The weekend from hell Part one

i was going to say you couldn’t write such a daft weekend but here I am doing just that.

So Friday evening I had great plan to take the boys to fireworks in the evening very exciting experience at a local school ticks all the good mum boxes right? Until I get an extremely sore calf and call the doctor. And guess what I get sent to an extremely obscure hospital for a d dimer test to see if I have a DVD. Now I of course don’t want to be ill and the treatment is relatively simple but there is always a tiny part of me that thinks a bit of bed rest would be nice . How wrong is that? The hospital was eerily quiet and there was no parking fee. DH and I were going to take a picture we were so amazed but then thought that’s way to generation x or y or z or whatever.

There was a nurse actually waiting in the reception and no one else around. The test took minutes and I was fine.MIL was with the boys and Gaby was asleep. The perfect storm. I was told probably my varicose veins. Lovely. I’m due to have them injected with foam and lasered next Monday. Oh joy. Seen my mum get it done and she was seventy so I should cope right?

Saturday and off to a indoor play centre party for Randall’s class. Peter came too whilst Gaby slept in car with daddy. Dire event really when DH brought baby in some child grabbed her by the head and he gently removed kids arms only to be threatened by the dad. Kids were fed cold chips and burnt dish fingers which they didn’t want so us ate them whilst sneaking a Diet Coke as dh has banned them – bad breath apparently. Then proud patients bring in a three tiered minion cake amongst mutterings of how high they have set the bar. I’m sorry it was not home made. Proud mum then parades around smiling in Modelesque fashion at her phone propped on a selfie stick. I think she experiences the entire event through a lens and nearly fell over several times in six inch heels. Power to her but meanwhile I had to get cup for child without one whilst her mother was glued to her phone.

Then there is the trip to drop kids at MIL so that DH and I can “watch a film”. We never do. We go home to have uninterrupted nookie in an actual bed as opposed to super quietly in a hallway or in the bathroom or any other child free space at odd moments.

So we get to MIL and his sister is there. Now remember we don’t socialise with my brother so I have said I don’t want to hang out with him and Sil and kids as find it upsetting in the extreme. Get into the house amid total confusion over time of arrival only to find that there is a rat hiding somewhere! I deliver kids into lounge and have to remind sil three times to actually watch Gaby as she starts eating remote control, plastic dinosaurs etc . I come Inti the hall and see a dropping amid much denial from MIL . Where upon DH moves the phone stand and the bloody thing leaps out. MIL runs screaming to the kitchen and I dive into the lounge leaving DH to move it with a snow shovel. Poor Randall is sobbing and has to pee in the garden as our way to the toilet is blocked. Eventually we leave with very little time left. We have an hour in the end as boys want to see fireworks and I have spent all day arranging entry into botanic gardena as members without having to buy a ticket. Quick shower and leave house with sopping hair. The fireworks are amazing but lose Randall twice in the dark and sil manages to bump baby’s head which sends DH into a foul mood. And that is only half way through!

I put baby to bed at 8pm thinking to myself I will wake her to feed her but then after some exercise and to I just want to sleep and I leave it. I calculated if she slept the night before maybe she doesn’t need it.

At 2 am she is beside herself and I change and feed her somewhere aroun three. Randall ends up in with DH and I sneak in with Peter but it’s no good she doesn’t give in till 4 by which point I fall into a fretful sleep by her cot. And then she wakes at five and downstairs we go to make waffles and chips as she wants potatoes. On the plus side I get some tasks accomplished before the boys appear at seven. DH stats in bed till 8 claiming he can’t drive if he doesn’t sleep. And then I notice them. Bruises all over my legs. In my sleep deprived state and with the aid of the internet we imagine all kinds of outcomes. Back to the dr we go to be told it’s probably my veins maybe my liver and to get a blood test.

My DH was supposed to visit his grandad today but his sister went alone. She wouldn’t wait for him. She is single with a man ten years older who doesn’t want kids. They got a cat instead which had to be rehired by his mother as it was being attached by the neighbourhood bully.Dh jokes that the cars get better treatment than us. It’s not really that funny. At any rate sil has no concept of the chaos of children.

So at the end of it I had a nap. I got the uniforms sorted out. I made cookies with the boys. And then I had a text from sleep training buddy saying don’t skip the 10 30 feed so I have woken my sleeping baby to do just that. Madness. Will it work? I’ll tell you tomorrow.

 

Sleeping beauty

i now know what they are all on about. She finally slept through. And my boys had a good night too. I woke up after seven hours Ina state of shock wondering if she was ok and discovering that she was totally blissfully refreshed after a decent nights sleep.

