Tantrums: Not Everyone is Judging You

My child having a tantrum on a town-centre bench, because she wanted to go home for lunch and we were going home for lunch…

You know when you’re out and about with your little darlings and one of them absolutely loses it. You’ve probably been dealing with this all day (or since their first birthday, terrible TWOS my arse) and you’re probably absolutely sick of it. You want to lie right down on the floor next to them, scream 20 decibels louder than them and flail about like a dying octopus. Except you don’t have the energy, so you grit your teeth and try to work out how to get them into the car without making it look like you’re snapping them in two as they alternate between making themselves completely rigid head to toe and trying to kick/punch/poke you.

And then you happen to catch a glance of someone giving you the look. The look you’re dreading. In a split second, your mind tries to work out if they’re judging you, and what the hell you’re going to do about it.

Let’s be honest, what you’re going to do is try and pretend you haven’t seen them while continuing with the task at hand: stopping the tantrum. You’re going to go home and think about their judgey look all night, and maybe into the next day. But soon enough you’ll forget about them and their furrowed brow will be history.

However, I have a theory to propose. And that theory is that, no matter what it feels like at the time, not everyone is judging you. Now, back when I was a teenager and probably into my early 20s (probably even when Alexandra was tiny before she learned to talk and be difficult about stuff for absolutely no reason), I probably did look at other people like WTF why can’t they control their child?

I can pretty much forgive myself and anyone else who hasn’t experienced the full force of a toddler tantrum that THEY have to sort out rather than getting to merrily stroll on by and live their day without having to deal with a mini meltdown about yoghurt or some other ridiculous shit. I also think some people whose children have way passed the tantrum age (at least 30+) have probably forgotten what it’s like so, while their judgement is unwarranted and they should pipe down, we can just ignore them.

However, there’s a whole section of society out there who either owns or has recently owned a toddler. That means there are a whole load of people who know exactly what you’re going through. Because anyone who says their toddler has never cried for the world’s most ridiculous reason is lying.

So, if you get ‘the look’ from someone in that category, I’m willing to bet the look is actually a transmission of the following thoughts: ‘ah no, I am SO glad that is not my child today/I’m so glad my kid is at nursery so I don’t have to deal with them today/I hope that kid stops wailing soon cause that woman looks like she’s had enough/shall I go and help? Would it look like I was being an interfering busybody?/Why the hell are toddlers so difficult?/Does she need a hug?’

I have thought all of those things multiple times when I’ve seen someone experiencing their toddler being a dick. And I’m willing to wager that other moms have thought the same things too. It’s so easy to think everyone is judging you when you’re having your worst day ever with the kids. And it’s easy to feel alone (especially if there’s more kids than adults and they’re all having a cry). But actually that look might be one of solidarity.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Dear One-Year-Old Max

Max, it’s your birthday! You may not be able to read this right now but I hope in years to come you will and you will realise how utterly loved you are.

A year ago today, on Mothers’ Day, I was in a delivery room at Birmingham Women’s Hospital with your dad, a fabulous midwife and various other health professionals buzzing in and out of the room. Although you were a little early, we were desperate to meet you. We didn’t know how well you’d be when you were born, but you surprised us all by not only being born very quickly, but also breathing completely by yourself.

Things took a turn for the worst and the next three weeks were a rollercoaster of ups and downs as your little lung collapsed twice, you yo-yoed between intensive care and high dependency, you were looked after by phenomenal people, no one quite knew what was wrong with you and then all of a sudden there was a hospital transfer to the Children’s and you were taken down to surgery to close the hole in your diaphragm which was the cause of all the problems.

At every step of the way, and every day since, you amazed me with your utter strength. You were 4lb 13, had the skinniest legs I’ve ever seen, you were so tiny and fragile. And yet you showed you were a force to be reckoned with – from your repeated attempts to pull your own ventilator out to your absolute refusal to lie with your legs tucked into the little comfy nest the staff would lovingly create for you – instead you wanted one leg draped over the nest at all times.

We took you home a week post surgery, a phenomenally quick turnaround. And then of course you were admitted to our local hospital where your allergic condition was diagnosed. Eventually your hollow features filled out a little, you gained weight, you thrived, you became the beautiful blond boy turning one today.

