Although it was a massive shock when I peed on that stick last weekend, it didn’t take long to get used to the idea of becoming a party of five. Rather than get caught up in the potential negatives, I’ve been thinking of all the things that are great about having another baby.

– he or she will born in Feb 2014, the month that also marks mine and hubby’s ten year anniversary of meeting. Pretty special!

– our 16 month old can come out of nursery as soon as I go on mat leave, and not have to go back until she is three. Our nursery only has two rooms: under threes and over threes. Unfortunately the little ones often outgrow the under three room before they are allowed to go into the over three room. We kept our 4yo at nursery one day a week when she was this age and she didn’t particularly enjoy it. I’ve always said if I had my time again I would have pulled her out when I went on mat leave and now I get to do just that

– we were thinking of getting the girls bunk beds and moving them into the same room anyway. Now we can make bunk beds their christmas present and get them excited about the prospect

– although an exact two year age gap might not be ideal in some respects, I think my little one will cope better with having a younger sibling than my big one did at 2y7m

– a few of my other friends have just had their third baby so I will not be alone in the three kid club

– I get to go on mat leave again and have a year off work 🙂

Can you relate to this? I’d love to know what your first thoughts were on discovering a not entirely planned addition to the family…

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The day I left home started badly. With a punch in the face and almost broken nose to be exact.

One of the many lies I was told throughout my childhood was that my half brother and sister’s father was mine as well. Growing up I just felt there was something amiss, that he didn’t love me quite as much. When I was about 12 I confronted my parents about it and was told a pack of fibs. They said he wasn’t on my birth certificate because he was in prison when I was born. Of course he loved me just as much as the others, what a silly girl I was.

They had an on again off again relationship, he would flit in and out of our lives often going AWOL for big chunks of time. He was an alcoholic and emotional bully but he never (usually) raised his fists. He had an horrendous childhood, was the victim of so much abuse himself it really isn’t any wonder he is who he is. Maybe some day I’ll write a post about the terrible things he went through.

To paint you a picture of that time I was 15, and not enjoying myself. We had recently returned to the UK from living abroad for over a year where they start school later than us Brits. This meant I was repeating things I had already done when we were there and ended up really behind when we got home. It was my eighth school (four primary, four senior) and although I was a fairly bright kid all the moving had taken its toll on my education. I was also being bullied but more on that another time.

He had recently lost his job and was feeling the strain of not working, this meant he was drinking even more in the evenings and was in a vile mood in the mornings. The morning I left home started like any other school day, everyone getting ready and rushing around. We had been arguing about something or other and I called him a fat slob. Admittedly I shouldn’t have done, but before I had time to apologise and realise what was happening he leapt out of his chair and punched me in the face. I had so much blood on my white shirt it looked as if I’d been shot.

After a very emotional day I told my mother she had two options: drive me to London to stay with relatives and still have a daughter or try and make me stay and I’d leave anyway. It wasn’t much of a choice, we left for London that evening.

He said I’d be pregnant and living in a council flat by the time I was 18, I got great satisfaction out of proving him wrong. I can’t imagine she thought it was possible to end up losing me later down the track, and have no-one to blame but herself.

Shortly after this incident they split for good, and she told me the truth. He wasn’t my father after all. She put me in touch with my biological dad, who is currently the only family member I have in my life. It’s a shame his wife doesn’t know I exist but more about that another time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how important it is to be open and honest with your nearest and dearest. Everything I’ve been through goes to show that secrets and lies cause nothing but heartache and drive families apart.

PoCoLo

After I wrote this post I got rather upset about hubby and my lack of love life. Over the bank holiday weekend we had a yummy meal, good chat, few drinks then went bed nice and early. We are usually meticulous about contraception but got a bit, erm, over excited.

On Saturday morning this happened…

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Back in our pre-children days we used to be ever so judgemental when people had ‘accidents’. Surely if you don’t want more kids then you take the necessary precautions? Couldn’t these people control themselves? Oh how we would scoff. We have become those people.

The thing is neither of us were convinced that we’d stop at two, as we’ve both always wanted a big family. Lets face it there’s never a right time to have a(nother) baby is there? Although it was a massive shock, I think we’ll be just fine. I can imagine three kids under five will present challenges that blow the current ones out of the water, but bring it on I say!!

