This was originally the blog of a first-time Mum to remember the ups and downs of my pregnancy - and chart the first year of my daughter's life. But I've kept it going, and am now a mother of two! More than anything, it helps me to get to sleep once I've emptied my brain of issues and concerns and emotions onto the laptop.
If you're reading this and also a mum- or dad-to-be, first time parent, or just someone who's thinking about it - I hope it gives a little insight into one person's experiences - good and bad....

Friday, 29 July 2011

DAYSLEEPER - (there's a hope)

And the battle with the daytime sleeping goes on.

However, putting her down in the evenings appears to have got a wee bit easier. Two nights this week, she self-settled herself (albeit it took at least 40 minutes each time), and the third it took around an hour to get her to sleep - but without picking her up out of her Moses Basket.

The first time I walked out of the bedroom and didn't hear a peep out of her I put it down to the fact she'd been very sleepy all day having had a very bad night's sleep with a cold, coughs and sneezes. But then she did it again the next night. We didn't swaddle her either night, but we did raise her mattress to a slight angle, thinking it might help her breathe a bit better with her stuffy nose.

However, when we've tried to put her down in the same way during the day, it still just isn't happening. And after she was weighed at the baby clinic on Wednesday and had only put on 20g since her last weigh-in - we're even more determined to do anything it takes to make sure she gets some sleep in the day.

While the Health Visitor wasn't concerned about her weight, she said Charlotte was probably using up more energy in protesting against her sleep (screaming, kicking, etc) than she was taking in. That obviously worried me a lot, and made me look at everything we're doing for Charlotte. I'm fairly convinced the feeding's still going well, so I'm wondering whether we're trying to impose any sort of routine too early.

Should we let her sleep as soon as she's finished feeding each time? But I don't want her to associate eating with sleeping in the long-term. I tried, and hated, the Babasling - again, having her sleeping on me all the time is not a practice I feel comfortable with.

So walking, driving, pram, new rocker, on us - whatever it takes, if the Moses basket doesn't work after half an hour.

My Mum and Dad took her out Thursday for 2 hours - including feeding her - while I was pampered at the hairdressers. I spent the whole time at the hairdressers wondering how she was doing - despite my best efforts to try to relax. I shouldn't have worried though, as usual she was as good as gold, as she usually is with her favourite Grandparents!

I'm still getting the occasional dark thoughts, but they're far more fleeting than a week or so ago - and still moments most days when I really don't think I'm coping very well. But I do keep trying to remind myself of all the positives, and the tiny bits of progress we are making.

In fact, when our poor little daughter was struggling a bit to breathe through her nose the other night when she had her cold, I felt much more affection and protective over her than I have previously. And the moments of heart-melting joy are definitely starting to outweigh those of despair.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Alert. Advanced. Intelligent. Spirited. It doesn't matter what spin you put on it - there's one thing for certain. Having such a child is very hard work.

Charlotte is so alert/spirited/advanced/intelligent* (delete as appropriate) she refuses to sleep. You may have gathered that from my previous posts! It's taken us two hours - and counting - to put her down tonight. I'm not sure if it's that she doesn't feel safe as she's dropping off to sleep, or she's scared of missing out on something. She's a baby - it's impossible to tell.

As for daytime sleeping. Still impossible. But she's not even five weeks old, so to make sure she at least gets  some sleep - if she hasn't gone down in her Moses basket after half an hour of trying, then it's the carrier, pram or car where we know she nods off (most of the time).

But even that can be hit and miss. Sometimes she's good as gold in her pram - other times she screams blue murder. And one time I've even managed to get her to sleep in her Moses basket for 45 minutes in the day after only 15 minutes of trying to put her down. Everything seems a bit hit and miss at the moment - what works one night, won't work the next.

But I'm also really trying to focus on the positives. Alright, the sleeping is definitely an issue. But two weeks ago, when she was only sleeping on us, we'd never have thought she'd have slept in her Moses basket at all. But we're slowly cracking that one, at night at least. There are many, many more babies who won't sleep at all at night, or won't feed - we don't seem to have any problems on that front.

And in the 20-minutes windows throughout the day when she's content and exploring the world and toys around her, Charlotte is a true, gorgeous delight. We know the difficult sleeping phase will eventually pass - but it's so hard to see past it at the moment.

Friday, 22 July 2011


We've had a couple of good days.

Sure there's been plenty of bouts of screaming and refusing to sleep - anywhere - but we've had plenty of gorgeous moments too.