And I can’t explain in words how incredible I think you are. There are people in this life who think they have a raw deal, who whinge and whine at every opportunity, who think ‘why me?’ and then there’s you – this tiny being who’s had to fight to be able to eat anything at all, to be able to breathe freely, to catch up with his peers. And yet you have the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.

I’m not pretending you’ve been an easy baby this past year! Your sleep has been somewhat erratic for the last four months or so, and sometimes you just scream and scream for something as silly as me leaving the room! But my god have you excelled in certain areas. The list of foods you can eat is so substantial the dietician was shocked when she saw them. Your latest x-ray caused the surgeon to remark what a wonderful job he’d done operating on you. And no one who looks at you would ever suspect how much you have panicked us and the healthcare world at times!

The way you look at and interact with Alexandra makes me so happy. When you were tiny you would turn your head to look the instant she made a noise – and now you are desperate to join in all the games she plays. You have learned to toughen up thanks to the rough treatment you sometimes receive at her hands, but I have also seen the two of you in fits of giggles so many times, I have seen you beam from ear to ear at the sight of her and I have witnessed so many cuddles and so much love between the pair of you. I hope you always adore her as much as you do now.

I never realised that you can miss something you don’t have yet until I missed you so fiercely in that time when you weren’t going to be a possibility. Throughout my pregnancy with you, I kept positive because I had to believe that you had fought the odds to even get to week 1 of that pregnancy – so maybe you were meant to be. A lot of odds were stacked against you but you have not only defied them, you have defeated every obstacle in your way and you have shown the world how tough you are. How ironic that the name we picked for you, Max, means ‘the greatest’.

I said when you were born that there had been a Max shaped hole in my heart and you’d come along to fill it. Baby boy, you have made my heart so happy.

Mommy x

Alexandra at 2.5

Alexandra bossing around her cousin Zachary.

I stopped writing monthly updates for Alexandra when she turned two, mostly because there’s only so many times you can say ‘yeah her routine is the same, she still has the same amount of teeth’ etc before it gets a bit boring! I mean, you might find these updates boring anyway, but I enjoy having them to read back on and maybe the kids will even read them one day too.

Alexandra is doing marvellously. I do regularly stop and think how lucky we have been with her – not in a whole ‘ah she never cries’ kind of way. Don’t get me wrong, she is a stubborn, bossy, wilful little creature and I have my fair share of battles with her every single day. But I feel like she sailed through the ‘big’ things in babyhood and early toddlerhood – the things like weaning and sleeping and stopping having bottles and dummies. So that’s what I mean when I said we lucked out.

We haven’t started potty training yet, which is the big thing a lot of people ask about once baby turns 2 (can I call her a baby anymore? Probably not, ah well). She’s showing little signs here and there and we have had a grand total of TWO wees on the potty. But honestly, I’d much rather wait and deal with nappies for a little while longer until she seems more eager to be out of them. I don’t really get why some people are so keen to potty train early – obviously, I’m not going to hold her back and I realise it’s a big step in their development, but actually pushing them to train as early as possible seems a bit bizarre especially as you still have to deal with disposing of the wee/poo and wiping and all that faff. If they took off their nappy one day and mastered using the proper toilet, wiping, flushing and washing their own hands on that same day, then maybe – but it still seems like a lot of hassle! Plus there’s the whole thing of being somewhere and them going ‘I need a wee’ and having to get to a toilet in about 2.4 seconds. I already do that myself but I probably have just a slightly better ability to hold in a wee than a 2 year old does!

Alexandra has pretty much dropped her daytime nap now, which coincided with her moving into the bigger bedroom and into a proper bed – as I could no longer contain her in the cot she’d just get up and come back downstairs if I tried to put her in bed in the afternoon. I did a lot of driving around to try and get her to nap but now I’m not actively trying to get her to nap anymore as it just seems to use up all our effort and patience! Sometimes she drops off in the car or the pram if we happen to be out but apart from that she goes to bed around 7.30 and seems to be getting better at not becoming a total nightmare to deal with in the few hours before that!

