Why we didn’t co-sleep, and why I kind of regret it

When I had Oscar, the hospital took great pains to communicate that they did not approve of co-sleeping. Either that or they didn’t approve of me, a plus size mama, co-sleeping with my baby. I don’t know what your experience of the NHS was (or even just RSCH), but I was told  that while they couldn’t tell me not to, how would I feel if fell asleep and ‘something happened’ and that it wasn’t worth the risk. I came home absolutely petrified of ever falling asleep even near him. Honestly, I remember an awful experience in those early days of waking up in bed, having drifted off and screaming blue murder because I couldn’t remember putting Oscar in his crib. My tired, petrified brain assumed I must have fallen asleep on top of him and the worst must have happened. As it was he was in his crib. Yes, a well placed comment to a super scared new mother really had done a job on me.

So we didn’t co-sleep. At all. Ever. It wasn’t until he was three that I started to allow myself to doze if he fell asleep on me while lying on the sofa. Sometimes I feel angry about that. Oscar is my only child and I feel like it’s a part of his babyhood I really missed out on. A bonding experience that we really should have had. Then, other times I think perhaps he wouldn’t have appreciated being in with us anyway. He is a good sleeper and has been since he was about 9 months old. When we explained this to his paediatrician, she was surprised, and attributed this to the clear bedtime routine he has had since he was tiny.

Either way, it’s something I’d never done. Until very recently.

A couple of weeks ago we went to Devon to see family. Oscar, the boy who is rarely ill, started throwing up about an hour into the journey and kept nothing down until he passed out in my sister in laws bed around 5pm. Poor dot. We decided not to move him and that I would sleep in with him and that Ben would take the ‘put you up’ bed in my nephew’s room next door. I have to admit I had mixed emotions going to bed that night. On the one hand I still felt a little scared, vestiges of old learnt behaviour I guess. But on the other hand I felt absolutely thrilled. It sounds so stupid, but I was just so excited that I was actually going to get to know what this ‘co-sleeping’ malarkey felt like. Even when he woke up bright as a button at 3.30am, I couldn’t be annoyed at him. Because he was there next to me. And when he’d watched the iPad for a while and then decided to wake me again at 6 because “I need hungry mummy”, I could do nothing but make him breakfast to eat in bed with me, while I sat there, in awe of him.

After he ate his breakfast (and kept it all down) he fell asleep again on my leg. I gently pulled him back up the bed and fell asleep with him in my arms. The way it should have been from day one. I felt a little sad that it had taken us so long to have this beautiful experience (and for him to be so ill) but I really was grateful it had happened at all and I can see why some people rave about it.

We did it again the next night at Oscar’s insistence and yes I did get a hand in the face and a kick in the thigh in the night. And the amount of space a little body can take up in an comparatively enormous bed was baffling (Ben says O sleeps like me!) and I couldn’t see it ever working with all three of us in the bed. But I’m just so grateful we got to experience it at all. Really, the only way I can describe it is magical!

Even if he did wake me by lifting my eyelid and asking “You wanna build a snowmaaaaaan”

 

10 Reasons I DON’T Miss Being Pregnant

It’s no secret that I’m ‘done at one’. I only ever wanted one child, but I fully expected to enjoy that one pregnancy. But for the most part I didn’t. I just can’t relate to my friends who tell me how much they miss being pregnant, or posts listing the great things about pregnancy. So I decided to compile my own list; things I don’t miss about about being pregnant. Enjoy!

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1 The scans

Or more specifically the waiting room at the RSCH Antenatal Clinic. As I was under a consultant throughout my pregnancy, I had to attend her clinic at the hospital for regular scans. This in itself was OK (although it was a feat of logistical engineering to ensure both Ben and I had the time off every time). The thing that drove me bonkers was the waiting. I never once had a scan on time. One time we were even forgotten, and waited over three hours!

2 Not sleeping on my front.

I sleep on my front. Always have. But being pregnant meant I was told not to, by a physio, from 12 weeks. Trouble was I couldn’t get comfy for love nor money and so I slept badly from much earlier on than maybe I should have. If I knew how much it would affect me I’d have continued to sleep on my front until I physically couldn’t manage it any more!

3 Boob pain.

I know everyone’s boobs change when they’re pregnant, but I don’t know anyone else who went through months of daily excruciating boob pain, before they had the baby. I would wake up in agony some nights and many times it was so painful I had to go and sit downstairs to cry so I didn’t wake Ben. It was a like someone was pushing a sword through my boobs, from my nipple to my ribs, on both sides. The pain would come on suddenly and last varying amounts of time, and finish just as suddenly. It didn’t subside until I was well into my 3rd trimester. None of the doctors or midwives had a clue what was causing the pain and nothing I did seemed to help!

4 Not being able to wear contact lenses

I read about your eyes changing shape during pregnancy, but I didn’t expect it to mean I couldn’t wear my contact lenses any more. But it did. They were so uncomfortable from about five months I couldn’t even wear them for short periods of time. Hence why I had to wear glasses while being my sister’s bridesmaid, something I would never have done otherwise!

