Thursday, April 29, 2010

Parents of the Caribbean: At Wits End

OK so I mentioned the word CIO which always sparks debate...

When Butterfly was 8 weeks old we started her on routines. "Self Settling" became the new objective. That meant putting her down and walking out for 2 minutes, letting her cry and then after that coming in and patting her until she fell asleep. She still cried when we were there, but at least we were there. It was a very stressful point in our family relationship, my hubby couldn't see why we had to do it but I was adamant. The book says I have to do this to have a child who sleeps well. If only I had listened to him.

Butterfly was on routines then for about 4 months. She slept great! Slept through on the rare occasion, and the other nights only woke once. Success! Although she never "self settled" without being in some degree of distress. She never screamed the house down, just cried out for us. I was never relaxed until she fell alseep. And nights were horrid in our house, as bedtime was 7pm but she was always wanted to go to sleep around 6pm... so stretching her out that last hour was hard on everybody.

THEN she hit 6 months. BAM! No more whinges at bedtime, she began to REALLY cry, SOB, like her little heart was broken. She woke every hour during the night. She wouldn't sleep unless I fed her to sleep. I felt like a right failure, as that is breaking one of the "books" cardinal rules. I began to stress out about feeding her to sleep, looked for another solution. Hubby went on the net. We only found one site that supplied an alternative to the CIO method if you can't stand to hear your baby cry. We clicked on it... "go outside" was the advice. SIGH. So we gave it a go. I wish we hadn't, but we did.

We consulted the "book". The cry alone time had increased from 2 minutes for an 8 week old to 20 minutes for a 6 month old. And she cried. And cried. She burst into tears before I had even closed the door each night. I sat on the couch, every cell in my body screaming to go to her, and waited. And listened. And felt my heart BREAK. 15 minutes it took her. 15 MINUTES! According to the book that was fast, but if you cried that hard for that long you would be exhausted and probably fall asleep as well. I am welling up now just thinking about all of this.

And you know what? It worked. It worked in that it she went to sleep and slept solidly, only waking once or twice a night. We did this for maybe 3 nights. Even though I had "acheived" the goal to make her sleep, I wasn't happy. I didn't know what to do. I had been given some money for my birthday and Christmas, and went shopping. I decided to seek out a book Sausage Mama was always going on about, "The Continuum Concept". I liked and respected SM a lot, and wanted to know what the fuss was about.

I read it. And I cried. I cried because it said what I already knew, that leaving Butterfly to CIO was not the best thing for her. AT ALL. I dried my eyes and set about making changes in my house. Step one? Move Butterfly back into our room (she moved out at 3.5 months). Step two? Feed her to sleep. Without guilt. Without hesitation. Feed her because she wants to. Feed her because she needs the comfort. Feed her to let her know that you are here for her, day or NIGHT.

It was a big adjustment, from getting up to a child once or twice a night, to tending to her every hour. It HAS taken me a while to retrain my thoughts. I have had my low points, where I have been sleep deprived and at my wits end. Right now I am at a point in our relationship where we are SO close, SO bonded, and I am happy to go to her, no matter how frequently. She always cries for a reason. Wanting a hug is a real reason. Not that she cries much anymore!!

She is still waking frequently. It has been 4 months. It has recently improved to once every two hours. So don't be under the illusion that I am only able to avoid CIO because my child is a good sleeper anyway. She isn't. But I have higher goals for her than just getting her to sleep through the night in the short term.

SO... my point? I wanted to share my experience for those who felt judged by my dislike for the CIO method. I have been a routine Mum (and at the time, was so SMUG that my baby slept better than others! And tried to get others to read the "book"). I HAVE left my baby to CIO.

So do I think you are a horrible parent for being a routine Mum or letting your child CIO? NO. I would be a total hippocrite if I said yes.

However I do hope you do some research on the topic. If you already have, fine. Your child, your decision. There are studies which support it, and some that say it is harmful. There is a great resource on the peaceful parenting blog. The studies that say it is harmful are not based on someone sitting a bunch of people down and asking them to rate their happiness out of 10. It is a scientific study about the effects of raised cortisol (stress hormone) on a persons ability to cope with stress in later life. Personally I have found the articles that support CIO focus on the fact that it works, not the long term effects. I don't doubt it "works".

Do I think it is harmful to babies? YES. I can't pretend otherwise. Obviously I do to have chosen attachment parenting. I have nothing to lose. If I am wrong, it doesn't matter. But there is also a chance I am right.

I hear a lot of parents saying around forums that there child is "fine" or "the happiest child" etc. I'm sure they are. My beliefs on CIO are not that you will harm your child to the extent that they will not live a happy life. However our society is seriously screwed up and I am trying to make sure Butterfly has every chance of growing up confident, secure, the best she can be.

