Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Back to work

So after 351 days of maternity leave, the time has come to go back to work or in my case start a new job. Two weeks into my 50 day maternity leave in Oman (yep 50 whole days...) I realised that I couldn't return to my then job. The hours combined with the stress I felt while pregnant there made me realise that returning as a new mum so soon after what was quite a traumatic birth just wasn't going to work. I wanted time to be a mother and find out what makes my little girl laugh, smile, cry and stare. I wanted to be there for her first solids and breastfeed as long as I could - for those interested we are still doing a morning and night feed - while taking her to parent and child groups and singing silly songs in the park. I have made some lovely mummy friends and and the Mini Grumpy Egyptian has made some friends of her own, but now the playdates and morning coffee sessions are no more as instead I will be at work.

My new job has me doing something that I think is going to prove really interesting and I am looking forward to having to engage my brain a little more than I have in previous months. Am I nervous however about the new office environment? Not really... instead I am thinking or perhaps hoping is a more suitable word, that the Mini Grumpy Egyptian is going to be ok. I know I can't be there forever, but I would have selfishly liked a little more time. She has a fantastic childminder and my dad is going to be looking after her for this first week to help her settle, so I really hope things go to plan.

Working will mean I get that much talked about and highly controversial "me-time". It will mean that we can - if the current government doesn't change any more regulations - get the spouse visa for the Grumpy Egyptian and get him here with us. It will mean I can wear necklaces and earrings again without someone trying to pull them out!

It feels a little sad, I won't lie. Like the end of an era almost. The Mini Grumpy Egyptian has been such a big part of my everyday for what feels like so long now, but I will still be there for dinner and bedtime and be waking her in the morning for a little feed before I dash out. I will miss her and I will worry that she is ok or that she is crying, but this is for our future and I hope this will make me a better mummy.

Wish me luck and see you soon...

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Combined weaning

I have had the title of this post in my draft folder since November, but inspired by something I overheard today, decided to finish it. We decided to begin weaning the Mini Grumpy Egyptian when she was five and a half months old as she was showing an interest in food and seemed hungry. It was quite hard working out whether she was interested in food or interested in food in that it was new and she found it interesting rather than wanting to eat it. Her first meal was some puréed sweet potato and boy did she inhale it!

This lovely image is taken from the My Little Lunchbox Blog with thanks. It isn't mine!

We chose to go for a mixture of baby led and traditional weaning so would feed with a spoon, but offer soft foods for her to try and eat by herself. We did this because it was the way the Grumpy Egyptian and I were both weaned and we don't have any trouble eating, just the opposite in fact! I know some mum's think that spoon feeding is the same as force feeding, but I've never spooned food into the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's mouth if she's crying or forced her to eat something she doesn't want. By choosing a selection of age/teeth appropriate finger foods at each meal as well as something warm for dinner or a yoghurt at breakfast, she is trying a whole host of flavours.

We started off with two small meals a day - breakfast and dinner - with breastfeeding as needed and her top up bottle of formula mid-afternoon. We tried some pouches, which she was keen on to start, but very soon got bored of singular/plain flavours and would spit it out. We moved into more advanced flavours and I found curry paste pots for children (found in the baby food aisle) were fantastic. I could remove some of the meat and vegetables that I was making our curry with and in a separate pan mix it with the curry paste, some tomatoes and yoghurt and we have enough to freeze for five meals. I also used pouches to make a quick meal with pasta if we were eating something that was inappropriate (too spicy, etc) for her to have.

Around six and a half months in and we introduced a small lunch as well before increasing portion sizes. I was worried that the mini one would overeat, but we found that she quickly found what was a comfortable amount for her to eat and would refuse anymore when full. Five months on and we are yet to find anything this little girl won't eat! She appears to have her mother's sweet tooth but will happily tuck into trees (broccoli), watermelon, pepper slices and is rather partial to a little cauliflower cheese. I give her lots of finger foods at every meal, but am still spoon feeding her yoghurt/wet foods because I'm not sure she's ready to spoon feed herself. When cooking I add no salt to our food and use the Heinz stock cubes that I get from the baby food aisle so if it's suitable for the mini one then she can have some of what we're eating. She likes Moroccan meatball Tagine, tomato pasta, homemade sweet and normal potato wedges as well as gnawing on a bit of steak when it's around.

