A note to second-time parents

Remember that cot mobile you bought, with the fancy toys suspended on organic Free Trade cotton and the sweetest lullaby you’ve ever heard? The one you just couldn’t resist despite the expensive price tag? I’m sorry to say, but it’s time to ditch it.

I’ll tell you why. When you come to play that cutesy tune in the early hours for your second child, you’ll remember that it’s not actually cute, it’s creepy. You’ll get flashbacks of attempting to lull your firstborn to sleep at 3AM, lying in bed half asleep, desperately trying to catch a few minutes before he wakes for another feed. Eerie fairground music on repeat as you fade in and out of consciousness.

“My firstborn was a perfect little sleeper. We didn’t have any bad nights”, I hear you say. DS slept through most nights from very early on, but like all babies, he definitely had his moments. Teething, growth spurts, illness… all those nights you sat at the end of the bed clutching the Calpol will come flooding back.

So make sure you add ‘cot mobile’ to your shopping list, if not for your sanity, at least so your second child has something that’s theirs (because let’s face it, the second child always gets the raw deal).

Don’t Go Knockin’ on my Door.

Halloween has been and gone, I must say, despite my initial fears, it has been rather painless. All because of a little sign I created and hung on my front door, DS was able to sleep in peace and I did not have to spend my evening distributing fruit, only to explain that we do not keep sweets in our household.

I was a little wary at first, fearing the little tykes who would purposely play knock down ginger on my door. I thought long and hard about how to make my sign nice and happy to avoid that kind of situation. ‘knock on my door and I will smite you’ would probably not have gone down very well with the crowd.

I am so pleased my sign worked a treat and our evenings were saved. This is definitely going into storage for next Halloween. Perhaps I will magic another sign to divert those pesky carol singers.

*My apologies for the Britney Spears lyric in my title, I just couldn’t resist..

For Crying Out Loud..

DS’ sleep patterns over the past couple of months have been erratic to say the least. He will lull you into a false sense of security, you become excited that he is about to drift to sleep and start to plan the rest of your evening, then he screams. Loud. Over and over again.

All those books you read about parenting, sleepless nights and tactics? They do not lie. When you think you have a routine settled, along come a new set of teeth to ruin your life again. I remember posting here and here about DS’ beloved bouncy chair and oh how I miss it. These days bed time requires more discipline and heavier tactics, no more gadgets to ease the pain.

Prior to DS’ protruding canines, we had trained him to the point where all you needed to do was say, ‘DS it’s time to go to sleep now. Good night DS, I love you’, walk out the door and he would be sound asleep within minutes. However, teething has set him back once again and it has been a constant battle for months. He no longer wants to sleep at 7PM; we try for hours to no avail and he ends up staying awake until we go to bed. Sometimes we are so tired we allow him to sleep in our bed, to later risk everything and move him into the cot. I decided yesterday that it can no longer continue, my sanity will not allow it. I use to enjoy my evenings baby free, but now I have a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough that has been living in my freezer for way too long.

From the outset I did not plan to enforce the new routine last night, but my original strategy failed. I initially laid on the far end of the bed, facing the opposite direction to DS’ cot so he could not make eye contact with me, and waited patiently for him to fall asleep. This usually works in the day time, as he finds comfort in my presence even though he cannot necessarily see me. Though the evening is a very different story and needless to say, I failed tragically. DS cried, screamed, wailed, stamped his feet, shook the bars. I figured as he was already hysterical, I had nothing to lose, so I tried the new routine.

We had enforced this routine when DS was very young but it is very painful and involves a lot of stress. We would put him down, say goodnight and leave the room for a few minutes, then return and repeat this all over again. Each time I returned, I would give him a hug and put him down (he would always be standing at the foot of the cot) and increased the time in which I would return. He would cry out my name continuously, then sing Twinkle Little Star in between sobs; it was heart breaking to hear this. It was very hard not to cave in, especially considering he had been hysterical for a very long time and the walls in my house are particularly thin.

I left him for two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes and fifteen minutes, blocking out the screams and my ongoing headache, until he finally went to sleep. This was a total of an hour, including the time it took to fail the original plan. The silence was such a relief, I almost could not believe it. After a further fifteen minutes I crept up the stairs and peeked through the door, to find him fast asleep on a mountain of blankets and clothes which he had thrown from the foot of his bed. After that cuteness, I forgive him. I guess.

Rock-a-bye baby.

Ever since DS was a newborn he would sleep through the night peacefully. That is until a couple of weeks ago when he begun to scream hysterically at 3 o’clock in the morning for no real reason. The only way to soothe him would be to strap him into the worn out bouncy chair and rock him steadily back to sleep. I hear you ask, ‘why does this bouncer still exist after you marked the end in a previous post?’ I know, I know, I am such a terrible mother. Someone call the NSPCC before this baby insists on sleeping in a hammock.

Another one for Dragon's Den.

I realise that it has become a little ridiculous. You will be happy to  hear that for the last couple of days we have approached this with a new strategy; a bedtime routine that takes much longer, but its effects are amazing. Previously we had given him a bath in the day when he would be active, to play in the water and splash about. Now however we have decided to move bath-time to after his dinner, where toys are no longer allowed and he is able to calm down. After he is dried and dressed, we have hugs accompanied with a song or a story. We  then settle him down in his cot with his comforter and he is asleep within five minutes. Boom.

Now he is able to self-soothe himself back to sleep he no longer relies on motion or us to comfort him in the night. I read somewhere it is to do with separation anxiety and all babies around eight to nine months suffer from this. Hopefully we are on our way to tackling it for good. Wish us luck!

Don’t wake me I plan on sleeping.

(…Sleeping In – The Postal Service, always makes me think of DS and smile when it comes on in the car.)

I was terrified to go to bed last night. This overwhelming feeling of dread came over me, as I realised I would probably be woken up by screams in the early hours of the morning. You see, we finely selected last night to drop DS’ 10PM feed and see if he would go the full ten hours asleep.

All in all, it was a success; he slept until 6AM with a few minor disruptions. We needed to turn on his music box a couple of times to lullaby him back to sleep and on occasion he would kick the button himself and drift off accordingly. I am not really sure if he does this with intention. The next disruption was at precisely 3AM, when I was woken by the sound of DS blowing raspberries. He started doing this a few months back and it use to be very cute. Now it is used to holler at DH and I in our sleep. Another reason why it is not as cute as it use to be; he got good and started soaking my face, as well as his own.

We were not prepared to start our day at 3AM, so DH put him in his bouncy chair, and slowly but surely, rocked him rhythmically back to sleep. I cannot give this chair enough praise, it has been our savior. Ever since DS was a newborn, this chair has been able to soothe him with its lullabies, vibrating motion and bounce-ability. I am doubting how we could ever live without it, but it will inevitably happen soon. At seven and a half months, DS is far too big for this chair; you can see the chair edging closer to the ground from the sheer weight. He tries to sit up in it, so we hold him down. Then he tries to throw himself out despite being strapped in. Numerous indications that this chair is no longer baby proof for my baby. The thought of this bouncy chair no longer a part of our lives is as distressing for us, as it is for DS.