If my blog has incensed you, please go back and reread it with the knowledge that I am NOT judging you. How you parent has no effect on me. This is just my life, my experience, and that is all I have to offer you.

Please, PLEASE, if you are not coping at the moment, seek help. Postnatal depression is a serious illness that needs to be addressed.

I wish everyone and their babies a happy and fullfilled life! Peace.

Hey Sis, Where the Bloody Hell are Ya?

Dear Vicci/Vic/Vuccay,

Why did you go away? South America is sooo far! I know you want to travel the world, but shit, I have needs too! I need to be able to call my sister when Joss learns a new trick. What if I need a hug? What then? Selfish is what you are...

Just kidding slagbag. I really do miss you. It has been hard not having you here for Butterfly's first Christmas, Easter, Birthday. I think of you every time I plan her party, I am so sad you can't be there. But I am so glad you are finally living your dream and seeing the world! It sounds like you are having the time of your life! There is so much time for you to settle down and have a family, it is good you are getting this out of your system now. Coz, like, we won't be letting you do this again!

So much has changed in my life since you left. Remember that parenting "book" I was always quoting? I've binned it. Now I do what feels right to me, and Joss is so much more relaxed. She was always happy, but now we are both more chilled out going with the flow. And I have made new friends! I owe my life (and Butterflys) to Sausage Mama, who gives me the confidence to be a "hippy" parent. Yeah, thats right, I met someone on the net and now we are real life friends! I have become one of THOSE people... You will love her little Sausage Boy too, he is beyond adorable! He is such a sweet, intelligent and loved little boy.

I am also looking into HBAC (home birth after caesarean). J is less than impressed. I got into trouble for bringing it up and "ruining" his Friday night!! He'll come around. But I don't want to leave Butterfly for 5 nights while I sit in a hospital bed recovering from having an artificial vagina cut into my stomach! I, like, have one of those already... no cutting necessary! I have found a kindred spirit called Nerissa who lives nearish me and is looking into HBAC too... yep, another net friend!

Oh I miss you. You are pretty special you know. I don't get mushy often but you are so kind and funny and strong willed, my life would suck without you in it. Even though we spent most of our teenage years with you insulting me and me thumping you for it! Or you locking yourself in your room when Pebbles spewed on the couch so I had to clean it up! Or you whinging that you had to do the ironing and all I had to do was feed Leo (although you probably had a point...)

I can't wait for you to come back and see your neice. She is getting so big and clever Vic. She has a wicked sense of humour and a cheeky laugh, and all Mum can do when she comes over is sit and adore her!

Here is a quick update on Butterfly at the moment:

  • Signs: milk, finished and bed!

  • Favourite toys: Burt and Ernie, she gives them cuddles that make ME jealous!

  • Favourite song: Telephone by Beyonce and Lady Gaga

  • Favourite food: Spaghetti bolognese and Garlic bread!

  • Skills: high fives, kisses, brushes her hair and teeth (even if most of the time she is using the wrong side of the brush!), blows rasperries on Mummas tummy, waves, stands up on the furniture, dancing (OH the DANCING!!)

  • She loves Nanna and Poppy, although Poppy is best enjoyed at a distance of at least 5 feet (if he tried to tickle her yesterday she grabbed his hand and threw it away!)

Dancing is her favourite thing. So her birthday is going to be a "rock chick" party! That jukebox Mum won us is going to come in handy! Sarah and Alethea are coming around today to help me make the invitations. We will be thinking of you!

Have an awesome rest of your trip, I CAN'T WAIT to see you both in August! So, lets say worst case scenario you come back on the last day of August, that is only 121 days away! And counting!

Love you

mean it


PS Butterfly says to say, "I HATE uncle Jamie!"

Thankyou for Breastfeeding!

Dear Butterfly,

Thankyou for drinking my milk. You have given me a HUGE range of benefits!

  • I haven't had my period in over 19 months... SCORE!

  • You provide me with a convenient excuse not to leave you with anyone else... saves me trying to explain that you are too young and attached to me to want to be babysat

  • I have never had to make up a bottle, or stress out if I have left your food or drink at home!

  • You have decreased my risk of breast cancer by up to 25%! Yippeeee!

  • Same goes for uterine and ovarian cancer, just keeps getting better hey?

  • I have a majorly decreased risk for osteoporosis... non-breastfeeding women have a FOUR TIMES higher chance of getting this one

  • By drinking my milk you have given me a better chance of avoiding post natal depression

  • Oh man, the WEIGHT LOSS!! I am officially skinnier now than before I got pregnant! HIGH FIVE!