Yesterday we're convinced we saw Charlotte's first proper smile, as she sat in her little chair at my parents' making all sorts of lovely new noises. She was even a delight as we bathed her (which revealed her curly locks), and almost went a whole hour walking into town and back without crying her heart out and me having to put her in her baby carrier.

Then, she went down in her crib almost straight away at 7.30 until she woke for a feed at 11.15; and again until 0340. Between 5 and 8 she was a bit of different story, though.

But a 1 hour 45 minute car ride and a good feed got her back on track, and we saw more of the lovely Charlotte that makes it all seem worth it.

It's the first couple of days we've tried the E.A.S.Y routine - Eat, Activity, Sleep, You Time - and been really, really careful to watch for those first tired signs before she gets overtired too quickly. Very early days, but seems to be working.

It's currently 8.40 pm, and she's been down for almost two hours. Fingers crossed she manages another couple of long stretches between feeds.

Thursday, 21 July 2011


Another day, another quick escape down to my parents. Not because Charlotte was being any more difficult than usual - yes, she was still screaming every time I tried to put her down for a nap - but because of the constant pneumatic drill in our street. A screaming baby on her own I am just about managaing to cope with, but not with all the other noise cooped up in our small flat.

The car journey was a little tricky with me having to hold off her screams while also driving, but as soon as we arrived she was typically a little angel. She was making a number of noises I'd never heard before, and we're even convinced we saw something of a real smile - and not just wind!

But equally typically I also missed the tired window once again and it took a little effort to calm her down from her overtired state. And trying to get her to go down in the crib was a complete nightmare. We tried for three hours - in hindsight that was far too long and got me as worked up and distressed as it did Charlotte, and should have given in to her falling asleep on one of us after about an hour.

When she did eventually settle and go down - albeit already in a deep sleep rather than self-settling - she slept without waking for five hours. But it was seven hours since her last feed which left me with the dilemma of wake her or leave her. As she clearly needed her sleep, I let her sleep until she was definitely starting to wake up at 4.15. She'd made plenty of cough-like sounds through the night, but kept dropping herself straight back to sleep. So sleep was obviously her priority over food.

Through today I'm feeding her a bit more frequently - every three hours, maybe even more frequently as we head towards bedtime - so I don't fret so much over letting her sleep for longer periods at night without a feed. Perhaps that might also help in our endeavour to "set" her body clock to night and day, which in turn might help deal with the daytime sleep/naps issue. But as I keep saying - one thing at a time, and she's only 4 weeks old.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


OK, so we all know that the only things a newborn baby does is sleep and feed. Well the latter is certainly true. In fact I think I've been over-feeding Charlotte - adding to any painful wind problems she may be having.

However, she doesn't seem to be getting nearly enough sleep, especially in the day.

The biggest problem, we have now decided, is that I've been mis-reading her tired cues as hunger cues, so not only is she feeding too much, she's not sleeping enough - leading to that vicious circle I spoke about in my last post.

So my OH and I have decided now's the time - at three and a half weeks - to start setting down a routine. I'm starting with her feeding. Having been weighed at 8lb (3.64 kg) yesterday by the health visitor, we're good to let her go up to 4 hours without a feed - more at night if she manages to sleep that bit longer - as she's feeding well when she does. So that's stage one - making sure I don't feed her anymore frequently, except maybe before bedtime so she's definitely full up and may sleep longer. That will be tested in a couple of weeks in her next growth spurt.

We're also going to start doing a proper bedtime routine - winding down from 6pm - something we've pretty much been doing anyway, and she's been asleep by 9.30 every night since Thursday. We're just going to have to try to make that a bit earlier each night.

The other step is making sure she gets enough sleep in the day, which in the last five days or so we know she hasn't been. Initially, while we will keep trying and trying to put her down in her Moses basket, if it's not worked after an hour, she can sleep where she likes so we don't get her overtired - which it escalates into if we miss that tiny window where she supposedly lets us know she's tired (yawning, rubbing her eyes, turning away from us, heavy eyes). Earlier I took her for a 2 hour walk where she slept, now she's asleep on my lap - all bad habits we know we have to break, but one step at a time.

One of the problems in getting Charlotte to sleep appears to be she's just so alert and aware of things for her age already. Our health visitor told us she sees six week old's who aren't as alert with things like focusing and playing with her hands. So while we reading up on what a 3 week old "should" be doing, it appears Charlotte may well be ahead of the curve. While that sounds great, it means she's fighting her sleep more because she wants to know what's going on around her - it's almost as if she doesn't want to miss out on what's going on by dropping off to sleep.Another tactic we're going to try once again is swaddling - even though she manages to fight her way out easier than Houdini.

