Monthly Archives: January 2015

My early-crawler and why I felt like a lost cause after Tresillian

This week I went to Tresillian’s Day Stay program because I had a few questions about my five month old son’s routine. More specifically, I wanted to know why he is waking up so often when I seem to be doing everything “by the book”.

You see, I’m a Tresillian veteran. I spent a week here with my first-born when she was 12 months old (see what I learned here). I’ve been using the exact some techniques that I acquired from that experience with my new son. But so far, it’s been for naught. I can settle him – and resettle him – pretty quickly thanks to the shhhh pat method, so it’s not like I’m spending hours in his room trying to get him to sleep. My problem is that he wakes up so damn often and I just can’t seem to get him to self-settle. (What is it? Freaking rocket science??)

I arrive eager for their advice and excited about getting some answers. These women are like gods to me; if I could have one superpower it would be to settle babies. That shit’s genius. Toddler piano-playing prodiges don’t impress me. Baby whisperers do.

We lay my son on the mat and the nurse watches him play. It takes all of five minutes’ worth of watching him crawl for the midwife to shatter my hopes of sleep-redemption.

The first crawling attempts at 16wks old
The first crawling attempts at 16wks old

“Hmmmm” she murmurs sympathetically as she watches him pull himself up onto – and then over – some of the toys on the playmat. “Looks like you’ve got yourself a hyper-alert child. I’m not so sure how much help we’re going to be for you, honey”.

Seeing my face fall, she promptly continues with an explanation. “We can improve things for you, don’t get me wrong, but you have to be realistic. Your son is very active for his age. He is waking up because he is programmed to do more, see more, move more.”

Uh oh. Did someone just put the record on loop? Because I didn’t like facing the music the first time. This is my daughter all over again. And as much as I adore my daughter, those first 18months were bloody hard work. She started crawling even earlier than my son has done, and by 9 months was walking. See exhibit A. 

I dropped out of my mothers’ group because of her boundless energy, finding it too stressful to manage a baby who squirmed and complained in my arms while all the other contented babies sat still on their mummies’ laps, sucking their toes with gusto.

Smeh! I hear you say. Big deal! So your baby rolled early. So he crawled early. So he will probably walk early. So what? 

Well, let me shed some light on the realities of living with an early mover.

He is more prone to waking up from background noise.

He is less prone to sleeping where there is light; this means you’ve got bugger-all chance of getting him off to sleep in the pram, or if you have a shadow or two bouncing on your nursery walls during his afternoon sleep.

He is five months old and already making a bee-line to the electrical sockets.

Gone is the precious “me-time” stage, where I could sleep when he was napping. His brain fires up after 30minutes and tells him it’s time to start using his cot like vertical monkey bars. This leaves me exactly enough time to do the laundry and wash the dishes. How convenient. My own personal alarm clock for housework. 

Gotta get me one of these.
Gotta get me one of these.

Can you read books to your darling daughter or son? If my child isn’t wriggling out of my lap then he will tolerate a book just long enough to suck it, smack it, or vomit on it (yes, the joys of a baby with reflux are endless).

For those of you who comment, “wow – he is clever!”, I say yes, yes he is. He is clever at moving early. He isn’t necessarily going to be good at public speaking or brilliant with puzzles like perhaps your child will be. He is good at this thing. But there’s no need to be envious. In fact, you should feel lucky. As my midwife just told me (and as my daughter has proven) babies who move earlier tend to sleep worse.

Fan-bloody-tastic. Even the experts think I’ve got bugger all chance of getting some decent kip over the next few months.

And to make matters worse, my son has just been labelled a “failure-to-thrive” baby by m GP because he weighs the same at 5 months old as he did when he was 5 weeks old. This sort of thing would usually set me off into a full blown panic. I would usually be slamming myself will bilious accusations of what a terrible mother I am for somehow malnourishing my child. But this is my second child, and with that comes a greater sense of perspective. I’m able to look at the situation somewhat rationally; my child is running the equivalent of baby-Olympic marathons. He’s bound to be lean.

When people used to comment on how skinny my daughter was it used to drive me mental. But with time, things got back on track and I wish I hadn’t worried quite so much about her weight. I guess I just need to keep shovelling adult-sized portions of food into his desperately hungry and grateful mouth and hope that it eventually packs on the pounds.

I left Tresillian in a grateful mood, despite the dooming prognosis that sleep was a long way off. I need to remember the mantra that summed up my experience with my first-born perfectly:

“The nights are long, but the years are short”.  

It would seem that I breed gymnastic-insomniacs and that’s just how my story goes. No use trying to rewrite it now!

My Tresillian heroes might not have been miracle workers after all, but they truly do care about me, my child, and what I’m going through. I am so chuffed that services like this exist in Australia. Even if it is just to put my mind at ease, to let me know that one day my baby will sleep!

