“I carry the mental load of our baby. I know when he’s hungry, tired or needs a bath.” Constance Hall said in a post this week and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Rafe, my husband and I were out and about and I had forgot his cup.
“You didn’t pack his cup?," said my husband.
“NO, DID YOU?!” (I said with a few Fs in-between.)
“No, you’re in charge of Rafe.” And although he was half joking…he is kind of right. And I’m not bashing dads or my husband here (he’s an amazing dad) – but it made me think of all the other “injustices” as Constance calls them, you notice when you have a baby and those #livingourbestlife red rage moments. The ARE YOU ACTUALLY A REAL PERSON? moments' that make you question why you actually like your husband. I’ve spent many an hour with my friends talking about these moments, “he said what?”, “are you serious?”, “I would have saw the red rage." So I asked my friends – and you, about some of your red rage moments – just to make sure I wasn’t alone and didn’t actually just need anger management counselling. And there are some corkers! And dads - we do love you all really, you're pretty fabulous - most of the time...And I’m sure you could all write a novel about us….(These aren’t all my husband – just the first one!!)
Been loving the weather this week – though I don’t want to say, “it’s just too hot…” but babies and heat do not mix. Nor do boobies. Boobies and heat do not mix. Hello sweaty under-boob. Rafe’s sleep (thankfully) hasn’t been affected too much by the heat – and dare I say it, at night, he has been doing some canny stretches. And some nights, I have been putting him down and he has gone straight to sleep. Don’t worry – I’m not gloating – some nights he has screamed blue murder (teething you are a mother trucker). And the other night I had to cuddle him to sleep. On Wednesday night he went from 7.30 till 4.30, had a feed and then up at 7. And then on Thursday night he slept through!!!!! WHAT THE ACTUAL??? But then Friday night he really unsettled. But hey – I’m not complaining! I wish I could say I am doing something particular to get him to do these stretches but I'm not really. (Sorry, not very helpful I know.) All I have been doing is making sure he is sleepy when I put him down. So I know some baby books say you must put down awake so they can self-settle but Rafe ain’t going to ever go down wide-awake unless a miracle happens. So I boobie feed him, or give him a little cuddle to make sure his eyes are heavy – then put him down. So he is half asleep/half awake, so that seems to work. I call it the "do whatever works for you" technique and it seems to be doing the trick...for now!
After being less stressed about naps (I honestly have!) and accepting that Rafe will probably just do 2x30 naps a day, I do feel so much better and less nap obssessed. I mean, I’m still walking a marathon most days but I have a canny t-shirt tan. Think I might try putting some toys in his cot when I know he’s really tired, see if he will just play with them and self-settle without screaming blue murder. I mean, it’s not going to happen but still worth a try right?....
Rafe’s always been quite good if I just nip out the room and not really been fussed, as long as he’s entertained but this week, even if I literally am out of the room for a second, he screams. Like really, really cries. He’s fine when someone else is there – but he’s just not happy at all for me to leave. (Good timing before I go back to work…) Turns out he is going through ANOTHER leap. Seriously – hasn’t he just been going through one? And this leap (leap 7) is where babies show more attachment behavior so explains it really. Is anyone else experiencing this?
He’s still rolling around and turning in circles so think it’s going to be a while until he crawls. Although not wishing time away. Many of you have said that once they are on the move – it’s eyes in back of head time!
Anyway, best be off. 8 mile walk to go on...
