I’m back!

Wow, you know you’ve been busy when writing is one of your favourite things and still you haven’t posted for 5 months! I know! Five whole months without as much as a word. Without trying to make excuses, the main reason I haven’t been blogging is that we have had a lot of illness over the last few months. I was ill pretty much from just before Christmas up to nearly the end of February with one nasty cold and/or flu after the other. And as soon as I was better, yes you guessed it, the kiddos got ill.

Jacob got off lightly the first time with just a cold that was gone within a few days, but Elisabeth was not so lucky and she was poorly for almost two weeks. We even got worried we might have had to cancel her birthday party, but she got better just in time…..or so we thought. Last week she again came down with high temperatures, sore throat and ear ache. Poor girl.

Because she is far too ill to go to school I have taken today off work (unpaid, eek!) to look after her. Normally I work from home when Elisabeth is not well because she is such a good girl and she happily lets me get on with what I need to do, but we have had so little sleep this week that I decided that and trying to work and looking after a poorly girl was just a bit too much. So a day off it is (which was a good decision because even writing this is making my eyes wanting to shut quite desperately!).

Anyway, winter won’t last forever so in theory the colds will go, and hopefully that means I will have a little more time (and energy) to write. In the next few days I would like to share with you my first ever published article about how my super brave grandmother saved the life of a Jewish girl during the Second World War, so watch this space!

Just Another Sleep Journey

A new year is for new things right? So why not post on someone else’s blog for a change, great idea don’t you think? And what better to write about than……sleep, or the lack of it. I think I might have mentioned this subject once or twice before 🙂 and as my friend Meghan over at Ratnam Residence has had very similar experiences since her little boy was born, we thought it be great to share our stories on each other’s blogs. So pop over to Ratnam Residence to read my story. But first have a read of this…

Hi, my name is Meghan. I blog over at Ratnam Residence about everything that goes on under our roof…. home renovations, family & finance, keeping healthy, and what recent shenanigans our 15 month old man of the house, Avery, is up to.  Like my lovely friend Elske, we’ve had our fair share of sleep struggles since Avery joined us.  I can honestly say, I didn’t sleep until he was a year old.  Up until then, we had tried EVERYTHING.  Or though we had.  Then one suggestion from his doctor at his one year check up, and boom. Now he sleeps 11 hours a night!

0 to 3 months Avery’s early arrival (3 1/2 weeks early!) should have been a clue to me that the little bugger was NOT patient.  After bringing him home, we were on a 2-3 hour schedule of feedings (A typical day with 1 month old Avery.).  I wasn’t producing milk, so after a diaper change, we’d try to nurse, then I’d feed him formula, burp him, then he’d be swaddled and put in his bassinet, I’d pump, then I’d rest for an hour and do it all over again!  Man was that exhausting.  At night, the cradle was beside my bed, so I was able to sleep for an hour or two at a time thru the night, add in nap or two during the day and I’d be lucky to catch 8 hours of broken sleep.  I look back at the posts from our first few weeks with Avery, and I wrote: “Sleep.  What’s that?  Since Avery was born, I have not slept more than 3 hours at a time.”

baby sleeping

3 to 6 months Unlike my lucky friend, Elske, my maternity leave ended at 3 months (her’s was 10 months!  Lucky duck!).  So ended my mid-day napping and our cuddle sessions on the couch in my pjs.  I was back to work and Avery was off to daycare. At this point, we had stretched Avery’s feedings out to 3-4 hours, but trying to hold him off with a pacifier or distracting him, even if it was just for a few minutes.  And we instilled a bedtime routine.  Bath, jammies, lights out, humidifier on, music & books, and bed.  Sure, he still got up in the middle of the night, but I kept the lights off and rocked him back to sleep, so he’d start associating dark and sleep.

