Forming Bad Habits

Last night, for the third night in a row, little Strawbug ended up in the big bed with us from around 3am until it was time to get up this morning.

I say “ended up in the big bed” like she’d woken up, wandered through and climbed in between us. Clearly, at 8 months old, she didn’t wander through by herself. And given the height of the “big bed” is such that I sometimes need a leg-up myself, even if she was able to toddle through from her own room, she’d unlikely be able to climb in unaided.

Yes, our baby girls progress towards sleeping through the night is not linear to say the least (and that’s my version of sleeping through and not the ‘scientific’ definition of 5 hours sleep). It has characteristics of the good, the bad, the downright ugly and the cute as hell.

The Good: She now goes to bed “drowsy” and with little complaint she takes herself off into the land of nod. She no longer needs feeding between going to bed in the evening and waking in the morning. She also sleeps pretty soundly until that 3am witching hour.

The Bad: She has a period of wakefulness around 3am which, if left unattended, results in murderous screams. 8 month old lungs are extremely powerful (I know, this shocked me too!)

The Ugly: Me/My beloved falling out of the princess and the pea “big bed” and bouncing off the walls as we stumble through to play “get the dummy in the baby’s mouth, and not in her eye, whilst blindfolded” (well, not blindfolded exactly, but by the power of night light). And then caving in when it doesn’t work, picking her up and putting her in our bed.

The Cute As Hell: Strawbug, lying on her side in the middle of the two of us, reaching out to hold on to you so that she feels safe enough to go back to sleep…

I say go back to sleep, in reality the sleep part is preceded by about an hour of talking to herself, laughing and kicking the hell out of my neck, throat, tummy, chest, back, head… (never my beloved, always me – why is that? But, then I do seem to get all the cuddles when she does eventually go back to sleep, so I can’t really complain).

Now I know that she doesn’t know any better. And I know that it’s our job as responsible parents to teach her. But it’s so hard when;

a) you’re shattered because you haven’t had a full nights sleep since your 1st Trimester when you couldn’t stay awake
b) she’s shrieking so loud you can’t work out if she’s possessed by an evil spirit or she’s totally playing you
c) she looks at you with those big, loving eyes and cuddles into you like you were the only thing in the world that matttered

So, tell me (genuinely, I need the advice!)… I know that we are forming bad habits on her behalf and we’re also making a rod for our own backs. But, how is it possible to get your precious little bundle to sleep peacefully all night long, all on their own?

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Nurserycam is the new Twitter

Today marks the close of week number 3 back at work. And I have never been so glad that it’s Friday!

I knew going back to work would be difficult. It’s a major gear change having a baby but you get used to it very quickly and I, for one, didn’t want to shift back into work mode.

So, I set a handful of days to go into the office and some to put Strawbug into daycare as a practice run for both of us. I’d been warned that I’d cry every day for approximately 3 weeks when I went back and had to leave her every day. I was advised to keep a big box of tissues and a make up bag in the car to clean myself up before going into the office.

The “practice” days were extremely hard. I honestly felt a dull ache in the middle of my chest as if someone had reached in and ripped my heart out. It was a physical feeling as well as a deep emotional sadness. And there was me thinking it was the baby who was supposed to suffer from separation anxiety!

The first “real” day at work was awful. I cried the minute I got in the car after dropping her off. I thought I just might throw up. I cried all the way to work and thought of nothing but Strawbug until I picked her up at 5:30pm.

I’d returned to a new, slower paced role and to get started I had some learning to do. So, I spent most of my day reading. I say reading. What I was actually doing was looking at a book with my iPhone hidden inside constantly logged into the Nursery Webcam watching my baby girl. I’d been warned to avoid this specific activity for some weeks also, for obvious reasons. But instead of making my pain worse, it strangely made me feel better. After all, I’d spent the last 6 months just looking at her constantly. Marvelling in her beauty. Amazed at her presence. Obsessive, maybe. But I didn’t care. I still don’t. And now, through the magic of the internet, I could still look at her. I could see that she was still breathing, still alive, crying but alive, so she was OK…’ish.