Such challenging times. There are plenty of times when I really can't see how we'll get past this, but everyone tells us we will, it will get easier, and this first six-eight weeks is the toughest. After that there'll be new problems and issues, but "those too will pass..."

Monday, 18 July 2011


I don't know where the phrase "screaming ab-dabs" comes from, but it's certainly one we've been using a lot in the last two days.

Sure enough, after another successful night in her Moses basket, we had another hellish day. From around lunchtime, nothing could console Charlotte - and it just turned into a vicious cycke of her wind stopping her from sleeping, tiredness turning very quickly into overtiredness, leading to erratic feeding, and those ear-splitting screams.

By 7pm we resorted to long walks round the park. It eventually seemed to work. and she fell asleep on my OH until we had to wake her for a feed. Then, miraculously, she went down in her Moses basket for the rest of the night - waking for a couple of feeds.

Today she has been a million times more manageable (until the point when I'm writing and we're struggling to settle her down for the night - another long walk may be in order). When she's been screaming at the top of her lungs through overtiredness we've let her reach her peak three times and then she calms right down. But generally she's nodded off after a feed and been a bit.more content, even when we went to visit my friend with the twins. In fact none of us quite knew what to do with ourselves with three sleeping children. We should have all gone for a nap!

Saturday, 16 July 2011


Going down to my parents was the best thing we could have done. Four days of being fed, a little more rested and calmed down by people who've done it all before really helped re-instill some confidence in me, and tackle Charlotte's colic.

It also helped to catch up with some of my oldest and best friends - all of who have young children - and talk through our issues, their similar experiences, and what they tried to tackle them. It's really helped to stop me going mad. Where we live we don't really have much of a support network of family and friends with kids, and we really needed that for a few days.

I was a bit wobbly when we returned home and it was just the three of us again, Charlotte seemed to go through yet another period of wanting nothing but feeding. But I'm starting to learn a bit more that sometimes it's not the breast for food she's after, but for suckling and comfort. So we've turned to using the dummy - having first made sure she's not uncomfortable with wind, or simply over-tired and needs relaxing.

Much of the tips we're trying have come from the much heralded (certainly among my friends) Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. I can sometimes drive myself a bit mad by reading too much in books and online, but it's helping to take a little bit from various sources to find what works for us.

The biggest breakthrough in the last few days has definitely been Charlotte's sleeping. She's managed two nights in her crib (at my parents) and Moses basket (at home). It meant we went to bed with her at around 9pm, I fed her everytime she woke (about three times last night), and she managed to settle herself each time we put her back down - albeit with the help of a dummy, but I see that as massive progress.

She's only three weeks old. If the dummy works to sooth her to sleep and ease her windy tummy, then she can have it.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


It all got too much over the weekend, and Charlotte pushed us to breaking point with her ear-splitting screams, constant need for the breast and nothing seemingly calming her down. So we called my parents to pick us up and go to theirs for a few days for moral and practical support.

It got to the point where I couldn't stop crying and ended up physically sick, as nothing I could do could help my baby daughter. Myself and my OH both confided in each other
dark, hateful thoughts. I'm pleased to say they've subsided since de-camping to her very loving grandparents.

I do feel a bit of a failure for having to turn to other people for help. I feel I shoukd be able to cope and tackle this enormous challenge head on with just me and OH. But I have to admit it's helping being able to hand Charlotte over for a couple of hours (not that I am yet able to relax enough to catch up on lost sleep). It's also helping that I'm able eat proper meals and regain some of my energy and confidence by being here. And I've been able to catch up with some of my closest friends - all of who have kids - and share experiences, tips and anxieties with them.

We also called our health visitor (a different one to the first), who has been utterly amazing. She diagnosed severe colic and showed us various techniques to wind Charlotte and recommended Infacol. There certainly seems to have been some improvement - though she's still having her early evening tantrum preriod where she cluster feeds, won't settle and cries a lot. But at least we know there's a reason for it and we're expanding our repertoire of ways to deal with her

When my OH got back from work earlier, it was so nice to hear him say, "I've got my gorgeous daughter back".

I'm still very anxious that we tackle the big sleeping issue. Driving down to my parents Charlotte proved she CAN sleep on her own - managing 1 and a half hours in the car and remaining asleep for a further 45 minutes in her car seat at the house. She's also managed 1 hour 30 on a firm sofa - unde the very watchful eye of her grandparents - but still no joy with the crib.

