Controlled Crying


It’s a controversial topic, and if you look for advice online you’ll find armies of mums convinced that it’s cruel and that you’re harming your child. To be honest I had also felt it wasn’t for me, I enjoyed the night time cuddles and I couldn’t imagine it working. I’d read about babies needing comforted to develop and about babies crying for hours on end and mums in an even worse state. 

Isla’s sleep had been getting steadily worse, to the point that I slept sitting up in her room holding her in my arms. I’m going back to work in a few weeks and as a youth worker, I need a lot of energy to get through a day. Isla will also be starting nursery and I was panicking about how she’d cope at nap time when, unless I fed or rocked her to sleep, she would work herself up into an awful state and be completely inconsolable. 

Both my mum and health visitor had suggested letting her cry, but I imagined this going on for hours and to be honest thought it was another ‘in my day’ ‘didn’t do me any harm’ kind of things. But we were at the point that it couldn’t continue the way it was, so I decided to try some sleep training. 

I looked into various techniques, leaving them to cry it out, staying in the room until they fall asleep and so on, but settled on controlled crying – when you comfort the baby without picking them up, then leave the room, with progressively longer gaps between going back in. I was prepared for this to take all night, I thought it would be a case of a few nights bad sleep before it clicked.

I couldn’t believe how quickly it worked, some people recommend leaving a minimum of five minutes but I started off with one then two and so on. The first time it only took half an hour, she was getting very upset but the longest she cried before I went in was about seven minutes. Then when she woke up in the night I fed her, popped her back down and this time it only took about twenty minutes and she was less upset. I heard her fuss slightly during the night but just as I got ready to get up, she settled herself back to sleep, usually at this point she’d have woken up screaming and I’d have spent half an hour rocking her and trying to lie her back down without waking. She then slept right through until this morning when we both woke up far happier, she was full of smiles and cuddles so it’s clearly not damaged her in any way.  It’s the best sleep I’ve had since she was born! 

This morning when I put her down for her nap it took less than fifteen minutes and I only had to go in once. She’s now been napping for over an hour which is great as she often doesn’t nap for quite long enough but won’t go back to sleep and gets grumpier and grumpier as the day goes on. 

Hopefully this continues and soon I’ll be making up for all that lost sleep!

I just wanted to share my experience in case it was reassuring to anyone who was as anxious about it as I was. I know it may add to the overload of information, but I’m just so amazed at how quickly it worked especially as Isla has needed fed, cuddled or rocked to sleep every nap and bed time since she was born. 

My Hobbies

There’s not a lot of spare time when it comes to looking after a baby, the odd hour when she naps or an hour or so after she’s gone to bed (if I’ve not fallen asleep while putting her to bed). But when I do get a bit of time to myself I like to indulge in some of my favourite hobbies. These include:

  • Doing the dishes that have been ignored 
  • Hoovering up the crumbs that seem to breed in the carpet
  • Picking up the toys that Isla’s taken no notice of because she was too busy playing with a pack of baby wipes or a bib
  • Searching for change in the bottom of bags to pay for milk and bread
  • Looking at things I can’t afford online
  • Watching CBeebies and singing along to annoying tunes which then stick in my head all day
  • Trying to find somewhere to hang out the ridiculous amount of baby clothes washing, while I try to baby wipe sick off my jeans and give my top a quick sniff to check if it’s passable
  • Fixing the couch cushions for the 1000009th time 
  • Looking at the state of the bedroom and muttering ‘this room’s a fucking riot’
  • Rescuing mouldy coffee cups that Scott’s left and now won’t touch
  • Trying to find ways to style my hair that disguise the fact that it’s all fallen out and looks terrible
  • Googling ‘separation anxiety’ desperately hoping this particular developmental stage will be over very very soon
  • Taking Scott his coffee in bed when I’ve been up since half 6
  • Getting up every 3 hours during the night and waiting while the baby’s decided it’s playtime at 2am
  • Having mini breakdowns at the drop of a hat because I’ve not slept longer than a few hours at a time in months and having a baby is exhausting!

Thank goodness I’ve got so many fun and interesting hobbies to fill my time now, so I don’t need to waste my time doing things like painting, drawing, reading or having a relaxing bath!

Crying with the Kardashians

I’m not ashamed to say I have always enjoyed watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians, just to sit down for an hour with a cuppa and indulge in total celebrity nonsense. I know it’s totally brain numbing and often exaggerated or false, but it’s not too serious and a great way to switch off for a bit while dreaming of owning multiple huge homes, expensive jewellery and beautiful clothes.