Acheiving this actually tops any degree. The feeling of having survived the onslaught of emotional as well as physical pain. Because of course it’s not just that I had to endure her crying endlessly. It’s that I had to survive my own internal critic about being a bad mother for watching her little red rear stained face.

For years I have resisted sleep training. I preferred the au naturals of constant breastfeeding and co sleeping. And it worked for Randall. After Peter it I was just too tired. I did get him in his cot at six months but then there was the endless up and down and lying on the floor with my hands through the bars and creeping out of the room. I recall one night I was desperate to get out and I kept trying to leave and him waking and crying in frustration. Peter did not sleep through till two and a half. When Randall was born I was so tired I could not physically get out of bed to get to him in a Moses basket so I just do alpwr from the start.

Ita funny how you remember it. I remember reading Marian Keyes with Peter and then The female fat cell with Noah and some book about knitting my abs back together with exercise. I watched Top Model with Peter but can’t remember which show with Randall. I got up more with Peter I know and just rolled over in bed with Randall.

I started off well with Gaby in a Moses basket and me on a single bed but soon realised I was passing out in said bed with her asleep at the breast. But I felt like I was doing something special giving them all lots of Breast milk, lots of skin to skin, contact and comfort and bonding time. It felt right.

I suppose it’s now with three and work that it became untenable to be up all night. I cannot believ i have been awake between 3 and 7 on average times a night for pretty much sixteen months! I mean it’s crazy. I am amazed that my marriage has not fallen apart completely and that the kids have any uniform.

it pauses me off to think that during this time I had to beg and then demand nap time. That my arm became so sore from sleeping at an odd angle that I had to get a nerve conduction test and physio not to mention seeing an orthodox for my back, an old injury exacerbated by sleep deprivation.

i just fell asleep writing this! Tbc

ok I definitely remember why I did not try sleep training! So I attempted to drop the 11 o clock feed as she slept through last night and here we are at 2 am again in floods of tears sobbing sitting up looking vulnerable and sad and me feeling rubbish.

I did feed her as I’m not sure she isn’t hungry and can’t cope with thinking she might be. She doesn’t need changing. I was so pink cloud earlier imagining that she was going to go through the night. After the boys went to sleep at nine I foolishly thought that I could watch Tv and exercise and so only got to bed at 11 then had an argument with DH who wanted to read. Luckily I had maybe 15 mins around nine when I nodded off or else I would be completely buggerred.

Its all about the numbers now. I have become a sleep accountant. I try to balance out the loss of sleep at night with cat naps figuring some 2o min makes up for up to two hours but any more and I should get another 20.

then I wake up slightly on edge and remain so all day until I recoup enough sleep to make it through the night. It’s not really very logical but it gets me through.

Shw has crawled into the front position which is her favourite and the hysteria has abated. I want to leave but imagine if I do she will start again. Ah now she is sitting up and smiling Y me and… oh boy crying again. Surely after 10 days she must realise  not going to pick her up again. Ah well I think this is going to be at least an hour so off I go again. I can’t believe my rookie naïveté thinking we had cracked it for good and all last night!

Mums night out

Ah so here I am again it’s midnight and Gaby is awake but guess what? I had an evening out!

Needless to say we drafted in MIL to berate our unfolded laundry and occupy the boys lest baby should wake.

In preparation I had makeup on this morning but it had caked into my pores by five so I had to spend a precious five minutes scrubbing it off as accidentally trowelled on Estée Lauder doubler wear because all my bottles are samples and look the same – can’t possibly splurge on good slap when our child tax credit is in debit and they have apparently over paid us by, ahem, five grand! I sent in all the right paperwork so they not have a bloody calculator!

where was I? Ah reception mums. So I took the baby swimming so I coul shower and wash my hair as this is far too extravagant a thing to do at home. Just wash me are you kidding? But I did not get time to dry it so just tried straightening which of course made me look like a waffle.

Then reapplied the right make up only to be told by DH that I looked like I’d been punched. Great potential DV will really get the tongues wagging at school gates.

DH wants me to drop boys at band at half seven but they are runnin Anik so I go upstairs to settle baby and when I come down he has them sitting on their chairs like they are at a railway platform ready to go whilst he hoovers. I know the smug b just wants time alone with sleeping baby but say nothing. I put on too tight red dress showing baby bulge and polka dot stockings as only vaguely matching. Year 3 night out very glam but these newbies all in jeans.

