How to survive work when your baby doesn’t sleep

1. Arrive early. This will give you a chance to come to before everyone else arrives.

2. Have a sturdy breakfast. You need fuel.

3. When having a conversation, technical meeting, chat over coffee, try to make sure your expression is similar to the expressions of other people involved. It’s easy to forget what your face is doing, and you don’t want to be the one smiling when they’re talking about sacking people.

4. Don’t babble. If you find yourself babbling, right yourself by saying a couple of big words. It’ll get you back on track.

5. Other parents are your allies (unless they have those magical babies who slept through from 3 months…in which case avoid at all costs).

6. Get up. Take a walk around. If you need to, carry some paperwork to make you look busy. Exercise will wake you up, if only temporarily.

7. Trust your brain to come up with the goods when it needs to.

8. Treat yourself. If it’s biscuits, listening to some music, or checking your phone now and then, do it. You need to be nice to you because this is hard.

9. Make the most of the good bits, like the freedom to have lunch when you like and to eat it all yourself without being pestered by someone small and squidgy.

10. Don’t worry about how you look. You probably look better than you think you do.

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Reflections on year one

When I woke up (was woken up) prematurely this morning we went through our usual wake up routine of “I’ll pour the milk, you go and get her”. I took her downstairs and I checked my phone and looked at an app which reminded me that exactly one year ago my husband and I had a huge argument about responsibility and how hard it is looking after a baby. I remember that argument well; I hadn’t slept more than 4 hours for 2 months, my boobs were full and sore, our house was a chaotic mess of baby and boxes (we’d recently moved in) and my daughter wouldn’t stop crying. I can even remember thinking that there was no way that our marriage would last……well I am happy to say that it’s a little over a year since our tiny bundle of joy entered the world and we are still very much together, and very happy. Other things which have surprised me:

1. I have discovered a new kind of tiredness. Bad news- the tiredness never ends; you just learn to cope with it. Actually, you just find a new kind of tiredness.

2. Babies fart. I didn’t realise this (I know I’m stupid) and it came as a big shock when she did her first blow off. I have also regressed and joined my daughter in finding farts funny again.

3. I don’t feel guilty about going to work. I know some mothers do, but I dont. I adore my girl and I wish that I could spend more time with her, but I’ve got used to sending her to nursery and get a huge rush every day when I pick her up. It’s wonderful knowing that she has had a great day of playing and learning with people who are more experienced in child development than me, and I enjoy my dual role of pen pusher and mother again. I even don’t mind that my daughter has a girl crush on one of the nursery nurses – Zaneta that’s you- because I know that Mummy is number 1.

4. Work is better. I work because I have to. When I went back, I went back to the same job. It’s satisfying and rewarding to me, and I make more of an effort than I did before- mainly because I want to, whereas before I felt that it was just sort of expected. However, as I explained to my manager just before my mid year appraisal I don’t really care anymore, which makes my decision making more rational. Or something like that.

5. I am not heartbroken when my baby cries. I find it quite annoying sometimes. It’s heart breaking when she is hurt or in pain, and I want to make it all better for her, but when it’s a case of “I want the remote control” or something like that, it’s irritating.

6. I am superwoman. I don’t think that my husband realised this when he married me, and I certainly didn’t reveal my powers to him until I gave birth. I have the power to reproduce. The power to comfort a screaming baby. The power to put a baby to sleep. The power to maintain a clean(ish) house, a full time job, a full-up husband, and a baby that is still alive after 13 months of being assigned to us.

7. How amazing she is. I thought that would die down a bit, but every time I look at her she has a new expression, or does something that I didn’t know she could do, or when she responds to something I didn’t think she’d understand, I get a huge rush of love and just want to pick her up and cuddle and kiss her. This happens practically on a second by second basis.

I love my new life. It’s totally weird and different, and there is plenty I would change, but I love it. Thank you my little miracle baby.

Me and the Sun need to have words….

Being British, I do like to moan about the weather and today I’m going to moan about it being too hot.

