I thought I knew what tired was. I had solo parented my first born for a large portion of his life. We got through our seconds newborn phase AND months of reflux.
Yup, I was sure I knew what exhaustion was. And I was sure it was all downhill from here.
But then the four month sleep regression hit us like an absolute freight train. Six weeks of sleep stretches averaging about an hour and a half, but ranging anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours.
I thought I knew what exhaustion was, but I now know I knew nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I have laughed hysterically, I have ugly cried in the shower, heck I have literally pulled my hair out. I’m not going to try and describe it to you, because there is nothing like it!
But we survived. We made it out the other side relatively unscathed. And here’s four tips to help you survive too…
1. Sleep when the baby sleeps. I know, I know, how will you get any thing done or any ‘you’ time. But you’ll quickly learn that if you just do one load of laundry or sneak in one episode of GoT bubs will wake up the second you put your head down. When you’re suffering sleep deprivation every minute of sleep counts, so get it when you can!
2. Ask for help. When I was about 3 weeks deep into sleep deprivation I broke down to my mum. I was done. The next day, she and Dad came over- cleaned my whole house and gave me some down time. Not only did they seriously improve my home life, it made me feel so supported.
3. Work as a team. When I was exhausted, everything was my husbands fault. He couldn’t feed her, or settle her, or heaven forbid he sneezed and woke her… But then he took over for one night, and he nailed it. Then we started working as a team. When things didn’t go to plan, we didn’t blame each other- we supported each other. When I wanted to lose my shit at him because, well I was tired and wanted someone to take it out on, I would take a deep breath and tell him I was feeling upset. Being on the same team was a total game changer!
4. Go out! This is obviously in contradiction to point one, but in reality you should balance the two. At first I stayed home all day because I wanted to catch as much sleep as possible, but if bubs wouldn’t sleep is get really stressed out which I predict didn’t help her sleep situation. I mean, I often wasn’t getting sleep anyway so at least when I was out and about I wasn’t obsessing over how exhausted I was.
At the end of the day, you need to figure out what works for you. Sleep deprivation is no joke, and there is no easy journey through it. But know that you are not alone and you’ve totally got this, even when you feel like you don’t!
To any parents currently going through this, please know you are not alone. And if you are really struggling reach out to a friend, your GP or find some great resources from beyond blue.
I was 23 when I had Oliver. These days, that’s really young. I know this because every man and his dog tells me so.
If I could go back, I’d do it all again. My kids are the best thing that have ever happened to me.
But if I could find a magic time machine, there are a few things I might go back and do before I had them!
1. Travel more. I did a big Euro trip when I was 19. I’ve also been to New Zealand, Thailand and seen a reasonable amount of Australia. But there is so much more I could have seen. I wish I sank every dollar I had pre-kids into travel. Alas, this year we have decided to start travelling WITH the kids (one overseas holiday a year) so wish us luck!
2. Learn to cook. At 22 I pretty much lived off dumplings, mi gorang and (of course) pizza on cheaper Tuesdays. These days, my cooking skills are to appease the four year old- which means I can cook a mean chicken nugget. I am getting there, but by 27 years of age I feel like I shouldn’t have to google “what is simmer?” ( a real thing that happened).
3. More date nights. We used to go out with our friends a lot. And we used to stay in together a lot. But I wish we’d just gone out the two of us more. I wish we took a few more spontaneous trips away. Luckily, we’re only in our mid twenties- so we have a bit of time for dating once the kids *sob* grow up.
4. Buy a house. Mortgage repayments we can do- but getting that deposit together whilst keeping a happy lifestyle with the kids (oh and paying rent) is almost impossible. We’re young and our time will come- but I’d love to be able to paint a wall!!
5. Sleep like a baby. Because lord knows my kids sure don’t! I regret every morning I ever woke up before 9AM and every nap I ever passed up prior to having kids. I wish there was a sleep bank where you could make deposits pre-children and make withdrawals once they come along. Why aren’t we funding that?!?
