Stealth Shuffling & Sleep Regression at 8mths

We have been having a bit of an interesting time with our Little Miss of late. In many ways she has settled down, her teething and reflux aren’t bothering her quite so much and on the whole she is a very happy, sunny, smily baby and she can be a joy to be around. But she has reached a point where she very much wants to be on the move and that is making things interesting.

For quite a while now she has been really content to sit and play with toys. Honestly it has been amazing as Monkey never really did this. She focuses so intently on toys and can sit for ages and entertain herself while I play or craft something with Monkey or potter about with some jobs.

Now though, she so wants to explore wider surroundings. She is desperate to crawl and making slow progress towards being able to, with lots of rolling onto her tummy and pushing up. She also has quite an amazing skill, the stealth shuffle.

I mentioned a while ago that she liked to bum shuffle in the bath and she now does that in front of her eyes. But the interesting thing is that it is very difficult to detect her movement. She leans forward and sits back up and twists and turns around but seems to be in the same spot… but then all of a sudden she is on the over side of the room and we weren’t really aware of the move happening!

stealth shuffling

Nanny & Pops looked after her today and even they remarked on it. Our little stealth shuffler!

It won’t be long until she crawls either so we need to be even more vigilant about what is on the floor or within reach of little arms. A whole new world :)

Blurry shot... but you get the idea!

Blurry shot… but you get the idea!

She is also moving around in bed a lot too and as a result we are struggling a little at nap times and bedtime which, to be honest, is driving us potty. We sleep trained quite young and she has been a fantastic sleeper, as long as she is tired and nothing else is bothering her. But lately even when she is tired and we can find nothing else to be the matter she is miserable about going to sleep and gets very very unhappy.

She also moves herself all over the cot and we come to check on her and find her rolled over, turned sideways, back to front, legs stuck through bars and all over the place. I won’t go into details but it has been stressful and there has been lots of rocking to sleep at a loss of what else to do sometimes.

I’ve read that 8 month sleep regression is common, though again it wasn’t something we experienced with Monkey,and are hoping it is just a phase! Anyone else been through this?

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Once she is asleep she still sleeps well and wakes up very happy… we are just at a bit of a loss as to how we can help her remember how to fall asleep in her bed again!

Ethans EscapadesBest of Worstbrummymummyof2

Am I bad mother? Or just a different one?

I have found that one of the hardest and most unexpected aspects of motherhood is judgement.. from other mothers. When Monkey was a baby I struggled a lot with this as I had honestly never expected that I would be so judged by other women in the same position as me. Judged about how I am feeding, what our routine is, how we got our baby to sleep, what he wore… literally everything. As he has grown and I have become a bit more confident it doesn’t affect me as much.. but every now and then I will read something that does affect me.

Because it is happening all the time. Mothers judging other Mothers over their parenting methods just because it is different to the way they have chosen. And it drives me mad.

Am I a bad motherI am a huge believer that all babies are different and that different things work for different children. There is not one method that is right for all babies. The same goes for parents. We are all unique individuals with different strengths and weaknesses so how can we possibly all parent the same? The point is surely that we are doing our best to raise healthy and happy children. I am sure we will all make mistakes along the way because we are human beings and we are imperfect. But we make the decisions that we feel are right at the time.

That is what bugs me most about all the judgement. The holier than thou attitude. The conviction of “I am right and you are wrong.” That somehow your choices make you a better parent than others. How can you possibly, possibly know this? You don’t live their life. You haven’t raised their child. You are living your life and raising your child. You are different so inevitably you make different choices. The right choices for you are not necessarily the right choices for others but that doesn’t make them wrong and it certainly doesn’t make them bad parents.

To illustrate my point I am going to highlight some of our choices, and the reasons we made them. These are choices we have made for us and our children and I am not saying that everyone should make the same choices, but I want to know if you think these choices make me a bad mother.

Natural birth vs Caesarean

I had two C-sections. I have a bicornuate uterus which meant that both Monkey and LM were breech and unable to turn head down. The medical advice was to have C-sections for the safety of both myself and my babies. I did a lot of research into natural breech births and learned that because most breech babies are delivered by c-section, that the skill of naturally delivering breech babies has fallen out of practice. Of course many midwives are skilled and capable of this but my research suggested that not all are and that it can be luck of the draw of who you get on the day. For me that wasn’t good enough and I chose the c-sections.