I don’t know what to do about this thing called The Sun, to be honest. I’m fine when it’s cold because I wrap my daughter up in blankets, and I have a whole range of jumpers, cardigans, dungarees, vests etc. that can be mixed and matched according to how cold it happens to be that day and I have parasols, rain covers, hoods etc. for the pram that I can take off or put on at a whim. I feel comfortable with the cold and rain. I know where we stand with each other.

When it’s hot it’s a different story. The Sun seems to declare war on me and my instinct. For example I went out with my daughter for a walk the other day with 2 other gorilla mums who had dressed their babies in exactly the right clothing. Looking back I don’t know why I didn’t think she would need a hat in the sun, or why I thought a long sleeved T Shirt and jeans was a good idea for her. At least she got some sun lotion, and she seemed happy enough as she looked up at me through squinty eyes (I had forgotten her parasol as well).

To be fair, I was extremely tired. I know that’s nothing new but the previous night had been exquisitely bad – the usual paranoia I feel about leaving a sleeping baby in a room on her own had been supplemented by fears about the heat and whether she had the right clothing on and, despite checking numerous times that all was in order I kept waking automatically just to check she hadn’t overheated. That wouldn’t be so bad if the times when I did manage to get to sleep weren’t disrupted by an unusually grumpy baby.

I blame my new thermometer for the latter which changes colour according to how hot it is. This time it was orange which means that I should try to turn the temperature down. Fine, but the only way to do that is to open a window and that just means that my daughter will wake up when she hears an ambulance drive past…. So I just consulted the other 7 thermometers I have and found that the temperature was fine on some and “hot” on others. Which one to trust???? Instinct perhaps??? Come on Sun, help me out here!

Dear hormones…

…I do not want another baby just now! I don’t want to be pregnant, I don’t want to try to get pregnant, I don’t want to be taking care of a 16 month old and a newborn in 9 months time. Leave me alone!

I adore James to bits, I’m insanely proud to be his mum, and I feel very fortunate that I’m a mum at all. BUT, I’m shattered, I have constant panda eyes, I have loads of hangnails, my nose keeps splitting, and all in all I’m in no fit state to even contemplate more babies. In the last 2 years I’ve had 2 babies, been pregnant for nearly 17 months and experienced a lifetime of emotions.

Why then, hormones, are you plaguing me? I’ll admit that I’d like James to have a little brother or sister at some point, but NOT NOW.

PS – I know it was you who interrupted my dinky lifestyle 2 years ago. I’ve got your number sunshine.

Tired

I’m so tired. I’m so tired. I’m so tired. That’s all I can think about these days (when I’m not occupied with Hannah of course). I’m no princess; I can cope with a bit of yawny yawny from time to time. Likewise I know I’m not special- we are all tired, let’s face it. But I feel I have to actually say it, because everyone else is bored of hearing it but the feeling is still there.

It’s certainly true that you get used to feeling tired and that weird malaise just sort of hangs over you, such that if I do get a rare chance for shut eye I’m out like a light. But it doesn’t last for long and the nap only just takes the edge off. I haven’t felt properly rested in over a year.

We had recently just got to the stage where Hannah was sleeping though, thanks, in our opinion, to The Routine. However life had other plans for us and when poor Hannah got her cold The Routine was shattered because she kept waking up to cough. So it’s back to square one, like looking after a 2 month old again.

Or gorgeous little bunny woke me up at 3 last night; just for the hell of it, it seemed, since she didn’t want her bottle. And she refused to go back to sleep, even when I actually cried at her saying “Mummy loves you darling but I need to sleep”. In the end I just put her down, listened to her whinge for 15 minutes and then assumed the silence meant that she had dropped off. But of course, that meant I couldn’t possibly do the same. What if the silence meant she had choked to death? What if she had literally frozen? What if there really was a monster under the bed that had got her? So of course I had to get up and check her. And so it continues. The best bit of course is when she properly wakes up and wants to play, all the while I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. But then, it’s all worth it when I see her beautiful smile.

I’m so tired.