  • You save me over a $1000 a year in formula costs... think of how many nappies that is?

  • You provided a convenient reason not to go back to work, my employers could not deny me extended leave when you are still exclusively breastfed! Teehee

  • Today I was sick for the first time, and it was AWESOME to be able to lie on the floor and feed you instead of getting up to fix you a bottle
Thankyou darling. I love you

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Routines vs Whatever Goes!

For a few months of my baby's life I was a routine Mum. I followed a book called "Save our Sleep" by Tizzie Hall. It was my bible. Until I read "The Continuum Concept" by Jean Liedloff, and learned to trust my OWN instincts! Now life is much more peaceful...

It isn't as if there is no routine in our lives, but the difference now is that I let Butterfly set her own!

Here are a few examples of how our lives have changed...

Then... set my alarm for 7am, and wake the baby if she wasn't yet awake (also applies to naps)
NOW... get up when we get up! Yeah, most of the time she wakes between 6.30am and 7.30am, but there have been a few after 8am wake ups that I would have MISSED!!

Then... feed the baby, put her in her cot, say goodnight and walk out, closing the door behind me (and then listen to her whinge herself to sleep)
NOW... Lie down together in our communal bed, and breastfeed to sleep, with my beautiful daughter playing with my skin... Sweet, peaceful, easy!

Then... bedtime is 7pm. If the baby is tired at 6pm stress both of you out by trying to keep her up till 7pm. If she isn't tired at 7pm, tough cookies it is bedtime!
NOW... bedtime is when she is tired. Woke up from her midday nap early? Go to bed at 5pm if needed. Had a nap in the car late in the afternoon? Stay up till 10pm playing with Dadda! If we try to put her to bed and she isn't tired, we don't stress about it, just take her out for another play until she IS tired enough!

Then... breastfeed the baby 6 times a day, and whenever she needs at night
NOW... geez, who counts?? Feed to sleep, feed when she wakes, feed while playing if she is thirsty, feed if she is teethy and upset, feed whenever and wherever!

Then... get up a zillion times a night to check that Butterfly is still breathing... then go searching for the cats every time I open the door to make sure neither of them snuck into her room in the dark!
NOW... Mostly I can hear her breathing, but worst case scenario I have to put out a hand, feel the rise and fall of her chest, and go back to sleep

Then... put her down for her naps exactly 1 hour 20 minutes after she woke up (for example), DON'T put her to bed 5 minutes early even if she is crying with tiredness!
NOW... put her down for her nap when she is tired, if we are out and about she may stay up later, if she had a rough night she can go earlier!

Then... wake up in the morning to the sound of a crying child and have to jump out of bed feeling like a zombie!

NOW... wake up to a little hand on my arm, and roll over to see my baby's smiling face! Then we open the blinds, and wake up at our own pace looking into the garden, followed by peekaboo with the sheets... blissssss

Then... if she wakes at night, go into her room, DON'T make eye contact, and try to resettle her if it isn't "time" for a feed

NOW... If she wakes she gets boob. If she is waking ridiculously often, hold her and pat her back until she goes to sleep.

Then... What time is it?
NOW... Who caresssssss! I follow her cues for feeding and bedtimes!

Yes, in some ways life has become a little less predictable, and I have to parent at night time... but I wouldn't go back for all the money in the world. That "book" had me convinced that my baby was born manipulative and I had to "teach" her how to self settle... pfft! Now I breastfeed to sleep, SHOCK HORROR! People may say I am making a rod for my own back. Whatevs, it is MY back... and I believe I will reap the rewards when my daughter grows up happy and confident having all her needs met as an infant.

Routines were easier on me. Continuum parenting is easier on Butterfly. I know which I will choose every time!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hi! My name is Butterfly and I like to dance!

That Yo Gabba Gabba reference was for you, Becka...

Yesterday my little family and I returned from two nights away in Pottsville, NSW. My beautiful cousin was getting married, and we were just lucky it was in such a beautiful location! Made for a GREAT getaway!

This weekend was our first family holiday, we hadn't taken  Butterfly anywhere before due to money and hassle. And boy, the amount of crap we needed to pack just for a two night stay! The boot of our wagon was full to the brim, as was the passenger seat (I sit in the back with  Butterfly). Travelling with a cloth wearer means a whole bag of nappies, wetbags, wipes etc. Yeah, I could have just put her in sposies, but I hate them! We even packed her padded toilet seat (which I was grateful for, as she didn't poo in a nappy the whole time!)