5 Decaf Coffee

I mean seriously, what is the point? I continued to have one full fat caffeinated coffee a day, throughout my pregnancy, and spent the rest of the day drinking insipid decaf and quietly resenting every mouthful!

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6 Eating and drinking

To be honest my tastes changed quite a bit during my pregnancy. I didn’t want my favourite Diet Coke and the amount I could eat reduced significantly. It was all OK, I just hated having to think about what I could or couldn’t or should or shouldn’t eat, all the time. And as the guidance as to what is acceptable for pregnant women to ingest keeps changing, mothers of older children felt the need to tell me all the time what they ate and drank and how it did them no harm! Whatever! I did stick to the ‘rules’ for the most part, although there was no way I was eating well done steak or over cooked eggs!

7 Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

I spent most of my third trimester in deep discomfort, not least because I developed Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in my wrists. It was worst in my left hand and some mornings I’d wake up to no feeling in my hand at all. Physio and a splint did jack to lessen the pain and it didn’t ease until he was born.

8 4am Macarena parties

Sleep is a precious commodity now I have a child but that started waaaay before he was born. I slept so badly throughout my pregnancy and one of the other reasons for that was Oscar’s love of a good boogie at 4am. Always bloody 4am! I called it the Macarena Hour (and if you’re too young to know what the Macarena is, I hate you).

9 Non Wired Bras

I cannot remember ever wearing non wired bras. I mean I probably did for about five minutes in my early teens, but I’ve needed the support of a wired bra since puberty. I hated wearing non wired bras. I just don’t have the er.. ‘shape’ for it and despite investing in the very best (by Hot Milk) and having a proper fitting, I still hated the shape and the feeling of the gave me. I started wearing non wired from 16 weeks and do you know, I think I could have worn wired for so much longer. I’d have been more comfortable that’s for sure! As soon as it transpired Oscar was not going to latch and breastfeeding wasn’t going to be for us I was straight back into the wired bras and my ladies breathed an uplifted sigh of relief!!

10 Patronising attitude

A plus size pregnancy can come with all sorts of additional challenges. Just like any pregnancy, things can get complicated. I mean mine didn’t. Until the end of the third trimester mine was pretty much standard and no more or less challenging than anyone else’s. However, I was looked at and talked to differently. I know I was. Assumptions were openly made about what would happen in my pregnancy, none of which did. I didn’t get diabetes, I didn’t have a huge baby. I don’t miss the patronising generalisations that were made about my ability to carry my baby and keep him safe just because of my weight. A plus size mother is no more or less a mother than anyone else, and I don’t miss the ‘attitude’ I got from certain healthcare professionals that would suggest that this isn’t the case!

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Was he worth it? Totally. Would I do it again? Hell no!

 

The Mummy Tag

I have been tagged by my gorgeous friend Maria over at Suburban Mum to do the Mummy Tag post. The idea behind it is to answer these questions and to find out more about the blogger behind the writing, as mums and as people!

So, without further ado, this is me:

1. Are you a Stay at Home Mum or a Working Mum?

Stay At Home. I have been since Oscar was born. It wasn’t planned that way. I fully intended to go back after my mat leave finished, but we couldn’t make it work financially. Daycare (at least where I live) is ridiculously expensive. It took me a long time to come to terms with not earning my own income.

2. Would you have it any other way?

Even though I struggled terribly with the idea of giving up work, I am glad I’ve been able to be here for his early years and I like to think it meant I was able to jump on the situation when Oscar’s development clearly wasn’t matching that of his peers. Now that he has a diagnosis of Autism, it’s been good for him that I can be around consistently and focus on getting him the best support possible.

However, to be honest, I do have days where I still miss going out to work dreadfully. People keep asking whether I’ll go back to work once he’s in school, and if he didn’t have the issues he does I may well look into it, but it seems cruel to put him through all the changes at school to only change everything at home too! So for now I plan to use that time to focus on my blog more. And whatever happens in the future will always have to fit around Oscar.

3. Do you co-sleep?

No, never. Not even when he was tiny. I was sent home from hospital absolutely petrified of falling asleep and squashing him. They really did one on me. I wish I hadn’t been so scared. But do you know, he won’t even try and get in with us now, even if I offer, so I maybe it wouldn’t have worked for him anyway. He likes his own space and he’s a good sleeper. I like to think that’s partly due to us starting good bedtime habits very early on.

4. What is your one must-have item for your baby?

My baby is four now, but as I don’t drive, something I wouldn’t have been without from day one was a decent buggy. We’ve had two buggies in our time. We started with the Mothercare My3, which we used as a pram for the early days and then mama facing for nearly a year. He grew out of that when he was about 20 months old so we switched to a OutnAbout 360. And good god I love that buggy. It doesn’t do mama facing, so I wouldn’t have wanted it when he was tiny, but I love how much sense everything about it makes. It’s so manoeuvrable and has a tiny turning circle for such a big bit of kit. And it folds down really flat! It’s also tough and up to the job of a feisty boy, which is lucky as Oscar’s Autism has meant we’ve used it a lot longer than we anticipated. He’s nearly 3 stone, but the 360 still keeps going. Yep, I wouldn’t have been without a decent buggy for all the tea in China!