She doesn't eat pork for religious reasons, but that hasn't seemed a problem so far. When out and about she likes egg and cress or peanut butter sandwiches. Cheese always makes an appearance at lunchtime and I have a container of rice crackers, breadsticks and mini kids flapjacks that never leave the nappy changing bag.

I do worry she doesn't get enough variety, but reading above makes me realise perhaps she does! A frantic Google search one day led me to Kayla and her gorgeous blog My Lovely Little Lunchbox (I'm so jealous, I won't lie) where she writes about the delicious food she makes her little one so I've managed to get some great tips from there. When did you start giving your little ones their own spoon/cutlery? It is her birthday next month so I am pinning away on Pinterest for a couple of cheap but cheerful birthday food ideas.

The Egyptian Mummy

Monday, 24 March 2014

Review: Tesco Finest cheese

A couple of months ago I heard about The Orchard at Tesco, a programme that allows you to sign up for certain projects and write about them in return for free money off vouchers for you and your family/friends. The first one that I was invited to participate in was a Tesco Finest meats activity that I didn't blog about, but you may have seen me mention on Twitter or Facebook. The most recent was for Tesco Finest Cheese and given my love of cheese, I just had to sign up for it.

My welcome pack contained lots of money off vouchers so our next task was choosing which cheeses to buy. Luckily our local Tesco in Winchester has a good range to choose from and I decided to buy my two favourite cheeses - feta and buffalo mozzarella - and compare how they are against my usual brand. The first thing that struck me was the detail that had gone into the packaging complete with details about the cheese's origin.
I chose to use the salty feta in a fresh but simple salad complete with cucumber, tomato, red pepper, spinach, lettuce, lemon juice and olive oil dressing, and my favourite thing to put in salads that contain salty cheese.... Dried mint. Try it, it's gorgeous! The feta crumbled beautifully and made what is a very simple salad, utterly delicious. This would be great as a lunch with a couple of falafel or bundled into a wrap with grilled chicken and a drizzle of Greek yoghurt.

The buffalo mozzarella was meant to be used to posh up a tomato and chilli pasta bake, but I ended up eating most of it out the packet! It melted so beautifully in the mouth and had this mellow milky consistency that for people who've only had its rubbery counterpart could prove a bit strange. I enjoyed some of this mozzarella torn up along with finely chopped tomatoes and some oregano that I stirred through some couscous for a great packed lunch friendly treat.

The remaining vouchers were given to my mum who chose the Stilton and apricot log that I understand she inhaled :)

I think for the quality of the cheeses they were fairly priced as you would probably pay more in a posh deli, but it would be nice to see the range increase further.

What do you think of these types of programmes? What cheeses would you have chosen to try?

*Disclaimer: I was given money off vouchers as part of The Orchard at Tesco in order to purchase the items mentioned here, but was not required to write a positive review and all words are my own

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Mother's Day gift ideas

This year will mark my first Mother's Day as a mummy and I am really looking forward to spending the day with the Mini Grumpy Egyptian. While March 30 is about so much more than gifts, I think all mum's will admit it is rather nice to open something gorgeous on the day so I searched the internet and picked my top eight gifts for Mother's Day.