Hi, my name is Faye and I’m a nap-obsessed-o’holic. I think readers of my blog may have guessed I had such a condition, round about the three-four month-old mark when I was beginning to have mild palpitations questioning whether I should have a routine yet and why my baby can only nap for 30 minutes. I foolishly said I was going to be more calm and not stress about naps a couple of weeks ago when another mum gave me some great advice – but I relapsed last week when I had been walking for an hour and a half, with major sweaty under-boob and a sunburnt back, with baby still wide-awake loving life – the baby who only slept for 15 minutes that day and well, I almost shed a few fed-up tears (again). Oh and I have given up on the nap in cot situation – that ain’t never going to happen. But just as I was in full relapse, nap-obsessed-o’holic mode – another mum sent me a link to an article that quite frankly – saved my life. (Okay, slightly dramatic but it made my day). I know what you’re thinking – another article! Yes, I am aware that my google search history covers only four things: “how long can (insert month) stay awake for between naps, what is the best nap routine for () month old, how to get baby to self-settle for naps, how can you get a flat stomach and still eat your body weight in chocolate every day?” But after reading it, I feel I am no longer going to be a broken record of worrying about whether Rafe isn’t sleeping enough and may finally accept, as so many of you have been telling me – that maybe Rafe does just not need a two-hour afternoon nap, maybe he will just always be a cat-napper, I might never get to have a hot cup of tea and watch a box set while he sleeps in his cot – but at least I’m not going to stress about it anymore….Right? And quite frankly, if I read or download another sleep programme or buy another fucking white noise machine I’ll lose the plot.
So basically, as you can see if you read the link, https://sarahockwell-smith.com/2017/11/01/in-defence-of-cat-naps/ my new best friend goes into detail about the benefits of a catnap – and says “If you have a cat napper, rest assured that you’re not alone and in all likelihood there is nothing wrong with your child’s sleep, even though other books and sleep trainers warn otherwise. The next time you doubt yourself and your child, remind yourself that there is no evidence behind their claims...and you are not alone!” So I’m no expert – and trust me, if Rafe suddenly starts to sleep longer and naps in his cot then I will be writing a novel about it. But I will – although I have said this a number of times. CHILL THE FUCK OUT. I’ve spent almost six months’ (I’d say the first three months of Rafe’s life I was worrying more about what the hell I was actually doing) literally obsessing about bloody naps. I’m sure I will laugh about it and kind of are now – but I’ve spent most my maternity leave, every day, worrying about how I was going to get Rafe to sleep longer, or stressing because he’s only had 30 bloody minutes. And, unless he doesn’t nap at all or only has one little nap – he seems to be okay just having his two little catnaps. And some days, when he needs it, he does sleep a little longer (35 minutes…) So, like I said, I’m no expert but if there are any other nap-obsessed-o’holic’s out there – we are in this together. If I could turn back time to five months ago, I would say to myself: Turn off google. Don’t download another fucking sleep programme. Stop buying white noise machines. Don’t compare Rafe to other babies. If he sleeps for 30 minutes, that’s better than nothing! If he has an hour – praise the Lord. Just don’t lose your flipping mind over naps. Oh and go have another biscuit.
Sleeping through the night at the moment is a bit hit and miss as it’s been so hot. The other night I felt like I was abroad, yet I wasn’t in some beautiful air conditioned apartment, listening to the ocean, in a deep sleep after too many cocktails – I was in a stuffy, hot room in Whitley Bay, listening to a fan noise on a white noise machine, trying to block out the birds twerping away, while Rafe was up most the night. He is self-settling a bit better but mostly just falling asleep feeding, so ending up putting him down drowsy but he’s been doing some good little stretches – normally wakes around 12-1 for a feed and can go back down till 7. Though the other night he whinged for 2 hours before he went back to sleep. Does anyone else think the whinge is worse than a cry? And teething is in full force at the moment so we are having a few rough nights. I had to hold his hand while he fell asleep the other-night and I literally could have burst with love so it’s not all negative Nancy. Even though he’s sleeping better at times, I still wake-up feeling absolutely exhausted and in a constant state of feeling hungover. I seem to manage quite well for a few days and then day 4 I just feel absolutely cream-crackered. Yesterday I could have slept all day. Rafe had woke at 4.30am and would not settle. As I was feeding him I could smell a strong smell of poo. Wasn't Rafe. Thankfully wasn't my husband so went downstairs and Yankee had shat all over the kitchen so was cleaning poo off the floor at 5am. Nevermind. One for the memoirs.