So I'm still on the nightshift; vety mindful that now OH is back at work he needs plenty of sleep. While I can see a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel as far as colic and feeding is concerned - it's a very long, dark stretch of nights I can see ahead of me as we try to get Charlotte to sleep away from us and in her own cot/basket.

Saturday, 9 July 2011


Charlotte is now officially a citizen of the UK and the world. We registered her yesterday,which also culminated in her first ever tube and bus journeys.

We've been out pretty much every day in the past week which does us some good, although it can sometimes result in her getting a bit overtired. She seems to be doing a bit better in the pram and the occasional dummy has soothed her now and again. But she still gets really anxious and starts screaming once she realises she's not really close to me or my OH.

Talking to the midwife today - where of course Charlotte was as good as gold, and was signed off having put on more weight - she said we're just going to have to wean her off us, particularly for sleeping which could take weeks and weeks. That's really upsetting me as every time we try she gets so wound up, which winds me up and I'm ending up in tears more and more.
This afternoon she just went hysterical, and wouldn't even feed for about 6 hours.

I also can't stop worrying about what it's going to be like when OH goes back to work on Monday. Even though he works from home I know we won't be able to continue the tag team routine.

At the moment we're very much working in shifts, I'll get some kip from around 8/9pm in time for the 'nightshift' from midnight until anytime between 4 and 6am, depending on when she's fed. Then OH will do the next couple of hours while I get a bit more kip until after 9am. And we'll both manage an hour or so in the afternoon if we're lucky.

Most times that she's dropped off to sleep we've tried her again and again in the Moses basket. cot or playmat trying all the tips given to us from friends/midwives/health visitors. But within 10 minutes she's awake and cross. And that can lead to its own vicious circle of her getting so wound up she won't feed. So, to make sure she's getting enough sleep and food, we feel we have no choice but to make sure she gets several longer sleeps a day on us.

All we can think of is to gradually wean her off us and into the Moses/cot. If she wakes up and just constantly stirs without actually screaming, that's a bonus (but then I worry she's not getting enough sleep and the over-tired circle kicks in).

We keep telling ourselves she's still only 2 weeks old, but I really don't want to gamble on her growing out of it. The whole situation is just chipping away at my confidence - even though the feeding side of things seem to be going well.

One positive from the past few days -I've successfully been able to express one bottle a day, which means OH can give Charlotte one of her night feeds. Not that I've been able to sleep any extra, with worry.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Putting a label on it

When I originally started writing this latest blog in the middle of the night I had written: "Charlotte's been going a bit longer between feeds compared to the last couple of days - so perhaps this is her first growth spurt over...? Until the next one".

Famous last words - this morning she's been a nightmare. Absolutely nothing, apart from being on the breast for 55 minutes every hour, will settle her. We've tried making sure she's totally full by making sure she's not lazy snacking, we've made sure she's clean and dry, we've comforted her, left her to cry - everything.

It's got to the point where my OH has taken her out to scream the neighbourhood down to give me half an hour's break. The health visitor seemed to think we were doing well when she came this morning, and gave us more tips on feeding and trying to get her to sleep anywhere than on us. But even that reassurance isn't getting through to me at the moment.

I don't feel especially tired - just exasperated that we can't calm Charloltte and get her to sleep. EVERYONE keeps telling us it'll get easier in a week or two - but it's getting increasingly harder to believe and focus on.

The health visitor did suggest that as breastfeeding is going so well - too well, almost - I could try expressing already so my OH can help with at least one feed a day. I'm now worried Charlotte's become so attached to my breast, she might refuse a bottle. But we'll give it a go.

Life has become an endless game of second guessing her every need, her every cry and grizzle. And just when you think you've got it sussed, she changes the rules. But I think we are getting better at recognising her cues. I'm definitely recognising the hunger ones - rooting, hand in mouth, headbutting etc - more easily. And her uncomfortable "I'm trying to wee or poo" face.

The big problem comes when she's trying to tell us more than one thing at a time - I'm hungry and wet and overtired all at once. Then she'll come out with howling screams that cut right through us. My OH is amazing at calming her down though for which I'm hugely grateful.

I wasn't surprised that Charlotte got overtired yesterday afternoon though. We ended up having quite an ambitious walk around the local park, then the shops (including giving her a feed in Mothercare) and lunch at another pub, all with the other set of Grandparents this time. And she.was mostly as good as gold.

