Happy Halloween!

I adore this time of year! We’ve got pumpkins to carve and the kids have costumes to wear, but we haven’t done anything for Halloween here just yet. We’re waiting til the big kiddos are here, and we pick them up tonight. They’re coming straight from a party so I’m hoping they’ll already be dressed up! IMG_4660.JPG
Iris went to her first ever Halloween party on Tuesday morning at a local group for under-1s. We’ve been meaning to make this group for a while, and now that Iris wakes up earlier it’s suddenly possible. She hated her costume at first, but actually she just hates getting dressed. She looked adorable!

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A friend over on Facebook pointed out that Iris’ costume reminds her of the picture I used to announce my pregnancy, back at Christmas time.

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Happy Halloween everybody! I’ll definitely show you our finished pumpkins sometime in the next few days. We’re off to see fireworks in a local park at the weekend too (I’m not entirely convinced it’s a good idea with Iris but Trev keeps saying “it’ll be fine so I’m going to blame him if it isn’t).

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Negative Nigel

Last night I wrote a big old negative post here but I’ve decided not to share it. Trev would call me ‘Negative Nancy’. I prefer to use ‘Negative Nigel’ for reasons perhaps only my little sister would understand.

Basically, it’s tough, isn’t it?

I’m just an empty container where my personality used to be stored. I don’t do any of the things that define me as me anymore and sometimes I find that quite hard to deal with. This is a new me, and I’ll probably come to like her eventually, but right how she just seems a bit blank.

Yeah, I’m a mama. I’m everything to Iris and hopefully quite important to Trev too. But what about me?

I’m new here. I make a massive effort to get out of the house with Iris and meet other mums. I really do. And I think I’ve got some fledgling friendships, just starting to form. It’s great! But I haven’t quite found my place, discovered who I am now. Who is the mama-in-Wales me? I don’t still knit, there isn’t time. I don’t bake much. I don’t hang out at the pub or even in the cafe. I don’t do very much at all, really.

I musn’t moan. There’s no point. I’ll focus my efforts, as usual, on trying not to get too stressed about housework and on getting more sleep.

I haven’t seen most of my friends in months and months. It’s not their fault I’m far away. The few times I have spent with old friends are so precious. I miss my mum too. My grandfather and my sister. I hope they know I miss them.

This post is a lot less negative than the one I originally wrote. I’m glad about that. I hope it goes some way too explain why I haven’t been writing so much. I feel sad that my brand new blog has become, already, a place for moaning with the occasional photograph. I’ll turn it around. I’ll turn it around right now. Or after this nap, anyway.

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Old Me

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Sleep

My favourite word at the moment. My favourite thing to do, too. I’m not getting enough though, and it’s leaving me frazzled and dazed.

It became clear on Tuesday last week that something around here had to change. Iris woke up at 8am, pretty normal for her, but then refused naps all day long. She was still awake, screaming her head off, at midnight. 16 hours wide awake. It’s just not good for a 4 month old baby. Or her very flustered mother. But what to do?

I didn’t put this question out there for a very good reason. I know the answer I’ll get from many and I refuse to listen. Cry-it-out. I just don’t get it. I won’t let Iris feel abandoned and alone, distressed in a cot with nobody to answer her cries, just so that I can get more sleep. No, I won’t. If you can do it and it works for your family then that’s cool. It’s not for me. I’ve always believed in trusting my instincts, and the instinctive need (it’s almost painful!) to pick up my little love when she cries is just too strong for me to ignore. It must be there for a reason. I don’t believe for one second that she’s trying to manipulate me or creating a power battle at bedtime. She simply doesn’t feel safe without me or her dad there, because she’s a tiny helpless little human who relies on us for everything.

Still, something had to change. It took a little while but it finally clicked in my silly head. She must be telling me when she’s tired. Maybe I’m just missing the signs? So I tried to look out for yawning or red eyes or eye rubbing or anything else that might show me when it’s nap time. She’ll lead the way, I’ll just follow. But I can’t see any signs a lot of the time! Occasionally she looks tired. Usually she just doesn’t. Then it occurred to me that I don’t really know when she’s hungry either. I just offer her a feed, just in case. Sometimes she takes it, sometimes she doesn’t. Could I do the same with sleep? IMG_4779.JPG For 2 days I tried to offer Iris a nap in her cot. Not happening. I can’t say I blame her. I wouldn’t want to sleep behind bars either.

We bed share at night anyway, and I’d already bought a safety rail for my side of the bed, so why not try there? Whenever Iris became irritable I’d offer her a feed, just like before, only I switched it to a lying down on the bed feed. And she nodded off! Sometimes she falls asleep, and sometimes she stops feeding when she’s full and grins at me. I never push it. If she becomes at all annoyed we get up and try again later. IMG_4739.JPG The web cam we use to keep an eye on the dog when we’re out now doubles as a video monitor. I can see her sleeping, anytime I like, just by opening an app on my phone. I’ve ordered another one to use for the dog! We use a normal sound baby monitor too, and now have safety rails on both sides of the bed. IMG_4915-0.JPG Next it was time for a bedtime routine. We decided to try 7:30 bathtime and 8 o’clock to bed. Any earlier and there will just be too many days when Iris and Trev don’t see each other. It worked! The first day! I nursed her to sleep lying on our bed, then crept away. I was downstairs, hands free, watching a sleeping baby on the iPad screen and drinking a big glass of gin! A miracle! Well, it felt like it anyway. It’s continued to work for a week and I’m really excited about it. I get a little bit of time in the evening to spend with Trev and it’s lovely. Ok, so we usually can’t take our eyes off Iris sleeping on the screen, but at least both of us get to eat with both hands. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes to get her to sleep. Sometimes it takes a lot longer. Last night was an hour! We usually have to pop up a couple of times to resettle her because she wriggles herself awake, but it only takes a few minutes. If at any point she gets upset I bring her downstairs and just try again a bit later. No big deal. No bedtime battle.