Three of them went to the wrong pub, half I don’t know. When I arrive Mrs L is holding forth on her new job as teaching assistant and passive aggressively tells the group that Randall needed help from her getting his lunch out. Wtf? Want to say DH packed bag but hold tongue.

conpare war stories of leaving house in various states of disrepair. Mrs G wins for having a chocolate spoon in hair. Even I can’t claim that – but a homeless man gave me laubdary advice for my mis matched socks.

Get into very interesting discussion on sensitive children will update later. Am told salt is get unhealthy but my kids would starve without crisps so don’t lecture me about polenta please.

Jusr getting that glow of proper night out post 10 when phone call baby awake for feed. Drive at 50 home to find her playing with daddy.

So now Gaby is trying to climb out of cot and I am beyond tired. Wondering how I will cope with tomorrow. Plan was for me and DH to be back on same room but here I am in child bed next to cot whilst he sleeps in the king bed on his own. Again wtf?

i have given up and taken her out of cot to feed her again. I know this is crap decision but cannot face any more of this awful sound. Mums night feels like a distant memory. Maybe instead of munsnight out I should have had mimsnight in! In bed!

 

Seven year stitch

Ok so this is not how I planned it. I am sitting on the couch at half ten. My bath is going cold I have some what probably counts as minus exercise it is so little and she is clamped to my boob. Asleep. I am meant to have her awake and alert but not stimulated ready to go back into her cot having had the feed that will see her through the night hah! She is dozing in my arms. Her little cheeks stained red which may mean she is teething which would make me feel super guilty if I leave her to ‘cry it out’ and yet this is the seventh night in a long week of attempted sleep training and my seven year old told me I have scratchy legs which means I really ought to shave especially as his jobs indicates vague interest on his way out to his film and he is due back any minute.
Trying to calculate if I can get my girl into bed and then manage a downward dog whilst shaving and perhaps having a quickie at the same time. Think I may be pushing the envelope of multi tasking just a tad.
I’m having a mild neck cramp and my arm is going to sleep and my tummy is resembling a pillow more every day with my inferior time management.
I really dig this interval training though. I mean four minutes of exercise better than an hour of gentle effort. Problem is I doubt my four mins of casual plies counts as anything other than aeration of my piles. My DH asked if I had a third boob the other day and my DS1 and 2 think I’m pregnant
So I am going to do it I am.
The best laid plans and all that. It’s 11 40 and she has had a play, a couple of crisps, breastfeed, water and watched to with daddy whilst my boys slumber stocking up energy for tomorrow and dad and I watch ours deplete like a cheap battery. I realise I haven’t told you her name but I am going to affectionately dub her Duracell. Gary, Peter and Randall are my little trio and they run me ragged with joy and hitters every day. And night.
So as we wend our way through the sleep training minefield I know there will be diverse opinions and that’s ok. I’m prepared to be lambasted and applauded in equal measure
You see I was never going to do this. Never. I was such a softie with Peter. I did get him in a cot at six months but that was after many other variants. We had the snuggle which was a strange mini bed for our bed. He knew right away it was a separation device and it went to charity as half our belongings have done. Then there was putting him in his Moses basket. As soon as his back touched the mattress he knew it was not my bed and his eyes would spring open and startle me.
So I was up and down like a yo yo trying to settle him. In those days my DH still slept in the bed alongside although right from the outset as I was breast feeding he did not budge at night. I have a distinct memory of my holding Peter next to his ear and J not moving a muscle. But if the amazon man was at the door he leaps from bed like a reckon spring hair.
So it was me on night shift and has been for seven years now. And counting.

Musings of a sleep-deprived mommy

ok so here we are on the seventh night and I had really hoped to be there by now but no. We are on a roller coaster. She taunts me with the wonder Lois feat of going to sleep three nights ago without any crying at all but then wakes at four. The last two nights have seen a good period of initial sleep of up to six hours followed by two hours wide awake between two and four and three and five respectively.

Tonight was a hard cry to initial sleep then awake three hours later and now awake again. I have to work tomorrow so am feeling particularly sorry for myself. She is sobbing and looks quite pathetic in her floral nightsuit and I feel awful especially as for the last two nights I have fed her mid cry having missed the eleven o clock feed. Tonight I am pioneering not feeding and also trying to stay in a separate room. A tricky combination that leads to extreme guilt and anxiety that my boys will be woken by her relentless wails. Can this really be the answer? I can’t help but think maybe not.

But then she has slept for so much longer in the cot than she ever has in the bed with me. Surely that counts for something? I need something here people and it can’t be war muffs. My sleep training buddy said stop going on, told me my frenetic patting and shushing was not helpful at all. That she needs to learn to sleep without intervention. I need to learn to sleep without intervention! Ok so now the coughing and hacking and a moments quiet and I am feeling like a shitty mom. I wonder how much longer she can keep this up. How much longer I can stay here Ina right ball of pain myself. You know I’ve pretty much had a headache for a week since this started.

