Monthly Archives: February 2013

Sleep Success and Some Dodgy Mothering

Sweet Sleep

Sweet Sleep

A few weeks ago now I had dinner with a couple of girlfriends and was encouraged to take some more “me time”. I had to laugh at the suggestion (on the inside of course) but did my very best to take on the encouragement and went to the movies with Bella. You may remember the fallout from last time I was here. It wasn’t good.

Exasperated, I tried to explain to my girlfriends that the real struggle I had, head and shoulders above the rest, was sleep deprivation which made little challenges like a crying baby in a movie almost unbearable to deal with.

Unfortunately, a sleeping baby seems to be the pin up of good parenting, the holy grail if you will. I’ve written about this all before. But it seems that by some miracle, Bella heard the conversation I had with my girlfriends, heard the desperation in my voice and saw the tears and decided that very night to sleep the whole time I decided to. She has continued to do so ever since. In fact, she seems to have transformed into this little snuggle bug who at about 9 o’clock each evening, presents herself to me on the floor face down, asking for a massage. When she decides she’s had enough, she turns around, climbs onto my lap for a kiss goodnight and then motions for her bed.

This is what I would class as an almost supernatural occurrence of masterful proportions. And you know what? I’m as proud as punch. I’m proud because I stuck to my guns for the last 14 months and continued to feed, cuddle and sleep with her when others told me not to. I did it even when I was exhausted and teary and even when my doctor told me my lack of rest was becoming dangerous given my history of depression. But what makes me so proud is that despite being warned that my constant responsiveness to her (or spoiling) would render her needy and insecure without me, she now after sleeping with me and then just in my room, sleeps happily in her cot. FOR THE NIGHT!

Oh sweet sleep. How I had longed for thee.

Now after some gratuitous pats on my own back I have discovered a new delight I hadn’t anticipated. I’m not crazy after all. I’ve started reading again, planning for the future and worrying about how I look. Ok, the last bit isn’t so great but it certainly does indicate I am thinking more about me and less about all things Bella. I hadn’t realised that getting up so many times a night had left me feeling a little bit like the walking dead. I’m excited, that’s all I’m saying.

Here’s the thing, since I’ve become a mother and realised how truly challenging it can be I have become a lot less judgemental about how other people live their lives. I’ve done things on my own parenting travels which I’m not proud of and which quite frankly I’d rather keep quiet. As my sister puts it, “who cares if you use a dummy (pacifier) or not, what are we all fighting about?!”

We rarely put it out there, the things we’re not proud of. It’s hard to admit that you may parent occasionally in a way that is not synonymous with how you see yourself. Is it okay to be an “attachment parent” and use a dummy (pacifier)? Is it okay to bottle feed and co-sleep? You catch my drift. We are so nervous about being judged by other mums and so intent on keeping up the air of maternal perfection, we don’t share with the very people who just may be able to sympathise. Here are some of my insecurities, in no particular order:

I bottle fed. When Bella was on the breast, I cried every time she was crying, knowing I would have to put her on and became terrified of her because it hurt so much. I used a dummy from the very first moment I couldn’t soothe Bella on my own (she is now pretty much addicted to said dummy). I regularly give Bella processed cheese (She loves it what can I say). She watches television (there, I said it). When she was really tiny, sometimes she’s stay in her bouncer for hours because I was so tired. Sometimes when she’s bored and whinging, I give her a snack even though I’m pretty sure she’s not hungry. She regularly plays with my iPhone. Sometimes she’s tugging at my pants for attention and I ignore it because I’m looking at Facebook. I once found her playing with my razor; more specifically “brushing her hair” with the razor (you can imagine…). She once drank my coffee when I was out of the room and was buzzing for hours (totally weird she liked it I know). I used to drink heavily and dump my milk, giving her formula just so I could go out. My husband dropped her in the bath one night. I regularly turn five consecutive pages of a book at once hoping she won’t notice because I can’t be bothered reading to her. I’ve smelt her nappy first and pretended I hadn’t till the Toolman does. At times I have longed to be alone without her. At times I have longed for my life before her.

But all the time I have loved her. And I have done a lot well too. I know we are not supposed to say that. We’re not supposed to tell each other that we think we are good mothers and we’re certainly not supposed to tell each other what we do that’s a bit dodgy.

But today I am telling you and I’m also saying that on the sleep front, things have finally worked out for us. I made an informed choice about how to manage my lack of sleep  and I’m so glad I persisted in following my instincts. It may change and I really hope it doesn’t but for now, I’m a happy, sometimes dodgy mama.

So whatever your thing is, try telling someone around you. Tell them what you’re embarrassed about and tell them what you do well. We don’t have to be perfect. You never know, they may just do the same.

