I thought I’d do this next post BUT I would just like to say that there is no right or wrong way to bring up your child, and this is just MY experience and way I have done things. Also, please no criticism. Us mums need to stick together!
So, in case anyone was unfamiliar, the Government has decided and given us guidelines about all aspects on bringing up your children. And the guidelines for sleeping are basically, that they should sleep with you in your room, be it co-sleep, in a crib or moses basket or the sort, until they are 6 months old. This is to minimise the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Well that’s all well and good, but what happens if you want to (or need to) put your baby in their own room earlier? Please note again that I’m not a health care professional nor am I a member of this so-called Government who make these policies up. I’m just a first time mother giving whatever works a go.
So basically, William is 4 months old (19 weeks to be PRECISE) now and he is in his own room, and has been since he was about 11 weeks old.
Cue the shocked and appalled gasps and people running to their phones to ring Esther Ranson up at Childline HQ.
The truth is, it all sort of..happened by accident. That sounds ridiculous. Let me explain.
We have Williams room all set up and it has been since before he was born, you know you do the whole painting and decorating the nursery before they arrive, all excited, only you can’t really do anything because your heavily pregnant and crouching down to paint skirting boards isn’t really an option when your top heavy as you just fall over, the baby squashes into your vital organs and you end up panting and needing someone to help you up, which is a job in itself as your about the same weight as a male walrus with tusks and everything.
Anyway, Williams room is all set up, ready for him to eventually go in there. We have a cot, a changing table/chest of drawers and wardrobe, and a chair so we can feed him in there if we so desired. It was all lovely and tidy and looking like something from a mamas and papas catalogue, shiny and new.
Our bedtime “routine” (I use that word loosely, there is no set time for bedtime, we just work it around when he’s had his “tea time” bottle and take him up a couple of hours after that) consists of us bathing him, and then going into his room to get him dressed and lotioned and potioned up and ready for his last bottle. We used to, when he was first born, take him downstairs to feed him then put him in his moses basket and sit in deathly silence downstairs afraid to make a noise as he is a light sleeper, and risk waking him up. We eventually got sick of this, and I was getting pissed off at trying to lip read Danny Dyers Cockney slang in EastEnders (its bloody hard that. Plus he’s got a sexy beard thing going on. I don’t really lip read to be honest I just gawp at the fitness. Thank you BBC for employing him) that we decided to put the moses basket upstairs and get a monitor with a screen so we could keep him upstairs and have some time to ourselves and eat tea etc etc without tiptoeing around like church mice. So I bought a second hand BT monitor from eBay and off we went.
The only problem was, that William is a little chunk. He was waking up because he kept wriggling up his moses basket and having his head pushed up at the top, it was a very strange position. He obviously moves around a lot in his sleep if he isn’t in his sleepyhead. So me and Norms just used to use that instead, put that on our bed and let him sleep in that as he couldn’t move around, and quite honestly he was so comfy in there he didn’t feel the need to. In case any of you don’t know what a sleepyhead is, it’s basically a massive breathable pillow thing, one pillow is in a U-shape and with a little mattress pillow thing in the middle, and it’s supposed to make them feel safer and like they are being held/in the womb/very comfy cosy. Google them. They are ace. To be honest if they did them in adult sizes I would buy one.
Anyway, we had been thinking about moving Wills into his own room for a couple of weeks back in December, as he kept waking up all the time in our room. Not for a bottle, for winding, for nappy change or one of the other 100,000,000 things it could possibly be that you have to guess, but because of us. I am a light sleeper and move around the bed a lot when I sleep. Beds creak and make noises. Plus normal human noises, heavy breathing, farting etc etc. Plus there was one other major factor. Well I say factor. I mean thing. The wild bush pig next to me, aka my husband. He snores like I DON’T KNOW WHAT. Seriously. It’s like having Pumba from the lion king next to me, I’m half expecting him to burst into a verse of Hakuna Matata any minute. He is SO. LOUD. And it was waking the little guy up. So we had been discussing it and what we were going to do and how we were going to do it.
It just so happened that one night, it was my turn to bath and put William to bed, so we did the bath time (my favourite time of the day, William is so cute in the bath) and I slathered him in all his lovely smelling Potions and decided I would feed him in his room, as he was getting aggy and wanted his milk RIGHT THERE AND NOW and couldn’t possibly wait a millisecond later (its as if they’ve never been fed – cue the calls to Esther again – this time probably from the neighbours the way William screams the bloody place down). So I sat in the chair and gave him his baby crack (milk) and then it hit me. Like, really bad.
I really, really needed a wee. Like, really. You know when you need a wee so much it hurts your insides and one sudden unplanned movement could cause a flood. Yeah, one of those. And since having the milk machine my pelvic floors aren’t what they used to be. I mean, I can hold my wee, but not for as long as I used to be able to. I remember once I held a wee in all the way from York area to Manchester on the train while on a hen do, and carried on drinking, because the toilets were out of order. I ran off that train like Usain Bolt, and left the other girls behind. It was a close shave let me tell you that. Anyways.
So there i was, my little babe literally in arms, he had just fallen into his milky sleep and I so so desperately needed a piss. Shit! I thought to myself. I remembered I hadn’t got the moses basket ready before bath time and the sleepyhead for some reason was in his cot, (I think we put it in there to keep it out the way) and I didn’t have enough hands to move it without waking him up. I needed to make a decision and it needed to be a fast one. Before I covered my little 11 week old baby in piss. This was not a drill.