I started to write this blog 2 weeks into returning to work, my iPhone lay between my arms still permanently logged into the Nurserycam watching Strawbug playing around on a playmat. I’d stopped crying every morning after dropping her off. Although I was still extremely sad to say goodbye. And it hurt like hell.

This week, we’ve both been a little under the weather. I’m not sure if it’s that or if it was destined to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride, in any event. But, it’s been hell. There have been tears again most days. I’m completely shattered both physically and emotionally. To the extent that I’ve been in bed by 8pm every night this week.

I’m not the only mum in this position. Almost 30% of Mothers work full time (Office for National Statistics). Whether it’s because they want to or they need to is another blog entirely. For me, it’s definitely purely a financial need and I would stay at home with Strawbug in a heartbeat if I could.

And as I update the post now, I’m still not doing much work. And I still think of nothing but Strawbug 24/7/365.  And I can’t help thinking, which will go first… nurserycam or my job. After all, something has probably got to give!

Today, I blog!

Today, I blog again…

My beautiful little girl is nearly 9 weeks old and the last 9 weeks have been the best and the worst of my life. People tell you it’s the hardest and the best job in the world (being a parent) and they’re right!

I once blogged about how overwhelmed with unconditional love I was for my little furball when he came into our lives. But my love for my baby girl is a gazillion times stronger than that. I could never have imagined it until the first time I looked at her.

Still now, every time I look at her, even when I’m at my lowest ebb; having had no sleep for days and she’s been screaming her little lungs out for what seems like hours (she has colic), all I can think of is that she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. How amazing she is and how lucky I am to have her. I miss her even when I’m just in the other room.

And my love, respect and admiration for my Beloved has grown too. Don’t get me wrong there have been times when the tiredness has presented, let’s call them, significant challenges. But I could not have delivered her without his fortitude. I would not have survived the baby blues or my battle with breastfeeding without his love and support. And I have grown as a person by learning to let him (and my friends and my family) help me.

She is definitely Daddy’s little girl! He brought her into this world with his own hands and she’s had him wrapped around her little finger ever since. But that is a good thing. He will love her and protect her forever, we both will.

Our family has grown and will hopefully continue to grow… although, I’m not sure where we’ll put them. This one tiny little girl has accumulated so much stuff in 9 weeks, we already need a bigger house. How is that possible?!

 

We are Fa-mi-lee

So, my Beloved and I attended the wedding reception of one of his work colleagues this weekend. Thankfully (as it was my first experience of a wedding sans alcool, like EVER!) it wasn’t a particularly boozy affair. Very family orientated, tonnes of kids… even one that looked about 3 weeks old (which got me very very excited every time I seen it! :-)).

It was a really lovely evening and it was great to get out and do something and talk to other people about things other than babies and lists and jobs to do. Well I say that, but in reality with a bump this size you’re never more than 30 seconds off the subject of babies!

There’s another wedding reception (seems there’s something in the water at my Beloved’s workplace) coming up on October 1st which I was reliably informed by the Bride-To-Be on Saturday will be a VERY boozy affair. How one attends a black tie wedding reception 3 days after giving birth (worst case scenario) and looks remotely like a human being, let alone a glamorous Goddess, I have no idea… pah! who am I kidding, whether it’s 3 weeks or 3 days, do I really think I have a chance of stepping foot over my front door without my days old baby? Err, No! Whilst it’s a nice idea, I really don’t think it’s feasible. She did say I could bring the baby, but I think she was just being polite. I had only just met her for the first time after all.

Inevitably though, the conversation moved along from babies to weddings as we talked about her plans for her big day. Now, in this day and age no-one really bothers when you’re 8 months pregnant and not married, but the question still comes up “Do you think you guys will ever get married?”, more in relation to co-habiting or just “going out” I think, because we’ve been asked that question for about 4 years now. And it’s something that we’ve talked about on several occassions.

