We’re going on holiday without Isaac…

So Kyle and I are going on holiday tomorrow to Orlando... without Isaac. And yes I do feel like the worst mother typing that out. Now I know I don’t need to justify the decisions we make and realistically this isn’t the worst thing a parent has done ever, however the mum guilt I feel is intense.

Originally when we were initially planning this holiday, we were going to go as a big family holiday with Isaac, my parents and Kyle’s mum. But as the months ticked on last year and with the cost of living going up, the parents decided it was just too expensive for them. Considering they wouldn’t be going for the theme parks like Kyle and I were, it was an expensive family holiday for them.

I totally understood and that was absolutely fine, of course. So Kyle and I continued to plan to go just the three of us. But when we were planning and researching and seeing Isaac himself change and grow we realised that the holiday would be, well, stressful.

Maybe when Isaac was 6 months would be OK as he would be fine with being in the pram a lot and would nap on the go, but at 18 months old it would be unfair. He wants to be up and about exploring. But currently he just loves exploring fields, forests and pavements. He has no idea what Disney even is yet!

So we decided not to take him.

The levels of mum guilt are insane though. I’m a bag full of emotions right now. I’m going to miss him so much and worry about him constantly (even though he’ll be with his Nanas and will be absolutely fine), and I feel like the worst mother in the world.

Kyle says he doesn’t feel guilty at all. We deserve the break (18 months of rubbish sleep!). It’s not that he’s not going to miss him or doesn’t care as much as I do, he just has a different perspective. I admire him for that. A good number of nights I’ve spent awake considering our decision.

That said, we are going to go and enjoy ourselves. Kyle has never been before and I want him to feel as happy as I do when I’m there. We love theme parks, we love America food and we’ll get so many nights of uninterrupted sleep. It’s going to be amazing.

I know one day we’ll take Isaac with us – when he can fully enjoy and appreciate where he is and what he’s doing. But for now, he’ll have a fantastic time with his grandparents, who he loves very much. He won’t even notice we’ve gone!

And that’s not to say we won’t take him on holiday with us soon – we have one planned already. Just not one that cost a fortune that he won’t necessarily care much about.

So there we have it. Worst parents? Possibly.

Have you ever been to Disney World?

Have you ever taken young children on holiday?

17 months of sleep still sucking

Life lately has been fairly busy. Work has gotten a lot more manic, which I’m enjoying, and having a 17 month old toddler definitely makes life hectic. But the lack of sleep that continues for us is the killer.

I wish I could say that the sleep had gotten better, but it hasn’t. I mean there are definitely better days and worse days. Overwhelmingly though, sleep is poor. I appreciate it might not be the most exciting of topics to discuss, especially if you don’t have children, but I want to keep it real and document the realities of having a small child who apparently doesn’t like sleep.

Throughout Isaac’s life he has always slept less than he apparently “should”. As a newborn he wouldn’t sleep in a cot, only on us or in a Cuddlepod thing (which we reluctant to allow as they were said to be unsafe). But newborn life you expect sleep to be terrible and you roll with it as this is a BRAND NEW HUMAN.

16 months on though and I would have hoped sleep would be better. On a good night Isaac will wake up once, then easily go back to sleep after a quick feed (yep, still breastfeeding over here) and then wake up post 6am (6.30am is an utter dream). However these nights are few and far between.

We normally get 2+ wake ups and somewhere around 5.45am full wake up. On worse nights we get 3-4 wake ups and a 5-5.30am start to the day. On truly terrible nights, like last night, he’ll wake up at 10pm and then stay awake till 1am. I go in, I feed, I try to leave; he loses his mind.

We can’t bring him into our bed as he starts playing and crawling/walking around. I can’t stay and sleep in his room (as I attempted last night) because he then stands and peers down at me or peeps his head through the cot, like a terrifying horror movie ghost child.

I’m not as naïve to assume Isaac would be consistently sleeping through the night but I don’t think it’s wholly unreasonable to have thought waking 2+ times during the night wasn’t ideal.