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This wasn’t what I wanted, I had hoped for a water birth with only gas and air. But sometimes what we want comes second to making sure my babies were safe. It turned out Monkey had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck 5 times, so I can’t regret the decision to have a c-section as I had my beautiful boy safely in my arms, whereas it could have been very different.

There have been some awful posters circulating the internet about women who have had c-sections being lesser Mothers, for taking the “easy” road. Some even go as far to say that we will go to hell because we have gone against God’s plan. That we should have had a natural delivery and if God wanted us or our baby to die then we should have allowed it to happen. I don’t even know where to begin arguing against this.

Do you think having C-sections made me a bad Mother?

Breastfeeding/Bottle feeding

Breastfeeding is seriously hard work. I persevered through some very difficult days when Monkey was a baby, mainly due to my own stubbornness and breastfed him until 6-7mths old. I stopped for many reasons. He had teeth from 4 mths and his lower teeth grazed on the underside of my breast giving me horrible sores. But mainly I stopped because I wanted my body back. I struggled with baby blues and needed to feel like myself. Selfish? Maybe. Human beings are selfish. I battled on for a while but eventually realised that my negative feelings about breastfeeding weren’t good for Monkey and I didn’t want to resent him.

With LM I breastfed for 6 weeks. With her reflux and (thankfully) temporary Lactose Intolerance, breastfeeding her was a nightmare and a lactose free formula was the right choice for us at that time. There are times when I look back and wish I could have breastfed her longer… but I couldn’t. I was at the end of my tether. Other women may be stronger and may have been able to persevere. But couldn’t and she was miserable and in pain. So I chose the next best thing for my baby. A happier Mummy and formula. Does that make me a bad Mother?

Babywearing or not

I love the idea of baby-wearing and always have. With Monkey we tried various slings and carriers but let me tell you he was not happy in there for long so it was a bit of a non-starter. With LM she did like our Beco Gemini carrier and so we did baby-wear to a point.

But the truth is I have a bad back and so does hubs, so baby-wearing hurts. It’s alright for a while but gradually it started wearing me down. I started suffering with my knee too from the jiggling and bouncing it usually took to get her to sleep in there. We found it exhausting and being exhausted does not make us better parents. We were more irritable and snappy with each other and our children so we realised it had to stop.

Does this make us bad parents?

Co-sleeping or not

Co-sleeping, quite simply, is not for me. I’m not the greatest sleeper at the best of times and have a bit of a weird claustrophobia type thing where I hate being cuddled or touched when I sleep. I find it suffocating and have to have my own space. I would rather sleep on my own on the floor than with a child on me. Obviously there have been nights where I have had a poorly child sleep on me in a chair so I can comfort them and they can sleep, but I don’t sleep. Again perhaps it is selfish but I just can’t do it. Does that make me a bad Mother?

Sleep Training

DSC_0552When Monkey was born I couldn’t bear the idea of cry it out, controlled crying, progressive wait, whatever you want to call it. I couldn’t bear the sound of his crying. So we did anything and everything else we could to get Monkey to sleep.

And we failed.

It got to the point where Monkey would spend around 4 hours every night crying in our arms.

We had a bedtime routine around 7pm and then we would spend the next few hours rocking him to sleep, shushing, patting, cuddling, singing letting him suck our fingers…. Taking it in turns to do whatever the hell we could to get him to sleep. Occasionally something would work but we could never make it work consistently and in general he would pass out from exhaustion around 11.

We would then be up regularly throughout the night with either hubs or I leaning over the cot with our little finger in his mouth to suck as that was the best way of keeping him asleep (yes we tried a dummy, many times, but he wasn’t having any of it). This led to me getting mastitis 3 times as I spent so much time pressed up against the side of his cot, crushing my milk ducts so I could reach his mouth to let him suck my finger. (Anyone who has had Mastitis will know that the pain and delirium is not a pleasant experience).

He also woke up miserable in the morning and was grouchy much of the time. In desperation we read Ferber’s book (it was one of many methods we had tried) and as I have said before, we liked the tone of the book and we gave it a go.

The first night it took 20 minutes. 20 minutes of him crying in his bed, with us going in every few minutes to comfort, reassure and soothe. 20 minutes of hell and soul searching and self-doubting and crying and chocolate eating as his cries hurt my soul….

But then he fell asleep.

It took 20 minutes rather than the 4 hours we were used to. He slept through the night and then woke up happy. For the first time since he was a newborn.

The next night it took a bit less time and so on for the next few days until he didn’t cry at all. He has been an amazing sleeper ever since and now when he cries in the night we go to him because we know that something is wrong.