Have you got a hyper-alert child? Do you have any tips for helping them sleep, or is it just a case of riding it out? 

 

 

 

 

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The Lovers’ Diet – Week 2 – Tea Buddy Challenge

Week 1 of The Lovers’ Diet is done and dusted, and I have seven lovely complements to show for it.

Sure, my man may have forgotten his task (ahem, twice), but he made up for it in typical fashion by giving me three complements on one piece of paper, ensuring he met his prescribed quota and didn’t end up in the doghouse. Nicely played, sir.

Last week’s challenge was all about reminding ourselves – and our partners – of how lucky we are to have found each other. I’ve been reading ‘The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work’ and this paragraph stuck with me: 

“At first, this may all seem obvious to the point of being ridiculous: People who are happily married like each other. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be happily married. But fondness and admiration can be fragile unless you remain aware of how crucial they are to the friendship that is the core of any good marriage. By simply reminding yourself of your spouse’s positive qualities – even as you grapple with each other’s flaws – you can prevent a happy marriage from deteriorating. The simple reason is that fondness and admiration are antidotes to contempt.”

WEEK 2

This week’s challenge is about talking. Talking and really SAYING something. Rather than reeling off shopping list of priority admin items like we normally do.

Does this sound familiar?

Me – The baby’s sick and needs more Nurofen. Can you pick up some tomorrow for me?
Him- Can you remember to pay the energy bill?
Me – I think we need to buy an outdoor rug. Now that we’ve got the new BBQ, the back courtyard is getting filthy.
Him – Are we free on the 22nd? We’ve been invited to Josh and Anna’s place for a play-date?

We ask about each other’s days, but it’s not like we are really, really interested. Most of the time, it’s a habitual question asked as a matter of course, while our brain keeps prattling on with whatever we have been thinking about before we asked the question. We don’t really expect a different answer to the one we got yesterday. Or the day before. Sometimes we’re surprised by the outcome; like the days when my physio hubby tells me he has treated a celebrity (I know, I sound like a teenager, but I find it sooo cool!) but these responses are one-offs, and a far cry from the auto-pilot answer “my day was OK”.

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I know for a fact that I used to reveal more about myself – my hopes, dreams, failures, fears – to my tea buddy at work. We’d talk about books we had read, movies we’d seen; politics; our elderly grandparents, and heaps of interesting stuff that I’m just too tired at the end of the day to bring up with my own man at home. In fairness, we tend to spend the majority of our waking hours  in the office, so perhaps this isn’t surprising. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t sad.

For this reason, I’ve decided to call Week 2’s challenge the TEA BUDDY CHALLENGE.

YOUR TASK

Set aside 15-20minutes every day for tea with your loved one. Put on the kettle, sit down, and talk.

This is a real challenge for me. I have a 3 year old and a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night, and I’m usually knackered at both the beginning and end of a day.  This task is going to require me to either wake up early, or go to bed late, and I am dreading both options. But the truth is, there’s simply no other time. So sleep-sacrifice is a must.

There are some ground rules.

(1) I want you to cover the following topics, and

(2) I you aren’t allowed to talk about ADMIN. (This includes kids, if you have them).

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TOPICS:

Day 1: Think about how far you’ve come together as a couple, and talk about it. Talk about everything you’ve accomplished as a team.

Day 2: Think about everything that’s interesting you at the moment: politics, fashion, new products, news, the book you’re reading… and share it.

Day 3:  Look over this list of 36 psychologist-approved questions you should ask someone on your first date, to determine compatibility.  It’s quite a hoot – I’d  have been MORTIFIED to ask a guy a handful of these upon meeting, like …squirm….”How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?” Tackle a few of them, and have a laugh over how you would have responded to them back in the year that the two of you first met, versus now. What – if anything – has changed?

Day 4: What’s your heart’s greatest desire…. currently? how has this changed over time?

Day 5: Bring out the photo albums. Talk about the memories that crop up. (And the fashion faux pas, of course!)

Day 6: Try to make each other laugh. Any way you can. What are the funny things you can remember from over the years? Like the time when my fella took me to Scotland’s BEST fish’n’chips shop in Pittenweem and I promptly burst into tears (a STREAM of tears) when he squirted brown sauce all over my chips. RUINED. We’d been dating for 3 months, and he didn’t drop me straight away. I knew he was a keeper.

If you see something funny on facebook, keep hold of it and share it over tea. Let’s lighten the load of marriage – forget about kids, mortgages, bills, and all that background noise for a while. Let’s have a giggle.

Day 7: Plan a date night. Spend the whole 20 minutes working out how you can find/afford a babysitter, where you’ll go, what you’ll wear and BOOK IT IN.