1. Handmade two peas in a pod necklace by Muriel & Lily. Notonthehighstreet.com £125
2. Spineless Classics Pride and Prejudice print. IWOOT.com. £33.99
3. Chocolate letter with smarties by The LetterRoom. Notonthehighstreet.com £9.95
4. When life hands mum lemons print by Wink Design. Notonthehighstreet.com £16.50
5. Six month membership to The Cake Club by The Cake Nest £39.99
6. Tassie bag by White Stuff £65
7. Michael Kors watch at John Lewis £209
8. Mandarin and Tangelo scented candle by The Body Shop £10

Now I don't know about you, but I would be so happy to receive any of those on Mother's Day. How will you be celebrating Mother's Day? Any exciting plans?

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

World Book Day: Touch and Feel books

Happy World Book Day!

Since we had the Mini Grumpy Egyptian, I have found there is less and less time for me to sit down with a good book and relax. It seems as though I'm constantly cleaning, feeding, changing or trying to entertain her. I believe it is really important to instil a love of reading in little ones from a young age and in order to make me feel as though I am still reading, have read to the mini one since she was born. In her play area there is a small tub of board books that she is able to access herself and a book is part of our bedtime routine. While classics like The Hungry Caterpillar and Inch Wincy Spider puppet books are regulars, the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's favourite stories are without doubt the touch and feel books.

Charity shops and second-hand sales have been great at picking up copies of the fantastic "That's not my..." series and our favourites are the monkey, dinosaur and Princess books. They are great for a curious ten month old baby as they are short enough to keep her interested and with lots of different textures to feel.

I have noticed though that there are a lot of bad touch and feel books out there that feel as though the author just threw a couple of random textures down without paying much thought as to whether they have anything to do with the story or feel interesting enough to touch. When they are charging £5+ for a book, they need to be much better than this. My least favourite are the touch and feel books that don't have a story and just follow a general theme such as animals.

Our favourite book however is one the Mini Grumpy Egyptian got for Christmas and that is the my First Gruffalo -  Touch and feel. It is brilliant and comes complete with stick wart, felt spikes, furry stomach and gritty teeth. We can read this a couple of times a night and the mini one is as happy reading it the third time as she was the first. If you were looking to introduce a touch and feel book to your little one, I would suggest this is a great start. The book itself feels solid, durable and fantastic quality. Despite a number of tugs on the felt spikes, they show no signs of coming loose.
The next book we plan to add too up collection is the Peter Rabbit touch and feel. Can you suggest anymore? What books did you read with your ten month old? Did you allow them to free play with the books at this age or wait until they are older.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Milestones: Crawling, standing and pointing

In a couple of days the Mini Grumpy Egyptian turns ten months old and the past couple of weeks have really given us a sign of things to come! It started off a month ago when she took two small crawl movements - having never attempted it before - before racing across the living room. It was amazing! I tried to get her to do it again so I could film it but she seemed to go camera shy. Speed forward a couple of weeks and she doesn't want to sit still for a second. The stair gates are all up now, but I didn't realise how dangerous a house could be for a baby! There's radiator knobs, sharp corners, glass tv stands, doors they want to swing and drawers they want to open! I think she's been planning on going for all these things for months. I'm trying to make things as safe as possible, but I'm starting to realise there's only so much you can do.

As if crawling wasn't enough, the Mini Grumpy Egyptian has also decided that standing is the funniest thing ever! I was in the bedroom with her last week when she crawled over, grabbed my legs and pulled herself up! I actually screamed. Now she clings onto the safety gate in the bedroom doing her best baby convict impression, climbs up to her toy box and smiles with glee when she holds onto her walker. I just can't believe how quickly she has mastered these things and I must admit to being a very proud mama.

And then... Last week we were at Rhyme Time doing Wind The Bobbin Up - one of my least favourite rhymes - when the Mini Grumpy Egyptian started copying the pointing action in the song! She has even looked sternly at me and wagged her finger a couple of times. I wonder who she gets that from *ahem*

I can't even imagine what she has next in store for us!