As I mentioned last week, I have dropped a couple of breastfeeds – the lunchtime feed as he’s eating three meals now (although still a bit of a fuss-pot) and then afternoon feed I’ve replaced with formula. He’s not loving it like he loves the boob, but don’t know whether he ever well. He likes lying down and feeding himself though so I guess it’s just him getting used to it. I plan to drop the mid-morning feed and replace with formula (or snack? I don’t know whether he is having too much???) over the next two weeks. Still want to keep breastfeeding but just means when I go back to work, he will have adjusted to not having breastfeeds (hopefully) during the day. Just morning, before bed and through the night. I got a bit emotional about it as it feels like such a big change, I’ve been used to feeding him myself throughout the day and although I still will be breastfeeding, I just feel like things are coming to an end. (Dramatic I know.) Maternity leave. Breastfeeding being cut down. Time has just gone far too fast and I’m trying to treasure every second (in-between the tears, mind-numbing exhaustion, husband rage and cleaning up dog shit) as I’ve suddenly blinked and Rafe is now almost 10-month’s old. He held my hand when I was breastfeeding the other night and those are the moments that make everything, even the nap nightmares, worth it and the moments I will miss so much when I stop breastfeeding.
How old was your baby when they started crawling? Rafe’s just rolling all over and showing no signs of wanting to pull himself up on to furniture but you can see he is wanting to try and crawl. He keeps bringing his knees up and instead of rolling, sometimes he just rotates round in a circle but he just can’t quite work out how to crawl! I know he will just do it when he is ready but any tips on trying to help him?
My last post about hitting the nine-month mark and wondering where the time has gone, got me thinking about what I would do differently if I could wind the clock back and also what I said I would do/definitely not do when I was still pregnant and pretty much oblivious to the tornado that was about to hit. I’ve written a little about some of the things I used to say – compared to the reality and if I was speaking to my pregnant self now, I’d be mostly saying – ERM OKAY THEN. YOU DO THAT. But the reality is so different.
“I’m going to be really strict with getting baby to sleep, I’m not going to make a rod for my own back – I don’t want a bad sleeper.”
Reality: Walk 8 miles a day to get baby to sleep, won’t self-settle and losing my mind over naps.
“I won’t ‘let myself go’ and will make sure I still look half presentable when I leave the house.”
Reality: Handful of times I’ve worn make-up and looked ‘half presentable’ leaving the house. My go-to outfit, still, is nursing top/shirt and either leggings, (the maternity leggings have only just retired) and tracksuit bottoms. Dry-shampoo gives me life.
“I’m going to get back into CrossFit and running once I’ve passed that 6-week mark – I will even do workouts in the garden while baby sleeps." (HAHAHAHA)
Reality: It’s the absolute last thing on my mind. I do a lot of walking and every Sunday I fully intend to ‘start on Monday’ and try and do some exercise once Rafe is in bed but I just want to sit in my PJ’s and watch Love Island. Oh and you all know I’m partial to a full biscuit tin.
“Our relationship won’t change – let’s still make time for each other.” I said to my husband pre-tornado.
Reality: Who is my husband?! It’s a huge test on your relationship, I know I’m not alone. You love them more – but equally question if they were ever this annoying – and if they were, how did you cope. And don’t get me started on the S word. That would mean shaving my legs.
“Yeah, we will definitely be able to come to your wedding abroad – will just leave Rafe with my parents."
Reality: Too nervous/don't want to/can't leave overnight/still breastfeeding/would mean shaving my legs.
“I really want a small age gap – maybe we should try for another baby when I’m still on maternity leave?” And we will just leave that there. (Disclaimer: Not criticising anyone who has a small age gap between having another tornado – I’m just not quite ready yet! And it would mean possibly shaving my legs.)
It was so reassuring to read everyone’s comments about going back to work. It’s good to know I’m not the only one nervous and also wishing they had treasured those early weeks more. For those a little apprehensive and emotional about putting your baby into playgroup – a lovely mum commented on my post and it honestly made me feel so much better. I cried reading it (obviously), I know I’ll still be upset but hope her words will reassure you.
I just wanted to reassure you about the playgroup because I’ve just gone back to work (also financially motivated- to pay a mortgage) and my wee one (8 months) is going to nursery 3 days a week and with in-laws 2 days. We had some visit hours/days over the last few weeks and I was so nervous. He’s a sociable baby and never cries but I was filled with dread at the thought of him getting upset and then confused that I wasn’t there to comfort him. We’ve been together every day of his life! How would he cope!?
