’s still dark outside… He can’t be waking up now… He might resettle on his own… OK maybe I’ll just pop the dummy back in and he’ll go right back to sleep… I’ll get another few hours sleep for sure… Actually I better set my alarm in case he sleeps too long and we’re late getting up.
Stage 2: Bargaining
He’s still awake. Seriously baby if you give me one more hours sleep I’ll give you my first born.. wait that makes no sense. I will give you all the pureed pear your heart desires. I will sing ‘twinkle twinkle’ until my hands fall off. I will let you fall asleep in my arms, heck I will sleep in the cot with you if you please just go back to sleep.
Stage 3: Anger
What. Is. Wrong. With. You?!
You’ve been fed, I’ve changed your nappy, I’ve burped you, I turned on the heater, I gave you an extra blanket, I put a glass of water on the desk in case the air was too dry from the heater. I turned off the lamp, I changed the white noise from rainfall to fan, I turned off the heater, I turned on the nightlight, I bounced you on the fitball, I shhhed you, I rocked you in the chair, I turned on the nightlight… what else could you possibly need?
Stage 4: Depression
I’m never going to sleep properly ever again for the rest of my life. I will never remember what it is like to have energy.
Stage 5: Acceptance
You’re just a sweet little baby who spent 9 months in my womb, it’s not your fault you don’t want to be apart from me. Come lie in mummies arms and I’ll sing you a lullaby…. Ahhh asleep at last.
There’s one question that’s really starting to bug me. If you’re a mum then you’ll know this question well. It’s the ‘Is he a good baby?’ question. Usually I answer yes with a smile and nod gratefully when I’m told ‘you’re so lucky’. Sometimes I’m not even asked, I’m just told ‘you’re lucky you have a good baby’. Now don’t get me wrong, he’s not a BAD baby and I do feel lucky for that but here’s why he’s not a GOOD baby:
He isn’t a good baby when he decides to vomit…
We just returned from a holiday and even with five jumpers and two pairs of jeans I managed to stink the whole trip. I even did a load of washing on day 3 but it didn’t make a difference, he would just spit up on me again. I don’t even know why I bothered looking when my husband would ask me what was on my jumper.
He isn’t a good baby when I’m trying to settle him to sleep…
For a very long time and occasionally still I am rocking, fit ball bouncing, swaying, moon walking – whatever it takes to get him to sleep I am doing it. I had no idea how many tears and how much time would be spent trying to get the baby to sleep.
He isn’t a good baby when it comes to sleeping at night…
A good night is being woken up twice, a bad night is being woken up 4 times and a really bad night is being woken up anywhere up to 11 times. Enough said.
He isn’t a good baby when it comes to sleeping during the day…
Catnapping is where your baby sleeps for 10-30 minutes at a time so basically ‘sleeping while the baby sleeps’ is impossible. Sometimes it takes longer to get the baby to sleep than the baby actually sleeps. That means getting through each day involves coffee, tears, co-sleeping and the occasional breakdown.
He isn’t a good baby when he has wind…
When he was a newborn, wind was a major issue for us. I got bad advice from a midwife and didn’t burp him enough and it all built up. I soon realised he had wind issues when he would turn red, strain and cry but there was nothing in his nappy. I began to think he had colic but muddled through with massage, bicycle leg movements, infacol, lots of cuddles then finally fennel tea. Now we’ve started solids it’s happening all over again.
He isn’t a good baby when I’m driving…
I thought babies were meant to love car trips and he did at first but after a few months it felt like I couldn’t drive anywhere without him screaming. I would drive along one arm on the wheel, the other arm sticking a dummy or bottle in his mouth. Every car trip was filled with guilt as if I was torturing the poor little dude. I was telling someone today he’d grown out of it but guess who pulled over today to rock and shh their baby in a carpark… yep me.
He isn’t a good baby when it comes to feeding…
If you follow my blog you’ll know that breastfeeding didn’t work out for us. Expressing for me is a major pain in the ass, I just can’t be positive about it no matter how hard I try to be.
He isn’t a good baby when it comes to teething…
He started teething at 3 months on the dot. He had a temperature and was grumpy and had red cheeks and I could feel and see the white teeth through his gums. The teeth haven’t cut through yet and are there some days and gone others. Some days there are several little sharp points, those days are hell where no amount of panadol, teething gel and cuddles work.