The funniest thing in her 9-day life happened too. Well it made me laugh lots. I know people always say kids are happier with the cardboard box than the toy that came in it. Well that was proved today. Forget expensive mobiles and toys to hang over her pram, Charlotte spent the best part of an hour this lunchtime utterly transfixed by the label on the sun parasol that we'd just bought. It was just in her eyeline within focus and she just stared and stared at it, keeping her totally occupied. I think we may be keeping that.

We had had a minor bit of progress with the Moses basket yesterday too. She managed an hour in it - albeit she'd already been asleep for an hour after being totally knackered from this morning's adventures. She had another 20 minutes in there last night too. But today we seem to have taken two steps backward on that issue as well.

I think the really tricky thing is to judge when to try to put her down. Too soon and she wakes herself really easily; too late and she's waking for a feed or change anyway.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


I think we may be trying run before we can walk. Seeing patterns in Charlotte's sleeping and feeding where there aren't any - and aren't likely to be until at least six weeks.

It's just so hard to remember she's only a week old. She's absolutely amazing. So for her to get the food and sleep she needs we're just going tp have to go with what works for her rather than us. And for the next few weeks that means feeding her whenever she's demanding it (which we have been doing), even if it's snacks after less than an hour at times.

And if she'll only get a decent sleep on us for now, that's how she'll get her sleep. We can try one thing a day/night to get her used to her Moses basket, but trying too many different things too often is disrupting any sleep she does get far too much.

Super Mario Charlotte

I've decided - with my entire one week's experience - that a newborn baby is much like a computer game. Trial and error to see which buttons to press and which avenues to follow to take us to the next level.

My OH and her grandparents didn't much like that analogy when I put it to them at lunch. Lunch also happened to be Charlotte's first trip to a pub! The first of many (responsible trips), I hope. She was a bit unsettled in the pram today and wanted an extra feed which I managed in a quiet corner of the pub. Only one week old, and I can't believe I've already breastfed her in public.

It was her grandparents' (my parents) second visit since she was born and they say they can see how much she is thriving. And how much progress we have made. They - and my OH and myself - can also tell she's put on weight already. While I'm obviously thrilled that it shows the feeding's going well, it also frightens me that she'll never ever be this tiny again, and I really am trying to savour every moment.

It's possible she may be going through her expected growth spurt a couple of days early. It would certainly account for all the extra 'snacking' feeds she's demanding. If that's the case - I'll just keep feeding her whenever she wants and see if it settles down in a few days.

We've also made a bit of a leap forward with the Moses basket. After observing how best she sleeps I decided to try putting her in on her side. It's another of those controversial areas where the militant 'experts' say babies should ONLY be put on their back. But she always gravitates to her side anyway, and there's plenty of anecdotal evidence of babies only settling to sleep on their sides.

If I'm honest, I feel more guilty about this than any of the feeding issues. I will be keeping a very close eye on her whenever she's sleeping in the Moses basket to start with just to make there's no tendency to move onto her front (doesn't look remotely possible at this stage, but you can never be too sure). And remember- when I was a baby, we were all put on our fronts... yet more advice to totally change in the past three decades.

So I tried it - with a rolled up blanket behind her to stop her rolling onto her back and waking herself up - and we've managed up to an hour and a quarter, which feels like a breakthrough. It's only happened the once, with an odd 25 minutes-1 hour here and there since, but her fractious sleep may well be just as much to do with her growth spurt than where she's being put down to sleep.

Incidentally, keeping this blog is helping to keep me sane. It really helps to process the myriad thoughts in my head, and empty them out into cyberspace before trying to get my head down for that odd hour or two's nap.

Friday, 1 July 2011


No not hers - she's only a week old... ours.

Tiny bits of progress to make some sense of this whole parenting minefield, day by day. Last night my OH and I actually managed to sit down to a meal together rather than eating in shifts while one of us calms/has Charlotte asleep on us. She managed more than half an hour settled in her rocker. If she can do that more often we might be able to get a bit more done, and if it can encourage her to sleep on her own maybe it will help in our challenge to get her to sleep in her Moses basket.

We've managed to eat together - the dream now is to get a little night time sleep together while our precious daughter sleeps in our room.

edit: and another breakthrough. She managed an hour and 10 minutes in her rocker overnight. I was almost pleased when she woke herself up because it meant I got to have cuddles! I think maybe she doesn't like being put to sleep on her back as she seems to sleep so well on her side - either in the rocker or on my lap. One to try another night, I think.