What about you, anything you wish you’d prior to being a parent? Or perhaps you’re waiting for something before you procreate?
My baby girl is six weeks old tomorrow, and she is the most precious little thing.
But no matter how much we adore her, having a newborn is hard work and at times you feel totally unhinged.
So here are a few tips of how to stay sane with a newborn!
Sleep when you can. Not to be confused with sleeping when the baby sleeps. My best naps are had when my hubby is hanging with bubs, I don’t have to worry about her waking up or if she’s happy/cold/hungry. It could be when the baby sleeps, when hubby gets home or when grandma visits. Just sleep when you can.
Invest in food you can eat with one hand. Currently I eat about 75% of my meals with my daughter hanging off my boob, so making sure I can eat them with one hand removes a lot of stress around meal time. It can be as simple as cutting your food up into bite size pieces, to stocking up on foods such as savoys/ saladas ect.
Count, or watch the clock. When you’re rocking the bassinet at 3 in the morning, 30 seconds feels like an eternity. Make sure you count or watch the clock, it will keep you in check. And you’ll be surprised, both my newborn and my four year old normally KO by the time I hit 200.
Make up with your partner. You’re going to fight with your partner, you’re going to blame them for blinking at the wrong time and waking the baby… And they’ll probably blame you too. You’re both tired and stressed, nothing will test your relationship quite like a new baby. But be the bigger person, just apologise (even if they did fart and wake the baby) and remember you’re a team.
Try and get some time alone. This does not include sleeping. If you can, get someone to look after bubs whilst you go get a hair cut or your brows waxed. If you can’t get a sitter, just spend half an hour whilst bubs is sleeping enjoying a coffee in peace and quiet.
Get a seat for bubs, and get used to having an audience in the bathroom. What if I told you you can shower whilst bubs is awake? Well you can, just pop them in their baby rocker, hit vibrate and get your booty in that shower. You can also use this when going to the toilet, preparing food, cleaning and your sanity in general.
Tomorrow is a new day. Some days are really really hard. Sometimes, you have two really hard days in a row. But remember tomorrow is a new day, a day to reset and start again.
It’s been 4.5 years since I last had a newborn in the house, and in those 4.5 years my hind sure has thickened.
The first time around I spent far too long reading parenting books, magazines and blogs- hanging on to every.word I read. But the thing is one article will tell you one thing, whilst the next article will completely contradict what you’ve just read.
It’s all a bit of a head fuck really.
So I decided to add to an already flooded discussion. Here are my tips on how to be a new Mum…
1. Don’t let your newborn cry. Or do let them cry. Because sometimes you just have to pick your newborn up at the first sign of distress. And sometimes, you just can’t. And that’s okay, because this newborn business is hard and sometimes putting a screaming baby down in their cot and walking away is the best thing for everyone.
2. Ask for help. Or tell people you don’t want their help… Man it’s nice when your nearest and dearest pop over with a big plate of food and head straight to the kitchen cleaning everything in their path. But sometimes, having guests in your house when you have a newborn is more stressful than it is helpful. Sometimes, your morning doesn’t go as planned and you’re allowed to call up your scheduled guest and tell them not today, that’s okay they’ll understand.
3. Try and leave the house everyday. Or just have a pyjama day… By about day three of being home from the hospital I was going stir crazy, all four of us were! Our first outing was absolute bliss, so we tried it again the second day. It was a nightmare. Too much too soon. It’s a balancing act, this parenting a newborn gig and it’s not simple. But as long as you don’t over do it, and stay true to you, you’ll do fine!
4. Eat a healthy diet, or just eat really. You are what you eat, and whilst you’re breast feeding- so is your baby. So it’s great if you can eat three healthy meals a day, but that takes a LOT of effort, effort that you probably don’t have. So stock up on some frozen meals, grab some cold meats and have a pizza night every now and again. The main thing is that you and your family eat!
