Crumbs and Scraps

September 23, 2011 at 5:35 am (Uncategorized)

I found these blog scraps just now, started with such good intentions and high hopes, and I thought I’d just throw them up as they are before I attempt an update… it’s incredible how long a mere 10 days can be in a baby’s developmental life, let alone an entire month, but more on that shortly.

Tuesday 13 September:

The Cot Wars continue, with a minor victory after the latest afternoon battle going to yours truly – and don’t I feel inordinately pleased with myself?! Don’t I just! Yep, just hearing the silence in Master J’s room is enough to make me punch the air. I did it! It wasn’t easy, there were a few false starts – indeed, he can now stand up in his cot as of 20 minutes ago, so motivated was he to resist sleep – but I prevailed! I guess in a way it’s healthy, adjusting my ambitions so monumentally. After all, this is what I do now.

Llew’s working from home on Mondays as part of the six-month maternity leave contract he’s taken at work. It’s great, but I’ve already had to adjust my expectations about what that means for my own work. He’s not working a 4-day week and taking Mondays off; he’s working from home. Fantasies of handing over Master J for a few hours of writing time have been thoroughly scotched, and I wonder what I was even thinking. Nonetheless, Llew’s been fantastic – he has been spending an hour or so with Master J every morning, although I still found myself struggling home with an overburdened pram yesterday…

Actually, I’ve come to a few


[A few what? Realisations? I wonder what I was going to say…? Oh well. Gone now.]


Friday 26 August:

Master J is currently grizzling, but he’s in need of a little zizzy so I am hoping he’ll start winding down…

Nope. Not so much.

Okay, I’ve been in, given him a cuddle and put him down again, as per the instructions from Tresillian (those saints). God, two steps forward and a dozen back at the moment… I really hadn’t reckoned on this atmosphere of regression, but there you have it. This whole object permanence/separation anxiety period feels like we’re racing backwards. There’s a missing link somewhere that I’m failing to identify, because sometimes he self-settles without any problems at all, but sometimes he doesn’t, and this is one of those times. It’s unbelievably draining – really taxing – trying to settle a baby who is beside himself and still won’t sleep.

We’ve been going at it for 18 minutes so far… five minutes then cuddle, five minutes then cuddle, and then patting him rather than picking him up on the third visit…I am not following a set procedure, mind you, I just try to judge where he’s at by the crying and what he’s doing in the cot – like if he’s on all fours he’s probably not at the patting stage. But what would I know? I thought I had him, then he woke up and started again as soon as I moved. Hmmm. It’s nearly time for me to go in again… he really manages to wind himself up – oh hang on… he might be doing that textbook thing now where the crying changes into more of a protest… and listen, even trying to interpret these cries is EXHAUSTING. I find myself on tenterhooks – it’s a shortcut to complete derangement, all this perching on the edge of one’s seat thinking, “Is he..? Isn’t he..?” – it’s no wonder I’m going as rapidly grey as Barack Obama.

Is he or isn’t he? Well, now he is. I didn’t go back in, and at the 25-minute mark, we have a sleeping child in the next room. Praise be.

I have to say something about technology here, and about how it makes the isolation of motherhood and managing all this home-bound, repetitive activity so much more bearable. My iPhone allows me to remain (FUCK! He’s crying again! Sleep, little man, please sleep…) connected to the outside world, and even just blogging about this battle of the daytime sleep makes it easier to cope with the fact of it. I mean, I am writing this in real time, which seems to me a more productive response than biting off what’s left of my fingernails.

Okay. He’s really crying again.

Later now. I gave up after an hour’s effort, got him up, and now here we are in the afternoon going through the whole thing again.

So that was yesterday. Not so hot on the settling front.



  1. litlove said,

    Oh boy, I remember the nightmares of trying to get overtired babies and toddlers to take a nap. One trick I found that might help (I make no magical promises) was to have a bit of music playing, or a simple nursery rhyme tape on when I left the room. Master J may be too young to appreciate this, and in earlier times I, ahem, left the hairdryer going because white noise seemed oddly soothing. It’s just figuring out what the right transitional element is between mummy and no-mummy. I remember it all being hard going! Good luck – it really does sort itself out in the end.

    • DoctorDi said,

      I am holding fast to your reassurance that it works out in the end, LL, I really need to believe that’s true! We seem to make progress and then regress, make progress, then regress. There’s some new, unexplained horror afoot this evening, for instance. Teeth? Perhaps; we’re still waiting for the first.

  2. Grad said,

    I had a pediatrician who insisted I let my first one “cry it out.” It seemed very cruel at the time. (He was kind of an old codger who also suggested honey and a teaspoon of whiskey for a sore throat…for the baby, not for me! I decided the baby could have the honey and I’d consume the other half of the recipe myself. But I digress). I still recall (30 years later) standing at the picture window of the darkened living room listening to my baby wail – I was crying too. Just when I decided the doctor was an old saw-bones who belonged back in the dark ages and started taking the stairs two at a time to get to the nursery, John became quiet. He fell asleep. From then on there were no more beddy-bye problems. And he turned out to be a pretty swell guy…who still loves his Mom. Go figure! But all these years later, I remember it with great clarity and every time I think of it, it makes me sad.

