Lightbulb Moment #1

So as it turns out, 2.30 in the morning is apparently as good a time as any for a lightbulb moment. How do I know this?

I was lucky enough to experience one this morning and I don’t mind telling you it caught me a little off-guard. A sleepy stupor, fighting fatigue all the while trying to serenely rock my son back to sleep is not the scenario that immediately springs to mind when I think,

When would I most likely experience a moment of clarity?

But, hey, I’m not complaining, I’ll take them when I can get them.

We’ve been having ‘fun’ over the last couple of weeks with our beautiful baby boy who had been previously sleeping like an angel all night, suddenly waking up at 1.45am pretty much every morning. To add some extra excitement to a fairly mundane evening, the last couple of nights have been every couple of hours from midnight on. Now I know I really can’t complain that much because we’ve had an exceptionally good run when it comes to getting a decent night’s sleep. However, as my husband so aptly pointed out, once the standard has been set,

A disturbed night is a disturbed night

Anyway, as I’ve previously mentioned, I have a penchant for mulling over the unexpected changes and surprises ad nauseam and I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out why the little man is so disturbed. He survived a dinner out the other night, not stirring while we got him into the car, not stirring while we took him out of the car, not even stirring when we put him in bed, but at 1.45am sharp, the little whimpers started to resonate from the baby monitor and by about 1.47am they had escalated to a most unimpressed statement of displeasure.

Fortunately and unfortunately, the only way I’ve been able to settle him and recover whatever is left of a good night’s sleep is to bring him back to bed with me. Now I say fortunately because the cuddles are truly lovely and there’s nothing like waking up to a big, beaming smile to erase the fatigue-driven crankiness, but it’s also a tad unfortunate in the sense that a) it would be nice to be able to settle him in his own bed. He’s done it before so I know it can be done and b) for such a little person he can really take up a fair whack of a king size bed.

So, in my usual borderline-obsessive way, I’ve been wondering whether the solids we’ve been introducing are playing up with his system, or whether the new bedtime routine is somehow to blame or even whether there’s some secret sequence of events that will guarantee a good night’s sleep that I’m somehow missing. And yes, I’ve even been trolling through the online baby forums to see whether a spark of inspiration could be found.

Then it dawned on me at 2.30 this morning, while I was sitting in his room, teeth-a-chattering….hmmm….it’s pretty cold in here. I wonder what the temperature in the room is? 13 degrees (thanks to the wonders of modern technology and our digital baby monitor). Well that probably has something to do with it.

Perhaps there’s not some secret conspiracy at play to rob me of my sleep, perhaps he’s just feeling a bit cold?

It would even explain why he’s been so settled nestled in the warmth of our bed.

I tell you, it seems so obvious now, but gee that realisation felt good! An added bonus is that there’s even something I can do about that…winner!

Fingers crossed my lightbulb moment works this evening…..otherwise what currently feels like a flash of brilliance may just be the hazy delusions of a sleep-deprived Mum.

Watch this space.

Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net & Microsoft ClipArt

Thought of the Day

There is nothing more thrilling in this world, I think, than having a child that is yours, and yet is mysteriously a stranger ~ Agatha Christie

It’s funny how much time you can spend looking at your child wondering ‘does he have my eyes?’, ‘will he have his father’s hairline?’, ‘whose laugh will he have?’

It can be so easy to get distracted trying to identify the familiar characteristics but I remind myself that I don’t t want to miss seeing the entirely brand new, whole person that’s developing right before my eyes!

Yes, he will most likely bear some resemblance to both myself and his father and perhaps even his grandparents, aunts and uncles but here’s hoping he has some surprising new qualities to add into the mix too.

Truth be told…he already has!

Just When You Think You’ve Got the Hang of It

One of the many wondrous, challenging and surprising parts of having a baby is how adept they (quickly) become at keeping you on your toes. In fact, it feels like I’ve spent so much time on my toes as a new Mum that I could moonlight as a prima ballerina – except of course for the general (and somewhat overwhelming) lack of grace, poise and elegance.

Sometimes it seems like there’s an in-built sensor that monitors just how comfortable you are as a parent and as soon as it looks like you’re getting a bit too confident an alarm sounds that brings with it a subtle (or not so subtle) change to the status quo as if to say

‘Don’t relax too much, we wouldn’t want you snoozing on the job now!’

Or perhaps there’s some sort of internal feedback system that monitors your progress so that when you’ve ‘mastered’ one task it triggers the next? And yes, that is a tongue-in-cheek use of the term mastered!

Either way, whenever it happens it throws me just a little bit and I wonder whether I have what it takes to adapt and meet the new suite of needs. OK, so it actually throws me into a tail spin complete with shallow breathing, wakeful nights and incessant mulling over what’s caused the latest change (and whether there was something that I had done, could have done differently, should be doing now etc, etc, etc), but then again I have always been a little bit drama-prone!