But the most recent episode, that covers the incident in which Kim was robbed at gunpoint in Paris, had me in floods of tears, because behind the cameras and the makeup, she is a mother too. The men, dressed as policemen, made off with millions of pounds worth of jewellery, but her biggest concern was being able to see her children again. She begged with them to let her go because she had babies, to take whatever they wanted because she already had everything, because as she said “it’s all replaceable and none of it matters.” I can’t imagine how traumatic it must have been, and I know she’s faced a lot of criticism  because she flaunted what she had and made her life totally public, and then used the incident as part of the show, but I think it’s important that she did continue. You should never let anyone else influence how you live your life. (I’m still working on taking my own advice)

Nothing has made me aware of my own mortality so much as having a baby, I frequently find myself worrying about how she would be affected if something were to happen to me. I have become so much more cautious driving, I shout at other drivers because no one is being careful enough and it takes me twice as long to get out at junctions. I worry I’ll fall down the stairs, catch a serious illness, accidentally stab myself while cooking, be mugged, hit my head, be in a car crash or get run over by a bus, and not because of the impact it would have on me, but on Isla. Then every time I imagine one of these terrible accidents, I have to surreptitiously touch wood, because I’m overly superstitious and what if thinking it makes it happen? And if there’s no wood to touch I have to tap myself on the head, hoping that no one notices and thinks I’ve gone mad. Have I gone mad?! Probably.

But I don’t care because at the end of the day nothing matters apart from my family. All my possessions combined aren’t worth even the tiniest fraction of what was stolen from Kim KW, but I would still trade it all in to ensure I was able to be there for my beautiful girl. X

International Women’s Day

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and I felt like I could take on the world. As I scrolled through the numerous posts heralding the many successes of women, I felt empowered. I identified with them, I thought that’s me, I’ve got this. I looked at my daughter and felt, more than ever, that I would be a strong, confident role model, the one to show her that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to. I thought of my Mum and my Gran, the two women I look up to the most. Both sure of who they are, sure of their own opinion and able to hold their own in disagreements with grace and eloquence. That’s who I want to be for my daughter and who I thought I was until tonight. 

Tonight I feel about two inches tall. I feel like a silly girl, unsure of herself and reliant on others to fight her corner. I am aware as I write this how petty it seems, all because of a Facebook post, but it’s something that’s forced me to reflect. I saw a post online I disagreed with. Already in a mood  and without much forethought, I posted my opinion, only to be met with an onslaught of criticism. Now I feel I can take criticism, but what I don’t react well to is being patronised. And that’s how I felt reading the responses, and as I tried and failed to explain myself, I felt myself become unsure of my own opinion, lost confidence in what I felt. So I deleted the post. I gave up my opinion. This was just a small fight to give up, in the grand scheme of things it’s not something I’m passionate about, but it made me think about myself. 

What other arguments have I given up too quickly? Am I selling myself short? Am I being the best role model that I can be for my daughter? 

And that’s the scariest thought I’ve had had a mum, that I’m not doing my utmost best for her at every turn, that I’m not putting her first and that I’m letting her down.

So from now on I resolve to be better, to be stronger, because I want both of us to feel the way I did yesterday, everyday. 

Fields of boobs

Breastfeeding is definitely one of the unexpected joys of being a mum, I knew I wanted to but I didn’t ever expect to enjoy it so much. I’m in constant amazement at the body’s use of hormones to guide you as a mother; the rush of oxytocin during feeding makes waking up a million times a night that bit more bearable. Similarly the perfectly content grin just after they’ve shit all up their own back, through their clothes, and on to yours, is clearly designed by nature to stop us from throwing the whole baby in the bin along with the soiled onesie.

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This picture is from the first time Isla latched on, I struggled a bit to begin with, but as we ended up having to stay in hospital for nearly a week, I had loads of support with mastering breastfeeding. After a lot of wiggling trying to get her to latch on, and thinking it just wasn’t going to happen, one of the nurses (an absolutely lovely, no nonsense, seen it all, wee woman) shoved the baby on to my boob, and all of a sudden we got the hang og it. Even after that I hadn’t been sure I’d make it to the recommended 6 months, the first few weeks seemed like I’d never have my boob to myself again, but now I’m halfway there I can’t imagine stopping.

You definitely develop a certain confidence as well, there’s nothing like sitting with a boob out in the middle of a nice restaurant, with a baby refusing to feed and milk spraying everywhere, all while a waitress attempts to take your order, to force you to embrace your own body. I think if we didn’t have this bizarre concept that women’s nipples should be hidden while men’s can be proudly out and about, then a lot more women would breastfeed.

I always wonder what Isla dreams about when she smiles in her sleep, I imagine she must think of boobs. Just rows and rows of boobs, fields of boobs, rivers of milk and trees with nipples.

Baby it’s cold outside

I’m so glad Isla was a winter baby, there’s nothing like cuddling into a wee bundle, both wrapped up in dressing gowns, while it snows outside.

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Isla’s been a bit grumpy recently, I’m putting it down to teething although I know it could be a bit early for that. At least it seems to mean she’s been sleeping m0re during the day (wish she’d keep it up at night!) which leaves me time to get on with things in the house (binge watch box sets and eat my weight in biscuits).

 

Starting somewhere…

imageThere’s nothing quite so lonely as being a new mum. Despite being permanently attached to the most beautiful little person you’ve ever seen, and the constant stream of visitors of the first few weeks, it can often feel like you’re by yourself. So I decided to start this blog as a way to vent a bit about the trials and tribulations of being a youngish mum, and to save me from endless daytime television and Facebook scrolling!

Love to all the other new mums figuring it out X