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”

 

Judgement Day…..

I’ve never used to be a massive fan Twitter. I tried on and off for years to get into it, but it just didn’t seem to make any sense to me, until recently. In the past I’ve found it to be a confusing jumble of noise, but now I am finding it to be a great way to connect with people outside my friendship group (particularly when it comes to other bloggers etc). I used to hate that it just seemed so negative, and I guess that largely depends on who you follow, but recently I see much more positivity and thought provoking ideas coming through. Which is great.

Doesn’t mean I don’t see stuff that grinds my gears once in a while.

I’m a parent. No really I am – I know it’s a shocker right 😉 . I work damn hard at what I do. I stumble and make mistakes. Sometimes I get it right, other times spectacularly wrong. I think, if you looked up the definition of parenting in the dictionary, that would be pretty much what you read. No one is perfect and no one gets it right all of the time. Some people choose to do it that way, others another. What works for Mummy A, sure as hell wont work for Mummy B, or even in some cases child 2 of Mummy A! And for those reasons and the fact that we all know how hard this can be, it upsets me when mothers openly and harshly judge other mothers.

Sure, you may not agree with something someone does to or with their children, but if it worries you that much, talk to the parent. You may not fully understand the reasoning behind their actions. To simply judge someone as a ‘crap parent’ is both rude and uncalled for, especially when you may have questionable parenting styles yourself. You may not think you do, but others might.

I think it’s easy for non-parents to judge. They can take a much more objective view of things, without a cloudy layer of personal experience spoiling the perfect view on top. And that’s fine. Let them. If and when they have their own children, they’ll soon realise those were halcyon days, when they were absolutely right about every aspect of parenting. But when you do have that experience, when you understand those eternal conundrums, that have kept people mystified for thousands of years, also known as children, then don’t dump all over someone who doesn’t do it like you would. There’s such an arrogance in that behaviour that I can’t even comprehend. Who gives you the right to judge?

I’m not talking about serious neglect or abuse here. Sometimes it’s people making those judgements that save children’s lives. What I am talking about is parents berating each other over the small stuff – like mother A spending less time with her child than mother B or mother B letting her kids watch more telly than mother A. And I certainly wouldn’t be putting my half arsed opinions all over social media. That would just make me look like a dick.

I don’t know about you, but I want my son to grow up a decent human being. One who shows tolerance and understanding wherever possible. I don’t want him to jump to conclusions; poorly structured, unconsidered conclusions, about anyone, least of all his peers. I want him to be independent of thought and to go with his instincts, but I do not want him to malign others who go a different way to him. How on earth can I teach him that if I don’t practice it myself? Perhaps not everyone wants their child to grow up with the same values as me. And going on what I’ve just said, I don’t judge you for that.

I still don’t want to see your thoughtless negativity on my Twitter feed though.

Unfollow lady, unfollow.

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Modern Dad Pages

An Apple a day….

Until 2009, I lived, happily or not, without a smart phone. I didn’t have access to the internet at every given moment. I didn’t have the capability to take great quality photos and share them with friends (and strangers) at the drop of a hat. I didn’t have games, news, recipes, a calculator all carried in my pocket.

This isn’t a post about whether smart phones are a good or bad thing or whether they have had a positive or negative impact on living life today (my personal opinion is its a bit of both). I didn’t have this device until 5 years ago and I didn’t even have a phone to make calls with until 2000. I managed to bimble along. I survived. No, what this is about is about how my, yet to turn, 2 year old is obsessed and I mean obsessed with my iPhone.

For as long as he’s been able to reach for things, our iPhones have been a source of fascination for Oscar. When it first happened I just thought it was a fluke – he was reaching for everything right? But then it became clear the object he wanted to play with more than anything was a piece of technology – sod Sophie La Giraffe!! It took us a little while to realise this wasn’t because of what it was, but because it was the thing he saw us ‘play’ with the most and don’t all children just want to be like their parents? It started with chewing it (ewww!) and handling it. That was fine if gross. The problems started when he realised that a) just because we put it away, it didn’t stop existing and b) there was another world held within that tiny box!

My first mistake I guess was thinking this was cute. Oscar didn’t really watch much TV at the time and I was happy for him to occasionally watch YouTube clips on my phone. He was a Sesame St nut – mad for everything Elmo. So I downloaded an Elmo app. Elmo would Facetime my phone and Oscar would giggle at the calls, particularly at Elmo mooing like a cow! He thought it was immense fun and he could control that fun. Who wouldn’t want more of that?

But it was a slippery slope. I started downloading more (free) apps for him. I put them all in his own folder and before I knew it he could find them without any help from me. I even tried moving the folder around to see if he could actually recognise it or if he was just remembering the location. He found the apps he wanted every time.

I actually started to find his interest in the iPhone helpful. For one thing Oscar’s a runner, the iPhone keeps him safer. I could take him swimming on my own and get changed without him running off. But it’s also incredibly useful as a distraction technique. I could take him to the barbers and he’d sit (mostly) still while playing on my phone. We could go for meals and keep him amused until the food came. We started to be able to avoid boredom melt downs in public. Why wouldn’t I want more of that?

My problems with it started fairly recently. Now he wants it all the time. And when I don’t let him have it on demand, or take it off him, when I feel he no longer ‘needs’ it he freaks out. Proper screaming, body throwing tantrums. I’ve heard these referred to as iPaddys! And I don’t know what to do. Its so easy to cave when a supremely bored toddler is wreaking havoc in the bank, much to the disgusted looks and comments of the other customers (yep that was yesterdays joy!) You know the thing that will work, so you just do it, regardless of whether its the best thing for them. I’ve tried taking toys and books where ever we go, but they don’t have the same effect. Not on my son anyway.

I feel like the worst Turkey Twizzler feeding mummy every time I give it to him, but am I really harming him? Depends who you read. We hear a lot about how ‘screen time’ can be harmful, but research into smart devices, although in its infancy, shows that there is a marked difference between a TV screen and an iPhone screen. The difference seems to be primarily in the interactive nature of the apps. There’s an interesting blog post about it here if you’re interested. I am also of the opinion that technology now plays such an enormous part in our every day lives, beyond the box sat in the corner of the room, that children should be introduced to it. It will be part of their upbringing in a way it wasn’t in ours. That doesn’t make it wrong or bad. Its a fact.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to see him desperately and immediately happy when he gets his fix. His problem is not his, it’s mine. It’s how I became lazy, falling back on my iPhone in this part of my life like I do in every other part. How do I wean him off smart phone time if I have no desire to do it for myself? Its a serious question I’m going to have to ask myself if I want real answers.

I don’t think this is a ‘phase’. I don’t think he’s going to get bored of this just like he did with Captain Calamari or his other baby toys, because this keeps evolving, changing, showing that it can always be more. Its whats kept me hooked for the last 5 years, why wouldn’t it do the same to him?

Sometimes, when he’s freaking out, when he’s having an ‘iPaddy’, him using my phone is all I can think about. But my son loves other things too. He loves ‘reading’ books, he loves being sung and danced with, he loves any toy with wheels, his favourite foods include courgette and banana, his favourite words are Car and Mama, he loves being in the garden, he loves running, he loves any ball. He also just happens to love the iPhone.

How much he uses it, is up to me.

My love, with one of his loves

My love, with one of his loves