5. Enjoy your newborn, but it’s okay to cry. You’ll never get this time with your newborn again, it really is a magical time. But you won’t enjoy every moment. Some days you will just go through the motions with your baby and go to bed feeling like you’ve accomplished absolutely nothing. And sometimes it all feels too much, I mean having a newborn is REALLY hard and occasionally you might fall apart. And that’s okay, because tomorrow is a new day.
Being a parent is hard enough without trying to follow every piece of advice out there. So here’s one final piece of advice don’t take my advice. Do what is right for you and yours. Sure find out what other mothers are doing, but don’t stress out if it doesn’t work for you. Just remember, every baby is different and every parent is different.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? And how about the worst?
*If you are really struggling with this new parenting gig, don’t go it alone. Contact Beyond Blue for resources.
Meet Imogen Lee Joyce, born December 21 at 1:36PM at 51CM long and a healthy 3.5KG.
She is simply perfect!
In November our c-section had been confirmed and booked for December 24. We were fully prepared to welcome our little lady into the world the day before Christmas and to celebrate our first Christmas as a family of 4 in hospital. And whilst we were prepared, I had definitely shed a few tears.
So imagine my elation when we received a phone call on the 20th of December asking if we wanted to move our c-section ahead, one catch, it was the following day.
After I caught my breath I looked over to James and asked, “do we want to have our baby tomorrow?” Of course we did.
An hour later we had our babysitter prepared (thanks Mum and Dad) and were sitting on a hospital bed completing our pre-op. It was all very surreal. On Sunday night we did all the last minute stuff we had planned to do in the days before her arrival, and surprisingly all three of us had a really good sleep that night. We knew we would need it.
On Monday morning, we were due at the hospital at 10:30AM. So we dropped Oliver off at my folks place, actually got a park (which is something to brag about at Frankston Hospital) and arrived at the ward pretty much at 10:30 on the dot.
We were met with a range of smiling faces, as they took us to our room and gave us a some time to settle in. It was all so very surreal, and James and I laughed away as we noticed my butt hanging out of my gown and just how handsome he looked in scrubs. He should have been a doctor, except for the blood and stuff…
As time went on, nerves started to really kick in. I had such a rough labour the first time, and whilst I did everything I could to be fully prepared I was still terrified of the what ifs…
But it was hard to be too nervous with James by my side, we were so excited and we saw the good in everything. And all the amazing staff supporting us along the way made it really and enjoyable experience. From the ward clerk to the head surgeon, I can not sing my praises loud enough.
I was wheeled into surgery at about 1PM. At this point I was so incredibly nervous, I felt like I was about to vomit. Jeff, the surgical technician (and iPhone photography extraordinaire) picked up on this. He got me to look into my eyes and he said to me, “Cass, everything is going to go fine. But you know what is going to make it go even better? If you just relax. Take a deep breath and relax.”
I will never find the words to express how truly calming his words were to me.
And what felt like 5 minutes later- but also an absolute lifetime- with James by my side, our beautiful Imogen was born. Screaming. Healthy. Perfect.
It was such a beautiful experience. A massive thank you to everyone at Peninsula Health- Frankston Hospital- for the amazing care provided to us. And of course to our beautiful friends and family who have been so supportive, not just over the last week, but the past nine months and beyond.
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing. It really is. But at 38 weeks, I am honestly pretty bloody over it!
I am so excited to meet my little lady and complete our family. I dream of holding her in my arms and the first time she gets to meet her big brother. And whilst I am so EXCITED to have this lil’ lady in our lives, there are a few things I can not wait to do that are just for me…
Wear shoes: Look, I knew what I was in for when I found out my baby was due in the middle of summer. But I really was not prepared for the colossal size of my feet and the utter pain that went with that. Fluid retention is real people, and it is a real pain in the…well… feet! Not only can my feet no longer fit into any of my favourite shoes, the few they do fit into cause a serious lack of comfort. I cannot WAIT to swap out my (very trusty) thongs for a pair of, well, anything else!