My sister in law whom I am persona non grata too for reasons unknown- maybe payback for my brother being persona non grata to my husband- follows the continuum concept. This would not sit well there. Based on one woman’s observations of tribal culture this attachment parenting sees the child continually in contact with the parent in a sling. There is co sleeping of course but no cots or high chairs, reins or restraint. How do cat seats figure I wonder? Anyhow it also confusingly advocates self soothing when a child has a problem so I often here the baby in the background of my stolen conversations with my permanently stressed brother crying as she “learns” to address falling or picking up food or negotiating something new. They don’t rush to pick her up and make it better.

He saw a photo of my baby in a pen and said he would start a free baby campaign. I constantly ask what his is eating as she never has a sit down meal per se but rather forages jungle style.

I have xo slept two of my three and breaded for a controversial four years so I am far from Gina Ford or Trudy King but more a Spock I suppose.

I think most parents find their own way borrowing ideas here and there. I’ve got a star chart but not a naughty step. I lose my rag and shout now and then. Yes I am very human.

There is much written from a psychotherapy point of view on attachment. There is much said about absent mothers, about PND for example leaving the baby feeling her needs are not met emotionally. How a traumatic birth can affect a baby even to the point of PTSD. If you room it to its logical conclusion you would not be able to ever sleep yourself for the possible diamanté you might be doing with one parenting approach or another. We could all see a therapist and find something to say about our moms come on I know I have don’t be British dig deep and know that you hated her doilies!

But at some point in has to be good enough right? Or at least enough!

Ok I think I hear the sound of silence. I don’t want to jinx it- it has only been an hour and a quarter as opposed to the two hours of the last two nights but I am in another room. I shall go and check and put a blanket on her and then no doubt lie awake berating myself for every tear. Then I shall go to work tomorrow and listen to my patients tell me what their mothers did wrong. Is there no end to the blame? Do we live in a culture of neurotic primal scene revisiting. Can we ever just be grateful for what our mothers did given their own limitations? Probably not given we are sold a dream of perfection. Right from the outset when we as expectant moms are told we can “breathe our babies our” – a phrase my baby yoga teacher used. Needless to say I never went back for babies 2 and 3.

Ah birth, now there’s another story …

 

Sensitive child

Tonight my seven year old said he wished he had not been made as he is not perfect. I had to turn away for a moment so I did not alarm him by the threat of tears.

I recently had him seen by a senco for dyslexia assessment but no signs she said. His year 2 teacher was very astute and felt there was an issue. The school pay lip service but nothing really gets done .

He has always been very sensitive. Everyone else says shy but I hate that word he is holding back taking the world in. There is a horrible myth that we all have to be extroverts just like the one that ASD kids are not empathic!

ive been reading Arun’s book on highly sensitive children. He has such low self esteem, desire for perfection, fear of failure, dislike of new things etc.

I just want to help him but I feel powerless.

oh and don’t ask about sleep training. Why do you think I’m writing this at 3am?

Day two sleep training

ok so it’s kind of day two and a half. Two nights ago my four year old woke me up at four and the baby too so I thought I will put her in the cot. She cried for over an hour. He cried. My DH hid under a pillow. Needless to say it didn’t go to plan.

Next day I call in the big Guns and consult the friend of a friend who actually paid a sleep consultant. Her child now sleeps through from 7 to 7.

Armed with sisterly support and dos and Donts I  went into the fray again last night. Yes I did read Super nanny and cry free sleep books and threads but there is something about the actual experience of another mum on the phone or face to face rooting for you that can’t be communicated through a book at 4am. Just knowing this virtual stranger is thinking about us is really encouraging.

So last night I put baby to bed after packing off my boys and daddy to MIL – they were thrilled. She cried for 45 mins and then miraculously fell asleep. I was so chuffed I watched bake off and had a bath. Then the fun began. Twitching in her cot she woke up every hour. People say that and what they mean is a couple of times but I had three timing devices and it was every single hour. At first I did really well. Went in at five then ten then 20 min intervals but at half twelve after three hrs I took her downstairs and we watched tv. She was v happy with this arrangement. I was happy because I could see that she wasn’t sick but playing me.

Back up we went and then another four hrs of patting back to sleep which saw me back in my bed and then at half five her too.

So I messed up. Yes my guru tells me I did well not feeding her all night as usual. Keeping her in the cot for the majority of the night.

But I need to stay away and not pat her back to sleep because then she is not self soothing.

