Is it time to bring in a sleep trainer?

My firstborn, Jasmine, was a fabulous sleeper. Ever since she was around 10 weeks old, she slept through the night. We were very, very lucky. And only now do I realise how lucky we were.

When I was pregnant with E, people warned me “Oh, you won’t get another one like that!” and I would roll my eyes. How on earth were they to know how my baby would sleep?! Well, it turns out, in this case – they were right.

Elowen is almost 15 months old and has never once slept through the night. She has bed-shared with us pretty much since birth and I’m still breastfeeding her. She wakes up every 3-4 hours at night for a feed and fusses, sometimes for hours, before going back to sleep. She doesn’t use a dummy or a soft toy as a comforter. Oh no, she uses me – more specifically my hair. She pulls it and twiddles it with one hand and sucks her thumb on the other hand. I wake up some mornings to find clumps of my hair on my pillow case. And aside from anything else, it’s really rather painful!

I realise it’s normal for infants (particularly breastfed babies/toddlers) to wake up frequently during the night. It’s why we’ve just carried on doing what we’ve been doing up until now. I figured she will grow out of it at some point. But also, I wouldn’t even know how to go about changing things up. I don’t know how to stop breastfeeding or how to get her sleeping in her own bed without her screaming the house down. I’m not prepared to do use any kind of Cry It Out methods – no judgement on those who do, that’s up to them, but I’m personally not comfortable with it.

It’s not just night times that are the problem either – she’ll only nap in the pushchair or in my arms and never for very long. This, I’m sure, is a big contributing factor to our night time woes.

Lately, I’ve found myself perusing the websites of local ‘sleep trainers’. These people claim that they can work with parents in order to get their child to sleep through the night. And perhaps, in my sleep deprived state, I’m just desperate for somebody to come in, work their magic, and give me back my 8 hours of sleep a night. But it sounds too good to be true.

I keep telling myself that some kids are good sleepers and others aren’t. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

I keep telling myself that this won’t last forever. I’ll probably miss E tugging on my hair, one day.

I keep telling myself that the days are long but the years are short.

But honestly?

I can’t cope with the lack of sleep any more. Something has got to give.

Hubby and I dread going to bed every evening because we know we’re in for a sh*t night. We just don’t know how sh*t yet.

15 months of broken sleep as taken it’s toll on me.

I’m too exhausted to function properly. Simple daily tasks are a struggle.

I spend all day snapping at Jasmine and I feel awful that she takes the brunt of my tiredness. It’s simply not fair on her.

And this is why, I’m seriously considering hiring a ‘sleep trainer’.

I’ve looked at the prices of consultations and they can be hundreds of pounds. It’s an expensive option but feels like the only one I’ve got.

And even if it means I have to eat beans on toast for the rest of the year, it’s the price I’m willing to pay for my sleep and my sanity.

*Photo is an old picture of E. She’d never fall asleep on the floor now. Not unless there was a tranquilizer dart involved. (Ooh, now there’s an idea!)

Have you ever hired a sleep trainer?

Jenna xx

10 things nobody told me about breastfeeding

1. Nobody told me that… my periods could return whilst I was still breastfeeding.

I know that breastfeeding has lots of benefits for my baby but one of the perks for mama is that your period stops. AMAZING! I’d heard of ladies going years without a visit from ‘Aunt Flo’ due to breastfeeding their babies/toddlers. Naively, I just assumed I’d be free from periods for as long as I was feeding E. Nope, at 8.5 months post-partum my monthly cycles returned! Gutted.

2. Nobody told me that… breastfeeding can be a little isolating.

0.5% of mums are still breastfeeding their babies at 12 months (in the UK) and whilst I truly am proud to be one of them, it sometimes feels quite isolating to be the only breastfeeding mum in the room. Don’t get me wrong, nobody has ever said anything negative (see point 5) but it would be nice to be able to discuss the trials and tribulations of feeding a toddler with somebody else who is also going through it.

3. Nobody told me that… some babies will only drink their milk from the source!

I thought the odd night out with my friends would still be possible whilst breastfeeding. I’d just express some milk and my husband could feed her using a bottle. Simple, no?

Except E won’t drink milk from a bottle, or a beaker, or a cup with straw, or from a silver chalice encrusted with rare diamonds. Nope. She’ll only drink her milk from the source.