Isaac has recently been popping canines out like nobody’s business and has been jumping from colds to ear infection back to colds. And of course the dreaded 18 month sleep regression everyone keeps harping on about… Who really knows what’s happening? We sure don’t.

Of course we’d love to assign reasonings behind why these disrupted nights are happening (a lifeline to desperately hang on to so we can believe it will end) but in general we always go back to the fact that we’ve never had Isaac sleep through and he generally likes to be awake.

On the truly terrible nights there is definitely an element of external factors (teething and illness), but the general consistent wakings is a mystery. Have I made a rod for my own back by always attending to his cries? Should we have sleep trained? Am I overindulging him? Spoiling him? Creating habits? Letting him learn that when he does X, Y will follow.

Perhaps. There are a lot of opinions out there (social media, books, family and friends). But when I’m lying in my bed listening to my son scream for me, I cannot ignore him. I’m not judging anyone who can go through a process of sleep training but I’m not sure it’s for me.

We have a slight hope that things might change in January when Kyle and I go on holiday for nine days without Isaac (don’t even get me started on the mum guilt I’m already experiencing about this upcoming trip). He’ll be potentially unlearning habits when he stays with the Nanas (who, by the way he tends to sleep absolutely fine for!).

Time will tell.

Do you have any experience with the above?

How many hours a night to get to sleep?

Our experience with reusable nappies

Before Isaac was born I decided that I was going to use reusable nappies rather than disposable ones. I’m not sure when or where this decision initially germinated from, but it became something I was very passionate about.

I want to preface this blog post with a quick note. I have zero judgement to other people for what nappies they decide to use. This is purely my own story and hopefully will give advice to anyone who wants to know a bit more about reusable nappies.

I hate the idea of creating too much waste and try to be as eco-friendly as I can where possible. I remember seeing several rubbish bags of nappies outside someone’s house and it was astonishing. When I looked into things further I found that newborn babies could be using 10 nappies a day, sometimes less, sometimes more. So in a week that’s 70 or so nappies, all heading to landfill where it would take 500 years or more for them to degrade down. It made me feel sick.

I researched into things a bit further (knowing vaguely that reusable nappies existed but only a in a very ‘hippy dippy’ land). I found a great resource from the Nappy Lady’s website.

This website is a fantastic knowledge base – lots of helpful guides, Q&A’s, videos as well as the products themselves. Well worth a look if you’re interested. I also watched several YouTube videos.

This was all while I was pregnant. Yes, it was quite overwhelming and confusing at first. There are so many different types of nappies you can buy… pocket nappies, two-parters, all in ones, etc. And then there were boosters and liners. Bamboo or synthetic materials. How do you wash them? How many do you need? What do you do when you’re out and about?

But I literally immersed myself into that world, watched real-life mums and tutorials on YouTube and got my head round it. Up front, reusable nappies are a big expense. To use the nappies every day you really need 20-30 nappies depending on the baby – so you can be washing yesterday’s nappies while your baby is wearing today’s nappies. Each nappy is £10-20 depending on the brand and style – not even considering any extra accessories you’ll need (more on that later). That’s a lot of money upfront to get you ready.

To combat this a little, we asked that if family or friends who wanted to give us a present (at the baby shower for instance) then to please give us a nappy. That way we could reduce the hit to us and people would know what to buy us if they weren’t sure (and indeed wanted to buy us anything!).

I also had a lovely friend who sent us some of her old reusables for us to use, which massively helped. Preloved reusable nappies work just as well!

Upfront costs aside though, using reusable nappies in the long run are actually cheaper than disposables. (Of course though up front costs straight away compared to incremental over time).

https://www.cheekywipes.com/blog/cloth-nappies-vs-disposable-nappies-money-saving.html

So let’s get into the nitty gritty. Because we were gifted a lot of nappies, we didn’t get to choose the exact ones. This meant we got a mixed bag of the different types.