Since the nightly feedings didn’t stop, I was exhausted at work, but I chugged along. It wasn’t too long before Avery caught his first daycare cold, followed by an ear infection and pneumonia. He was such a trooper though, and it must have tuckered him out because just before he turned 4 months, he slept thru the night. Hallelujah!  Well, so I thought.  Months 4 & 5 we struggled getting Avery to sleep at night.  He was up multiple times a night and we thought maybe it was a growth spurt, or he was hungry(although he ate like a champ), or it was a stage?  Even with a nightly routine and naps during the day, I was frustrated and started looking into changing things up, or sleep training, at that point… we’d try pretty much anything.

baby sleeping

6 to 12 months Our sleep struggles only continued for the next six months.  It was a constant try this, ok that doesn’t work try that. Scratch that, and switch this up.  In month six we implemented sleep tactics from the book ‘12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks.’ We tried putting Avery to bed earlier, creating a quiet down time with dimmed lights and music during his last feeding, limited rocking after he was fed, and put him to bed awake.  He would cry, and we’d check on him, but never pick him up.  He’d fall asleep after a few checks and in the middle of the night he sometimes puts himself back to sleep after crying for a few minutes, but I was still up a couple times a night with him.

In month 7, we put Avery’s crib bumpers back in because he kept moving around in his sleep and waking up when he bumped his head on the crib.  We thought it would help him to sleep thru the night… not really.  To this day, Avery still moves around a ton in his crib at night.  When I go in to adjust his blanket at night, sometimes I find him with his feet up on the sides of the crib, vertical in the air… silly kid.

Fast forward to month 9 and we were still struggling.  We had a nightime routine, and an arsenal of tools to help him get back to sleep.  It also didn’t help that Avery could now pull himself up in his crib…which made getting him to sleep just that much harder.  Finally, by 10 months, we had made progress.  How?  We took away the nightly feedings.  This was no easy task, and I chose a few days my mom was visiting to help share the long nights.  We swapped Avery’s bottles with water and when he woke at night, expecting (but not needing cuz he ate and drank enough during the day) milk, he was pissed!  After a few nights, he was down to only waking twice a night.  Progress.  Before his first birthday I also added a foam mattress top to his crib (maybe he wasn’t comfy in his crib?) and a white noise maker (which didn’t help and I returned).

baby standing in crib

12 to 15 months At Avery’s one year check up, his doctor was appalled that Avery wasn’t sleeping thru the night.  She asked about our routine and caught one thing.  She said to STOP rocking him before bed.  He was associating sleep with the rocking motion, so to get him to learn to fall back asleep after waking at night, we had to put him to sleep awake after our nightly routine – sans rocking chair.  So, that night we sat on the floor reading books with the lights dimmed before bed.  He cried a bit when we put him down, but eventually put himself to sleep. And guess what?  He slept thru the night!

one year old sleeping

In the months since, Avery has been (mostly) sleeping thru the night.  Some nights he wakes himself from coughing and needs a pacifier to put him back down, but for the most part, he sleeps 11 hours a night, and takes a 2 hour nap at daycare.  To think, after trying ALL those things to get him to sleep, and changing just one thing got him to sleep thru the night!

Oh and go figure, I plan to write this and the past 4 days Avery has been waking up 1-2 hours earlier than usual… no idea why, but I’m starting to feel the effects of sleep deprivation again and I’m not liking it!  I guess Avery just likes keeping me on my toes… hopefully it’s just a phase, or else it’s back to the drawing board….again!

Happy sleeping!

Never again….

Never again will I post about how well Elisabeth is sleeping! Never again! I might even go as far as considering never to even mention the word sleep again, ever! Well, until next time anyway.

Yes, you guessed right, after my “she is sleeping so well” post, Elisabeth had me up again half the night. This happens pretty much every time I blog about some positive sleep news. It wasn’t terrible as I got at least 5 hours sleep, although not in one go which is often the problem. But rather than moan about it I thought I would share some tips on how I deal with the day after the night that you thought would never end.

Don’t expect to get anything done. Seriously, your main aim is to get through the day, instead feel proud for whatever you do manage to achieve.