He isn’t a good baby when he cries…
He cried at the baby spa so missed half his massage, he cried when I was on a group walk and had to carry him half the way, he cries going to sleep, he cries while he’s asleep, he cries waking up, he cries when he can’t roll over, he cries when he can’t stand up, he cries when he’s hungry, he cries when he’s tired, he cries when he’s not feeling well. That’s what babies do – they cry and you feel responsible and it’s shit.
So now we all know my baby is not a GOOD baby and he’s just a NORMAL baby why the big deal about the question ‘Is he a good baby?’.
The truth is I feel offended when I’m told I have a good baby because it minimises all the hard work that motherhood brings and implies I have it easy. If you see a baby like mine that smiles on cue, rarely cries when he’s out in public and will quietly sit in his pram like an angel don’t assume that it’s easy because there’s no such thing as an easy baby. So what do I want people to say to me instead? ‘You look like a great mum’ would be nice.
Guys I’m addicted to baby tracking. I first read about baby tracking when I was looking up advice on sleep training. I downloaded an application on my phone and started a couple of days after bub was born. At first it was necessary to make sure he was woken and fed at the right times. Then it was helpful when I saw a lactation consultant and she needed to know his feeding habits. Then when breastfeeding failed it was good to track how much I was expressing to make sure my milk supply didn’t go down. Fast forward four months and it has become an obsession. A completely unnecessary obsession.
The baby hasn’t been on a routine since he was a week old (if ever) but every time he goes to sleep or wakes up I record the time. Every time he feeds I record how much he drinks. Every nappy change whether it was wet, dry, dirty or mixed. Every time I express I record the time and how much. I’ve stopped being intuitive about what his needs are and I’m relying on an app to tell me what is next. Talk about a generation Y cliché! When he wakes at night I check my phone to see if I should feed him instead of listening to see if he’ll go back to sleep. During the day I try to force a feed on him then realise he’s not hungry.
Yesterday I read a blog about relaxed parenting and realised I’ve become uptight. I obsess about the number of hours he’s slept in a 24 hour period, how much he’s drunk, how much I’ve expressed. I interrupt conversations to enter something into my phone. I’ll stare at a bright screen sometimes 11 times a night keeping me awake longer than necessary. I’m not being present. I’m so worried about what the baby should be doing that I’m not paying attention to what he actually is doing.
So yesterday I decided to stop tracking and you know what I’m already relaxed. The baby is relaxed too, he pissed all over me during nappy free time but I couldn’t care less.
Guys I’m scared of the world we live in. I’m scared that I’ve brought this little guy into this scary world full of bad people. When I was pregnant I was worried about getting post-natal depression but something I hadn’t considered was post-natal anxiety. I didn’t even know that was an actual thing until I got a pamphlet from the child health nurse. I really think I’m developing a problem.
At first I just had the usual concerns that a new mum has like making sure he didn’t fall off the change table or I didn’t press too hard on the soft part on the top of his head but then two little children were lured out of childcare in North Perth and I broke. I felt like everywhere I went it was being discussed and every time I heard about it my throat glands swelled, I felt my chest tighten and I would burst into tears. I tried to forget about it but when I change my son’s nappy he gets really excited. He gets excited because after changing his nappy I sing twinkle twinkle little star and he loves the actions. I couldn’t help but think that if someone wanted to do something bad to him and took off his nappy he would be really excited expecting twinkle twinkle and have no idea what was going to happen. The idea of that just absolutely crushes me.
I tried to just shut off the thoughts, replace them with happy ones, tell myself I was being ridiculous until eventually I could change him without getting upset and then thankfully I forgot about it completely. Last night something was posted on Instagram about a 10 month old girl and all the fear has flooded back. I was in bed when I read about it and burst into tears. My husband held me and reassured me that everything would be fine. I waited until he fell asleep then I went into my son’s room and just held him. I held him and prayed that nothing like that would ever happen to him.
This is something that I will move on from but I can’t help but wonder if I’m going to feel deep pain like this for the rest of my life. My friend described it perfectly, it’s like a part of your heart is beating outside of you and there’s nothing you can do.