Almost five years ago when one of my best mates had her first baby she told me how she got him to ‘sleep through the night’ at just a few weeks old. The way I have always remembered the story is that she carried out a form of sleep training based around the baby’s core night, when he was a month old. The theory goes that once baby has had this core night it is proof that they can go without food for a bigger block of time than they have been doing so previously. For example if they have slept from 12-5am on the core night, this chunk becomes their night time and you don’t feed them during these hours. It may involve crying, but you hold baby and give them comfort throughout. Over the course of the next few days, they will learn that this time is for sleeping (not eating), you then build on this over a week or two until baby is sleeping all night. In my head by six weeks old my friends son was sleeping 12 hours a night.

When I had my first daughter a year later, I was adamant that I would follow the same method and have her sleeping through really early. The day after her core night I was full of optimism, but she woke up just an hour odd into her five hour chunk and hubby & I couldn’t bare listening to her rumbling stomach and wailing for even ten minutes before I caved in and fed her. She didn’t start sleeping through every night until she was nine months old, and I often wondered how different things would have been had we not caved in.

When I saw my friend a few days after the caving incident I told her what had happened. I commended her on her iron will, and we didn’t really speak about it after that. When she had her second baby a year later, she told me she was sleep training at three weeks, and again by a month old (in my head) her baby daughter was sleeping 12 hours. In the two years since her telling me about the core night I had read several articles about how dangerous it is to let a newborn baby go longer than a few hours without food. The official advice from health visitors and midwives was now to wake the baby if they are sleeping through, as their blood sugar levels could drop to fatal levels. I really disagreed with her methods, but understood that my friend needed her own sleep to function, unlike me she is a stranger to insomnia and can’t cope on less than 8 hours a night. We are great friends, and this has been our only real bone of contention since becoming mums. I felt it was best not to talk about it, ultimately they are her children and this kind of stuff is none of my business.

She had her third baby in April, and when I saw her the other day I felt it was time to mention that perhaps training a tiny baby to sleep through the night might not be a good thing to do. She then painstakingly explained the process, and that they don’t start properly sleep through for 12 hours until they are three months old. They have the core night around a month, then you extend their chunk of sleep time by one hour per week. It turns out that our initial conversations five years ago involved some very crossed wires and I have been harbouring anxiety based around completely incorrect information all this time. I feel awful that I’ve felt badly towards her.

It’s made me realise that in life communication is key. Thank goodness all this is out in the open now and we can both forget about it!

I posted this last week which explains the current situation with our 4yo daughter. I kept a diary all week to try and piece together any glaring errors and work out where we are going wrong. My main conclusion is something I’ve known for a while. There is a huge correlation between a bad nights sleep and very poor form the next day. Four year old children are never going to be immaculately behaved all the time, but at points on the bad days it feels like there is no reasoning with her. It’s as if she is in a trance and doesn’t even know what she’s doing. I know how grumpy and miserable I can get on a terrible nights sleep, so it’s no wonder really. The good news is that we’ve made the following changes recently and they definitely seem to be helping.

– ensuring she falls asleep by herself. Until a month ago she would fall asleep while one of us read her stories, but apparently this could be the root cause of night time wake ups, so we’ve stopped letting her do that. During a good bedtime when she is being compliant she has a story in bed, then we have kisses and cuddles and she goes to sleep

– not putting her to bed too early (to break the super early waking cycle). We’ve edged back to a 6:30pm bedtime over the course of this week

– turning a blind eye to minor altercations with her sister. As a baby cannot defend themselves we have always been strict with telling her off for being mean. Realistically, being so hard line has more than likely caused this to become a bad habit that she does for attention. Now that 16mo is mobile and capable of giving as good as she gets, we are letting the little pinches and digs go ‘unnoticed’. If she’s causing real harm that is of course another matter

– no more timeouts. They worked to a point, but now just cause everyone to get upset

– letting her learn her own mistakes rather than trying to pre-empt and stop them, i.e. if she eats three mouthfuls then says she doesn’t want any more breakfast letting her go hungry until lunch time

It’s been far from plain sailing. This week alone we had two full on half hour+ meltdowns at bedtime. Meals going in the bin. Refusal to do a wee before bed, thus getting up in the night to do one and not going back to sleep for two hours. We also had a night where she got in with us in the early hours, and I ended up relegated to the bottom of the bed like the family pet. BUT, we have also had a few breakthroughs and it does (dare I say it?) feel like we are *finally* making progress. Slow and painful as it feels right now it is progress, and I must remain positive. I’m convinced that if she starts consistently sleeping through the night then we’ll have cracked it. I’ll keep you posted.

If any of you lovely people have similar stories and pearls of wisdom to share I would really appreciate hearing from you 🙂