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 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 4 month update

General:

My little Smoosh is a pretty happy and content little thing most of the time. Despite the fact she is currently going through the dreaded 4th leap *gulp*, aside from a few fussy evenings, she’s been pretty chilled out.

She always falls asleep if she’s in the pram and it’s the best way to get her to nap if she’s fighting sleep. If she’s not snoozing when out for our walks, she looks up at me from the carrycot and gives me beaming smiles.

She’s fascinated by her big sister and stares at Jasmine intently whenever she’s in the room.

She’s also ‘found her voice’ this month. Holy moly, that girl can shriek.

As well as finding her voice, she’s also found her thumb – she’s a thumb-sucker!

She had her third set of jabs this morning – they are never much fun and I hate hearing her cry. Luckily, I was able to get a smile out of her a few minutes afterwards. At least that’s them done and dusted for a while!

Weight: 

I last took Elowen to be weighed on the 8th March (15 weeks +3 days old) and she weighed 13lbs 13oz. The health worker pointed out that E had dropped percentiles on her chart. I came home feeling really negative and a bit like I was failing her. I did a bit of research online and found out that those charts are based on formula fed babies. The Health worker didn’t even bother to ask me how I was feeding Elowen! Anyway, I’m less bothered about it now – E is healthy, gaining weight and outgrowing her clothes. I think she’s doing just fine. (Here’s one of the articles I read about the difference in weight gain in BF and FF babies.)

E is in size 3 nappies and 3-6 month clothes.

Milestones: 

I said in Elowen’s 3 month update that she had giggled… once! Well, it took a couple more weeks since that happened but now she giggles lots. Especially if I tickle her or kiss her neck. She has the cheekiest little laugh ever. I am in love with it!

I also mentioned that I thought her bottom teeth were coming through. They haven’t yet but they’re certainly making progress. She’s had some awful teething episodes over the last few weeks. As she was still so young I was limited as to what I could give her. My friend Daisy suggested trying some breast milk ice lollies to help take away the teething pain and they were a massive hit.

Elowen can now grasp at her toys and quite enjoys short periods of time laying on her playmat. She will grab the toys that hang down over her and will either shake them or try to put them in her mouth.

Feeding: 

Despite my ‘wobble’ last month, I’m still exclusively breastfeeding Elowen. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m not going to introduce a bottle or formula for the time being. I could be cutting off my nose in spite of my face but I just cannot be bothered with expressing and sterilising bottles. I’m not even sure if E would take to a bottle now anyway, I suspect probably not.

Sleeping:

Sleep? What even is that? I’m not sure if Elowen is having a growth spurt or sleep regression but it feels like she is up every couple of hours for a feed at the moment. It is slaying me! I’ve been going to bed about 9pm most nights just so I’m not a complete zombie the next day. She will have several naps throughout the day, her longest one seems to be in the late morning.

She still ends up in our bed most nights but that’s usually because I end up falling asleep whilst feeding her more than a conscious decision to have her in bed with us.

I wrote a post earlier this month comparing the differences between Jasmine and Elowen’s bedtime routines – it’s here if you fancy a read.

Likes: Booby milk ice lollies, Lamaze Mortimer Moose (a Jasmine hand-me-down), mummy blowing raspberries, bathtime, watching her big sister.

Dislikes: teething pain and immunisation jabs!

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Bedtime Routines: The First Baby Vs. The Second Baby

I was recently chatting to some of my mummy friends about the bedtime routines we have in place for our babies. This particular group of friends (mostly) consists of first-time-mamas. There was talk of nightly baths and baby massages and it was then that I had a sudden pang of guilt. I realised that I don’t put half as much effort into E’s bedtime routine as I did with J’s when she was the same age. I thought it would be interesting to compare the two different bedtime routines that I had/have for my first and second child (at around the same age) and to see if they slept any differently because of them. Read on to find out…

The first baby’s bedtime routine:

Jasmine was doing 5-6 hour long stints of sleeping at night by 9 weeks old and it was around this time that I decided I would implement a ‘proper bedtime routine‘ which went as follows…

Bath:

Every. Single. Day.