I interrupt this blog to share something frightening... my hubby is at work, something dark flashed across my peripheral vision and our bifold hall door just opened by itself... FUUUUUUDDDGE! OK now I am freaking out! Just the wind, just the wind, just the wind (every time I look down I see something dark in my peripherals!!) Stop it, Zoe, you wuss, there is nothing there! Wake up please Butterfly, Mumma needs some company!

OK anyhoo...
We really had a great time away, it was nice not to have the computer on and spend some quality time with hubby and bubby. And  Butterfly had a ball, crawling around a new house, climbing STAIRS (we didn't know she could do that as we don't have any!) and playing with the family. We were staying in a unit with my parents and grandparents (4 generations squeezed into one place!). It really was fantastic,  Butterfly loved being the centre of attention, watching Poppy G make silly noises on his lips, playing a never ending game of Peek a Boo with Nanna, studying all of Nonni G's colourful jewellery, running her hands over Poppy's face and laughing at the prickles...
 Butterfly meets her first real live frog!

The wedding itself was AMAZING!! I missed the start of the ceremony as  Butterfly was not impressed at finding herself shoulder to shoulder with strange men, but the part I saw was beautiful! Tears of emotion, the view of the ocean from the hill on which they got married, the bride looking positively radiant! We went "home" to give  Butterfly a quick nap before the reception, and I am glad we did, as the party animal went on to last the whole party!!
My radiant cousin and spunky uncle!

The reception was one of the best, if not THE best, I have been to! So laid back, catered by my uncle, just so joyous! There were performances by guests on guitar, singing, dancing! Oh and the profitterole cake, oh my! Sooo good! I think my hubby ate like 5 of them! And I let  Butterfly try some of mine, being a special occasion! She dipped her finger in daintily for a while, tasting it, before grabbing a handfull and cramming it in!! Nom nom nom!
 Butterfly had a ball with the balloons!

Yes,  Butterfly is almost nekked here! It got sooo hot, and she was on the dancefloor most of the night! My adorable little rock chick danced and danced and danced! She LOVES music! The other guests couldn't get over it, how such a small baby was a) awake all night and b) dancing and clapping and laughing with everyone else! To see a video of her dancing click here! I was told repeatedly how happy a baby she is, it was a major compliment. It is nice when others get to see just how special your baby is. And she really is so special... unique... fabulous!
I love you  Butterfly.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I haven't blogged in a while, don't really have a good excuse for that! I guess I should be grateful that there have been no more maggot attacks to inspire me to write!

I have been very busy lately researching VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). I have this friend who is a total legend/BIATCH for lending me a book called "Delivery by Appointment". It opened my eyes to the c-section process and the pros, cons and risks involved. My first section was elective, I thought I had totally valid and major reasons that I have since found out were pretty weak. I trusted my OB would help me make an informed decision. Hmmm. It is totally my bad though, I should have researched harder!

I then watched a movie called "The business of being born" (again, thanks/feck you dear friend!!) which made me want not only a VBAC, but a home birth! Over my husbands dead body though... we'll see. At any rate I am determined to have a successful and drug free VBAC (I CAN do it!!) I want to be able to squat or birth on all fours. I want my baby on my chest where she belongs, STRAIGHT after birth. I want to breastfeed without being drug affected/hooked up to tubes and monitors/stuck on my back. I want to go home and be with Butterfly and the new baby, instead of a 5 night stay in hospital followed by 6 weeks of Mummy being sore and unable to function properly. I want to experience birth, not be a spectator in an operating theatre. I want their birthday to be a surprise, not chosen because my OB does C sections "on a wednesday". I want I want I WANT!

Yes, I am aware that vaginal birth isn't a walk in the park, and that I may end up with stitches etc to recover from. I am aware that there is a slight chance that I may need another c section anyway (and if so, I will not consider my labour to be a "waste"). I am informing myself fully this time, so that I can make an educated decision. I am finding out the truth behind some myths. YES there is a risk of uterine rupture. It is extremely low, most ruptures occurred after they used drugs to induce women attempting VBAC. The risks to mother and baby are higher during a c section. So I am not worried about rupture at all.

What I AM worried about is being labelled "high risk" at the hospital, and watched like a hawk. That if I don't progress fast enough they will cut me. That I have a higher risk of unnecessary intervention. Sigh. This is why some women choose HBAC (home birth after caesarean), to birth naturally outside of the hospital setting. Bloody tempting!! (The birthing centres have VBACs on an exclusion list. *Insert string of expletives*)

I still have a long way to go in regards to informing myself and developing a solid plan. Oh yeah, FYI I'm not pregnant, not even trying for that matter! Just super organised! I will have to make sure I don't get pregnant before Butterfly is 18 months old to increase my chances of VBAC success...