Sunday, 26 February 2012


Not quite a success, then, on posting on the blog really regularly to prove to myself that I could make time available for non-babywork.
It's all just feeling a bit challenging at the moment. The duracell baby is getting more wondrous and fascinating by the day: while he's still not doing anything useful like crawling, he is, on his spot, so mobile, and so engaged, and so engaging, and just a complete joy. But as soon as I've become acclimatised to his rhythms, they change, and he is now going longer and longer periods without wanting to sleep, meaning that he's needing more and more mummy time as he doesn't really entertain himself (and why should he, at this age?). Combine this with the separation anxiety meaning that he can't be alone, ever, apart from maybe the first 45 minutes after he goes to bed at night (after his first waking, which is never long after he goes off, he's frantic if put down, so of an evening one of us has to be with him; no, having him down with us to sleep doesn't work because the world's too interesting downstairs, and no, I don't feel I can make his bedtime any later or mine any earlier, I'm already packing up at 9pm), and the time I have left for activity, or for peaceful thought, or for purposeful planning, is painfully short. At this moment, he's napping, and has been for an hour and a bit (achieved by going out with the buggy and just pushing and pushing until he slept) so I've had a lovely quiet read of the paper, but I can't focus, can't remember how to relax. I don't know how to plan anything, can't imagine a time when he won't be so helpless, can't think of how to gather up the scraps of myself.
It's made harder by talking to other mothers with babies the same age because they really do seem all to be in routines, sleeping through the night, content to be left in the jumperoo for a couple of hours a day, happy with other people, etc. These mothers look at me pityingly, suggest that I will have to give in soon to "sleep training", suggest that I've already "ruined" him by making him "too attached" so that he won't happily be with others, suggest that I can't go on like this, I'll make myself ill, I need to be selfish, and so on, and so on. I nod, smile, perhaps if goaded explain that "sleep training" of any sort would, for this baby, at this age, be, as far as I'm concerned, unforgivably cruel, and that I believe he will get there in his own time helped with the patient loving of his parents, but this only convinces me in the daylight hours. At night I'm scared, tired and scared, don't know what's wrong with him, don't know why I'm such a hopeless mother that my baby is always so unchilled, can't think that the situation is redeemable, terrified of the future. At 3am I can imagine him being 15 and despising me, and me being 48 and despising myself, because at 33 I stopped my life and became obsessed with a baby, and he consumed me. But how can I be anything other than obsessed? How can I be thinking about anything other than sleep, when most nights he wakes seven or eight times and cannot relax until I've walked around holding him? How can I plan for doing anything when he needs me so much all of the time? What self is there left when everything is about his nurture?
I don't resent it; I don't wish I didn't have him; in the daytime when he is awake and with me I am consumed with love and tenderness for him; I feel sure at all levels that the attached parenting choices I have made and am making are the right ones; but I am nothing at the moment, nothing but a mother of a baby who is so attached that it's like we share a body.
(more cheerful posts to follow)


  1. Oh my lovely.

    Firstly, those mums with all the 'useful' advice - they've been through what you're going through. Everyone has. They may be playing up how 'good' their babies are. Regardless, everyone goes through stages like this and some people like to crow about it when they get past it. Others prefer the quietly sympathising route. Find some of those. This is why I stopped going to baby group - I just couldn't cope with it.

    Secondly, and for the record, Jacob is nearly 3, we have never used sleep training or left him to cry for any period of time. He's happy and confident and settled, and sleeps like a dream. But we have been through countless horrendous, end of the world nights. I've lost track of the number of people who've said "You'll have to leave him to cry eventually...". Well we didn't, and I can see no reason to do so. You're doing a great job. It's hard, but it will get better, one day. I know that might not be much consolation now, but I PROMISE you, that one day, you'll barely remember these nights.

    Finally, separation anxiety is really hard. I went for the shove-him-in-a-sling-and-get-on-with-it route. But really, if you don't achieve anything during the day when you're a sole carer of a baby, then you're pretty normal. Achieving anything more than nothing, and you're way above the rest of us ;)

    Gentle, supportive hugs. You can do it xxxx

  2. Beth, Beth, Beth, you have no idea how much good this comment did me. Thank you so much for the reassurance, particularly about the "you'll have to do it eventually" thing. It gives me faith!
    (But, weren't you busy doing the 100 things list while J was this kind of age, and so weren't you in fact achieving something and managing to blog about it every single day?)

  3. Only because I had PND and needed something to stop me running out the door every single day. Sadly, but seriously.

    A lot of the things were trivial, a lot of the things I had help with. But also, baby-life got a lot easier during the run up to his first birthday. Each new age brings new challenges, but slowlyslowlyslowly, life gets easier (or you just get used to the sleep deprivation!).

    Anyway, I'm glad I helped. Maybe the subtext to my gentle support is that you should write a list :D

  4. I have tried to reply to this post about eleven billion times*, but the internet keeps eating it while my children are distracting me. So I will spare you the waffle and cut to the chase: all I really wanted to point out was the central flaw in this:

    "can't think that the situation is redeemable, terrified of the future. At 3am I can imagine him being 15 and despising me"

    Because unless you are cuddling-to-sleep a 15 year old who is doing this despising, you can't have it both ways. It WILL end. And possibly he will despise you, because that's what teenagers do, but I don't know about teenagers. I do know that the first time Blake said 'i don't like you', it made me laugh because it sounds like something that should be so hurtful, but was just so recognisably a 3 year old struggling with the unhappiness of not being allowed chocolate, or whatever it was. Anyway. That's not the point. The point, if anything, is to let tomorrow's troubles take care of themselves - you are doing an amazing thing for him and as long as you and he are happy with it then everyone else can butt out. They are well meaning, but probably also meaning '*I* couldn't do that without going crazy, how come she can?'. I know I couldn't, but then I'm not very tolerant :) That emphatically doesn't mean you are wrong. Or your baby. FWIW, we did try some form of 'sleep training' (wherein they mostly disguise 'leave them to cry' in nice words). It felt like nails in my spine. So we stopped. When they actually WERE ready, getting them to sleep through took a small amount of encouragement, but only of the cuddling variety. So hold tight. It WILL happen, when you and/or he are ready. You're doing amazingly.

    Ooops. i did waffle after all.

    *rounding up, to the nearest 11,000,000,000,000**
    ** Yes, an English billion.