Nappy Types

Reusable nappies generally fall into these types:

  • All in ones: the most simple and easy to use. Everything is self-contained in one nappy. No wrap required.
  • Pocket nappies: basically similar to the all in ones but the absorbency bit is tucked inside the nappy in a pocket. So it dries a bit easier because you can take the bit out of the pocket separately.
  • Two parters: these are made up of a fluffy nappy bit that is the absorbent layer, then you have a separate waterproof wrap that goes over that.

During the day we just use a mix of the above. We have boosters and liners that we add. Boosters increase the absorbency by adding another layer to keep the nappy going for longer so it doesn’t leak. We also use a liner (we use thin fleece ones rather than deposable ones). The liner catches the poo so you can flick the poo down the loo a bit easier and it helps preserve the nappy itself in terms of lifespan (reduces the stains in the nappy which unfortunately do happen over time).

They grow with the baby as they last for so long

We have what we call the “Super Nappy” for the night which is a two parter as it’s the most absorbent of all our nappies and we need it to last 12 hours. These don’t tend to leak. We love the Bamboozle brand for this.

Washing and care

In terms of washing, when we change Isaac we put the dirty nappy in a material bag and then the next morning we put those nappies in the wash. We first do a rinse (not a pre-rinse but an actual rinse cycle, which for our machine is about 30 mins). Then we put the nappies on a 40C cycle (if nappies are just wet) or a 60C cycle (if the nappies are soiled) which is usually around 2 hours or so.

Then we hang them out to dry or put them on a drying horse (or if we need to be quick, put them in a tumble dryer but this does wear them down eventually).

Nappy Accessories

Like I said, we use boosters and liners (which go through the same washing process). We also have a wet bag for the nappy bag. This is for when we’re out and about and we change him. Instead of binning the nappy as you would a disposable, we just pop it into the wet bag and take it home with us ready to be washed.

We also use reusable wipes. We keep these in a plastic tub with a lid and we just add water to it and then they’re ready to go whenever we need them throughout the day. We take dry ones with us when we’re out and about so we can dampen them with the tap and use them when changing him.

When Isaac goes to the Nana’s we give them several nappies and then they send back the dirty ones (or sometimes if they get a chance they wash them for us, which is lovely). At nursery they use reusable nappies too so we just send him there in one and they have everything they need there.

Our experience

I love using reusable nappies. It’s just part of our life and feels completely normal. We used disposables for a short period when Isaac was born as we only had two newborn nappies, but as soon as he was big enough (which wasn’t long) we went full reusable.

I have such a system now of washing and getting them sorted that it’s just part of the day really. The nappies are perfect for Isaac as well. We’ve never had any serious nappy rash and we rarely have any poo explosions or leakages. And the patterns and designs are just adorable. And because the costs are all done, it’s absolutely free. We don’t need to buy anything else.

I would heartily recommend using reusables. Even if it’s just one or two a day or week. That’s one or two disposable nappies you’re stopping ending up on landfill. You don’t have to go the full hog to make a difference!

Have you ever considered reusable nappies?

What things do you do to be eco-friendly?

A year of Isaac

I cannot believe that over a year ago I gave birth to Isaac.

It has been the fastest but longest year of my life. Nothing has remained the same. Every month is different. Every day we’re learning something new, or Isaac is showing us something new that he can do or understand. It’s such a steep learning curve for us all!

I won’t lie, it has been a hard year. Though I will stress we’ve definitely had it easier than a lot of people because we have such a solid support network around us. Both our parents are so willing and eager to look after Isaac for us and give us a break or just come round and give advice.

We’re very lucky that Kyle’s mum and my mum can look after Isaac one day a week so that he only goes to nursery twice a week as I only work four days. The cost savings alone are so helpful to us, obviously. And as we’re working from home still, it means things are a lot less stressful.

Anyway, a whole year has gone by and Isaac is no longer a baby but almost a toddler now! He’s crawling, he’s pulling himself to standing and managing to hold himself independently for about 15-20 seconds. So we assume it won’t be long before he’s walking.