    • DoctorDi said,

      Graddikins, the weird thing is Master J has always been pretty good at night. Story time – even if we need to repeat it several times – always (eventually) does the trick. So it’s been hard to fathom, the full-scale meltdown during the day, because it’s not like he behaves like this all the time. I have tried following the advice too, because I believe it works for plenty of babies, who learn to self-settle, but when Master J doesn’t want to be there, it only escalates, it never, ever settles down, so now – easier for me because I am only talking naps in the day, not overnight – I really don’t put myself or him through the agonised wait for very long. It means I am in and out, and I’m sure the experts would have a field day with that, but I know my limits. I’m glad John bested yours as I don’t doubt it makes life a whole lot easier. And of course he loves you – who wouldn’t?!

  3. Lilian Nattel said,

    Oh I remember those days. I felt so guilty for going online when my kids wanted to play with me. I have more sympathy now for myself back then. If only I’d had an Iphone! Still, even with one, I know how little time you have for yourself, and how much space kids take up.

    • DoctorDi said,

      Yes, it’s frustrating for me, Lilian, because, environmentally, I am most accustomed to two things: solitude and silence.

      [insert wrecking ball thundering down the hall.]

  4. Annah said,

    Your post the other month made me chock up, reading how connected and in love you are with Master J. I loved your list of mummy love. Just beautiful. You really are a lovely mummy and he is a lucky boy.

    Something for you to think about..I dont mean to be preachey at all, but…

    Beware of these organisations that claim to hold the answer to parenting issues. If you look back over time at their policies, they change with the wind and they really have had some odd practices over the years, which sleep deprived desperate mums cling to with hope.

    Instead, trust your instincts. You hold all the answers. Listen to yourself.

    If letting him cry it out is making your whole body twitch and setting off stress hormones through your entire body (and his by the way) then maybe its not the right (argh..lacking a better word here) thing to do. But its up to’re his mum and you parent your way..but..

    I tried it, unsuccessfully, and it took two weeks for my bub to trust me again. It didn’t work for us, it made things worse and much more stressful for all of us. I chucked it in, and went hippy style. I co-sleep and she even takes her naps in our bed. Our bed is now a very safe place for her, even when Im not in it. Now we all sleep soundly with just a stroke to the face every now and again when she reaches out to ensure herself that we are there and she is safe. At nap time, I cuddle with her and she drifts off and knows that I will calmly leave the room, but I will be back if she needs me. She is a baby and dependent on us for protection and safety. Putting a baby in a cot and letting them cry it out and teaching them to be independent seems so odd to me….now. An independent baby? An oxymoron if you ask me.

    Honestly Di, it seems like more work and more clinginess, but it has had the opposite affect. I feel liberated and calm and guilt free and I now have a very happy secure baby. I have more spare time than ever, because she settles in 3 minutes, Im relaxed knowing she wont wake, she wont cry..she is secure, and she takes beautiful long naps. Making them secure is the real key to free time…I promise you.

    She is asleep now and she will call “Mama” in about an hour and a half…and I will be there in 1 sec, and she knows that, so sleeps soundly, securely and happily, knowing she is safe. But as I said, it took two weeks for her to trust me again, after my experiment with controlled crying. It has know been 6 weeks of bliss.

    So this is just my experience. Parenting is a social experiment for each of us. We find our own way. You do what is best for you…I just related to the stress you where feeling having to go back and forward to cries…that time is wasted because you cant write anyway.

    Hope Im not over stepping with advice. Just wanted to share something that worked for me. And I hope that my message reads as “you are loving and capable, and have all the answers to parenting Master J inside yourself”…just want to give you the confidence to follow yourself…your natural instinct.


    • DoctorDi said,

      Thanks, Annah, you’re a sweetheart. It’s taken me a long time to respond to your comment, but rest assured I’ve thought about it every day since you left it. I do follow my instincts, although sometimes they suggest to me that I need to ask the advice of someone else. If I hear that advice and it fails to resonate with me, I will wholesale ignore it. I think we do know intuitively when something sounds reasonable or not, and I do think I have a reasonable radar for good sense, so I don’t just do what they say. On the other hand, it’s interesting and sometimes instructive to hear what they DO say; I’ve definitely picked up some handy information. I should stress I don’t just leave him to cry it out – I’m in there every few minutes. I do think there is such a thing as a protest cry, because I hear it all the time, but it’s a very, very different sound to genuine distress, which I would never – could never – ignore. I’m so glad for all of you that you have found the solution that best works for your family – that’s the best outcome possible.

  5. Samantha said,

    Hi Di,

    Have you read The Mask of Motherhood yet?

    Like Annah we bedshare (co-sleep) with our little one who turned 6 months old today (time is indeed flying). I cannot recommend it highly enough. However, I know it isn’t for every one (in the West at least; in the rest of the world, it is the norm for babies to sleep with their parents). If you are interested in the science behind babies sleep, see Professor James McKenna at the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame

    Regardless, I hope that things improve on the sleep front soon so that you can get back to blogging!



  6. DoctorDi said,

    Hi Samantha!

    [hangs head] No, I haven’t yet. I’m finding it hard to read anything that isn’t on my iPhone (although I enjoyed David Nicholls’s ONE DAY and Charlotte’s ANIMAL PEOPLE recently. Fiction: the great escape).

    I’ll be interested to take a look, thanks, and again, I am thrilled you’ve found a way that works for the three of you.

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