Seriously though, ad-libbing is not one of my strengths. I’m the queen of arriving at the perfect response 3 days after the event when I’ve had plenty of time to weigh up all the pros and cons, run the worse-case scenario, talk it to death with anyone in earshot and then changing my mind about 14 times before settling (usually quite comfortably) with the chosen course of action. Complicated and a touch unnecessary for sure but it works for me.

On the up side though:

I’ve survived and lived to tell the tale and what’s even better is that he’s survived too! So far….

In case it wasn’t obvious, this week has been one of those weeks and, just like all the other times before it, things are settling down and the confidence is returning. For at least another day or two anyway 🙂

But it does feel good to get it off my chest!

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Baby ‘Experts’: Sage, Saboteur or Something In-Between?

6 SLEEP MISTAKES PARENTS MAKE AND HOW TO AVOID THEM!

This was the subject line that jumped out at me from my inbox last week and it got me thinking….how much stock do I put into the so-called baby experts out there?  I’m all for seeking out as much information as I can find, but is it always helpful, especially when it’s at the expense of intuition and personal experience?

As a newly pregnant woman I feverishly signed up to all sorts of baby forums and newsletters. After all this was entirely new territory and, at the time, aside from knowing where babies come from and how they come out, I felt hugely lacking when it came to understanding babies, parenting and motherhood. So I figured it couldn’t hurt to get as much help as I could get. As it turned out, I knew far less about the ‘how they come out’ part than I’d originally thought, but that’s another story.

I happily read the books, websites and emails when I’m caught unawares and have no idea where I am or what I’m doing. Where’s the wisdom in ignoring the experiences of people who have already gone through this and are willing to share?  But when I reflect on emails like the one above and, more importantly, my reaction to said emails, I realise that they also need to be taken with a grain of salt sometimes.

I’m not so naive, I understand that the emotionally charged titles are aimed at getting the readers in (and I’ve probably done something very similar with the title of this post) and topics like sleep and babies are at the forefront of many-a-parents mind.  Understandably, sleep and babies is a hot topic when it comes to parenting.

Well-rested babies are happy babies, happy babies make for happy Mummies and I’d much prefer to be a happy Mummy than a woman all-too-closely resembling a swamp creature.

Plus that precious sleep time provides some much-needed and coveted ‘free time’ which allows for endeavours such as this!

So, I can’t help but get sucked in by the lure of sleep advice from the numerous experts out there.  There hasn’t been a single book that I’ve picked up that doesn’t talk about sleep in one way or another and of course there are entire books devoted to teaching the art of getting these gorgeous babies to sleep and keeping them that way.

Even though our son has beautiful sleeping habits (and he is treating us exceptionally well), I can’t help but feel it’s a little like a deck of cards that might come crashing down at the slightest change to the bedtime routine (or at least that’s my fear).  So, in spite of myself, I read emails like the one above and I read through all the books just to make sure I’m not inadvertently doing something that might all of sudden transform our sleeping angel into a waking wonder who will never again know the pleasures of deep, uninterrupted sleep. I do know that this is slightly over-top but I’m not taking anything for granted!

In line with all the advice I’d read, I decided it was time to start teaching my son to ‘self’-settle’. No longer would I rock or sing my baby to sleep (because that sets up bad habits), it was time to start putting him down, tired but awake, and letting him learn how to put himself to sleep.

For this is what a parent with a baby of a certain age should be doing, or so I’d read.

Morning after morning for about a week, I listened just outside his door as he grizzled and tossed and turned before he would eventually fall asleep, probably out of sheer exhaustion.  Then, some 10 minutes later, he would awake either looking for food or just some company. But I thought to myself “that’s ok”, because he’s learning a valuable skill here and it doesn’t really matter if he’s not getting as much shut-eye as before because I was doing the ‘right thing’.

And then, all of a sudden, I stopped and laughed at myself. What was I doing? I had taken an approach that was working perfectly well for both of us, thrown it out the window and replaced it with one that was actually resulting in less sleep for him and more anxiety for me…and for what? So that I could proudly profess that my son self-settles? Never mind the irony that this whole approach was supposed to result in less stress for me and a more peaceful baby. It took me a little while to realise that, in fact, the opposite was happening!

This isn’t to say that there isn’t some merit behind the approach. I understand completely the desire and need to teach good sleeping habits and this approach may well suit some babies perfectly, but I’ve finally realised that this just isn’t the case for us. And that’s ok. To my mind, reducing the amount of comfort in the hope of producing better sleeping outcomes seems a bit counterintuitive, which is probably why it didn’t work for me.

So much of the advice that I’ve read recently warns about the dangers of techniques such as rocking and singing because you could wind up with a baby who will find it impossible to sleep without an intricate bedtime song and dance routine. Now don’t get me wrong,

I don’t particularly want an 18-year-old who needs his Mum to sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ before he can get to sleep,

but the more I think about it, the more I realise that the chances of that happening are probably slim to none. What I do know though, is that my baby has never slept more soundly during the day (or for longer) than when his Grandpa rocks him gently, singing in French with patience and persistence to get through the early tired grizzles.  From what I can see, it’s wisdom born from experience and why on earth would I want to mess with that?