As these were some big milestones, I am teaming up with the following linkys:

Magic Moments over at The Oliver's Madhouse

and Small Steps, Amazing Achievements at Ethan's Escapades


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Review: Ummah Foods halal chocolate

Everyone that knows me knows how much I love chocolate, yet despite my husband being Muslim and the amount of time I spent in a Muslim country, the concept of halal chocolate was something I had never really heard of. So when Ummah Foods offered to send me a couple of bars of its halal chocolate to try out, I jumped at the chance.

The chocolate is packaged simply, but colourfully. We were sent two bars of the milk chocolate with peanuts and looking at the bar itself, you could see it was well packed with nuts. The chocolate is halal because no alcohol or animal products were used in the product itself, the making of it and its packaging. It is this that also makes it suitable for vegetarians. But how much, if at all, did this affect the overall taste of the chocolate? Well I found the taste very smooth and surprisingly - but not in an unpleasant way - a little more bitter than usual milk chocolate. The pieces of peanut were large and added a tasty bite to the chocolate itself.

I think it is great to see more halal products coming onto the market in the UK and would certainly look at buying this product again, especially for friends or family during Ramadan or Eid. The chocolate is also available in milk chocolate with raisins, mik chocolate with raisins and peanuts, milk chocolate and 60 % dark chocolate. Availability is limited at this time, but you can visit the site here to see if there is a store near you.

Disclaimer: I was sent this chocolate in order to write a fair review and was not required to write a positive one. All words and opinions are my own.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sick baby, job interview and new things

I have been utterly rubbish at blogging for the past two weeks as things have felt so hectic at home. I had a job interview that I thought went really well, but I didn't get the job... despite having got myself a fancy new dress for the occasion! I've been applying like crazy for jobs because we want to get The Grumpy Egyptian his visa and get him over here soon. Things seem a little sparse on the ground, but fingers crossed something will pop up soon. Despite the disappointment of not getting the job, it did mark the first time that I had left the Mini Grumpy Egyptian with someone else... ever. She is nine months old now and I don't think I have left her with anyone for more than five minutes or the time it takes to run into the doctor's surgery and run back out again. I left her with my Dad and thankfully she seemed ok. Made me feel better about doing so in the future, but I must admit that I am not looking forward to actually going back to work and having to leave her for such a long amount of time. Will deal with it when I have to deal with it I guess.

Secondly, the Mini Grumpy Egyptian hosted a lovely playdate for her mini friends last Tuesday morning, but by mid-afternoon she was not looking well. Dinner revisited us while a couple of dodgy nappies - the kind you pray you will never see again - had me reaching for the clothes pegs. Having not improved by Thursday we visited the GP who told us it was a bug and sent us away. By Friday night she was even worse and on Saturday we rang the out of hours GP. Given that she was not herself, not keeping hardly anything down and rather grouchy they decided to send us across the corridor to the children's ward. Having visited there before for a test that wasn't offered in Oman, I must say that they are lovely. They worked out that she was a bit dehydrated, but luckily just needed some rehydration medication delivered slowly (10ml every 10 minutes over 2 hours much to the mini one's irritation as she wanted to nap!). We were there for a couple of hours and 24 hours later, the Mini Grumpy Egyptian is much better thank god.

Finally I have lots of review posts that I need to write up including some lovely aromatherapy products from a local company, halal chocolate and Sudocrem so look forward to those.

How has everyone else been? Fellow bloggers, how do you cope when real life just gets too much and blogging seems to be a bit of a struggle? Is it ok to have a little mini break?

The Egyptian Mummy

Sunday, 2 February 2014

The unnecessary shame of using formula

Image taken from this site

Any mum who has ever formula fed will know exactly what THAT look is. They will know what it is like to sit in a mum's group amd be asked "but why aren't you breastfeeding?" Or "don't you want to do the best for your child?" Then there is the damn right obnoxious rolling of eyes and looks of judgement others prefer. Formula feeding your child does not make you a bad parent. Leaving your child to go hungry so you can take the moral high ground or driving yourself insane after weeks of not being able to breastfeed efficiently makes you a bad parent.