The OutnAbout 360 in all its new glory. Doesn't look quite this clean now!

The OutnAbout 360 in all its new glory. Doesn’t look quite this clean now!

5. How many kids do you plan on having?

Just the one. You can read a who post about my thoughts on families who chose to have only one child here.

6. Date nights? How often do you have them?

We love a night out and so try to arrange one whenever we remember and or can book our lovely babysitter. Not having family close by means no free babysitting, but we still occasionally need to go out of the house together without the boy so make the effort to book and pay someone. We don’t have a regular date night though – I think that would kind of take the fun out of it!

7. Your child’s favourite show?

Honestly, it changes every week, sometimes every day! He will always have a soft spot for Thomas the Tank though.

8. Name one thing you bought before you had the baby and never ended up using?

A very expensive Organic Merino Wool swaddle and hat. It was beautiful, but Oscar refused to be swaddled from day two. It was such a shame. We managed to get one picture of him in it and that was it. I sold it in the end!

Very nice but pointless

Very nice but pointless

9. Your child’s favourite food?

Other than chocolate? At the moment Pancakes or Jacket Potato.

10. How many cars does your family have?

One. I don’t drive, although I am currently learning. Once I pass my test (whenever that may be), we’ll definitely have to get an additional vehicle!

11. Weight gain, before pregnancy, during, after and now?

I was seriously overweight before my pregnancy, I always have been. During my pregnancy I actually lost a stone and half in the first two trimesters as my tastes changed completely. However, in his first year, I found it so hard to concentrate on anything and lived on toast. ALLLLL the toast. And cake. And gained huge amounts of weight. I joined Slimming World when he was 1 and originally managed to lose 6.5 stone. After his Autism diagnosis I struggled to stay on plan and gained some of the weight back, but I’m back trying again now. Weight is complex issue for me, but I’ve blogged about that a lot and that’s been incredibly helpful.

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12. Dream holiday with your kids?

My husband and I used to love going to the Greek islands, particularly the quieter islands, before we had Oscar. It was always our plan to take our child over there once we had one, but so far we’ve not been brave enough to fly with him. But I would dearly love to one day.

13. Dream holiday without your kids?

Ben and I had our honeymoon in the Maldives and it was the best holiday of my life. I’d love to go back. But to be honest I would be happy anywhere I could have a break from being a mum for a few days. Especially if it involves a spa and being proper looked after by an amazing hotel.

14. How has your life changed since having kids?

What a strange question. Surely it would be easier to answer what has stayed the same. To which my answer would be, errr, I still like black winged eyeliner?

15. Finish this sentence: “It makes my heart melt when…”

Oscar calls my name. His speech delay meant I didn’t hear the word mummy until he was three and half, so any time he calls me is special. Even at 6 in the morning. I might seem grumpy, but inside I’m melting!

16. Where do you shop for your kids?

When he was younger, most of his clothing would be second hand, either hand me downs, or from eBay or Facebook or NCT Nearly New Sales. However as they get older they get harder on their clothes and in the last year or so I’ve found it more difficult to find him decent second hand stuff. So now I’d say most of his clothes come from Next. Their clothes seem to last and last and because he’s skinny and tall I find their fit suits him too. They also sell on well (if he doesn’t trash them). Other than that I get him occasional pieces in the sales of brands such as Joules or Boden or if I can I love supporting small businesses I find on Instagram.

My happy boy in his Magnificent Stanley original.

My happy boy in his Magnificent Stanley original.

17. Favourite make-up and skincare products?

My make up bag is such a hodge podge of brands, but I must admit I do love MAC (particularly for foundation and blusher). When I remember to use it (which is sporadically at the best of time) my favourite cleanser is Liz Earle’s Hot Cloth Cleanser.

18. Huggies or Pampers?

Pampers all the way. We didn’t get on with Huggies at all despite buying some in his early days. When they discontinued the nappies when he was about 1ish (I think) I wasn’t surprised. Love Huggies wipes though!

19. Have you always wanted kids?

Yes always and when I was told in my early 30s that I had PCOS and might struggle to conceive I was heart broken. As it was it took us no time at all, which I will forever be thankful for.

20. Best part of being a mum?

Being the parent of a SEN child is seriously hard work. Physically and emotionally. But it has also taught me real appreciation. When Oscar does something we didn’t think had could (or would), even if it’s something small like holding my hand when he’s asked, my heart nearly bursts with pride and love. I’m also amazed by the people you meet being a mum and the friends I’ve made since having Oscar, both online and in real life, are some of the best things about motherhood.

My wonderful NCT group

My wonderful NCT group

I would like to tag/nominate

Catie over at Diary of an Imperfect Mum

Natalie over at Diary of an Unexpectant Mother

Alice over at Three Men a Little Lady and Me

If they’d like to join in I’d love to read their answers