So, I’ve decided to trust my instincts, return to the approach that not only has been working well but also provides some beautiful bonding time and of course continue to keep my finger on the pulse of the expert advice.  But from now on, it will have to fit in with what works for us, not the other way around.

So far so good!

Image courtesy of Microsoft Office ClipArt & FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To Educate or Not to Educate: Could Parents Be Better Off Not Knowing the Benefits of Breastfeeding?

A good friend of mine posted a blog on her site about a new voice in the ongoing breastfeeding debate suggesting that there should be less promotion and education about breastfeeding because it’s making mothers who choose not to breastfeed feel guilty.

Now I’m always a bit wary about how involved I get in the breastfeeding debate because, as I’ve come to realise, the choice of whether to breastfeed or not is one that has as many different sides as there are voices to express them. There are certainly indisputable facts about breastfeeding but there is also no ‘one size fits all approach’ and I think that this sometimes gets forgotten in the heat of debate. Having said that, this particular argument has weaseled its way into my head, nestled itself quite firmly and as this is a blog for the musings of a new Mum, here goes….

I find the argument suggesting that less education will lead to better outcomes mildly alarming. To suggest that new developments in any field should be kept hidden away in the dark recesses of the laboratories in which they were discovered baffles me somewhat. After all,

What’s the point of research if the findings aren’t going to be shared?

I admit that my decision to breastfeed started out as a largely uneducated decision in the sense that I didn’t go out purposefully seeking the ‘pros and cons’ so that I could make a balanced decision.  In actual fact, I didn’t really think about it all, I just assumed that I would.  As I progressed through my pregnancy and started to come across more information about breastfeeding, my position became: Of course I’ll breastfeed if I can.

And there are a myriad of different reasons why breastfeeding is just not a reality for some Mums. I’ve met Mums whose babies couldn’t latch successfully, Mums who have suffered through cracked and bleeding nipples to a point where they just couldn’t bear it any longer, Mums who have had to return to work and their supply has only lasted for so long, Mums who were losing so much weight through breastfeeding it was posing other health concerns (for real!) and Mums who just preferred not to. These are all individual choices that have been made in the context of individual experience – and what’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing!

How and what to feed our children is a decision that all parents have the right to make for themselves

But the suggestion that promoting the benefits of breastfeeding could cause harm is a little hard for me to get my head around. While breastfeeding may not be everyone’s decision (by choice or by circumstance) there’s no disputing that breast milk is the No.1 source of nutrition for babies. Or at least I didn’t think this was disputed.  I was surprised when I read an article in The Australian last year that revealed that 26% of the 28,000 parents who completed the 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey believed that formula was just as good for their baby as breast milk. And it was because of this belief that these parents had either decided to discontinue breastfeeding or to not start in the first place.  To my mind, this finding suggests that there is certainly a place for the promotion of breastfeeding, but that’s just me.

My breastfeeding education started in our antenatal classes and for me it not only solidified my decision but it also drove home to me how amazing the human body is.  Of all the weird and wonderful tidbits that I learnt throughout my pregnancy, the benefits of breastfeeding were some of the most intriguing and interesting.  I would have thought that even if breastfeeding wasn’t an option there would still be room for appreciation. In that spirit, here are my Top 5 things I’ve learned about breastfeeding and why I personally think breast milk is just a little bit magical:

  1. Squeezing breast milk into an infant’s eye can clear up conjunctivitis.  Of course, anyone who’s actually tried to squirt breast milk with any kind of aim or accuracy knows just how unlikely it is that much would actually make it into the eye but amazing nonetheless.
  2. A mother passes her immunity to her baby through her breast milk. So for the first 3 months, when a baby has no immunity of their own, they’re protected against whatever their mother is immune to – come on that’s a little bit like magic right?
  3. Breast milk supply will naturally adjust to the needs of the baby from one feed to the next. So in the height of summer when bub is extra thirsty there will be higher levels of water in the milk to quench their thirst and likewise, when they’re feeling especially ravenous there will be a higher fat content to dull those nasty hunger pains. This is definitely one of my favourites!
  4. The skin on skin contact a baby experiences with its mother during breastfeeding acts as a temperature control device.  If bub is feeling cold the mother will warm them up and vice versa if they’re feeling hot the mother will cool them down.  What’s really nice about this one is that it also works with Dad, although obviously not during breastfeeding!
  5. Breast milk is custom-made to meet the exact and ever changing needs of the individual baby and these changes just happen naturally without needing to ask.

At the end of the day, no matter what decision you might come to, surely having access to all the facts has got to be more help than hindrance?

But what do you think – to educate or not to educate?

If you’re interested in reading one woman’s thoughts on the effects of media on the modern-day mother check out MUMmedia

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net