I’ll be honest, and no pun intended, that kinda sucks.

I’d love to go on a night out with my friends once in a while. Or spend more one-on-one time with my eldest girl. But having a baby who requires boob on demand has made those things difficult.

4. Nobody told me that… I’d sometimes feel envious of formula feeding mamas.

Due to the combination of points 2 and 3, I do sometimes look at formula feeding mums and feel a tad envious.

14 months of…

…being the only person who is able to do night feeds (and fyi they’re still happening 3-4 times a night).

…not having a date night with my husband.

…or a evening out with friends.

…or having more than a few freakin’ hours to myself.

So yeah, for purely selfish reasons, I sometimes wish I didn’t breastfeed.

5. Nobody told me that…I don’t *need* an array of expensive breastfeeding clothes.

Breastfeeding clothes are expensive and (generally) pretty darn ugly. However, I thought without a wardrobe full of nursing clothes I’d struggle to feed my bambino in public without flashing my breasticles to all and sundry.

Not the case. Admittedly, I am a ‘t-shirt and jeans’ kinda girl so my outfit choices are relatively simple. But I’ve never had any trouble feeding my daughter whilst wearing my normal clothes. My advice? Invest your money in some good (non-wired) nursing bras as these do make feeding easier and help you to avoid getting blocked milk ducts.

6. Nobody told me that…. generally, other people are very supportive.

In the real early days I was nervous about breastfeeding in public. I’d heard so many stories about women being asked to leave shops and restaurants because they were breastfeeding (even though that’s totally bloody illegal). I’d heard tale of people, tutting and making rude remarks towards women who were simply trying to feed their baby. And I’m not saying that stuff doesn’t happen, because clearly it does, but in the 14 months I’ve been breastfeeding I’ve never experienced any negativity.

Instead I’ve found that, on the whole, people are very supportive of breastfeeding mums. I’ve had people bring me over hot drinks and glasses of water. Or help entertain my toddler whilst I wrestled with my hungry baby. I’ve had other mums (breastfeeding and formula feeding alike) cheer me on and tell me how well I’ve done.

There will always be those who disapprove of breastfeeding in public, but they are few and far between. Just remember, everybody else has got your back. :)

7. Nobody told me… not to bother with a cot!

Co-sleeping is, of course, a personal choice. But in my experience, when you’re exclusively breastfeeding, having bub in the same bed as you makes night feeds SO. MUCH. EASIER.

I mean, you don’t have to get up and go make a bottle… so why get out of bed at all?!

After several months of E’s cot gathering dust in our room, I sold it and used the money to buy a bed guard instead.

8. Nobody told me… I’d regularly ‘touch up’ my own breasts in public.

Let me tell you an easy way of spotting a breastfeeding mum in a room. She’s usually feeling up her own boobs.

Keeping track of which breast you last fed your baby from is tricky – especially if you’re feeling hazy from night feeds or busy looking after your older children. So, the easiest method to know which breast to feed from next is to give them a good ol’ squeeze. One will be soft and squidgy, the other will have rock-like characteristics. Feed from the rock-like boob.

9. Nobody told me that… I’d become a human punchbag

Breastfeeding is often portrayed as this calm and relaxing bonding time between mum and baby. And sometimes it is.

The rest of the time I’m having my hair pulled, or being slapped, punched, kicked and pinched and on the odd occasion, bitten.

All I’m saying is, it’s a good job I love you, kiddo.

10. Nobody has ever told me… how to stop.

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve reached our 14 month breastfeeding milestone. I honestly never thought we’d get this far, or even planned to breastfeed for this long.

The main reason I’m still going? I don’t know how to stop.

This was never covered in my breastfeeding classes and at the time it wasn’t something I thought to ask about.

I’ve Googled it, of course, many times. But I’ve yet to find any useful information on the best way of stopping breastfeeding. Most websites make you feel guilty for wanting to stop (useful, thanks) and others give very vague ‘advice’. “Just drop a feed each week…” If only it were that simple.

Is there anything you wish you’d been told about breastfeeding?

Jenna xx

Elowen’s 8 month update

I’m a few (OK, five) days late with this update but there was no way I could let the last month pass by without mention because unlike last month, there has been lots of milestones for my little lady. We’ll start with those…

Milestones:

She can sit up independently…

This happened a day or so after I wrote E’s last update. It goes to show how remarkable babies are. One day she couldn’t sit up for more than a few seconds before falling over, and the next she could sit up with ease, like it ain’t no thing!