Her speech is the one thing which has really developed over the last six months – we have proper conversations with her now and it’s lovely. One of my favourite parts of the day is when we sit down and tell daddy what we’ve done when he comes home. Not least because sometimes she just absolutely makes it up – for example telling him her thumb was on fire, the fire engine came and then she went to the hospital and saw a doctor. Dylan’s looking at me like WTF and I’m like yeah I probably would have called you had that happened, don’t worry our kid has just become a complete liar!

Alex remains very strong-willed and independent which is something I love about her but it can also be slightly exasperating when you’re trying to get her to do something! I’ve found if she’s just having a strop about something, just ignoring her for a while can be quite effective. Recently she’s started saying she doesn’t like her dinner so I’ll just leave it on the table and let her get on with playing or whatever. About 80% of the time she’ll take ten minutes and then come to the table and start eating.

We’re having all the usual pushing, kicking, being mean, throwing herself on the ground wailing that you expect from a two year old – nothing that really worries me in any way but of course it’s frustrating to deal with at the time, especially with a nearly one year old needing your attention as well.

My favourite thing is now when I say love you Alexandra, she says ‘lub you mommy’. Cute.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Baby 2: 11 Months

Not going to lie, I am slightly freaking out about the fact my tiny little baby is one in under three weeks!

I feel like he’s really progressed in the last months and has come on leaps and bounds. We are so proud of him. I know everyone is proud of their children, and I know a lot of children have things going on which affect every single aspect of their lives in a much more profound way; but our little boy has faced every challenge with the biggest smile on his face and to look now at his pictures in the very early days when he was so tiny, fragile and poorly: he’s unrecognisable now. We’ve never shared any of the pictures of him when he needed help breathing or was having jaundice treatment or was surrounded by wires (I think the earliest ones which have gone on social media or here are when he still just has his feeding tube in), but looking back at them now shows us how strong Max was and is! He’s a dude.

So, having looked at last month’s update there are a couple of quick things to say and then certain things I’ll go into in more detail:

  • Three new teeth, making a total of five!
  • Sleeping really well – we’ve had two nights where he’s not stirred at all for around 12 hours and most of the other nights it’s only been once or twice for his dummy. We need to get rid of it soon but I’m trying to put it off for a little longer! (Except I wrote this last week and then we had a couple of awful nights thanks to cold number 27464749 of the winter)
  • Routine is pretty much the same except he’s dropped his 11am bottle so just two left now.
  • He’s pulling himself up to standing and climbing constantly now! He can go from lying down to sitting up and has also cracked sitting up totally now. Still commando crawling although he can move forward for about a second on his hands and knees before going back to commando style again.

The first thing I wanted to talk about a bit more extensively is his speech. We noticed from very early on he had a great range of sounds and ‘talked’ a lot more than his sister did at that age. I’m still not totally sure he realises what certain words mean but he’s definitely learning that he gets a reaction from saying sounds at particular times. Having said that, in the last week or so Max is saying ‘daddy’ a lot when Dylan comes in the room or in his general direction, and he doesn’t say it to me, so it could be that he’s learned who daddy is. He also says ‘hiya’ a lot which is super cute (especially when accompanied with very enthusiastic waving) and ‘yeah’. I’m totally okay with him saying daddy first, especially when I hear ‘mommmmm mommmmm mommmm’ a trillion times a day from his sister.

 And lastly, the big one with Max is always how his food is going! In his ten month update, we were trialling pear which was a pass. Also added to the safe lists this month are some really good foods: rice (so handy as it opens up some cereals and rice cakes as well as – of course – rice itself and he LOVES it), banana (again handy for snacks, he eats an entire one at a time because he loves them so much) and eggs (a high risk food but another great one for him). We have a tentative pass on chicken because it caused some nappy issues (although we are now thinking it could have been teething?) but no sick so we think it might be okay but will need to keep an eye on it when he has it in future. Last week he passed oats – this was on the request of the dietician who thought he could benefit from more calcium so he’s been having Oatly custard – and beef. This week we’re doing peas and then in a few days we’ll try corn.

We saw the dietician two weeks ago and she was very pleased with him – he’s got a very long list of safes in their eyes and is passing medium and high risk foods which is great news. They want him to trial dairy in hospital when he turns two rather than at home, which would be my preference too and they also want him to carry on having formula until he’s two. He now weighs 18lb 4 which is still on the smaller side but he’s putting weight on consistently so they are chuffed with that!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Finding It Hard To Write

Not in any way related to the post, but this is my toddler dressed as a monkey in a rather nice little tea shop eating a banana.

