Sorry about the radio silence: things got a bit too much before Christmas, what with moving house again and not having any regular help with the chicklings and all of that jazz. I didn’t even have time to do an “out of office” post with a Cheerio! and a Merry Christmas, thanks for your support! So, thank you for your support and continued readership in 2017 – I’m planning bigger and better things in 2018, especially if I manage to get some bloody sleep.
Now listen. I don’t want to jinx things here, but I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that last night Ted slept almost all the way through. Yes, he woke up at 1am for a quick breastfeed (his meagre one a day), and then again at 6am for a full bottle of formula, but otherwise he slept through from 7pm until 8am. EIGHT O CLOCK!
But this miraculous event hasn’t happened by fluke or sheer good fortune – or at least I don’t think it has. I have numerous posts drafted about the “sleep problem” and so I’m loathe to summarise here, but we made some big changes last week and I think that they paid off. I’ll go into more detail in the standalone posts, but let’s get on with the update and a brief precis of our epic routine-changing adventure!
Angelica broke our hearts this month by getting rid of her “baby personality”. She had always struggled to say “Angelica” and so called herself “Lala” and she was a very proud Lala indeed. If anyone ever dared to call her anything else (“ooh, you’re a right little cutie aren’t you?”) she would retort, quick as you like, with “I not cutie – I Lala!” “I not little monkey, I Lala!”
We had become so accustomed to her being Lala that we thought it might stick forever. Though nobody else was allowed to actually call her Lala, if it came from others it had to be – oddly – the full Angelica. I think that when she heard herself say Lala, she thought she was saying Angelica, and so other people calling her Lala sounded wrong.
Anyway, about two weeks ago, she suddenly shouted from the back of the car: “I not Lala, I Angelica!” Oh, the tears welled up in my eyes, I can tell you. Boo hoo!
So now she’s fully-fledged Angelica and pretty much a teenager all of a sudden and she knows how to get into the snack drawer and wants to help cut up vegetables and chatters away to her teddies telling them stories. “Once pontime, there Goldilocks! Daddy Bear had pipe, had dungarees, Baby Bear bed just right!”
It’s all happening so fast. When I was stressed before Christmas, I was considering sending her to nursery for a couple of days a week just to take some of the pressure off, but in the end I couldn’t bear the thought of her toddling off to (what in my mind would be) school, so we have gone down the nanny route again. Keeping her close so that I can pop in at mealtimes and hear her laughing outside and know that she’s within reach. (God, am I going to be like Beverly Goldberg?!)
Luckily we seem to have found a gem, when it comes to a nanny – one that will do just two days a week, so fingers crossed she likes us and our mad household. She looked rather bemused when we were photographing a cat treat Instagram advert on her first day here (husband bellowing “hold the cat higher! Hold him closer to your face and SMILE! Look happier! Squeeze the treat tube! Raise the cat higher – raise him!” whilst balancing a studio light on his head) but hopefully it won’t take long before she settles right in…
Angelica’s favourite thing of last month: her Paw Patrol ride-on helicopter, bought by my sister for Christmas, and her doctor’s kit from Le Toy Van*, bought by Santa. Angelica loved Christmas – she was so sweet putting out a mince pie for Santa and a little carrot for Rudolph. I left the room for a few minutes and when I came back in, there was a cushion in the fireplace. “For Santa to sit on” she said.
Oh my heart, my heart.
OK, so let’s get to the bit that many of you will be skimming through to read: how we got Ted to sleep through the night. Ish. Two small wake-ups over a thirteen hour period, but a massive improvement on five wake-ups over an eleven hour one! His usual routine was bed at 7pm, a crying fit and feed at 10.30pm, a variety of wakings and cryings and semi-feeds at 1ish, 3ish, 4ish, maybe 5.30ish, some nights a 4.30am thrown in for good measure, and then waking up for good anytime between 6am and 7.15am.
It goes without saying that getting from 7pm until 8am, with two very small and uneventful wake-ups, was an absolute dream. So much so that I couldn’t actually get to sleep – I slept from midnight until 1am and then didn’t get back to sleep until around 5am! Sod’s law – I’m sure the same thing happened when Angelica started sleeping through. I became a miserable insomniac.
As I said before, there will be more posts with more detail, but here are the things that we changed:
Reducing night feeds by gradually swapping in water instead of formula and making a concerted effort to feed more solids during the day. With regards to watering down the formula, on the first night we did 6 scoops of formula in 7oz water, by the fifth night we were doing just four scoops in 7oz water and he simply wasn’t interested. Or as hungry. After eight days (ie last night) he barely wanted a feed at all through the night. I breastfed him briefly, but there’s not a lot left in the old war chest, if I’m honest – I have a blocked duct on one tit that needs sorting out when I have time to sterilise a needle and pop the milk blister (ew) and the other one seems to have given up the ghost.