Good luck, and don’t forget to share how you’re getting on! Post pictures of your teapot, or a selfie of you sipping on your chamomiles to Instagram and remember #theloversdiet @stresslessjessie 

Wk 1's first complement

Week 1 of The Lovers’ Diet….THE GOOD LAY

Have you been with your partner for a while now?  So long that you remember reassuring him that his blonde streaks looked great (cringe), but now you’re reassuring him that it’s OK to be bald (truly guys….it’s fine). 

OMG - the hair!! Circa 2006
OMG – the hair!! Circa 2006

Do you still love your partner after all these years? Ah ha.

Do you remember when you were so passionate that you had to peel yourself off each other like apple skins, just to come up for air? Yep.

Is the most intimate thing you’re doing nowadays licking the same gelato cone? Hmmm…

Well, then – maybe this little exercise program is for you. Think about it – you’ll happily commit to 12 weeks of food deprivation and ab-punishing exercises for the sake of your physical health,  but what are you doing for the wellbeing of your relationship?

Let’s go and find the magic that seems to have disappeared along with the mystery.  You know what I mean? Once you know the exact timing of each other’s daily bowel movements, it’s kind of hard to see each other as mysterious creatures of heavenly deliciousness. (Ahem, too much information?)

And for those of you with kids, I imagine that any latent shreds of ‘mystery’ disappeared in the birthing suite. Talk about revealing circumstances, hey? On the plus side though, I’m sure when the mystery disappeared a very healthy dose of respect and admiration kicked in!

There’s no denying that kids can make things tough on a relationship – that’s a given. Most of us are time poor as it is, but when kids are thrown into the mix then the opportunities you have to invest in your relationship become relegated to family-time activities. And I doubt any of us are really staring lovingly into each other’s eyes next to the swings at the local playground. (And if you are, I quietly envy you.)

Kids aside, it seems to me that a lot of the issue facing those of us in long term committed relationships is centred around the topic of intimacy. For  my man (and a lot of my friends’ fellas, not naming names), intimacy equates directly with sex.

For me (and again, a lot of my girlfriends), intimacy leads to sex. Intimacy relies on a more complicated set of variables than sex alone. It requires conversations about how you’re feeling. It requires affection, but not the get-in-your-pants kind. It requires complements and gentleness and smiles. And yes, sometimes it involves sex too.

The aim of my 6 week Lovers’ Diet is clear. I want to re-establish the intimacy in my relationship. And I want you to get onboard. If the flame in your partnership isn’t igniting, then jump on board with me in my experiment. What have you got to lose? 

So, how does The Lovers’ Diet work?

  • Follow me on Instagram – @stresslessjessie
  • I will publish a weekly relationship challenge for 6 weeks
  • You will be assigned homework each week
  • Post to Instagram and share how you’re getting on with the assignments, using #theloversdiet and #stresslessjess
  • Then….commit to it. Put up a poster in your kitchen with boxes next to each week’s assignment and cross them off as you do each one. Or put alarms in your phone. (Does anyone ever do that??!)

And remember. This is supposed to be a bit of fun. This isn’t to designed to fix a broken relationship. It’s designed to bring some spark back into a healthy one.

WEEK ONE: THE GOOD LAY.

Nope. This week’s challenge has nothing to do with sex. I’m talking about laying off each other. Go on, lay down your arms. Bite your tongue. Hold back the nag. Even in the most loving relationships, we seem to reserve our  harshest words for the ones we love most. I know that at times I speak more cruelly to my fella than I do to shopkeepers, Centrelink telephone staff, and door-to-door salesmen. It’s not fair. It’s called ‘Common Courtesy’ for a reason and should be extended to everyone. I would have NEVER spoken meanly to my man in the origins of our relationship – or vice-versa. But somewhere down this long, long road of our partnership, bites of meanness have been taken, and it shames me.

Source - Huffington Post
Source – Huffington Post

The strategy for this week is two-fold.

(1) Bite back any nasties

(2) Replace those nasties with some niceties.

YOUR TASK

  • Write down a complement every night on a piece of paper and put it under the pillow of your loved-one, telling them something they’ve done that you’re grateful for, or something you love about them that day. Did you sneak a peek at your wife as she left the shower in the morning and think to yourself she had a butt that rivalled Beyonce’s booty? Tell her!
Beyonce's bum ain't got nothing on your Mrs!
Beyonce’s bum ain’t got nothing on your Mrs!

It’s SEVEN compliments, on SEVEN slips of paper. Doesn’t matter if you’ve got SEVEN kids….You will still find time to do this, I’m sure.

So c’mon – let’s have some fun!  Share how you’re progressing on Instagram, and together we can ignite that first-date spark!!! 

Wk 1's first complement
Wk 1’s first complement