She can crawl… in her own special way…

OK, it’s more of a dragging method than a out and out crawl. But let’s not nitpick, the girl can get around and pretty speedily too. Watch out, Jasmine – you’re toys aren’t safe anymore! Or anything else for that matter.

She has more teeth…

Not 1, or 2 but 4 more teeth popped through in the last week or so making that a grand total of 6 toothypegs! We had a couple of rough nights of teething leading up to the new teeth making an appearance but she’s been relatively unbothered by them other than that. (Spell check tells me that ‘unbothered’ isn’t a word but I’m using it anyway!)

She’s moved into her big girl cot! Waaah.

With the ability to sit up and new found mobility it was time to say farewell to the Chicco Next to Me crib (I put it in the loft before Stephen made me sell it – I’m so not ready for that!) E now sleeps in a bigger cot, but still in our room with us. I plan to keep her in with us until she’s at least a year old.

Weekends away…

As I’m still exclusively breastfeeding E, if I go away for the weekend, she has to come with me so she’s been away to Wales and Cornwall in the last month. She was a complete joy to travel with and she did so well with the car journeys.

Feeding:

Not much to say on feeding really other than she’s still very much enjoying new foods. We’ve introduced more meat to her diet over the last couple of weeks instead of just fruit and vegetables. Cottage pie and Moroccan chicken are faves!

Sleeping:

E seems to have settled into a bit more of a routine this month.

Our usual day goes as follows:

6am: Woken up by Jasmine

8/9am: Breakfast – cereal, porridge or puree

10am: Breastfeed followed by the longest and sometimes only nap of the day!

12/1pm: Lunch followed by another breastfeed – sometimes another short nap (especially if she’s in the pushchair when I pick Jasmine up from nursery)

3pm: Breastfeed

4/5pm: Dinner

6pm: Breastfeed and bed

9pm: Wakes up for a ‘top up’ feed – it’s spooky how often she’ll wake at 9 on the dot!

10/11pm: I’ll dream feed her when I get into bed and then put her back into the cot

3am: feed (ugh!)

5am: Sometimes another feed, other times she won’t wake up again until Jasmine comes into our room at 6ish.

Likes: Eating grass, crawling, watching her sister, paper, tickles and kisses, going on the swings.

Dislikes: Being put in her carseat – she’s usually fine once she’s in it but always grumbles when we first strap her in.

 

Jenna xxx

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Elowen’s 7 month update

Happy 7 months, my baby girl.

Here’s what’s new this month…

Milestones:

It’s been a quieter month in terms of milestones (although I’m sure there’s plenty I’m forgetting).

E is definitely more mobile and whilst she’s not crawling (yet!) she can move across a room very quickly when she wants to, using a combination of rolling, planking and stretching. She’s like a wee wiggly worm!

She spends a lot of time lifting her body up onto all fours and ‘planking’. She rocks side to side and back and forth and she is oh so close to crawling. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s crawling before the end of the month.

She still can’t sit up independently (for more than 10 seconds without falling over)! I think she’ll be crawling before she’s sitting! It doesn’t seem to be a problem though. She has very strong neck muscles and head control so she’s happy enough when she’s sitting in her snug, highchair and pushchair. (Which reminds me, we ditched the carrycot this month).

There hasn’t been anymore teeth so she still just has her bottom two.

Feeding:

Weaning is going really well and she’s now been enjoying solid food for a month. We’re still taking it pretty relaxed. She generally joins in with us for two meals a day with some snacks in between. In an ideal world I’d love to full on BLW but I don’t always have time to clear up the mess during the day, especially if we’re heading out to a toddler group.  This means E has a mixture of purees and finger food. She’s very easy-going when it comes to food and happy either way. :)

Her fave foods so far have been: broccoli, mushed banana on toast, strawberries, loaded potato skins and cucumber slices!

I’m still breastfeeding on demand – almost constantly at the moment (Thank you, heatwave!)

Sleep:

E does not like going to sleep, ever. I’ve spent many an evening lately pushing her around the block in her pushchair (sometimes for well over an hour) to get her to sleep! She naps during the day – maybe 2 or 3 times – but again, she usually has to be in the pushchair. She get very overtired and screams a lot. This girl has some serious FOMO issues!

