The countdown begins

Today I am officially thirty weeks pregnant – let the countdown begin.

Ten thoughts for the ten weeks I have left…

1. I can’t believe how fast pregnancy flies by when you have a very busy toddler to entertain.

2. I’m absolutely exhausted but due to co-sleeping with my 18 month old, killer acid reflux and aching hips, the deep unbroken sleep that I really need at the moment continues to elude me.

3. This pregnancy has been so much easier on my body than my first. I’ve had more energy, put on less weight and have less aches and pains than last time.

4. I feel more confident about parenting a newborn, particularly with regard to breastfeeding. Establishing breastfeeding with Little Chop was really difficult, physically and emotionally – it was extremely painful, she lost too much weight, I became disheartened and unsure of my ability to provide enough milk for her, but I was determined and we successfully breastfed for 16 months. This time I don’t expect it to be easy, but I am sure of my ability.

5. Am I physically and emotionally capable of parenting two children under two? To be honest, I don’t know. I hope so. I know that it will be really hard, I will be sleep deprived, I will feel stretched thin, I won’t have time to myself. But maybe it will be easier because I know these things. I am also very lucky to have family support nearby.

6. I’m so excited to have a newborn in the house again. It will be a different experience to bringing Little Chop home because I had all the time in the world to hold her while she slept and take millions of photos.

7. I can’t wait to introduce Little Chop to her baby sister. She adores babies, and while I’m sure she will be a bit jealous that mummy’s attention has been diverted, she will also be very interested in our new arrival.

8. This is probably the last time I will be pregnant, unless the universe sends us a surprise. We only plan to have two babies, so looks like we’re just about done.

9. I feel guilty about how little time I’ve devoted to concentrating on and documenting this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Little Chop, I noticed every movement, I read up on her development weekly, I took pictures of my growing belly and videos of kicks and tumbles. This time around, I simply don’t have the time. I also worry that I won’t take as many photos of this baby as I did of Little Chop as a newborn because I won’t have as much time.

10. I plan to do a couple of things differently with this baby. I was always quick to settle Little Chop when she woke up during the night – I will give this baby more opportunities to self-settle. I will vaccinate at eight weeks instead of six because Little Chop had a week long vomiting reaction to her first set of vaccinations, and I don’t want to go through that again. I won’t be using Farex, as I found it to be really constipating for Little Chop so this time we’ll only be offering non-starchy fruit and vegetable purees as first food.

Anyone else expecting their second?

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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.