How on earth did that happen, how is it that yesterday our precious little hope babes have been with us in person for 18 months! I have been wanting to blog for ages and just seem to really struggle to get down to it, but this seems the momentous milestone worth catching up for.
Where to begin with how they are doing?
Physically they are really turning into little people now and with each passing day there seems to be less and less of the babies and more of the little people shining through. Pudding has not put on ANY weight since 12 months! That seems impossible, but it’s true and yet she is healthy, active and doesn’t looks scrawny. I guess the combination of her new found control over some things in her life (like when, and what she eats) and her high energy levels are just making her slim down. Sausage has only put on a little weight and is also looking so much slimmer, but still has his beautiful little pot belly. Pudding is almost 2cm taller than her brother.
I am terrified of writing this down, because of the timing (going into winter) and the whole jinxing thing, but they have both been so healthy for the last twelve months. We had a small bout of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, which they fought off quickly and didn’t really set them back too much, although it looked awful and did result in a camping trip ending with a dash to the emergency room (it looked really serious). And they have had a little cold, but they fought that off so quickly and it was our first cold since they were born which never became anything more than a cold! Whoop Whoop! It seems their little immune systems are building up nice and strong. I am also adding 10 drops of Echinacea to their milk at night to help boost their immune systems.
Sausage has cut his top two canines (now has 14 teeth) and poor Pudding has been cutting hers for 6 weeks now with nothing more than very inflamed gums (12 teeth). The canines are truly hell on earth to cut. We have had 6 weeks of broken sleep, but seem finally to be reaching the end of it (maybe, or have I just jinxed that too?).
The sleep issue is so complex and probably deserves a post all of it’s own, but who knows when I will make the time for writing again. The first night of terrible sleep we had been to a wedding and we figured Pudding was just over stimulated from the loud music, flashing lights, lots of people and dancing and the night was just one of those nights. The next night was Easter Sunday and the kids had chocolate for the first time, so I figured it was just from too much sugar (something our two hardly ever get in any form at all). And then the nights of broken sleep just kept coming and coming and coming. They had their little colds, but even once better sleep continued to be broken. We thought it was the medicine we gave them for their colds, but even when we stopped it the nights continued to be broken. We thought they might be hungry so started bedtime snacks, but still sleep was broken. One night Pudding literally woke up at 1.30am and that was the end of her night’s sleep, she eventually had a nap at 10.00 that morning!!! In that past when they have had the odd night waking we have simply gone in, patted a head or a bum for a couple of minutes, if things were really bad, sang a lullaby or two and then left them to put themselves back to sleep. They were going to sleep every night no problem at all, just waking up sometime between midnight and 1.00am and it taking a minimum of 2 hours to get them back to sleep. Inevitably whichever one woke, woke the other one and then it was two babes needing attention. Obviously we treated them for teething as it was clear early on that they were both teething, but no teething med or anti-inflammatory or paracetemol or anything worked to ease the night crying. I thought it might be separation anxiety but nothing I read seemed to have a very useful approach to helping with it other than playing ‘peek-a-boo’ and other silly day time approaches, but nothing on how best to handle the night.
We discovered that the easiest way to get them back to sleep was ‘restarting bedtime’, where we would take them to the rocking chairs (where we have our evening milk), rock for a few minutes, sing the bedtime lullabies, do family kissies, say “night night” to every animal picture we have on our walls on the way to their bedroom and then put them in their cots and leave them to put themselves back to sleep. Thank heavens something worked, but not really a ritual you want to have to go through in the middle of the night, one night we had to go through it three times. As for trying to not pick them up and just reassure them, Sausage especially was having none of it, he insisted on being picked up and became quite hysterical if you didn’t comply. We even tried a bit of ‘cry it out’ but I couldn’t handle it, becoming as hysterical as the kids really. I have a theory that a kids can be left to cry it out (please don’t shoot me, it’s just my approach that works for me and my kids), but there is a tone of crying. A type of cry where the child is just working themselves up and will not cry out ever, a tone that tells you your child really does need your help to calm down. And they were crying with that tone. Little has left me so totally perplexed as this.
It took us ages to find a strategy that seems to be improving things. Eventually when I couldn’t handle another night of hovering over one or the other cot for hours trying to settle them and soothe their separation anxiety (if that’s what it was) we moved a comfy chair into their room, between the two cots and our new approach has been to listen to the crying or calling out for a while. If the crying gets that tone to it, then we go in. Stroke a head if necessary and then just sit in the chair with them. Most nights they will stand and stare at us (whoever is on duty) for a long while, then often one or the other will put a hand through the cot bars and pat my knee (too cute for words). Eventually they will lie down and go to sleep. This still takes about two hours, but in the comfy chair with a blanket over me, I have had a nap there and at least not had cramp in my back in the morning. And somehow this ridiculous strategy seems to be working. I would never have thought that sitting with your child for hours until they went to sleep would be the solution, but it seems to be giving them the message that Mom and Dad are there, they do respond, they do come to us, they stay with us as long as we need and so we don’t need them quite as much? Anyway that’s my interpretation of why it’s working. I think it is soothing their separation anxiety. The net result, we are still getting call outs in the night, but most nights they call once or twice, not hysterical at all, and then lie back down by themselves and go back to sleep! This has given us about 5/7 nights sleep through again in the last week.
And what have I learned from this? That when you think you have it totally waxed (our kids have slept through almost every night since 10 weeks old), kids will change it up to keep you on your toes and make you start all over again. Life as a mom is a constant learning curve.