Evelyn Poppy Coles was born on the 12th November 2014 and throughout the past 4 months life has felt like a whirlwind.
Breastfeeding in the early days was not an easy ride, by a long stretch. I always wanted to breastfeed and knew I would be devastated if I couldn’t, but imagined it to be this beautiful experience of the baby coming out, latching on, and us living happily ever after. Well, she came out, she latched on…. but it was far from easy.
I would say it took a good six weeks for breastfeeding to become pain free. Initially, the pain comes from your milk coming in (and hell don’t you know it!). It was literally like having two watermelons crammed into my bra – so, so painful. Then following that, we had some latching problems due to a tongue tie (that was successfully snipped), following my a case of thrush which would just not go away.
The early days with Evie were actually very quiet. I think being premature meant she slept more than a normal newborn, and it took her until she was a good 8 – 9 weeks before she became more alert during the day.
For 8 weeks she slept in a moses basket next to my bed, until one night, I fell asleep from pure exhaustion holding her in my arms, feeding. Luckily she slipped off me and landed on the bed – I dread to think what would have happened if she had fallen the other way and landed on the floor. I decided at that point to look into safe co-sleeping, and have never looked back. She is so much happier, and doesn’t cry at all at night now. I always said I would never sleep with my baby in the bed because I didn’t want to roll on her, but if you look into it and do it safely, it is physically impossible.
I looked into co-sleeper cots but they were so expensive so I found a website explaining how to make a DIY version using an ikea cot here: http://amandamedlin.com/2013/11/diy-co-sleeper-pretty-little-quilt/ – it’s a pretty nifty idea even though mine looks nothing like that! She sleeps for the first half of the night in there, and then the second half next to me as she feeds so much (so I just lie with my boobs out!). I curl in a C shape round her so I physically cannot roll on to her, and tuck the duvet between my legs so it can’t rise up over her head. I also never put her between myself and Ben (my partner) as I know he isn’t aware of her in his sleep like I am (I swear I can sense her breathing all night even though I am asleep).
When she was about six weeks old I discovered the concept of baby wearing. I happened across it by accident when posting on a FB breastfeeding group, and someone mentioned I should attend a “sling library”. When I went, I borrowed a “Close Caboo” and loved it so much I went out and bought one. Evie absolutely loved it, and would sleep for hours in it, so cosy and close to me.
I did research into the fourth trimester and totally “got” the concept of it, followed by research into attachment parenting, some principles of which I like, and others not so much. I like the idea that I am providing Evie with a stable and secure attachment through loosely following this style of parenting.
Evie is now 18 weeks old, and she is changing so much every day. I have been doing lots of classes with her, including swimming, baby sensory and baby massage. (That’s all I can afford on maternity money!) She seems to really enjoy doing activities, but I have also realised I can do things with her that don’t cost much too. I am currently working on a “sensory box”, which will contain all sorts of things for her to look at and touch. I bought her some (battery powered for safety) fairy lights which I have twisted over her playmat, which keeps her occupied for quite a while (to let me get on with a bit of housework!).
Whilst reading about attachment parenting, I came across the concept of Gentle Parenting. It’s pretty hard to explain in short terms other than to say it is a method of parenting which treats children with respect, empathy and understanding.
When I first started reading about it, my immediate response was “Well that’s how to bring up rude, spoilt and ill disciplined children that walk all over you”. I imagine that is what people think when I tell them I have this in mind for Evie. But the more I read about it, the more I realised it is something I want to follow. It goes against most of the methods my parents used to bring me up (maybe that isn’t a bad thing… lol) but the more I read the more I like. Obviously there are parts I don’t agree with, but that is what research is for – you take the parts you like and lose the rest.
I have had quite a lot of stick from people (mainly family) about my parenting choices because they are much more mainstream than I am. It is mainly my parents and my sister (my sister has five children). The main sticking point has been over controlled crying/crying it out. I point blank refuse to leave Evie to cry. It is against everything I stand for, and I just could not do it. Plus the fact there is scientific evidence concluding that leaving children to cry themselves to sleep actually damages them emotionally, I personally believe that when I chose to have a child, I chose to be a parent 24/7.
Parenting, for me, doesn’t stop at bedtime and resume in the morning. If she needs me at any time, day or night, I will be there. I don’t think children are born knowing how to sleep securely on their own, and I intend to take as long as Evie needs to gently teach her that she is safe, and that she is able to sleep peacefully in her own bed.
Another sticking point is that I “don’t put her down enough”. As I said earlier, I am loosely following the principles of attachment parenting, so no, I don’t put her down just “because I should”. I hold her as much as she wants to be held, and I believe that because of this, she will be secure enough to be independent when she is ready.
I am particularly interested in finding more about sensory play, especially as Evie grows older. I am getting quite a lot of inspiration from the internet, and I hope to share our adventures through this blog. Anyway, enough for now. Hopefully I will find some like minded bloggers through this site, from whom I hope to learn from throughout this rollercoaster parenting journey. Don’t be shy, get in touch!