So I just did it. I placed him in his little sleepyhead that was in his cot, covered him with a blanket and dashed out to the loo. It was one of the best wee’s I have ever had. When I was finished I crept back into Williams room, convinced he would have woken up as he wasn’t in his usual surroundings and I had quite literally just plonked him in. But alas, no. He was still asleep. So I got the monitor and set that up on the side of the cot, and decided to see how it went.
I went downstairs to hubby and asked him if he thought I had done the right thing, should I go get him out, is it too soon? He just sort of grunted something about seeing how it went, probably engrossed in some shitty police interceptors programme, so I sat and watched the monitor as if it was telly and Danny Dyer was on it topless. But I didn’t need to. That night, William slept 7 hours straight.
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
I went to check on him probably a million times, to make sure he was breathing and hadn’t slipped into some sort of coma, but everytime he was fine.
He obviously needed the quiet and darkness, and probably thats the reason. When he woke he was like a different baby. A baby who had caught up with their sleep. He was all smiles and giggles and just generally happier. So we tried again for the next few nights, and he did the same. Maybe not for as long, but he certainly slept longer and better than he was doing in his moses basket or his sleepyhead on the floor in our room. So we never looked back. This is just how we did it, like I say, totally by fluke and because my bladder was about to burst. Some people may have put their children in their own room earlier, and some may not want them to leave their room ever and thats fine. This was just our experience. Now this isnt to say that William sleeps brilliantly every night. He still has his nights where he wont settle, and he just wants cuddling and being on somebody, or he will wake up 45 times in the night and it will generally be horrendous. But thats what babies do. They are crafty. They trick you into thinking that you have won the battle, when really they have already won the war. Sometimes William still sleeps with me for a couple of hours in the morning, because lets be honest, a couple of hours of precious uninterrupted sleep is better than getting up every 5 minutes to put a bloody dummy back in or give them a rock and a “ssh”.
One thing I wasnt prepared for though was how MY decision about MY child would cause a Health Visitor to be quite rude, really. Now if your reading this and you’re a Health Visitor, dont worry, i’m not slamming you all and saying you are all in some kind of evil witches cult sat there around a cauldron. But this PARTICULAR Health Visitor was a bit shitty really, and she made me feel like a bad mother for making the decision to put William in his own room when we did.
Basically, I take William to one of my local health centres to get weighed every Tuesday, one of my best friends works there and its a good excuse to get out the house and I also get to catch up with her while I wait to be seen. Well this one time, I STUPIDLY mentioned when the Health Visitor asked about how William was sleeping, that he was in his own room. I was met with a right salty look. Literally you could of seasoned about 70 portions of fries with the amount of salt that was in that look. Then came the questions. In the obligatury sarcastic and patronising tone;
“Why is he in his own room? Can I ask what made you decide to do that? What is he sleeping in? What’s in the cot with him? There aren’t any toys are there? You do know the Government guidelines say 6 months? Do you realise he could suffocate? You really should all still be in the same room. What exactly is a sleepyhead? Is it safe for sleeping? He could put his face in the sides and suffocate, we’ve had babies die by being in their own rooms too early. It really should be 6 months…”
She trailed off when she was met with my returning salty look and heavy sigh. She just basically (or so I felt) accused me of just being a bad mother. How DARE she? I had actually made the decision based on the fact of what I thought what right for him – considering he is, funnily enough, MY CHILD. I then answered all her sarcastic condescending questions, about how he is too big for his moses basket, his neck was getting bent by him moving up and around in the basket, the snoring, we have a monitor and watch him, explained what a sleepyhead was, and that he cant suffocate because he is in a sleeping bag and cant actually roll over yet, and that the sleepyhead is actually completely breathable, and yes its safe for sleeping as the clue was in the name (????). She just sort of looked at me with this patronising look in her eyes, as if she wasnt believing anything i was saying, and that I was the world’s worst mother and Satan should come and take me away in his fiery carriage and William should be blessed with holy water to rid him of my cardinal sin. And then proceeded to tell me AGAIN that the Government recommended babies stay with their parents until they are 6 months old. I answered with “Well the government aren’t in my house day after day and don’t know my baby, do they?” And then I just kept quiet, didnt say anything else. I think she got thr hint i was pissed off, and promptly shut her trap and started to write down in Williams red book how much he weighed. The air was very tense, literally you could of cut it with a knife. I politely said goodbye and turned on my heel, going to my friend and telling her what a bitch the health visitor was. Inside I was seething. I’m sure she was just doing her job, trying to give me some helpful advice, yet the way it came across was not in that way. I think sometimes Health Visitors can come across as a bit patronising , some of them are old school, and sometimes the way that you possibly do things may not be the way that either they would do it, or the way the “Government” (whoever these people are who think up these rules are) would recommend. I think they mean well, obviously, however sometimes the way that it comes across is sometimes a bit demeaning and can make you feel a bit shit. So from now on, I just tell them what they need to know, and that’s the way I choose to deal with that.
The point of this post was just to share an experience, and also just to say, that whatever decision you make for your child, you are the only one who can make it, your the only one who knows your baby inside out, so don’t ever be made to feel bad for a decision you have made. Because lets face it, no one really knows what the fuck they are doing. We’re all just winging it day to day, getting into bed on a night and wondering how the fuck we managed to get through another day without anything monumentally going tits up.