When I was pregnant I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. I read articles online and bought all the pads and creams in preparation, but what I wasn't ready for was a baby that just didn't want to latch. After the emergency caesarean that shot the Mini Grumpy Egyptian into our lives, I was in shock not just from the surgery but the realisation that I was now a mother. After being wheeled into my hospital room, a scrunched up ball of baby was thrust into my arms, my gown pulled down and her face shoved in the direction of my boob. There was no magic moment of her searching for my boob or latching on immediately, in fact I remember having to literally stick it in her face! 

We did manage to breastfeed, but the bad latch continued and after 2 weeks she had struggled to gain back her birth weight. I started pumping so I could supplement her with a bottle of my milk rather than turning to formula. Things didn't get easier but she began putting weight on. I remember crying down the phone to my mum one day in agony and sheer disappointment that breastfeeding wasn't turning out to be that amazing experience I had read about. When we got to the UK, I asked my health visitor about the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's slow weight gain and voiced concerns that I was feeling the stress of cluster feeding. I was told she was gaining at a steady rate and didn't need to have formula.

I was never asked whether I NEEDED - for my own sanity - to give her formula. I couldn't bring myself to say that I thought I needed to introduce formula once or twice a day so that I could relax for just a moment and allow someone else to deal with a feed. There was this shame in the back of my mind that if I said that then I wasn't being a good mum. After all we are meant to sacrifice ourselves for our children, but what about a little me time? Is that being selfish or by doing so would I be a better more relaxed mum?

When the Mini Grumpy Egyptian was five and a half months old, I gave in. I went to Boots and bought some formula. She drank it so fast and her weight began to follow a proper pattern! I started on 120ml a day and increased to around 180ml a day with breastfeeds when required. I'm more relaxed as it means someone else can feed her while I pop the washing in or eat my lunch. She seems fuller and now that she is on 3 meals a day, her sleeping patterns have got less erratic. 

I have friends who wanted to breastfeed, but weren't able to despite their best efforts as well as friends who chose not to breastfeed for personal reasons. And I tell you what.... They are bloody good parents. This post isn't meant to mock those that solely breastfeed - congratulations by the way - but I'm sorry to say I don't believe it makes you a better parent than someone who doesn't. Breast is as we all know best, but it doesn't give you the right to judge those who don't or indeed can't. So take a moment next time you are about to say something about a mum who is formula feeding and think about how you might be about to make them feel.

The Egyptian Mummy

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Hospital bag - what to pack

When I was expecting the Mini Grumpy Egyptian I remember spending hours online trying to work out what I should pack in my hospital bag. Some people recommended next to nothing while others seemed to pack enough to open a shop! Initially I packed my hospital bag as if I were going to have a normal (ergh hate that way of saying it) birth, but after a little scare decided to pack a second SOS bag in case I ended up - and I did - having an emergency caesarean. The SOS bag contained 3 or or so days of extra clothes and changes for baby on top of what I had in my initial bag. This meant if I had to stay in longer, the Grumpy Egyptian could just grab that bag rather than searching through the wardrobe for clothes that would have ended up being too tight or just plain wrong. I'd really recommend people do this as it saved us the additional stress of running around to find stuff for the unexpected stay.

So what did I packing in my hospital bag?

Maternity towels. Massive ones. Like the same size as the nappies you are putting on your baby. The hospital I was at did give me some, but they were really uncomfortable. The ones I bought from Mothercare had wings and helped me feel a little more normal.

Elasticated pyjama bottoms. No need to try and find something fancy. I wore Spongebob Squarepants and Cookie Monster ones from the men's section in Primark. Once I was moving around a little bit, I wanted to be able to get up and down the corridors and wearing pyjamas rather than a nightie meant I was a bit comfier doing so. As I had a caesarean, I worse a hospital gown, but had always planned to use one for delivery anyway.