So she is asleep now and I am not. I miss the boys and I don’t feel super  safe without DH. I have Kung fu knives and Irish sticks and all sorts to batter an intruder but I don’t like it. So I will probably watch something and wait for her to wake up and hope that my sleep training buddy is out there keeping her fingers crossed.

Hush little baby

Tonight I began the gentle phase of sleep training. Or so I thought. I decided to introduce baby to the cot whilst I put some clothes away. Within minutes her miniature goats were grappling with the bars as her smooth hair began to frizz with the effort. Tear stained cheeks and accusatory stare ensued and even a bit of Amy Winehouse failed to distract her. I got the clothes into piles then gave up and cuddles and fed her to sleep feeling like a failure but it’s a start right? Um right?

Preparing to sleep… not

ok so I clearly recall being beyond tired with my first. My DH took a photo of me, head in hands,  looking bleary eyed at our adorable infant blissfully unaware of how he wreaked havoc with my body clock every night.

But he was in a cot at six months- albeit with me on the floor, hand through the bars like some demented prison visitor , grasping his hand and singing Adel Weiss.

I thought we had it bad.

Then came number two. It will be different this time I said. DH made me sign a contract that I alone would do the nights. I didn’t need to as with the first I held him wailing to his ear and he didn’t stir. He always hears the amazon delivery man.

number two did not sleep in a bassinet or a cot or anywhere but right next to me in what soon became not our but my bed.

Aged three he finally moved into his own room but he still makes the odd foray into mine in the small hours.

As a one time scientist I swore statistically speaking that number theee has to sleep. I vowed I would Gina Ford her . The book I threw out in disgust for all the strict routines and demonic deadlines.

Number three has been the worst sleeper of them all. Not only does she sleep in my bed. I’m amazed she was conceived and certainly not in the laughably dubbed marital bed. No she takes it one step further. She wakes up to seven times a night you know for a little feed or just to say hello. But being a food intolerant lass I can’t blame her I just run back and forth to the dietician taking her on and off various ladders. At the moment she’s not even on the first rung . I have eliminated all possible allergens because against all my beliefs about babies needing to be with their mother and the natural approach and feeding on demand and blah blah blah I am SLEEP TRAINING next week.

yes whilst others are on vacation I am sensing my boys – and that includes the weak willed DH who lists her up at the slightest tremble of her rosebud lip- to my MIL so I can get my girl into a cot.

I have not arrived at this point without pain. But after a week where my colleagues pointed out that I had signed a card on the front ; a homeless man gave me laundry advice thinking one of my pink socks had been dyed darker – they were two different socks but they were clean; oh and nearly crashing the car- I have decided it is time.

A friend of a friend paaaes on a routine she paid an official sleep trainer one hundred quid for. The dreaded routine of eating and napping at certain times in the day in preparation and now we are on the brink of beginning.

Well next Tuesday or Wednesday but it feels imminent.

Currently she is asleep in my bed unaware of my ghastly plan and I am wondering if I have the mettle to carry it out.Aomeone always gets sick in half term and I feel decidedly quesy!

 

On families feuding at Christmas

So Christmas is looming and I used to love it I really did. But now it fills me with a special kind of anxiety and sadness because I, like so many, am part of a very fragmented feuding extended family. DH and DB do not speak. Db’s partner and I hardly do. My niece and my tribe are not permitted contact. My older DB is also estranged through his behaviour. DH and his father also in communicado. My father passed away some years ago now. DH mother and sister and my mother are it! And recent events which led to my brother and his partner and daughter being black listed mean that I can no longer bear to be around DH with his sister! Phew put like that it sounds utterly mad and ridiculous and complex . Ultimately what should be a season of families being brought together is even more estranged. I will have to make plans to see brothers or talk on phone out of ear shot. I will have to explain to MIL why I won’t hang around with SIL. And field contact from FIL. Do you know what? I’m not going to give in to the drama. It all hinges on DH who won’t forgive and forget but I have let it go despite the searing sadness as he is immovable. I will have my day with my DH and my three kids and see my mom and his either side and call or visit the others as and when .

but it is sad and stressful and when I look at their innocent little faces asking me why can’t everyone be together the other day that breaks my heart. Grown ups ruin what should be such an innocent time of year with our grudges and arguments and expectation and resentments. I wish for the wonder of youth and I will do anything to preserve those. Even tip toe around feelings I want to challenge and contest. Being a mom is the hardest because everyone knows you will do whatever it takes for a happy house even sacrifice your own wishes no matter how important. Ours is an unconditional and unfailing love. I never understood before . I do now.