We all go through phases don’t we, where the blank page never fills up, where inspiration to sit down and type just doesn’t come. I’ve been feeling a bit like that about this blog recently, which is a shame as it’s intended to be a record for when my kids are older and they (or more likely, I) can read back at all the things they did, the highs, the lows and the inbetweens too.

Life has kind of kicked up a gear from the franticness of the early days of having two under two. Two whole babies to look after compared to one of me (with two of us of course during the evenings and weekends!). Nine months of that and then all of a sudden it was time to think about that four letter word again – work. I’m massively enjoying being back into the world of work but the dynamics are very different again.

Up until I was 12 weeks pregnant with Alexandra, I worked full time (and overtime! And time over that too!) and life was very full with not only my real job but also the volunteer work that I did in my spare time (running a mental health group). Then I upped sticks and moved in with Dylan and suddenly I had not a fat lot to do. I spent a lot of my first maternity leave napping, eating and watching pointless television. Now, I wish I’d done something more productive with that time. But equally I’m happy I had that wind-down time that I probably won’t get again until I’m 80. Then I had my time off with Alex where I learned how to be someone’s mom before I started freelancing – doing bits and bobs while she was napping, occasionally taking her along to a work meeting and she’d sleep in the pram or smile at everyone, setting up stuff for her to play with so I could work at our dining room table.

And then came maternity leave with Max and then came, well, now. Each and every day is so full on because even if we don’t go anywhere, there’s two bums to keep clean, two mouths to feed (constantly!), arguments over toys being MINE, washing to do, a house to keep clean, more snacks, more food, bottles, baths, bedtime routines. And that’s without nursery drop offs and pick ups, baby groups, play dates, errands, doctor’s appointments. So I’ve resigned myself to the fact the daytime is not going to be my friend in terms of work and I’ve generally been starting my working day at 7.30pm. It’s going well so far, I think. No one’s emailed me back to say THIS IS SHIT so I’ve either been writing okay or everyone’s too polite to say anything! I should hope it’s the former seen as they’re paying me to do it.

So in between my 12 hour days working as ‘mom’ with the kids, the couple of hours working at night, writing the occasional blog for the Motherload and occasionally talking to my husband, I’ve not had much headspace for this blog.

This whole thing comes across a little as a moan about how busy I am (which it’s not intended to be, I actually think I function better being busy and I love both my work and my homelife even if both can be challenging at times) or just a whole heap of excuse about my lack of blog writing. Which again, is unintended. I hope to always carry on this blog. I hope to be talking about my grandchildren on this blog one day (although of course my two are going to stay little forever and never fly the nest and have kids of their own!).

Anyway, it’s very late and I’m about to go to bed. Max is stirring a little so I’m hoping the murmuring over the monitor won’t turn into a full blown cry!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

It’s Just A Phase

Hopefully making a mess is a phase too.

If you’re a parent, how many times have you heard the phrase ‘it’s just a phase’? I’m willing to bet if you times your child’s age in seconds by infinity you still would be way off. In fact, I said it in a group chat with my NCT friends less than 24 hours before typing this post.

It got me thinking. It’s probably one of the most common parenting phrases (alongside ‘they grow up so fast’ and ‘why is Bing such a knob?’) but in my experience, it’s also very true. It’s not just one of those things old ladies have learned to say so that they sound like a herd of sheep all bleating together ‘it’s just a phase’. Every single thing ends.

That means the lovely things: like that newborn smell, the way they curl up like a little Quaver crisp on your chest for the first few weeks, the little snuffling noises they do (I can’t carry on with this list or I might cry thinking about the cuteness of that early time). But it also means the shit things too. I remember Dylan saying to me before Christmas when we were going through that awful time when Max just forgot how to sleep and sometimes the only way we could get through a night was having him in our bed for a bit, that he was worried we’d get into a habit that we’d never get out of. I replied that even if we did, I’ve never ever heard of a 15 year old boy wanting to get into his parents’ bed overnight so eventually we’d get out of the habit (as it was we somehow muddled our way through that time and he hasn’t been in our bed for months).