Heaven forbid we missed her evening bath.

Baby Massage:

After her bath, Jasmine was then treated to a full body massage – she’d be smothered head to toe in baby oil whilst I used the techniques I’d learned at our baby massage classes.

Bottle:

Her massage was followed by a feed. Jasmine was fully formula fed from around 6 weeks old. At 9 weeks old she’d have 4-5oz of milk at each feed.

Bed:

Jasmine would often fall asleep whilst having her last bottle before bed. I’d then gently slip her into her bedside crib. If she was still awake at the end of the feed, I’d pop her into the Bednest and turn on her ‘Freddie the frog’ Slumber Buddy (she still uses this now sometimes). She’d then eventually settle down to sleep.

4am: Jasmine wakes for a feed. She guzzles down her milk and then falls back to sleep.

6.30am: Jasmine wake ups and is ready to start the day!

Bedtime Routines: The First Baby Vs. The Second Baby

I blogged a 7-day diary when I introduced this bedtime routine – if you want to read it, you can find it here.

The Second Baby’s Bedtime Routine (or lack thereof):

Bath? (Ha!)

I give Elowen a bath about once a fortnight with ‘top and tail’ washes in between to keep her fresh.

Baby Massage? (Double ha!)

Sorry, baby girl – but I’ve spent the best part of the evening fighting with your sister to get her PJs on and brush her damn teeth. She’s finally down for the night so I just wanna chill. Is that cool with you? Cool.

The Dinner Time Feed: Elowen will demand a feed as soon as my dinner is ready (around 6.30/7.00pm). I stick her on the boob and watch my dinner go cold. I then pop E into her NUNA Leaf chair and crank that bad boy up to maximum sway. She might fight sleep for a little while but then gradually drifts off (usually whilst sucking her thumb). That’s her out for the count until I go to bed myself. I veg out in front of the telly or catch up with some blogging.

Bedtime: 

I tend to go to bed anywhere between 10pm and 11.30pm. I grab Elowen out of her chair and take her up to bed with me. This usually wakes her up so I take the opportunity to put a fresh nappy on her and change her clothes ready for bed. I boob her back to sleep again and then pop her in the Chicco Next-to-me crib. She’s still using her Purflo Nest but has almost outgrown it – this saddens me greatly.

Bedtime Routines: The First Baby Vs. The Second Baby

4am: Night feed. I usually end up latching her on and falling back to sleep.

6/6.30am: I wake up (usually by my toddler alarm clock) with Elowen still cuddled up in my arms from the 4am feed.

Time to get up!

Conclusion:

It wasn’t until I read this post back that I realised how similar Elowen’s sleep pattern is to what Jasmine’s was at around the same age. And that’s despite Elowen forgoing nightly baths and baby massages (poor, poor second child). I’ve definitely been more relaxed about bed-sharing this time around (although, I still follow the safety guidelines). I would have Jasmine sleep in bed with us during the fourth trimester when she was still adjusting to being ‘earthside’. And to be honest, it scared me, but sometimes it was the only way we got any sleep. Elowen on the other hand, is almost 4 months old, and I’m happy to bring her into our bed. I’m breastfeeding this time around so I find I can get a bit more extra sleep whilst she feeds.

You can tell from reading these bedtime routines that we very much dedicated our evenings to Jasmine’s bedtime routine. It’s clearly true (in our case at least) that the second baby has to fit around us as a family, and not the other way around. So yeah, the littlest lady of the family might miss out on nightly baths (she has majorly dry skin anyways) and doesn’t get those full body massages (I feel a bit guilty about that) but ultimately, it’s made no difference. They sleep exactly the same!

Our favourite baby bedtime products*:

If you fancy reading more posts about baby sleep routines and co-sleeping, check out these posts by some of my fellow mama blogger friends: Lucie // Kirsty // Georgina // Rachel // Rebecca

I’d love to know how bedtime works in your house if you have more than one child?
Or if you just have the one, what does their bedtime routine involve?
How do you feel about co-sleeping?

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