Nursing bras. Having tried to breastfeed while wearing a normal bra just makes it so much harder! Suck it up and buy a couple of decent nursing bras. I'm a big fan of the Marks and Spencer ones.

Washable breastfeeding pads. I tried both disposable and the washable ones and found washable so much better. I got 4 packs from Mothercare and in the end gave up using the disposable as they were left me sore and seemed to move around too much.

Granny pants. Massive ones so big that even your grandmother would blush. Cheaper the better as you aren't going to want to be in these forever.

Toiletries. I took a little kit with travel sized 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner, hairbrush, shower gel and moisturiser (don't forget the latter as being stuck inside will make you turn to leather) as well as a razor. That first shower after after having a baby is perfection! Also don't forget toothbrush and toothpaste, I packed one of the travel ones I got on a plane.

Baby wipes. Good for baby as well as washing your face or to freshen up.

Slipper socks & flip flops because you might be sharing a shower or get cold toes getting up to feed for the 100th time in a row.

Nipple cream. If breastfeeding things can get sore quite fast when you are trying to get baby to latch properly. Preferably get one you don't need to remove before feeding.

Clothes. I wore the same maternity jeans I walked into the hospital with as I did leaving the hospital because even though baby was out, bump was still there! Plus after a caesarean I wanted loose comfortable clothing. I also took an old long cardigan to wear as I could pop it over my pjs if guests came or I wanted to nip (there was less nipping more waddling going on) to the nurses station (I can't be the only one who hates ringing the bell by the bed?). Another good idea that allowed me to practice for feeding out in public, was to wear camisoles under long pyjama/normal tops so I just pulled them apart to feed rather than hiking my top up.

Treats. Craved pate or a pile of blue cheese for nine months? Now is your chance! We were lucky to have a little fridge in our room so took coconut water for me to have instead of just water, drinks for hubby, chocolate, a mango and some watermelon. We didn't take anything to celebrate with after having the mini one, but I did sneak a chocolate biscuit during the night after delivery as the clear soup I'd been allowed hadn't hit the mark!

Bits for baby. A pack of nappies, 4 sleeveless baby grows, 4 onesies, an easy to put on (because you will still be scared of this little thing in your arms) going home outfit - we picked leggings and a cute cardi, Sudocrem or nappy cream, hat, mittens to stop them scratching themselves with their nails and a couple of thick muslin cloths to use as blankets or mop up spills. If it is cold, also worth packing a snowsuit or thicker blankets.

Phone charger. I forgot mine and luckily the nurses had one I could borrow otherwise the family back in the UK would have had to wait a while for those first baby photos!

Other bits. Lots of forums suggest packing reading materials or a tablet so you have something to do in the time leading up to delivery. I did pack a book and while being induced read about one chapter but was so nervous it just got plonked next to my bed for the rest of the time. Following the caesarean, I was too zonked to read and then the whole "Oh God I am a mother" realisation kicked in so reading went out the window, but I do think it is worth taking just in case. A pillow from home could be helpful if you are nervous. I didn't take one, but do wish I had. A purse full of change. Poor hubby had to keep nipping out for snacks and because we forgot to bring change with us, he had to keep going to the cash machine.

I think that is my main essentials. Of course everyone will have their favourite bits and bobs, but don't feel you need to turn up with a huge suitcase. What did you include in your hospital bag? What do you think of my list?

The Egyptian Mummy

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Sensory bottle ideas

I love the idea of sensory play and it features heavily in my playtime board on Pinterest, but I never seem to get round to creating these gorgeous ideas - lavender scented rice and edible play dough spring to mind - at home. After seeing how much the Mini Grumpy Egyptian loved interacting with the bottles at our playgroup, which were filled with things that the babies are normally too young to play with, I decided to try and make my own at home. I started collecting old drinks bottles and looking for different materials that I could put inside of them.