The whole sleep thing was awful. We knew it would end and we knew that while we could try and influence it in some ways – adjusting nap times, making sure we were consistent with our approach at night – some of it would just be a matter of time. Time to get over the constant colds he was experiencing. Time to cut those first teeth through. And time to just get past that developmental stage.

The same goes for the horrendous toddler tantrums we had at the start of the year. For a few weeks, pretty much every day with Alex made me want to cry. There were glimpses of the funny, intelligent, lovely little girl but there were also hours each day where I just wanted to run away! Again, a developmental stage I think as she got noticeably better (not cured: the tantrums are still there like you’d expect from a two year old don’t worry!) the day her speech got dramatically clearer and her sentences got longer.

Every single thing that happens in their life is just a phase, some of them you barely get through by the skin of your teeth, some of them exhaust you, some of them make you cry so much your face hurts constantly. Some of them delight you, some you never want to end.

It’s not actually that reassuring at the start to hear ‘it’s just a phase’ as you want to do something to fix them, to hurry past that time of them being unsettled or unhappy (or making you unhappy!), but I think certainly for me the more phases you go through, the more you learn to try and not get as wound up by them. To let them pass. To just get through them the best way you can.

However, for those offering up the phrase ‘it’s just a phase’ perhaps you could add on another phrase which will offer more comfort? For example:
‘It’s just a phase…but here is some chocolate to help you get through it.’
‘It’s just a phase…but do you need a couple of hours off? If so, I can look after baby.’
‘It’s just a phase…but here is what helped us get through that phase.’
‘It’s just a phase…you’re doing a great job.’

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

How Life Changed

Isn’t it funny how life can change? I was chatting to an old school friend the other day and she casually mentioned her 30th next year. I was like wow she’s got that wrong – til I realised she was indeed completely correct. Mine’s not til the following year as she was older in the year and I was one of the youngest. But still, it’s been ten years since I did my A-Levels this year. Ten years since I left school and started journalism college. Nine years since I moved out of my parents’ home and into my first little flat with a grand sum of a microwave, a couple of towels and some clothes to my name.

Nine years since I took a job at a newspaper as a junior reporter (which means I’ve known Dylan nine years) and eight since I moved and settled in a new town where my job was based. Eight years since I became acting deputy and seven since I passed my senior exams. Six since I moved again and five since I ran a half-marathon, launched a paper and also began running a mental health group. Four since my own mental health took a turn for the worse and I spent a summer as an inpatient on a ward. But also four since the guy I sort of liked who I knew through work asked me on a date and also four since we got engaged and booked our wedding (it took five years for him to ask me out but once we got past that hurdle, we moved fast!).

Three years since we found out we were expecting a baby girl, since we moved in together, since we had our amazing honeymoon in Thailand and since Alexandra Cavanagh was born. Yeah, three years ago was incredible but also some of the hardest days of our lives. Three years since we were forced to cancel our wedding 48 hours beforehand, since I spent what should have been my wedding day on oxygen being taken to the bathroom in a wheelchair, since Dylan was told I might not make it. But also three years since we put our middle fingers up to a CAPS diagnosis and the shoddy odds of survival that offer and three years since I came home and we began life as a family.

Which makes it two years since we got married! Finally! The best day of our lives, so incredibly full of happiness and love. And two years since we found out that a baby boy would be joining our family (oops! But also yay!). Two years since we took Alexandra abroad for the first time.

And a year since Max Llewellyn Arturs was born. A year since the days of NICU and operations and ventilators and medicine and nurses and so many ups and downs. A year since we brought him home and settled into our new life together. A month since the turn of the year, bringing with it the hope of a calm and peaceful 2018!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Baby 2: 10 Months Old

10 months old! I am still firmly pretending Max is a newborn (and his nappies still say newborn on the pack, so I must be right yes?) but he is in fact much closer to being a toddler than I care to admit!

Teeth: Two! And lots of rooting round as if there’s a new one coming through pretty soon.