Don’t think too much about the why. If you can’t figure out in a few minutes why your child was awake then you probably never will. As long as they are healthy try to forget about the night and enjoy the day as much as you can.

If you’re at work, try and have your lunch somewhere quiet, if possible somewhere you can sit with your eyes closed for a few minutes, the day will be much easier if you’re relaxed.

If you’re at home, do something fun! During periods of sleep deprivation it is tempting to sit on the sofa as much as possible but this will only make things worse. The day will seem endless and sitting down will make you feel more tired. Do something fun instead, go to the zoo, the park, the playground or anything else that is outdoors. The day will fly by, being outside will make you feel loads better and you’ll probably have lots of fun instead.

Try to be nice to your partner, this is a tricky one, most people’s mood will probably suffer quite badly from lack of sleep and it is easy to take it out on the people closest to you. Make an effort not to though, remember that even though it might have been you getting up, chances are they won’t have had the best night sleep either.

Don’t forget to eat and drink, you’ll need the energy.

And last but not least don’t forget that first of all you are not alone and secondly it won’t last forever, you will sleep again!

Happy sleeping everyone.

Sleep update…

Now, I know posting this is probably asking for trouble but as you have all so kindly put up with my moaning about my lack of sleep, I feel obliged to share some of the good news.

A few weeks ago we changed Elisabeth’s bed time routine a little, we were a bit worried about doing this as it has been the same since she was born (not sure why we worried though, it’s not like the bed time routine actually helped her sleep or anything…..). Before she would have her dinner, play in the living room for a bit, have a bath at 6.30, have a bottle of milk and a story and go to bed.

Because Elisabeth loves her baths, she really enjoys a good splash around, we thought we would change it around so she has a bath straight after dinner so she can get as excited as she wants, have her milk on the sofa with her favourite t.v. program and then have a story and go to bed. This worked really well, Elisabeth seemed more relaxed at bed time and it was much easier for us as well. And the best thing of all was that she started sleeping much better!

In the last 3 weeks we have only had to get up occasionally, and we haven’t taken her out of her bed at all during the night. We still sleep on her bedroom floor for a bit when she wakes up in the middle of the night but we are hopeful that this might change soon, because yesterday evening she woke up crying, I went in to give her a cuddle, I put her blanket over her, stroked her head for about 30 seconds……..and walked out the room! This is not something she normally accepts so we are quite excited. I am more than happy to get up at night to comfort her for a bit because I think it is important that she knows I am there for her when she needs me, but I do prefer sleeping in a bed rather than a cold wooden floor.

The last few times I posted some good sleeping news it ruined everything so fingers crossed I haven’t jinxed it again 🙂

I knew I shouldn’t have…….

I knew I shouldn’t have said yesterday that we did the right thing, I knew I shouldn’t have said we might be getting the hang of things, I knew I shouldn’t have asked for another night sleep, I should have known that all that would only lead to one thing………

Yes, you guessed right, we didn’t sleep through. After quite a bit of crying I got Elisabeth up at 3am and she slept with me whilst my husband slept in the spare room, because for such a little person she takes up an awful lot of room in our bed. Is it some sort of unwritten rule that toddlers must sleep sideways when sharing their parent’s bed?

Anyway, we failed miserably and need to sort it out.

Sleep update

After another week of bad nights, we finally had a breakthrough last night. We think Elisabeth has been teething now for a while, but yesterday we got a bit worried that she was playing us. So when she started crying after having been in bed for about an hour, we decided to leave her and see how she got on. Obviously we only did this because we could tell from her cry she wasn’t really upset. Within 15 minutes she had fallen asleep again – result! She had another cry during the night, but was quiet within minutes. Even though I am very much against the whole control crying thing, I think last night we did the right thing. It was also great to sort her out before we both got too exhausted, we tend to let it continue for a bit too long, but not this time. I think we might be getting the hang of this parenting thing you know 🙂

So, come on my darling Elisabeth, make it 2 in a row. You can do it!