I picked up a packet of coloured buttons, glitter, feathers, pompoms and table confetti (Poundland and a quick look around the house supplied me with most of these). After washing and drying the bottles out, I played around with what materials looked the best and made the best sounds, before using super glue to stick the lids on tight.

The first one I made was the button bottle and the Mini Grumpy Egyptian loves it. It makes a rattle noise and all the different colours really catch her attention. I have tried putting them all down together - some are heavier than others as they contain water - and she seems to enjoy looking and touching them.

Seeing how simple and cheap it was to make these at home has made me more determined to try and make more things for her rather than buying them. As she is on solids now and obsessed with putting everything in her mouth, I think I might try some edible playdough perhaps infused with lemon peel or a little cocoa powder.

What toys have you made for your little ones? Do you think it saves you money or would you rather just splash the cash?

The Egyptian Mummy

Monday, 20 January 2014

Weekly meal planner - 20/1/2014

I've decided to try and get back into the routine of planning our meals for the week because hopefully this will make things easier for when I go back to work. I'm going to be investing in a slow cooker and unsure whether to buy one that allows searing on the hob or go for a timer. The plan is to pop some ingredients in the cooker and then 9+ hours later when I get back, tuck in. Any recommendations about which one to buy?

I'm also trying to eat more fruit and vegetables so you can see that from the plan. I'm going to start slow by blogging about dinners before organising lunch and breakfast too.

Meal planner for this week: 20/1 - 26/1

Monday - Roast Chicken with Vegetable (swede, carrot and parsnip) Mash
Tuesday - Our Ramadan Soup (Carrot, sweet potato, parsnip and red lentil) with Fattoush Bread
Wednesday - Moroccan Meatball Tagine with Lemon and Chickpea Couscous
Thursday - Tomato and Roasted Pepper Pasta Bake
Friday - Chicken Curry with Cucumber Raita and Cumin Rice
Saturday - Spaghetti Bolognese   
Sunday - Sausage and Mash with Onion Gravy and Steamed Vegetables

Will try and pop some recipes up at some point :) What will you be eating this week?

I'm teaming up with Meal Planning Monday's on At Home with Mrs M

The Egyptian Mummy

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Self-soothing: Five days in

So five days into trying to get the Mini Grumpy Egyptian to sleep better and while I am nervous to say much in case it turns out to be a fluke.... things seem to be working. On the first night she sobbed for around five minutes before I went in to settle her, then once she had calmed down I left the room and a couple of minutes the crying began again. It was horrible. I truly felt evil, but when you haven't slept for over eight months and know things will only get harder when you return to work, something needs to give. I sat there and cried outside her room while listening to her cry then after eight minutes (oh yes, I stared at the clock) she stopped and fell asleep. That was at around 8.30pm. She woke up at 5.30am. Now, 5.30am to many is a rather unsocial hour, but WOW... for a girl that has woken every couple of hours (at best) since birth that is pretty amazing.

The next night she seemed to settle quicker, but did cry for the first five minutes. I went into her room, stroked her tummy and she began to doze off. I sneaked out the room at around 8pm.... Ten hours later, she woke up! The next day I decided to try and pop her in her cot for a morning nap. I turned on the white noise I have on my laptop, lay her in her cot, shut the curtains and walked away. One minute later I realised that I had left my phone in the room, tiptoed in and she was fast asleep! Had I not been too afraid to wake her, I could have screamed in amazement. This girl has never, I repeat, never napped unless being held, in a moving car or in her pushchair.

That night I noticed that when I put her into the cot, she would reach towards me and try to hold my t shirt (that sound is my heart breaking). Once I had a little cry because in my mind she was sad that I was leaving and would grow up hating me, I tried giving her the flannel part of a cuddle toy to hold. She grabbed it, snuggled up and fell asleep. This was at around 7:45pm. She woke at 6:45am. I, of course, spent most the night waking up to check she was ok because I was so unnerved by having a baby that slept.

