Co-sleeping – the ultimate parenting taboo?

Our mostly ornamental cot.

Our mostly ornamental cot.

I make no secret of the fact that I co-sleep with my daughter. It’s not something we’ve done since birth, nor was it a conscious parenting decision, but here we are, co-sleeping.

When I found out I was pregnant, I already had some ideas about how I wanted to parent my baby. I knew that I wanted to breastfeed and that I wanted her to be surrounded by books and music. I knew that I wanted to be a stay at home mum until she reached school age and that I didn’t want to leave her in the care of strangers at daycare.

I had been told at birth classes that co-sleeping was dangerous and not recommended due to increased risk of SIDS, so I never considered that my baby would sleep anywhere other than her bassinet and then cot. What my birth coach failed to mention, due to hospital policy I’m sure, is that there are many benefits of co-sleeping, which I would soon work out for myself.

Initially, Little Chop slept swaddled and warm in her bassinet in the lounge room by day and by my side of the bed at night. Night time feedings were in the lounge room – she would feed and drift back to sleep and we would return to our close but separate beds. The temperate summer climate made leaving the warmth of the bed easier, and I was an eager new mum, doing things by the book.

Four months later the temperature had dropped, Little Chop no longer wanted to be swaddled, and her night time feeding schedule had left me feeling beyond exhausted. My ‘getting baby to sleep’ technique had gone out the window and she was wriggling and writhing, fussing and screaming, and definitely not napping in her cot. So during the day, I would lay down with her in my bed and she would drift quietly off to sleep. Hallelujah!

During the cold Winter nights, I would bring Little Chop into the bed to feed, then return her to the cot when she had fallen back to sleep. Until one night, out of sheer exhaustion, I fell asleep with her still in the bed. I woke up in a panic, “Shit! What have I done? Is she breathing? How could I let myself fall asleep with my precious daughter in the bed!” – she was warm, comfortable and sleeping soundly. Once I had crossed that bridge, it became a regular occurrence. Little Chop would begin the night in her bed and wake up in mine. After a month or so, Hubby moved into the spare room and Little Chop moved in with me. She was happy, I was getting more sleep and we weren’t trudging to the cold lounge room for nightly feeds.

In the end, co-sleeping, was something that happened organically for us because it complemented other parenting decisions I had made – to have my baby sleep in my bedroom, to breastfeed on demand, to practise attachment parenting. I am now in the process of weaning Little Chop as I am pregnant again, but we continue to co-sleep because I don’t believe in ‘cry it out’ or ‘controlled crying’ sleep training methods.

It’s widely reported that co-sleeping is unsafe, but I have never felt that I was putting my daughter in danger. I don’t drink and don’t smoke, I’m not overweight and not a heavy sleeper. If you don’t meet all these conditions, co-sleeping is definitely not the safest sleeping arrangement for your baby.

Since opening up to my friends and family about co-sleeping with my daughter, I have found that EVERY breastfeeding mum I know, plus one bottle feeding mum, has co-slept or currently co-sleeps with her baby, making up more than half the mums I know! Co-sleeping is a common practise around the world, especially in Asian countries, and in recent studies, about two thirds of the American and English families who participated said that they had co-slept with their children.

So next time you feel judged for co-sleeping with your child, remember, it’s not taboo, its normal.

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It’s Friday…

Friday

Today is Friday.

Sixteen months ago I would have been counting down the hours until the end of my work week…

…but I’m a mum now.

As a stay at home, co-sleeping mum, I’m lucky to get an hour or two off each week. This loss of downtime and essentially ME time, is something I’ve thought about a lot since becoming a mum – and resented at times.

I know other mums who’ve struggled with it too, so why is the twenty-four-hourness of being a mum something that we don’t really talk about? We discuss breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, relationships and post-baby body woes at length, but rarely are we prepared to acknowledge that we’d like some time off.

Perhaps we fear judgement, because after all, isn’t being a mum the most joyful and rewarding career possible? Well…YES, being a mum IS amazing and arguably the best job in the world, BUT, and this is a big but, it is not the totality of my identity, nor that of any other mum.

Tomorrow I’d like to read a book, nap, see a movie, visit a gallery, go shopping, get a wax, have my hair done – but I can’t.

Today is Friday and I have to work tomorrow.

 

To be continued…

The new routine and project walk

I mentioned in an earlier post that my 15 month old daughter, Little Chop, had dropped her afternoon nap, making the mornings long and the days even longer. To smooth the transition and bring some order into the chaos, we started the new week with a new morning routine.

Wake, breakfast, shower, walk, nap.

Lucky for me, the new routine perfectly complements my current agenda – Project Walk!

At four months pregnant, it’s time for me to begin a gentle, but regular, exercise routine. I love my food and am prone to being a bit of a couch potato, which saw me gain about 22kg during my last pregnancy – gulp. I was Australia’s equivalent to Jessica Simpson!

Me, 35 wks pregnant, with hubby on Christmas day drinking a mocktail!

Me, 35 wks pregnant, with hubby on Christmas day drinking a mocktail!

Ok, not quite, but I did gain a lot of weight and was at risk of developing gestational diabetes – not good for mum or baby. Although I managed to lose all the baby weight, mainly thanks to breastfeeding, I don’t want to put that much strain on my body again.

So, I’ve decided to walk in the morning as often as Melbourne’s temperamental weather will allow – if its not raining, I’m walking!

Little Chop is responding well to the new routine too. The walk tires her out and by the time we’re home she’s asleep in the pram. I park the pram in a dark room and head to the kitchen for a cup of tea, a clack on the computer and a bit of a clean up.