Answers on a postcard please…

Here is a question for you: Why is a cup of tea so comforting? And here is another one, why is it that when you make a pot of tea it multiplies by 10 at least on the comfort scale? surely caffeine is the least relaxing of substances, but whenever someone is tired, upset or just in a real bad mood, the words ‘I’ll put the kettle on’ bring instant relief of all ails.

My answer would have to be that I have no idea whatsoever, I just know that it’s true. After another very long night with Elisabeth, my husband kindly took her for a drive so I could relax for a bit and hopefully Elisabeth could have a little nap in the car. Now judging by the amount of sleep I have had in the last couple of weeks I should have gone straight to bed. But instead I felt a real urge to make a pot of tea, not a cup of tea, there would not be enough comfort from just a cup, only a pot would do even though I like my tea hot so will only be able to drink a couple of cups before I throw the rest away. And as expected, even though I am still utterly exhausted, I am now relaxed and ready for an afternoon of playing and changing nappies and anything else that my little monster decides to throw at me.

So sleep later and enjoy your cuppa!

The things we do to make them sleep….

Last night was another bad one, to be fair the good ones now hugely outnumber the bad ones so we are very happy…..most of the time. Elisabeth went to sleep fine but woke up at 22.00, just as we were going to bed, typical! My husband sat in her room for an hour trying to get her to fall asleep again but she showed no interest whatsoever. So we started our normal arsenal of tricks to get her to go to sleep:
1) Half an hour of playtime in the living room
2) An extra bottle
3) Another story
4) Some time in bed with mummy and daddy
5) Cuddles
6) Some more cuddles

None of this had any effect. By this time it was 1.30 and I was getting (understatement of the month coming…..now) a bit sleepy. So the desperate measures came out. We both put on a warm coat and went for a drive. The plan was to get her to fall asleep, drive back home, park up and have a nap in the car (me that is). I even brought a sleeping bag. She fell asleep within 5 minutes, so I thought I’d take the next exit and turn around. Obviously, they were doing some work on the road, which is totally understandable because who on earth would be driving around at 2 o’clock Tuesday morning, so the exit was shut. Not impressed, but hey, at least she was asleep. Everything was going to an until I arrived home…parked the car…got my sleeping bag…switched off the engine…that’s when it happened…the little interior light came on…shining straight into Elisabeth’s eyes…and obviously she woke up…damn it! Excuse my language. In the end we just gave her as much food as she was willing to eat, another bottle and at 3 in the morning all was quiet and we thoroughly enjoyed our 3 and a half hours of sleep…..yawn!

 

Anniversary

So today was our 7th wedding anniversary. Seven years……….wow……….that kind a crept up on me. I can remember the wedding as if it was yesterday, just family and a couple of friends, no big car to pick us up, no big dress costing a month’s wages, nothing flash, just me and him and the promise of forever. And if forever is anything like the last seven years than bring it on!

My husband is currently upstairs sitting with Elisabeth who has been crying on and of for the last half an hour. I guess 5 good nights in a row was about as good as it was going to get.

Not quite the anniversary evening I was hoping for, but hey, better luck next year, and the years after and the year after that etc etc.

Elske x

Loving the sleep

Although I still seem to be just as tired as when Elisabeth wasn’t sleeping very well, I am enjoying the sleep we’re getting. Last night was another good one, Elisabeth slept from 7 until 6.45 which is brilliant.

It’s amazing how obsessed with sleep you can become when you’re sleep deprived. Just a few weeks ago I couldn’t walk through town without thinking every time I passed someone: “I wonder if she is getting any sleep?”. And at work, when I saw someone yawn, I really struggled to not say: “You think you are tired do you? Really? Try not sleeping for 14 months! Then we’ll see if you’re tired!”. Obviously I didn’t say anything like that because it wouldn’t be very nice, so I tried to suffer in silence, accept the situation and hope that soon we’ll have the energy to start her sleep training again.

And now we’re sleeping again we’re just desperately hoping this good fortune will continue.

Although, if I’m really honest, I doubt it.

Elske x