Sleep: This has got a lot better since my post a few weeks back about how awfully he’d started sleeping. We’re now firmly making sure he goes down at around 7pm but no later than 7.30pm which seems to help and we’ve moved his afternoon nap later so he’s not overtired in the evenings. On average, we get up about 5 times a night now but it’s without fail just to put his dummy back in and maybe some teething gel on – fingers crossed we’ve had a couple of weeks now where we haven’t had to rock him back to sleep or spend hours trying every method under the sun to get him to settle.

Routine: Up about 7.30ish but can be later, breakfast around 8/8.30, nap around 10-11, bottle at 11, lunch at 1, bottle at 2.30/2.45, nap around 3-4/4.30, dinner at 5, bottle at 6.30, bed at 7ish.

Food: Max is doing amazingly with his food trials so we’ve reduced the last couple to six days with the hope of reducing further to five days for each new food. We now have 18 safes (lamb, salmon, pineapple, apple, plum, peach, blueberry, strawberry, avocado, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, parsnip, tomato, white potato, sorghum, wheat, coconut milk/yoghurt). Wheat has been a great one for him to pass as it’s opened up some bread to us (only specific ones as most contain soya, but it’s nice to see him chewing on a bagel!) as well as different cereals, pasta and cous cous. We’re trialling pear this week and also trying to concentrate on introducing some finger foods (using his safes, so giving cut up fruit or some bread) as well as cutting up food rather than giving it pureed so he gets used to more textures.

Bottles: Max now has a bottle of expressed breast milk (5oz/150ml) in the morning then two bottles of formula, I switched his afternoon one from EBM to formula in readiness for me stopping pumping next week – with the stash I’ve got in the freezer it means he can continue having one bottle of EBM each day until his first birthday. If he’s still needing a follow-on formula at this point (I think they’ll recommend that) then I’ll feel okay that he had some breastmilk for an entire year.

Lungs: We are thrilled, thrilled, thrilled that we had a follow-up appointment and X-ray at the hospital where he had his operation and his right lung has expanded massively since his last X-ray in June. That means his diaphragm is pretty much where it should be and there’s no evidence of reherniating. The surgeon was so happy with him, he doesn’t want to see Max again for another year. I mean, I know we all like to share how great our kids are doing when they hit their milestone but growing your lung capacity by almost double in six months is pretty special. Well done Maxi!

Playing: Max definitely has a preference for ‘hard’ toys over cuddly teddies. He loves sharing his sister’s Lego blocks, tea set and cars. He also has an inflatable farm-themed ring from his cousin which he absolute delights in climbing in and out of. Oh yes, we have another climber. He’s discovered he can get over things now so I’m sure it’s only  a matter of time before I’m rescuing him from high up places – it’s like raising a colony of monkeys sometimes.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

The Cost of a Nap

Remember in the ‘good old days’ when you used to just go for a drive aimlessly? Quite often my first boyfriend and I would just get in his car and drive around of an evening, even though we were absolutely skint. Now you need a ridiculous amount of money to be able to indulge in such luxury and I feel like suggesting going for a drive without a destination is akin to asking if you fancy an impromptu holiday! Myself and Dylan hardly ever get in the car unless we have somewhere to go.

There is a point to this, I promise.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about switching the kids around so that Alexandra was in the bigger room in a single bed (here) which all went very well. However, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how you get a toddler to willingly get into their bed and nap. Alex has once, ONCE, got into bed and said ‘I tired mommy’ but by the time I’d closed the curtains she was back up again and couldn’t be persuaded to go to sleep. Once in desperation, I put her back into the cot in the nursery for a nap. But this just isn’t sustainable – I need the cot for Max’s nap and also if she really wanted to Alex could get out of the sleeping bag and out of the cot which clearly isn’t super safe.

So I’ve resorted to going out in the car and just driving around until I think she’s asleep, and then attempting to transfer her into the bed when we get home. This has varying levels of success:

About 20 per cent of the time, she falls asleep and stays asleep when I put her in the bed.

About 20 per cent of the time, nobody falls asleep and I just get two very confused faces when I stop the car like ‘why did we just drive round in a massive circle?!’

Around 40 per cent of the time, the wrong child falls asleep.

And the other 20 per cent of the time, Alex falls asleep and then wakes up when I try and take her out of the car.