Run: I swore black and blue I would maintain my exercise routine for as long as I could this pregnancy. Well that lasted about 3 weeks, courtesy of severe back pain, fatigue and, honestly, laziness. But boy, do I miss running. Like REALLY miss running. In fact I wrote a post about it. I know that I’ve got a long road ahead of me to get to where I was, but I am really looking forward to it!
Eat: Man, I love food. My favourite foods pretty much include everything on the ‘not recommended for pregnancy list’. Seriously the day this baby is born, I am going to have me some toast with blue cheese, smoked salmon and the runniest poached egg you ever did see!
Sleep on my tummy: I have the biggest case of tummy envy at the moment, and not the- look how flat and fit their tummy is- type but the -look at them laying on their stomachs like it ain’t no thang’- type! I realise that after a c-section I won’t be back on my stomach right away, but boy-oh-boy, when that day comes, it is going to be a happy one.
Share a bed with my husband: Confession time, I have pretty much kicked hubby out of the bed room. Between myself, the size of my belly, the 500 pillows I require to keep me comfortable and the four year old who is likely to crawl into bed with me on any given night, there just isn’t any room for him! We’re both okay with this for now, but we sure do find ourselves staying up just that little bit later so we get extra time together… and I’ve even found myself calling it ‘my room’. I can’t wait for him to fit in there again!
Wrestle with my son: Man, has my little boy been so understanding throughout my pregnancy. He ‘keeps after’ me whilst I nap, he is patient with me whilst I struggle to get off the couch, heck he even rubs my back. He knows that I have a baby in my tummy, and he is really excited about her pending arrival- but I also know that he misses playing with me. I know, because he told me. I have always been such a hands on Mum, and I am still doing my very best. But at this size, I just can’t get down and dirty with him. And I know that I have a bit of a recovery ahead of me after this lil’ lady arrives, and I know I am going to be in a haze of new parent fatigue, but I tell you what… I long for the day I can jump around with him on the trampoline again. And when that day comes, we are going to have a LOT of happy little Joyce’s around here.
What did you long for most when you were pregnant? And was it as satisfying as you’d hoped?
Well little lady, we made it! I finished up work on Friday, I am full term and I am officially nesting.
Nesting, whilst reestablishing myself as a stay at home mum.
Before I went back to work, I definitely took my days with Oliver for granted. Your little brother has shown me how quickly time goes by, and I’m confident our days together will be all the better for it.
I can’t wait for you to meet your big brother. He is the most empathetic kid in the world. He can’t waitfor you to hold his hand, he’s a bit worried you’ll be too heavy to carry but he will read to you every night.
He can’t wait to teach you about predators!
My first pregnancy was definitely a lot more relaxing, but in many MANY ways it was far more stressful. In fact my first 24 months as a mother was very stressful, it’s just the lifestyle that comes with having a parent in the Navy.
But that’s all different little lady. Not only will your Dad be around, you’ll have your entire extended family too. You are already so loved by us all. Your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, your second and third cousins. It’s been a busy year for babies this year, and you are the perfect way to end the year.
At 36 weeks pregnant, I’ve got acid reflux like I’ve never experienced before. My feet have swollen beyond what I ever believed possible. My lower back pain is ridiculous, and I feel like nothing I do makes it any better.
But one kick and it’s all worth it. I can’t wait to meet you. I wonder what you look like, and if you’ll have red hair. I wonder if you’ll sleep well, or if my acid reflux is a sign of things to come. I wonder if you’ll be determined and busy like your brother, or calm and content.
No matter what you are or who you become, you’re perfect. I can’t wait to hold you in my arms and kiss your chubby cheeks.
It’s not long now, we really are on the home stretch.