So far so good!

Fussy toddler bolognese with hidden veggies

Little Chop having a great time licking the beater

Little Chop having a great time licking the beater

There was a time when my daughter would eat anything I made for her. Veggies twice a day, everyday, for months – easy as that. I knew other mums who were dealing with fussy toddlers and felt smug knowing that I didn’t have that challenge.

But one day, right around the time she started wanting to spoon feed herself, I lifted the spoonful of veggies to her mouth and she squeezed her lips together and turned away. I tried again, and again, but she wouldn’t open her mouth. I wanted to cry.

As though overnight my daughter had become… fussy.

These days she’d live on vegemite toast and mandarins if I let her, but I’ve found a meal she loves that I can sneak lots of veggies into – bolognese!

Here is what you’ll need for my Fussy Toddler Bolognese with Hidden Veggies:

500g lean mince – pork, beef or mixed pork & veal

1 medium brown onion, finely chopped

400g tin whole peeled tomatoes

1 cup stock – chicken beef or veggie

1 Tbls tomato paste

1 Tbls bolognese herbs/ Italian herbs (from dried herbs section of supermarket)

2 Tsp salt

2 Tsp sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

ADD any combination of the following veggies:

1 medium carrot cut into 1/2 cm cubes

1/2 medium eggplant cut into 1 cm cubes

1/2 medium zucchini cut into 1 cm cubes

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms

* The smaller you cut the veggies, the less noticeable they’ll be in the bolognese.

Soften the onions on medium heat in a large heavy bottom pot. Turn the heat up and add the mince, stirring until browned. Add all other ingredients and stir. When the bolognese is bubbling, reduce to a simmer and put lid on. Simmer for an hour, stirring regularly to help the veggies break down and ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Add a little water if it starts to look dry. You want it to be quite saucy. After an hour, the veggies should be broken down and barely visible in the bolognese.

Serve with spiral pasta or macaroni with cheese on top.

Makes enough to feed at least 2 adults and 2 kids, or you can portion it out into little pots and freeze for a quick meal on standby.

Enjoy!

The Beautiful Mama Blog Award

Gifted by the lovely Valerie at Atlanta Mom of Three

Gifted by the lovely Valerie at Atlanta Mom of Three

I have been nominated for the Beautiful Mama Blog Award by my new friend, Valerie from alantamomofthree.wordpress.com/. Here is a little about how we came to know each other.

When I began this blog just one short week ago, I was having a bad day. It had rained incessantly, my 15 month old daughter was going stir crazy, my partner was at work despite it being Sunday, and I needed a break – badly. So, I sat Little Chop down in front of her favourite DVD with a snack and crept away to the dining table to escape for a little while. A cup of decaf and a Tim Tam later, melbournemummy was born.

I didn’t think anyone would be able to find my blog in the great vastness of the world wide web, let alone comment or subscribe but the next morning I was delighted to find that someone had found my blog through our mutual love of Downton Abbey – and commented – and subscribed! It was Valerie, and her comments made my day.

I have been blown away by the friendliness and camaraderie amongst fellow mummy bloggers and I am so glad to have found this wonderful, supportive community.

So, in the spirit of the Beautiful Mama Award, here are three things I love about motherhood:

1. My daughter lets me see the world through her eyes. Everyday things that had long lost their wonder are new again – especially things in nature like animals, shadows, flowers.

2. My daughter needs me and that makes me feel good. Being needed by someone you love who loves you equally in return in extremely rewarding and makes you feel like you have value as an individual. Which leads me to my next point…

3. My daughter gives me reason for being. Before I had her, I wasn’t sure of my place in the world, but as soon as she came into my life, I knew that if nothing else, I am here for her – to love her, comfort her, teach her and protect her – until my days are over.

And now I’m blubbering…

I’m still new to the blogging world, so I will be passing this award on to other Beautiful Mamas once I’ve had a chance to get to know some of you a little better.

Losing the routine without losing your marbles

My sweet little cherub in her first week of life - sigh...

My sweet little cherub in her first week of life – sigh…

As my 15 month old daughter transitions from two naps to one, I find myself struggling to abandon the daily routine that has maintained my sanity for the past five months.

There was comfort in knowing that a well deserved break was not far away – a cup of tea, an episode of Sex and the City, a load of washing, a moment of peace and quiet, a shower!

Mornings, once short, quiet and predictable, are now long, loud and haphazard. So, despite my reluctance, the routine must change.

But how do I let go without losing my marbles?

Here’s my action plan:

1. Begin each day with purpose. This could be as simple as picking up something from the supermarket or as special as a trip to the zoo. The point is to have something to do each day.

2. Have regular weekly activities. Kindergym, swimming lessons, playdates and other set activities will break the monotony and make the week go faster.

3. Have something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. A cupcake or trashy magazine for nap time, a drop in from a friend, a haircut or eyelash tint on the weekend.

4. Take time off. Ask hubby to play ‘mum’ for half an hour in the evenings or enlist a willing relative to babysit for a couple of hours once every week or two.

Wish me luck.

What’s your action plan?

Mums are like rockstars

This popped up in my Facebook feed yesterday and while it made me feel quite cool and glamorous for a moment it also got me thinking about other ways that mums are like rockstars.

I came to the shock realisation that I may have more in common with Courtney Love than previously thought…

8. You’ve been known to get your boobs out in public.

9. There was a time when you often had vomit on your top.

10. You can’t remember when you last shaved your legs.

It’s true, we may not always be glamorous, cool and sexy, but mums are definitely like rockstars!