*If are struggling with sleep and would like some more info on why I chose the to refrain from using sleep traingin techniques, you can follow this link.


Battle of the Tantrums: Our Day at the Movies.


The lead up was big enough in itself. I had decided that I was going to take Bella and I on a little date to the movies. Where I live the local cinema has “mums and bubs” sessions where you can see current release movies and pretend that life goes on after you have baby. Wrong. Well, wrong for me anyway.

Now I really should start by declaring that as much as I thought I would be an “easy-going” mother, I fear I’m more of a nervous nelly. Mothers like me are generally not revered in parenting circles. Not only do we need to breastfeed, co-sleep and parent “consciously” these days, it seems we also need to approach the whole affair with an air of Bob-Marley-come-Miranda-Kerr “zen-ness” which sees these types of mothers slide graciously into their role.

I’m more the neurotic and tearful type of mother which means I literally want to puke up my lunch when I leave Bella for more than an hour or so. I was also the mother that packed a small suitcase to go to the shops when Bella was younger simply because I was acutely afraid that she may want or need something and I needed to have whatever it was with me to satiate whatever that need or want  was at exactly the moment it appeared. So you can imagine the mental preparation it took for me to come around to the idea that I could take her to a movie.

The Toolman implored me to go, told me to take some time to do something nice for me. So last night I excitedly made a lunch box for us to take, packed only a few nappies and one small rug and went to bed with the anticipatory excitement of a child before their first day of school. I got dressed this morning in normal big kids clothes as opposed to the mummy uniform I wear everyday and applied makeup. Was definitely on a roll.

It started well. We arrived early, I had a coffee and bought an extra snack to take with us. I didn’t think about requesting an appropriate seat to be with the pram so was allocated one right in the middle of the cinema. Problem you ask? No, I’m all easy breezy you see and I’m just running with it at this stage.

A slight little twinge of anxiety began when other mothers started rolling in and they had all brought newborns asleep in their prams. Not a toddler in sight. Good on them I thought. But then these sadistic nutters who don’t even have kids started rolling in. It was about this time that Bella realised that in the aisles on both sides there were stairs. Ok I thought, no problem, we’ll just go and sit right down the bottom where there is a large area and she can crawl around down there. Sure, I’ll be so close to the screen I’ll get a headache but beggers can’t be choosers, so off we went.

Now dear daughter has realised she can climb a proverbial mountain of stairs, very quickly mind you, right to the top. She hasn’t mastered crawling down yet so she proceeded to teeter at the very top, threatening to make a 15 metre tumble to the bottom. I spent a good fifteen minutes running up and down quietly apologising when people couldn’t see over me. I tried sitting with her on my lap, lying down, standing up. None of it settled her.

Deciding there had to be a better way, I put Bella in her pram which provoked the biggest all out tantrums of the century. In and out she went from the pram for another ten minutes, now in a real state. Knowing she was tired, I tried to feed her and I can now hear whispers of “They need to turn the volume up”. I decided to attempt to get her to sleep outside in the pram and so walked her up and down the theatre entrance for thirty minutes, Bella screaming all the while. Thirty minutes…just ponder that for a moment, thirty minutes.

I’ve never felt angry before. I’ve been sad and tired but never felt outright angry about having a child. Didn’t she realise this would be magnificent if she was just asleep as I knew she actually wanted to be at this hour? Didn’t she realise the effort it took for me to do this? Didn’t she realise I really needed this.

And then I was crying too because I feel like I’ve failed at this. Because I can’t see myself in this anymore. Because I can’t manage what others seem to.

I called the Toolman to vent and he told me that these sessions were made for this type of thing. I shouldn’t worry if she’s crying, everyone will understand.

I hung up on him.

I called my sister and my best friend. No answer.

I looked at Bell staring up at me and felt suddenly a huge divide. I felt like she had won a battle and for the first time I didn’t want to be around her. On top of that, I had let her cry in her pram instead of picking her up which I know is all she really wanted. And then the tears really did flow.

You know those moments in movies (which I of course HAVEN’T seen) where a tearful mums totally disgraces herself in public and everyone around her just assumes she has a touch of post natal depression? Bingo! You’ve really got the picture now.

So we left. I waited in line at the ticket office, tears flowing and asked for a refund. The poor teenage boy wouldn’t dare refuse. We got in the car and came home. As the movie still runs and maybe some or all of the mums are left watching it, I’m here writing this and Bella is blissfully unaware have a nap.

My silly tears are still flowing and it’s all over a movie for heaven’s sake. I’m not really sure what lesson I learnt from it all. I may even be silly enough to try it again one day. I’m starting to think it was silly to even attempt it in the first place.

