Thursday, 10 July 2014

Just when you think you will never get any sleep.

At the ripe old age of 21 months, my little Lily Pie slept through the night for the first time ever!

This wasn't something she managed on her own, no, Mummy and Daddy had to seek the help of a professional.

Typically Lily woke every 3 hours at night. And the only way she would settle without a fight is to have a small bottle of milk. Baring in mind she shares a bedroom with her big brother, and with the long hours Mr O does we had to take the path of least resistance when it came to her night shenanigans. I've been on the receiving end of unsolicited 'advice' from Mums who think they know it all because their lone child was sleeping through the night from a very very early age due to 'letting them scream themselves to sleep' (not my cup of tea at all but each to their own). I tried everything to get Lily to sleep. I tried night lights, tried darkness, I tried blackout blinds, I tried dream feeds, I tried less daytime naps, I tried later bed times, different sleep sacks, duvets, pillows, supper before bed, no supper before bed, tanking her up on water during the day so she wasn't thirsty at night, eliminating foods that cause tummy aches, I tried watering down her night time milk, I tried offering just water (and boy did THAT piss her off), I tried letting her whinge herself back to sleep (much to the detriment of the entire households mental well being), I tried rocking her to sleep, I tried co sleeping with her again, I tried everything. My mental health, and my marriage was suffering because I was getting a few hours of broken sleep. She would wake between 1 and 4 times a night, and she would be awake and ready to start the day at 5.30am. I felt I had to apologise to everyone around me for anything I said or did because I was so exhausted I couldn't think rationally about anything. I became obsessed with sleep and lived on the brink of tears. I planned my day around nap time, praying and hoping that today would be the day that both little ones nap at the same time so I could just get a break! I love my children more than anything in life but I was a slave to motherhood and with no sleep I would be in bed by 7.30 pm most nights just to get a few hours in before Lily woke at 9, or 11, or 1 or 3 or 5. I had no life. The thought of driving 45 minutes to visit my friends in the evening once the kids were in bed didn't thrill me because I would be falling asleep behind the wheel. True Story. And then of course we have little William's night wakings to deal with too, which thank goodness is becoming a thing of the past.

In summary. Having two little people who don't sleep for years on end = hardest thing ever.

I spoke to Rosemary at SleepSolve. She reassured me, put together a detailed sleep plan, and wished me luck!

Effectively it was controlled crying. Something I would never have considered doing before, I am a gentle parent and don't believe in letting a baby cry. However at 21 months Lily isn't a baby anymore. She's talking and able to communicate her needs to me very well.

Also I was to stop giving Lily milk in her cot. I had to teach her to settle without the comfort of her bottle.

Rosemary suggest I use one of Lilys special blankets (her Issie) and sew a dummy onto each corner, so she is able to find her dummy at all times. So I did this with gusto, and told Lily this is her special Issie, it stays in her cot underneath her pillow, and she can have it at bedtime. She was very excited about this, because William has his bedtime bear stashed under his pillow for bedtimes too, and she just loves to be like her big bro!

Lily would now have her milk on the sofa, or on mummys chair next to her cot. She would go to bed awake and fall alseep on her own. (We never had any trouble getting her to sleep, its the staying asleep we struggle with!)

Night 1 I put William to bed in my room, Lily went to bed no bother, and woke at 2.30am calling for me saying "Milk mummy!". I went in, ssshhd her, laid her down and left. This pissed her off. She did not like this. She shouted and yelled at me for an hour and a half on and off. I was supposed to go in after 5 mins, then double the wait time and go in after 10 mins, then double it again at 20 mins, but she wasn't crying for me, she was just having a sleepy whinge, and every time I went in to comfort her she just became really cross. So I sat outside her room and I sobbed whilst I listen to her ask for milk. Then she'd ask her pooh bear for milk. Then she'd ask her Mickey Mouse for milk. and I sobbed some more. Because she was being so cute. She just wanted her milk.

Night 2 Again she went to bed no bother. She woke at 3am asking for milk please mummy. I went in and made sure she had her Issie and her Pooh Bear and left the room. She became cross for about 30 seconds then went to sleep.

Night 3. SHE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT AND HAD 12 HOURS SLEEP!!!!

It really was that easy.

That was a week ago. She has slept through the night every night since, waking occasionally still but soon settling herself.

I feel like a better Mum. I'm not as short tempered or frazzled. I'm taking back control of my life. I'm losing weight. My sense of humour has returned.

I believe Lily was ready to be shown how to sleep. I know I couldn't have done it before she was talking, this was the right time to do it. Best decision ever. And having Rosemary gave me the confidence to tackle our problems and having the sleep plan in black and white just meant we knew exactly what we were doing.

And although I had the fear of controlled crying, Lily never really 'cried' she just got cross. So I never felt as though I was potentially causing her psychological harm.

So Mummies, if you're sleep deprived, burning out daily, and struggling, you need to speak to Rosemary!

Look how cute she is




Friday, 23 May 2014

His Birthday.