So essentially, my new ‘desperation drive nap attempt’ technique is a little bit rubbish. However, as my success rate of getting her to fall asleep in her own bed is currently 0 per cent, it’s better than that right?

If Alexandra was ready to give up her nap then I wouldn’t be too bothered (although now Max has a regular nap schedule it would be lovely to have an hour child-free to work or do something productive in!) but she’s clearly very tired and her behaviour hasn’t been the best since the New Year when we swapped the bedrooms. It could be that she was going to take the Terrible Twos up at notch at this point anyway, but I’m sure tiredness plays a part in the silly behaviour we’re experiencing.

Alex is very much (and has always been) of the mindset that if she doesn’t want to do something, she won’t do it. And you could say well you’re the parent, just make her. But how do I persuade a child to sleep when, short of installing a lock on the outside of her door and barricading her in to her room (where let’s be honest she’d just throw everything out and scream the place down), I have no way of physically keeping her in her bed. When she was still in the cot, she’d protest about nap time then realise she might as well just lie down and go to sleep as that was the only option open to her. Now, just leaving the room and coming downstairs is her preferred option.

So a couple of times a week you’ll find me just aimlessly driving around trying to get my child to sleep while pretending I’m not paying through the nose for the pleasure!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

The Baby Forgot How To Sleep

From fairly near the beginning with both of our children, we have been blessed with good sleepers. Alexandra slept through from a few months old and has never, aside from the odd night of teething, looked back. When Max followed suit we were pretty pleased and, although I’d still been getting up to express and we had the eternal ‘putting the dummy back in the baby’s mouth’ momentary stirring regularly, things seemed like they’d all gone the right way again.

Then about two months ago, Max started getting up in the night. And by getting up in the night, I mean sometimes being unsettled for an hour or two at 10pm, sometimes being awake for three hours from 1am and sometimes never really settling for the majority of the night. He had a bout of bronchiolitis, we knew teething was starting and he was also rapidly outgrowing his Moses basket so we thought it was a combination of all of those. Knowing what to do wasn’t easy: you try the usual teething gel, more blankets, fewer blankets, rocking, shushing, patting. He spent a fair amount of time in our bed. It then came time to put him into the nursery his sister had just vacated – we wondered whether it might make things worse because he does like the comfort of being near to someone, or whether not having the disturbance of us coming to bed or getting up for the loo would make things easier for him.

Well the result wasn’t great. He had a few of his worst nights when we put him in his own room (he also had another cold, about his fifth of the winter, which wasn’t great timing but he was about to burst out of the ends of his Moses basket and if we waited until Max wasn’t snotty he’d have been in with us for years). I read an article one morning at 4am about the timings of naps and concluded that his afternoon nap needed moving backwards so he was waking around 4pm and that we needed to ensure he was in bed by 7.30pm at the latest. The first few nights of this new routine were much better, we were only up to him a couple of times in the night and that was just to replace his dummy rather than spending an hour or two trying to calm him with every and any baby soothing method we can think of.

Then two nights ago (Sunday), he didn’t have a great night. Last night was pants too – he was up for a while around the time we went to bed and then again in the early hours then there were about three hours where I never got the chance to get fully back to sleep in between getting up and down to him.

I’ve read articles saying if you can get them to self soothe then they’ll sleep better. Not so – Max now goes down sleepy but awake and gets himself to sleep almost immediately. But if he wakes up in the night then he needs us to come and settle him back down. I wonder whether weaning him off the dummy would help but I think it might make things worse at this point – and I really can’t face the few days of awful, awful crying that we know it’s likely to take to break the habit.

I wonder whether it’s related to the fact he has a lot of colds so his nose is blocked a fair amount (although we use Snufflebabe, nasal spray and have his cot at an angle in an attempt to help), whether it’s reflux (which is fairly under control on his meds although we tried to reduce them last week on the doctor’s advice and have gone back up to three doses as he’d started being sick more), whether it’s teething (two have popped through and he’s potentially showing signs number three is on its way), whether it’s separation anxiety (although he’ll sleep for the first few hours of the night absolutely fine on his own) or whether it’s his allergies (in which case we’re doomed until he grows out of them!).

Of course, the alternative is he read the article I wrote for the Motherload about baby sleep and decided to make me look a fool.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x