Of course Iris still takes some brief naps in the carrier while we walk the dog/catch a bus/make our way to baby groups but she has bigger naps in bed too, and that’s what she really needed. If she didn’t nap on the go we’d never be able to go anywhere. The times and lengths of naps still vary greatly. There’s no routine! But sometimes she’ll take 3 or 4 naps, occasionally up to 2 hours long. It’s totally true for Iris that the more she sleeps the more she sleeps. Bigger naps mean easier bedtimes. IMG_4928.JPG Although things are generally going very well (I hope I haven’t messed things up by talking about it!) there are bad days too. Today she woke up at 6 and decided it was morning. It’s only an hour earlier than usual (her 8am wake ups moved to 7am with the clock change, which is actually useful as most baby groups seem to be in the morning) it’s really messed me up. Although she only took two very brief and easy night feeds, I was awake until after 2am.

It returns this time of year, every year. The dreaded insomnia. I have other periods of it too, but I definitely have a long run of it around Halloween. I can see all the moaning I’ve done on twitter over the years by looking at TimeHop! It’s worse now, because when I do finally get to sleep it’s broken by a hungry baby.

It’s such a vicious circle. I’m awake because I’m fretting about things I need to do. This leaves me feeling absolutely shattered. So when Iris naps, I sometimes do too. But then I get less done and feel even more guilty at bedtime. Or I don’t nap, and I do housework, which leaves me frazzled and exhausted, which weirdly also keeps me up. I think it’s in Fight Club where the main character says something along the lines of ‘with insomnia you are never asleep, but you’re never really awake either’. It’s probably worded differently from that but it’s so so true. I’m a zombie.

This morning, after our 6am wake up, both me and Iris returned to bed for a long nap. I’m lucky that I can now do that. I’m lucky that I had that little bit of extra sleep. I’m lucky that I now have a baby that sleeps well, that goes back to sleep quickly after a 4am feed. But I don’t feel lucky. I feel terrible. It affects you both physically and mentally and destroys your health. It’s no surprise to me that sleep deprivation has been used in torture, as a way to get people to talk in interrogations. I’d pretty much do anything right now for 8 hours unbroken sleep. Oh, and a tidy house. That’d be nice too. IMG_4614.JPG

Pictures of the Weekend #5

IMG_4675.JPGCrossing the bridge to England at 7am, greeting cousins, visiting Nanny, dog walking with my niece.IMG_4676.JPGAn emergency nap, smiles!, out walking with Em, Tom and Roo (and their dog Bert!) from Roo And Mama, loads of ladybirds! IMG_4677.JPGPlaying with Seb, a mama break and early night, Sunday morning peace, choosing birthday presents for a big sister.IMG_4678.JPGMessing around in Ikea restaurant, first time in a highchair, getting soaked walking in Dare Valley Country Park, Seb having a great time in the rain.

Four Months

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Four whole months already! I don’t feel right giving Iris’ age in weeks anymore. She’s not 17 weeks and 3 days old. She is most definitely four months old.
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Not much has changed with Iris since my last update. She had her 3rd set of vaccinations last week, and wasn’t poorly afterwards for the first time. She was fine, like it had never happened, only minutes later. That didn’t stop me feeling awful about it though. She now weighs 11lb 8.5oz so only gained a lb in 4 weeks. I’m not sure if that’s bad, but the health visitor didn’t seem concerned and she’s certainly full of energy.
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Already I can see how frustrating it is to not be able to move. When Iris is on her front she wriggles and wriggles like mad, getting cross because she can’t reach everything she wants to explore. She’s obsessed with food and watches every mouthful I take so intently, her eyes following mugs of tea and forkfuls of food. I want to reach 6 months before introducing food so I’m hoping this doesn’t get more intense. Yesterday, in Ikea restaurant, Iris tried out a highchair for the first time. It was nice for me to enjoy a meal with both hands free! She seemed to quite like it so we bought one. A ¬£9 highchair! Bargain!
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We’re still walking everywhere whatever the weather, and Trev bought a parka for Iris to match mine! I joked with a friend at the weekend about how owning a dog means we raise weather-resistant babies! Yesterday we went walking in Dare Valley in torrential rain and strong winds. Iris slept the whole time and didn’t care one bit!
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People have started asking what Iris would like for Christmas and I really have no idea. We’re thinking of buying her a Smart Trike, but I have no idea what to ask for from family. Any suggestions?
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Our routine still isn’t a routine at all. Iris still feeds on demand, is exclusively breastfed, and usually sleeps during a dog walk about 2 hours after getting up in the morning. Afternoon naps are definitely needed, but we haven’t got it right yet. She won’t sleep if we go out or if there’s stuff going on because she’s too curious. A few times I’ve taken her up to bed and she’s slept for hours. A good afternoon sleep definitely makes bedtime easier too. This weekend she barely napped at all, and was still up at midnight shouting her head off. Luckily she sleeps in til 8:30 am and the night feeds are so quick and easy I barely remember them. We still bed share, and I’ve bought a safety rail for my side of the bed. It seemed essential now that she rolls so much!
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For a short period Iris would cry if held by other people, but she seems to be over that now. She’s happily had cuddles with friends and family in the past week, and has started smiling at strangers when we’re out!
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I know I say this with every update, but I really can’t believe how fast time is going by. I’m stressed out of my head trying to keep on top of everything, but one smile from my little love and I’m over it. When she chuckles I turn to mush.
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