Moving on…

Size and weight: 

I still haven’t had her weighed. Not enough hours in the day! But she’s definitely getting chunkier.

She’s in size 3 nappies and 6-9 month clothes.

Likes: Playing with her feet, cuddles and kisses from her big sister, Moosey, shouting, food, baths, belly tickles.

Dislikes: going to sleep, having her nappy changed.

I’m right in the middle of packing for a weekend away in Wales with my friends (a belated 30th birthday trip) and as E is still being breastfed she’s tagging along with us. Her first weekend away with the girls! :D I’ll let you know how it goes in her next update.

Jenna xxx

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Elowen’s 5 & 6 month update

Eek, I feel terrible – I haven’t blogged for two whole months. Two months?! I think that’s the longest time I’ve gone without blogging since I started 3 years ago. We moved back to Bristol last month and things have been kinda crazy since then (the good kind of crazy, I hasten to add). I keep meaning to write a ‘Life Lately’ post to catch up on everything but finding the time is a struggle right now.

But forget all that, because today, today my baby is 6. months. old. HALF A YEAR, people!! How the flip did that happen? I missed her 5 month update (Sorry, E!) so I’ll do a bit of a combined update about the last two months.

Milestones:  

We have toothy pegs –

A week before E turned 5 months old, her bottom two peggies both appeared within the space of about 48 hours! She’s dribbling and gnawing like crazy at the moment so I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple more make an appearance very soon!

They see her rollin’… –

E started to roll at around 5 months (from her back to front) – but now she can roll back to front or front to back. In fact, she can travel quite an impressive distance by doing so! One minute she’s laying on her playmat, the next she’s grinding up against the wall at the far side of the room. She’s desperate to move forward but any attempt at crawling results in a skydiving impression at the moment. No crawling for a while, please!

Ommm…. –

We’ve recently started going to mummy and me yoga classes and it’s lovely. I haven’t really bothered with baby groups this time as our days revolve around a certain big sister. BUT now that Jasmine’s at pre-school two mornings a week, I thought it would be nice for us to do something a bit more mummy and baby focused. It’s mostly an opportunity for me to have a good stretch (and do some much needed pelvic floor exercises, heh) whilst E makes eyes at a gorgeous baby boy called Tobias.

Making a splash –

Last week we took E swimming for the first time. She looked SO cute in her little polkadot swimming costume. She took to the pool really well (it helped that it was a lovely warm pool) and we were in there for a good half an hour or so! I can’t wait to go again soon.

Grub’s up… –

We’ve started our baby-led-weaning journey this week and so far (aside from the mess) it’s been really good fun. E has been staring daggers at us every meal time for the last month or so. She’s very happy to finally be joining in with the family meal times and it’s fair to say she is LOVING solid foods. So far she’s tried, amongst other things, banana pancakes, shreddies, broccoli, kale and cheese muffins and various berries. I can confirm that she has even digested some of that, too. Ahem….

I’ve dug out my cookbooks and I’m planning to batch cook lots of yummy baby bites over the weekend.

Weight:

No idea. I haven’t managed to find out where the baby weigh-in clinics are yet. E is still in size 3 nappies. She has also outgrown most of her 3-6 month clothes. This week I dug out all of J’s old 6-9 month clothes and washed them ready for E to use. It’s still surreal to see her in Jasmine’s old babygrows.

Feeding:

As I already mentioned we’re now weaning onto solids. As far as milk goes, I’m still breastfeeding on demand. She doesn’t really have much of a schedule but I guess she feeds every 4 hours or so during the day. She will have 1-2 feeds during the night.

Sleeping: 

E will nap 3 or 4 times throughout the day, again, there’s no real routine as yet. If we’re out and about then she tends to fall asleep in the puschair, if we’re at home she may just stay awake (due to the very loud 3-year-old). She tends to fall asleep around 7/7.30pm, having a real fussy period before doing so and fighting sleep. She’ll then wake around 10pm for a feed and go back to sleep until 3am for a feed. Then it’s back to sleep until the morning, when I get rudely awoken around 6.30/7am by either being batted around the head or having my hair pulled. Such a cheeky monkey.

Likes: Being tickled, her big sister’s singing, walks in the buggy, food, swimming, pulling mama’s hair,tummy time, baby yoga!

Dislikes: teething, missing out on food and going to sleep.

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