Now, both my Beloved and I are casualties of the “Starter Marriage“. Not that either of us planned it that way and not that we’re proud of it. We both went into our marriages with total commitment and unfortunately it didn’t work out. Or as we like to look at it more positively now; fortunately, as we found each other (quite some time later, just to be clear) and it has allowed our ex-partners to move on with their lives and find happiness too. Which can only be a good thing for all involved. I digress…

So, yes, as I was explaining we’ve both been married before and so, for me anyway, I place infinitely more value on the strength of our relationship than on a piece of paper that says I’m legally committed to my Beloved. More than that though… I believe we are making the biggest commitment possible to each other right now. We are making a family.

Anyone that knows me (and I know some of you don’t) knows just how much importance I place on family. I’ve been brought up to love unconditionally where family is concerned. Rightly or wrongly. It may well be partly why I have found relationships difficult. No-one, no love, could compare to the love that I feel for my family. And I also believe that families should stick together – not that I’m getting on my soapbox and saying one parent families or multi-parent families are wrong. Families are diverse and it’s sticking with the love that we share that is important. Even if we don’t live in the same house anymore. I’m one of the lucky ones, my parents are still together, my siblings all still talk to one another and get on well and so I look around myself and I think; I love this! This what I want for my kids.

So, I guess I’m saying that for me, personally, it’s not that I don’t want to marry my Beloved, but having a baby with him is the single biggest most important commitment I could ever make to anyone. It’s the one thing that tells the world “I love this man, unconditionally. He is part of my family and we are a family”.

Easy like Sunday morning

This weekend in the UK is a 3 day weekend as we have the May Day Bank Holiday on Monday. Extra weekend days are such a treat! It’s like having 2 Sundays! You get a real shot at winding down and enjoying life.

I recently asked on my Facebook page; “What would be your perfect Sunday?”. I admit the response wasn’t overwhelming! (There were 0 comments, but its early days for the page and only 5 fans so far, so I remain positive for the future). But I have been thinking about how I would spend my perfect Sunday… and indeed whether I will be able to make the time to have a perfect Sunday this weekend.

To me though, the perfect Sunday would be like a perfect any other day of the week. And it would start with having had a really sound sleep the night before…

I’d wake at a reasonable time; not too early, but early enough to enjoy the quiet of the morning, say about 8am? The sun would be shining, the birds would be tweeting and  there would be a lovely fresh summer breeze rippling through the curtains. I can almost smell the freshly cut grass just by picturing the scene.

My Beloved and I would make our way to the garden for breakfast. And somehow, magically, with no-one else in the house, there it would be sitting ready for us. Fresh hot croissants, fresh fruit salad and a pot of really nice coffee. We would read the newspapers, browse the magazines and generally relax. Now, I’d be happy to settle for breakfast in my own garden, but if we were in our garden in our little French property by the sea (a dream of mine… check out My Bucket List) then that really would be the perfect start to the perfect day!

After breakfast, we’d wander around a local farmer’s market and then take a stroll along the beach. Again, most happy for  that to be our own beach here (with internationally renowned art installation, but a little cold and no crashing or bubbling wave sound effects) but if it could be the south of France, Malibu or St.Barts that would be preferable!

Lunch would be light and al fresco. Then I’d get together with all my friends and family for a good old fashioned party. I’m thinking BBQ, a band and one of those raised, square wooden  dance floors they have at southern fairs in the movies.. with lights all around. Of course it would need to be catered, so that everyone could relax and just enjoy… and this would definitely need to be held at our French residence as there’s not enough room in our back yard for all of my family, let alone a dance floor and a hog roast!

The day would end around 11pm (hey, that’s a late night for me), with myself, my Beloved and our little furball all cuddled up in bed with warm milk and a feel good movie… and we wouldn’t have to worry about hangovers or work the next day because in the world of Perfect Days those don’t exist.

Oh and at some point in my perfect day, I’d receive a call from an Internet Mogul offering me mega-sponsorship so that I could give up my job and blog for a living!