Instigating a proper – stricter – routine. We have spent the past couple of months utterly exhausted and were at the end of our tether by the time Christmas day rolled around – there were still no set naptimes for Ted and we were spending the days trying to get him to sleep, regardless of whether he had eaten enough or had enough play time. It was a challenge just to get through the day and when one went down for a nap, the other was always up, so we didn’t ever have a break. And we were knackered. So – despite owning three books on baby sleep that I’ve never even opened – I Googled baby routines. I used something from the Baby Sleepsite with Angelica, but before I got to that result on the Google search a thread appeared from Mumsnet talking about the Gina Ford routine.
Please don’t start a Gina Ford war in the comments because I honestly have no idea what it is or any sort of context whatsoever, I just cribbed the timings because I wanted something written down that we could follow. Apparently there are all of these rules and strict eating schedules and blackout blinds for the bedroom and so on – I didn’t have any interest in those rules, because I’m not the sort of person that could or would follow them. If something is too restrictive then it simply won’t work for us as a family, because we live rather haphazard lives. And ultimately, I’m quite selfish and like to have the flexibility of different timings now and then if I need to go out or get something done!
Saying that, we managed to stick to the timings that I copied down (biro on the back of a napkin, in case you’re wondering) on most days, and almost as soon as we had introduced a routine we saw an improvement in Ted’s sleeping behaviours. He was altogether less cranky and because he was having proper daytime naps, he went to sleep more easily at night.
But it took eight days to get a good run of sleep – I have to say that I didn’t think that it would really solve very much, when I got to day six and he woke up three times and then stayed awake from 5.45am! Perseverance is key. I imagine we’ll have to keep at it.
The reason I copied down the timings from the Gina Ford plan was quite a simple one: the main baby nap for an eleven month old was from 12.30-2.30pm, which is exactly the nap slot that Angelica has. It seemed too good to be true that we could get both of them sleeping at the same time in the day, but they did – almost immediately – and we couldn’t believe our luck. Didn’t really know what to do with ourselves, so I went off and browsed water filter jugs on Amazon and he cleaned the kitchen..
Oh – there was one more thing that I did differently last night. Ted has been really congested for a while – I’ve had it checked out and nobody seems concerned, but I’m sure it was making him uncomfortable when he was lying down. I think that he was breathing in his mucus and it was making him cough and so he was waking up, though I could be wrong. Anyway, last night I quite literally basted him in Vick’s! They’ve brought out a new one that’s safe to use on babies. Absolute bloody Godsend. Did it give him a more comfortable sleep? I like to think so. I’ll use it again tonight and keep you updated. In the interests of transparency, I got sent a jar because I’m going to be working with them, but this is an entirely separate and unsponsored mention. I’m sure there are quite a few people out there who don’t know that it exists – find it, get it, slather it on.
So there. Moderate (I’m being cautious here – I always jinx myself if I write about things on the blog) to good sleep success. I’ll do a post with the routine we’ve followed (it’s basically sleep from 7-7, nap from 9.30am-10am, nap from 12.30pm-2.30pm) and update you with any further developments.
In other news: Ted is pretty much walking. He holds on to my hands, but power-walks along so fast I can barely keep up! He seems to have mastered, in the space of a month, fast crawling, climbing, cruising, violent body-thrusting, walking, jumping and running. Must be something in the water. Or the food. He won’t eat anything from a pouch (opposite of how Angelica was) but loves the trays of food from Hipp Organic. I don’t know what they put in those things, but he never sees the trays so it’s not as though he knows where the food is coming from…
But enough about them, let’s talk about me.
Oh me, me, me miserum. Not really, but I am coming out of what shall forever be known as Peak Exhaustion. What a year 2017 was. Totally self-inflicted, most of the madness, but still. A new baby, a house sale, a ridiculously stressful house purchase, two house moves, the busiest work year yet… I must have eaten my body weight in Magnum ice creams and I’ve developed a Coca Cola habit that needs to be kicked (it’s actually not that bad, it’s just a lazy reliance on a quick sugar fix) and I’m just generally running on adrenaline fumes. And I don’t even feel as though I’ve had a holiday over Christmas! Mainly because I haven’t. Hosting a stream of visitors, which is always lovely, but hard work, and then trying to unpack and catch up on chores.. What holiday? Mind you, you can never have a holiday when you have babies and young kids, surely? I mean, it’s not as though you can take the batteries out of them for a few hours! There’s simply no rest, ever. I once sneered at a woman in Dubai who was prancing along to the beach followed by a nanny pushing a double buggy: now I think, you jammy cow. That’s the way to do it.
By the way, Ted is being all cool in his SmarTrike, which was Angelica’s SmarTrike and is the best thing ever. It has about seventy five thousand different “modes” for different ages – luckily they are both in the “being pushed along mode” still, but it’s easy to switch over to the mode where they pedal themselves along. I’m actually tempted to get another one… You can find them online here or my original post is here.