Well, after his first hour visit alone, I came back in and he was so busy playing he didn’t look up to see me (a little bit heartbreaking but good) and then after a 5 hour half-day, I walked in to see him playing away with a lovely member of staff and when he saw me a smile filled his face and he began moaning for a cuddle. It was the greatest feeling!
My sister is a nursery teacher (unfortunately in a different city) and she reminded me that the staff soon love the babies they work with. She can tell me the details of how every baby she works with likes to nap, their favourite foods, even their nappy habits!
Already, I can see how much the staff care for my baby by their smiles when he arrives and the detailed report they give me at the end of the day. He is happy to be left and comes home with a smile.
As for work- I’ve found I’m totally distracted when I’m there. The working day flies by and you have the best ending to the working day and the weekends are more rewarding than they ever were.
So naps. Wouldn't be a blog post without talking about naps! I said I would be less stressed – and I have been (ish). And trying to let Rafe lead but I think I’m just totally missing his sleepy window now. I think he can stay awake three hours between naps but don’t know whether that’s a bit too long/some days it seems too short. I’ve still been trying to get him in the cot for one nap, but I just honestly think that Tom Cruise’s next Mission Impossible film should be about getting Rafe to nap during the day in his fucking cot. It’s mind-numbingly, absolutely impossible. Even though he is so tired. Oh and getting him to sleep longer than 30 minutes needs some kind of Harry Potter fucking magic. But I’m calm. And not stressing. And going to see where we are next week….
I dropped his lunchtime boobie feed last week as he wasn’t showing a huge interest in it and he’s been on three meals a day for a while now. He doesn’t seem to miss it at all and my boobs adjusted well which is a relief. So now we do 7am breastfeed, breakfast around 8ish, 11am breastfeed, lunch around 12.30ish, between 3-4pm breastfeed, tea/dinner 4.45/5pm and then breastfeed before bed. This week I’ve tried dropping the afternoon feed and replacing with formula and we’ve had some success. He takes it well (around 5oz in the MAM cup) and from other people – but not a huge fan of me doing it. I think he just wonders why I’m not feeding him and tries to pull my top down so I feel quite guilty – but then the next minute he’s gulping it down! And my boobs are killing. Seems to not enjoy me trying to drop this feed but hoping they will chill out in a few days. Because I don’t know how much he is getting from me, how much does formula/combi-feeding mums give oz wise if they are still feeding 4 times during the day and once in the night? (He’s feeding mostly just once through the night now – the odd times still twice – hurrah!)
Hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine – long may it continue! Best go shave my legs…
Until next time, Faye x
Seriously, how is my baby boy 9 months old? I’ve had a bit of an emotional week as I feel like I have blinked and my newborn is off to High School and has his first girlfriend. (Does anyone else worry they are going to be the mother-in-law from hell?!) Okay, I digress, so he is not quite that grown-up yet but I feel like we have made a massive jump from teeny baby – to big, bruiser who can’t sit still. I got a bit teary putting his 6 to 9 month clothes away. How is he nearly one? It’s madness. And as I approach the end of my maternity leave, I just wish I had treasured those early months, when he was so small, so much more than I did. I’ve wrote about those early weeks a lot and you really are in a fog of extreme exhaustion and constant worrying about the colour of baby’s poo, whether you will ever stop walking like John Wayne and why your husband has become even more annoying than he was when you were pregnant. But seriously, I just wish I’d savoured those moments, however difficult those early stages were because I saw a teeny baby when Rafe was being weighed the other day and I feel like I just can’t remember him ever being that small. And I remember mum friends saying that to me when they first met Rafe. So I have vowed to try and savour every moment and really try and not stress as much. (Yes, I know, but I’m going to try!) Because I really don’t want to look back on my maternity leave and think I spent most of it stressing about blinking naps (my nemesis), sleep in general and sticking to a routine. But don’t worry – if I achieve any type of nap miracle – I will be running round the streets of Whitley Bay, with a fog horn letting everyone know.