This pattern continued for the next couple of days. However, tonight when I put her in her cot she was a little difficult to settle, but I think she is teething so am putting this down as the reason. It is now 10.40pm and all is well for now.

I still think this was a very difficult thing to decide to do and can see why it isn't going to work for everyone as you have to be very tough. My biggest fears were that the Mini Grumpy Egyptian would suffer in some way or even hold it against me. However I've noticed that sleeping better at night has made her much more content during the day as she will play for longer and be happy looking around while out in the pushchair rather than wanting to be picked up all the time. She still cuddles up to me when it is story time, smiles and reaches for me when I go to her cot in the morning, and laughs at my amazing animal noises so unless she is holding onto her discontent for an expensive psychiatrist when she's older, I think things are ok.

There is a big difference between the way I chose to do this and the ever controversial crying it out method. I could not have just let her cry. I set myself a maximum time of allowing a bit of grumbling and tantrum type tears, but knew if she started to become distressed that I would go in there immediately and comfort her. I find those snuggly morning breastfeeds even better now and given that I too have had a good nights sleep, feel I am able to be a better mum to her. Will her sleeping well continue? Oh who knows, but I am glad we decided to try it and I intend to continue the routine for the forseeable future.

Have any of you tried using white noise to help your little one's sleep? Does your little one follow any sort of napping schedule? My next task is to tackle daytime naps. Blackout blinds?

The (not-so-tired) Egyptian Mummy x

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Self-soothing: A difficult decision

Last night when the Mini Grumpy Egyptian had woke me up for the fourth time in so many hours, I made the difficult decision that it was time to tackle her sleep issues. Google was no help as for every page giving an argument for a certain method, there were at least two more saying that following that way would mean the Mini Grumpy Egyptian would turn into an angry adult that hates her parents, trusts no one and turns to booze to ease the pain! Ok, so maybe not the last one, but it was pretty negative.

A chat with my health visitor today gave me a couple of different techniques to try out - we are already big fans of Ewan the Dream Sheep, but unfortunately he has calmed her rather than made her sleep in the long run. We have had a routine in place since her birth as when we were in Oman and I was home alone most evenings, it helped keep me sane following a set pattern. The routine consists of quiet playtime, a story and cuddle, relaxing music (Bach or Mozart normally) playing in the background, bath, sleeping bag, breastfeed - here lies the issue - and then in her cot once she's asleep.

In the past 3 months or so she has got miles better in that she will actually be put down 8 out of 10 times without screaming the house down, but breastfeeding to sleep has meant that I'm forced to get up every time she wakes in the night as she relies on the boob to nod off. We've managed to reduce night feeds, but she often needs picking up or being cuddled to sleep. Given that I will need to start working in the very near future, I would be unable to function on such little sleep.

Tonight, as I write this, I'm sat outside my bedroom trying to man up a bit! Hearing your child cries breaks a parent's heart and I am really against crying it out. Instead the plan we devised meant I would follow the usual routine including the breastfeed and then just as she was starting to doze off, I would pop her in her cot, give her a kiss, turn the white noise maker on and leave the room.

At first she grumbled and then began to cry that kind of "I'm a bit annoyed, but can cope" cry she does when she's unimpressed. After 5 minutes, I went in, settled her by shushing and then left again. The grumbling started a couple of minutes later before the "I hate you" cry began. That lasted exactly eight minutes of the ten I was supposed to leave it before she grumbled and went quiet. I just popped my head in and she's fast asleep.

Do I feel evil for allowing her to cry? Yes. I feel like my chances of winning mum of the year have just been washed away, but she is asleep. I need to remind myself that I'm doing this to help her and it isn't like her first day with a childminder/nursery won't provoke such a horrid reaction either. No one likes doing something new and no normal parent likes hearing their child cry, but I really hope this helps her sleep. If she's well rested and so am I then I think we can have more fun together... Or at least that's the plan.

How did you tackle getting your little ones to sleep? Any advice or tips that worked for you?

The Egyptian Mummy x