Happy Birthday to my lovely husband, Mr O.


Not only can he jump freakishly high, but he has an impeccable hairline which shows no sign of disappearing, he makes the best poached eggs, and what he lacks in common sense he makes up for in personality. He lets me laugh my crazy laugh, he lets me express myself at all times without knocking me or judging me, and he supports me through life and all the hiccoughs and triumphs along the way.


I love you with all my heart and cannot believe you are 35 today!

xxx


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Bridal Hair & Make Up ~ Zanetta

My most recent bride, the beautiful Zanetta. I was in my element here, doing hair and make up. I don't usually 'do' hair (not professionally anyway), but I couldn't refuse a bride in need of some help on the day.

Photography by Jamie at EvendimIMAGES.co.uk




Thursday, 17 April 2014

Thoughts on... Motherhood.

I survive the tantrums by ensuring I have a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc ready in the fridge at all times.

It's tantrums from all angles. The three year olds famously epic tantrums have soared to dizzy new heights of epicness. And the 18 month olds tantrums are halfway as epic as her big brothers, but seem to be almost for show because she is easily distracted by a different toy, orthe  iPad. 

My life before babies was spent imagining what my life would be like avec babies. I've always been maternal and longed for my own brood but now I have my brood I spend most of my time feeling like I am barely surviving. I have that constant self doubt of 'am I teaching them to be decent and compassionate humans?' And fear my constant state of tiredness and short temperedness is making me a really bad example to them. I love my children so much my heart feels like it will explode - they're all I've ever wanted. I don't want to break them.

I spend time with other Mums who I'm in awe of as they seem so in control, I literally feel like I tread water and i will put my hands up and say that I struggle. I struggle with the constant demands from the little people, I struggle with staying patient, I struggle with finding balance. 

Being honest with myself about this means I am in a place of acceptance, I accept I am not perfect and may not always be the shining example of what a good person should be, but when I remember how I idolized my Mum and how she was the centre of my universe I realise my Littlens feel the same about me and they love me, warts and all. 

It's ok to let them entertain themselves indoors on a sunny day whilst I do house chores - I don't have to have a weekly itinerary packed with activities for them to be a good Mum. I don't have to feel guilty if they aren't dressed by 11am yet, it isn't hindering their development they don't care?! 



I feel I get so caught up in social networking, and the competitiveness of parenting that I lose my footing and my way a bit. For example, this morning I found myself googling "how to get a reluctant 3 year old to learn to count". I didn't find many hits, because at this age our main concern should be that he can use the toilet and walk and talk. Everything else he can learn through play, and this is what I lose sight of. He is 3, by the time he is 7 he will do all the things all normal 7 year olds can do so why am I concerning myself with educational learning and stressing about milestones? It's crazy. I'm crazy. I promised myself I would let my children learn in their own time, and reach milestones on their own terms, which has worked well for us so far, so why all of a sudden am I worrying about things that never used to bother me? Self doubt. 

Being at home with them 24/7 is a blessing, they're both wonderful children with beautiful a souls, the only place I'm failing is by not giving myself a break and a pat on the back. 

So for all the Mums reading this, working mums (I salute you I don't know you manage it!), stay at home Mums, single mums, here's a big pat on the back from me - you're amazing, you're beautiful, and you are doing an amazing job. Don't be so hard on yourselves and its ok to open the wine ten minutes before midday...! 

Peace and love

xx 



Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Thoughts on... Living minimally.

I've adopted a minimalist way of life, and I feel its really good for my soul.

It began before we moved to Hong Kong. We had just moved house, and hadn't bothered unpacking. Not to make a statement but because we were doing up the house to rent out. I didn't really miss any of my stuff?!

Then we relocated, moved a few more times, relocated back, moved a couple more times, and what's the result of all that moving? We have less crap. That's a bit of a lie. Open our garage door and you will be in a whole heap of trouble but the point is we live with less crap.

That's it in a nut shell.

Living minimally works well for us as we live in a quirky maisonette by the church. Space is a premium so we make it work well for us by not having much stuff. And I keep it all in order so the mess doesn't stress me out. I'm really happy living like this and what excites me most about the easter holidays is that Mr O and I are clearing out our garage..... we have a garage packed to the rafters and so a massive car boot sale beckons so we can get rid and hopefully make a few quid!



We are in complete control of our lives and this makes us both happy, and works well for our family. We try to apply the minimal theory to all aspects of living, even our finances. We don't live in debt (I know! This coming from an ex bankrupt!) we own our car outright, we don't have home loans, no credit card debt - how unique is that? It's taken hard work (on my husbands part) to get there, but we've done it. 

Being thrifty helps. I've not quite mastered making my own clothes, but believe me if I could, I would. 

I love the feeling of having a good old clear out, it's good for the spirit it makes you feel less of an attachment to belongings, its simple and its satisfying, and I feel such a sense of control over my life now. Plus, makes doing the housework a whooooole lot easier. Nothing to dust!



Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Thoughts on.... Giving birth in Hong Kong.

I'm not really sure if I ever journelled my experience of giving birth in a foreign country. The first 12 months of Lily's life are a bit of a blur!

My experience in a nut shell; If you can afford to go private, then I would do it.

In detail, the Hong Kong public health care system seems to be no different to the NHS in the UK. Both are understaffed and bursting at the seems with patients. But I will contradict myself entirely now by saying that the overcautiousness they express within the health care system in HK actually works really well. I don't feel as though they missed a trick with my pregnancy complications and were very thorough in looking after me.

Ante natal appointments were painfully long, the waiting time being the main problem. I would leave William with a babysitter and by the time I'd made the journey to hospital and got home again the round trip would be about 4 hours. This made me anxious as I didn't like leaving William with a babysitter, and so Matt would take time off work to look after him, which eased my mind.

They're obsessed with BMI in HK. My BMI came down from 29 to 26 during my pregnancy as I lost weight, despite this they treated me as though my 'obesity' was something to be concerned about (I didn't experience this in the UK with my first baby despite GAINING 3 stone!). Bedside manner is appalling on more than one occasion I refused treatment for something that wasn't necessary. Example? They wanted me to have yet another Glucose Tolerance Test for gestational diabetes at 35 weeks (my first was done at 28 weeks and was fine), despite my urine giving no indication of there being gestational diabetes, and my midwife (who we paid to see privately for a bit of moral support) suggesting there was no need for another GTT. The reason they wanted to test me? Big baby. Because my first born, William, was just shy of 9lbs, they wanted to test me again because this baby was also on the big side (despite me being tall, and my husband being tall, and my whole family being flaming tall). There were no other indications of Gestational Diabetes. So I refused to have one. I'd already had one, so I decided another wasn't necessary. They suggested I had a growth scan at 29 weeks as baby was big (seriously). I had growth scans with my first baby because I had Polyhydramnios and a big baby (with a big head!) and so that was fine, but a growth scan purely because baby felt big? Well I refused that too. I went to see a private doctor, called Dr Doo, and had a growth scan done, and was happily reassured that although she was on the upper end of the scale for 'normal size' that genetically she was following suit and all was fine.
Oh and another thing, an appointment was made for me to go and see the anaesthetist. When I challenged the Doctor why I was to go and see the anaesthetist? Because they needed to establish whether they would be able to get an epidural in my back. The reason? Because of my OBESITY.

Seriously. I went to the appointment. The guy took one look at me and told me I was wasting his time, there was no need to be there.

The doctors made me feel like I was a beached whale who was on the verge of keeling over with some disease. I wasn't made to feel like that with my pregnancy in the UK.

I didn't feel like a beached whale. I felt beautiful. I wore my bump with pride.



And now for what it is like to labour in a Hong Kong Hospital. I will try to be brief....

You cannot have your partner with you on the labour ward. Fair enough. Same rules apply in the UK. I got told to 'sssshhhhh' by a very busy midwife who had received complaints from the lady in the bed next to me. I was contracting every 2 mins by the time I had actually made it to hospital, I was in a whole world of pain. Telling me to shush only made me louder! I was made to take off my clothes (very difficult when alone and contracting every two mins) put on a hospital gown, had a TENS machine whacked on me and when I tried to hold the offending midwifes hand mid way through contraction she practically threw me off her. It was all so hurried. I just wanted to have some help and support but of course I didn't get any. She was too busy being under staffed. I was told to bounce on a birthing ball, so I went over to the window overlooking HK (amazing view!) and sat down and felt myself pushing already so I was told to sit in a wheelchair and was wheeled very quickly to the delivery suite (bashing my ankles on the doors and bruising them). I was desperate for some water. I wasn't allowed my drinking bottle (which i carried at all times in hot and humid HK) or any personal belongings in the delivery suite. When I gave birth to William I had a photo of my Mum on the window ledge, but wasn't allowed this time. I was told to lay on the bed when all I wanted was to get up and rock. I wanted to have a drink and I wanted to rock, god damn it I should have just got up off the bed and done things my way, but going from 1 to 10 cm in the blink of an eye my contractions were on top of each other and crippling me, causing immense panic in my mind and I was LOUD. I was allowed some water thankfully and then Lily was born and all became calm again. My midwife, Barbara, was barely there until time for delivery, so Matt and I were alone to labour, which was scary, because I wasn't used to labouring so quickly, my first labour was very different to this one.

The staff did their jobs and everything went well, I cannot ask for more, but if going to a private hospital was an option for me, as so many people do, then I would have done it. What made the experience easier for me was that this was my second baby, and I knew what to expect.

For me labour is a wonderful experience. Your body does all the work and you need to respond accordingly, if I do have another baby one day, and all goes well, I will have a water birth, and be free to move around at will and have a lovely support network around me of my husband and strong women..... see all this talking about my experience of giving birth abroad hasn't put me off having another.... one day.



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