But most of all, right now, I’m having one of the biggest all out tantrums of my own.

Raising Healthy Girls and the Diet Trap

Bella out with her friend Ninja: Making health and exercise part of our life

Bella out with her friend Ninja: Making health and exercise part of our life

“Bread goes straight to the hips Bella” my friend caught me saying this morning.

“I thought you weren’t going to talk to Bella like that” she said. Busted. Big time. There I was perpetuating the generational cycle again. Message given: bread bad but delicious, therefore should be eaten in large amounts behind closed doors in a binge like fashion. Not to mention the message about a woman’s hips needing to be a certain shape.

Those who have followed this blog will remember my entries about weight loss. What I have failed to mention here lately is that since Bella was born I have been trying to shed the weight that I gained whilst pregnant.

Let me recap quickly for you. 2007: got married. 2008: became depressed and spent the best part of 18 months rotting away in a psychiatric unit trying to recover but nonetheless, gained 40 kilos in the process (talk about “blowing out” after marriage right?). 2010: got well on the road to recovery, jumped back into life and started down the weight loss path and lost 30 kilos by Christmas 2011. 2012: carried Bella to term and somehow managed to put it all back on.

Now I know what you’re thinking, why did I do it to myself again? Well I can honestly say, I had no idea it was happening. I didn’t own scales at the time and as my big belly grew, the fact that my ass was growing at the same time seemed to elude me. Sure, I couldn’t fit into my clothes but wasn’t that a product of the pregnancy? Apparently not.

So a couple of months after having Bella I procured some scales and was absolutely astounded to see that I had gained over 25 kilos. No, it wasn’t fluid and she was a few months old at that point so it definitely wasn’t her. It was just fat. Friggin fat..again! Deep breath.

Before I fell pregnant I was ten kilos away from my goal weight which by the way was not thin but very comfortable. Having Bella has just put a little stumble block in the way of returning to that goal. The good news is that I have managed to lose 22 of those kilos since that dreaded day on the scales a few months after she was born. But I now have to finish what I started in 2010 and lose that extra ten and get back into wedding dress shape.

But I’m so darn tired of it. I’m tired of this being an issue and I’m tired of being in the proverbial no man’s land when it comes to shopping (every other size 16 woman on the planet knows what I mean when I say this!). But most of all, this little problem needs to be nipped in the bud quick sticks if I’m to set a great example for Bella.

Just to be clear, the example I’m aiming for is not to be thin and beautiful. It’s to be healthy and happy. I’m a short woman so pushing 80 kilos around is not healthy and it certainly ain’t happy. So for the last six months I’ve been pushing the pram up and down hills, over creeks and under bridges. I even went to a Zumba class for seniors last week for heaven’s sake (which by the way was delightful)!

But all that aside, as well as the self-ingratiating sentiment that by doing all this I am somehow being a good mother, I went along this morning and managed to demonstrate that I really haven’t got the picture yet.

So how do we raise these girls of ours then? I read a quote from Kate Winslet that said “As a child I never heard one woman say to me I love my body…no one woman ever said I am so proud of my body. So I make sure to say it to Mia because a positive outlook has to start at an early age”. This quote had quite an effect on me and for some time I tried to follow suit. I started small and told Bella that I really like my fingers and then slowly ventured up to telling her I liked my tummy.

But it felt weird and it went against everything I have been taught about modesty. Perhaps it isn’t right to raise a little girl who goes into interactions with other little girls talking about how beautiful she is anyway? But mainly, I’m not a liar and my stomach resembles more of a circus act than anything else. Like the rest of me, it’s just hanging around waiting for the plastic surgeon to arrive.

Perhaps the best thing is to not mention anything at all; not food, not my fingers, not even my curly mop which Bella seems to have been blessed with as well. Maybe by some sheer luck of the draw she will be a confident little girl despite all the images she sees in the media and her mother’s venomous dislike of her body. But I doubt it.

I fear it’s my job to do this one thing right. And all I know right now is that it starts with those hills and that pram and the last ten kilos so that Bella only knows a mother on the beach who is bouncing around in all her stretch-marked glory with confidence, rather than hiding under an oversized caftan. And while I’m at it, there’s only so much holding-the-camera-above-your-head-whilst-simultaneously-pulling-your-chin-out-and-placing-your-hand-on-your-hip can do for the Christmas photos. Perhaps if I’m happy though, she’ll know no other condition but to be such.

With some embarrassment I’m owning up to my folly during pregnancy and making the public resolution I made here some three years ago. This weight has got to go.

So all together now, collective sigh….Here’s to 2013 and lacy knickers.

P.s. G-srings, boxers, briefs, (new addition of Spanx) and nudies also welcome.