So, like I said, it’s been a teary week. As it gets closer to the end of my maternity leave, I just can’t imagine being at work and not being with Rafe. I know in the long run, it will be good for him to spend time away from me – and likewise, me have time away from Rafe, but it feels like such a huge deal for me. And I’m sure every mum feels the same after months of being pretty much joined at the hip with their baby. I know he will be fine as childcare is being split between grandparents – and one day at playgroup but the thought of that first day of putting him into playgroup and saying bye, literally fills me with dread – and yup, here we go again – tears are coming. I know he will probably love playgroup and being with other children but it doesn’t make it any easier. I just wish I could have a balance of working part-time – then the rest of the time with Rafe, but sadly, just can’t afford to do that. My husband keeps saying I need to write that book I am forever banging on about writing and make my millions – (the dream), but I don’t know when I’ll fit that in! But I need to remember that my parents have worked all through my childhood and I never remember the moments they were at work – only the moments we were all together on holiday, day-trips, playing in the garden, Christmas - the best memories. So that gives me some reassurance and feel slightly less like crying!
Although I feel like I can’t believe where the time has gone, I feel incredibly lucky that I have such a lovely little boy, who is growing up to be an absolute little legend. I had a ‘I am so lucky’ moment the other day when I was reading Rafe a bedtime story and I was doing different voices and he was looking at me a little unsure, then he just grabbed my fingers and held my hand and smiled and I thought, bloody hell, this is what it’s all about.
Okay – less of this emotion!! It’s still been a trying week! The poor poppet has had diarrhoea since Monday so it’s just been poo explosion's left right and centre. He’s absolutely fine within himself and the doctor is not worried as he is still eating and having plenty of wet nappies – just must have caught yet another bug. His bum is so sore and I do feel so sorry for him and changing a nappy when you’re still half asleep, when baby is literally pooing everywhere at 1am is an experience. These little explosions always seem to be at some critical moments too – like when you are just about to find out whether Josh had decided to uncouple with Georgia on Love Island – or during the England v Columbia match. But there's less poo explosion's now so I’m hoping we have a bit of time before the next bloody viral bug.
I tried to get Rafe to nap in his cot this week and had a proper hand in the head – what the fuck am I doing wrong moment? Again. And really felt quite defeated when it was an hour of trying – and no sleep. I posted something on my Instagram stories and a lovely mum messaged me and told me to stop beating myself up about naptime – mum life was hard enough. She said her boy is the same age and she decided to throw routine out the window and let him nap when he wanted to –whether that be in the car, pram, on her. And if he wants a snuggle – they had a snuggle. Her older son hated naps with a passion (hello Rafe) but when he hit one he was a nap King. She said the best thing she did was throw all the books out the window and took the lead from her baby. Which was just the message I needed. Another mum also contacted me to let me know more about the Cheshire baby whisperer which has been really interesting and massively helpful to find out more – as it kind of goes against a lot of what all the books say so just shows that I don’t think there really is a right or wrong answer. All babies are different and you just have to do what works for you and your baby. I’ve been less stressed about naps the past couple of days, taking Rafe's lead – but still trying to do a bit of self-settling, more just because I know he can do it. Also trying to stick to a bit of a routine as you know what I'm like! And had some success with daytime naps – and night-time. (Though he still only naps for 30 minutes and I take him out in the pram for one nap but I’m calm about that!) So for both the morning nap and night-time, I just put him down in his cot and say it's sleep/nap time now. Then I lie on my bed with my back to him. He tends to not be very happy about this so I time three minutes and ignore him (this is hard) while he cries. I then pick him up and repeat the phrase, tap his back and calm him down. Then go back to facing away for him, leave it 5 minutes – and then keep repeating. The first few times have taken at least an hour – and it is hard as he was crying for a bit, but I was always next to him and as the time went on, I could hear him starting to drift off. And after what seems like forever, he goes to sleep. So I’m going to keep going with this and see how we get on. But also try and chill the fuck out! No miracles yet and still up at least once/twice in the night (which I'll take as so so so much better than the recent multiple wake-ups) but there is hope. And wine. And chocolate.
So I feel like I have blabbed on quite a bit this week but just want to say to all you mums out there who are in the newborn six-week fog – I know it’s tough, but try and treasure those cuddles. They won’t be that small for long. And for all those other mums who have blinked and can’t quite believe where the time has gone – we are doing a pretty good job aren’t we? Give yourself a fucking high five.
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.