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If Monkey had been content to fall asleep in our arms and then be transferred to his bed then I doubt we would ever have felt the need to try the technique. We have repeated the technique with LM as we have had similar struggles with sleep and it has worked for her. We didn’t try every other technique that we tried with Monkey and maybe we should have. She is a different baby and maybe a different technique would have worked for her. But we made the decision we felt was right at the time and she now loves her bed and falls asleep very easily at naptimes and bedtimes.

Does this make me a bad Mother?

I could go on and on. There’s weaning – purees or babyled? I know someone whose friend told her she was “disappointed in her” for not babyled weaning, even though she weaned her baby at 4 1/2 mths under Drs advice. Then if you do choose purees there’s whether you make them at home or use jars. I’m not even going to begin going into the whole being a stay at home mum vs being a working mother. You can read about why I made that choice here but just because I am a SAHM I certainly don’t think that everyone else should be.

Think what you will about my choices, but my children are happy, healthy and know they are loved. We are not perfect parents by a long shot and we are not raising perfect children, as that is impossible (though I do think they are pretty perfect I suspect I am slightly biased), but we are doing the absolute best we can.

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I just don’t understand why some Mothers feel they can only justify their choice by disparaging the choices of others., because I don’t see why you need to.

Of course we compare ourselves to each other and we questions our choices and their choices, because we all want to be the best we can be. But before you cast aspersions or treat someone who has made different choices to you like they are a bad mother, stop. Think about why  they may have made the choices that they made. Remember that they have made those choices in an effort to do what is best for them and their child. Remember that their child is not your child and different things work with different children

Also remember that they are not you and they have their own strengths and weaknesses. We don’t become perfect when we become a Mother. We don’t miracuously turn into selfless saints. We do love our children above all else and while many of us try and put everyone else’s needs above our own many of us find that is not sustainable and that to be the best Mother we can be we actually need to put ourselves first sometimes too. So sometimes we make the choice that is best for us as well as our children.

Maybe you disagree with this, maybe you disagree with a lot of what I have said here, and that’s fine. Because you are you and I am me and no doubt our life experiences are very different. If you are happy with the choices you have made and convinced that you are right, then good for you. I’m happy for you, honestly. But please don’t make other women feel bad or less than you because something different works for them.

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How Ferber’s “Progressive Wait” approach helped our children sleep better

Before Monkey was born, whenever any friends were having troubles getting their little ones to sleep and they mentioned leaving them to cry themselves to sleep, I thought it seemed like a pretty sensible idea. Then when Monkey was born, I realised it wasn’t that simple, and the thought of doing it felt really really cruel. With him spending hours each day screaming in pain with his colic, neither hubs or I could bear the thought of leaving him to cry himself to sleep.

Monkey fast asleep - on his daddy not in bed!

Monkey fast asleep – on his daddy not in bed!

So we did what many parents do and helped him to sleep. We rocked and shushed and patted, drove him round in the car, took him out in the buggy and let him suck our fingers. We tried to use a dummy though could never get him to take one! We did anything that worked and our lives and sleep revolved around getting him to sleep and keeping him that way. Honestly? It was exhausting, and miserable. I spent a lot of time crying and feared for my mental health. So after a few months of this we started looking for other ways. We tried “The Baby Whisperer” but didn’t manage with her techniques at all. If anything her pick up/put down technique just seemed to mean that Monkey screamed louder and for longer. Every child is different but at the time we blamed ourselves.

I remember people saying to me “maybe he just isn’t tired” or “maybe he doesn’t need the sleep” if I complained I couldn’t get him to sleep. But to me the answer to that was then why is he miserable? He was clearly tired. I had no problem with a child who was awake and happy to be, my frustration came from comforting a child who was miserable and clearly tired, but who refused to stay asleep!

Although we had initially discounted the possibility of “cry it out” techniques, we eventually got desperate and came across Dr Ferber’s progressive wait method. It seemed a little kinder than what I had thought of as “cry it out”so we decided to look into it more. I wanted to make sure we did it properly, if we were going to do it at all, so I bought his book “Solve your Child’s Sleep Problems“* from amazon and had a read. This book covers children of all ages with problems sleeping, with advice on anything from night terrors to sleep walking. The section we were interested in though is about younger children and helping them sleep better without being rocked, etc. There is far more information than I could hope to convey so if you are having problems, I strongly recommend that you have a read.
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