He’s eating so much food as well. Using his hands to feed himself and generally eating everything we give him. Though he wasn’t fussed when we tried him on a Mr Whippy ice cream! We haven’t given him lots of sweet or processed things to be honest. We’ve kept to plain yogurt, no chocolate and trying to make most of his meals rather than buy baby food. Not that I judge anyone who does, but for now while he’s so young I just want him to get to grips with more nutritious and “real” food before he fully understands the wonder of cake and chocolate 😉

In terms of breastfeeding, I’m still going. When he’s at nursery or with the Nanas he doesn’t really have any milk unless he’s upset or struggling to nap. But when he’s with me we tend to feed throughout the day. He will always feed before bed and in the morning though. I’m still enjoying it and will be led by him for when to stop. Though I imagine at two years that’ll probably be my max if he hasn’t stopped before.

I have to say, I am loving this stage in general. Obviously I’ve loved Isaac his entire life but I’m much more enjoying this period of time compared to when he was a helpless baby. Of course he was adorable as a baby and so squishy but I love that I can fully interact with him and play with him. Watching how his mind works and his personality so strong coming through.

I definitely find playing with him easier now that he can move himself about. Hanging things above his head while he was immobile on the floor wasn’t the most exciting time I must say. But now passing him toys or showing him different things and watching him try to replicate is just lovely.

Sleep is still tough though. We had one week where he was sleeping through until 4am, I would then feed him and he’d fall back asleep to 6-7am. It was glorious. I felt like a new woman. But now he’s waking at 5am and not going back to sleep. It could well be that we’ve been going through a heatwave and the brighter mornings (though we do use blackout blinds). It’s tough and I desperately want more sleep but I go to bed early enough to not be too much of a zombie.

Sleep aside, it’s such a lovely period for us and Kyle and I are so in love with this little whirlwind of a boy. He’s full of beans and makes us laugh so much. I can’t wait for the coming months as he starts to speak (he’s not quite there yet). So much to look forward to!

Back at work but with no sleep

So I’ve been back at work for around three weeks.

I’m still enjoying being back and I’m getting used to the balance of being a mum and being an employee. I do feel immense amount of guilt when I say this, but I’m really enjoying being back at work and getting that breather from Isaac.

I say “breather” but this doesn’t mean I don’t miss him or constantly wonder what he’s doing, hoping he’s OK and not distressed or unhappy. Of course he’s in good hands and probably hasn’t given me a second thought after he leaves me! But I still worry.

That said, I’m enjoying eating my lunch without rushing or while trying to juggle watching him at the same time. I’m enjoying going for lunchtime walks with Kyle without the pram or carrier and not worry if Isaac isn’t napping or if he’s too hot or too cold.

We’ve been getting into a good routine of what our mornings and week in general look like. I’m enjoying running to nursery on Tuesdays and Thursdays to pick him up. It does feel weird though not running in the morning in the week anymore, but I like that I’m killing two birds with one stone. And the time difference with driving to pick him up is minimal. So it makes a lot of sense.

What’s hard at the moment is sleep. We were doing quite well with “just” two wake ups a night (pre-baby Anna would laugh at such a statement as that still doesn’t sound the dream but compared to previously it is). However, for whatever reason, Isaac is now waking up 3+ times a night. It usually goes something like 11.30pm wake up, then 2-3am wake up, then the hellish time of 3-6am when multiple wakeups seem to be happening.

We think it could be because Isaac has picked up a rather persistent cold which has made him very snotty (lovely I know) and then blocks his nose. He’s never had a cold (or even ever been ill) but after going to nursery for the first time he’s picked one up straight away. Standard.

Or potentially it could be his 8th tooth coming (the 7th was a nightmare as well and it’s in the mirror image position). BUT WHO KNOWS. Babies are enigmas and trying to solve them is a headache.

We’ve tried Calpol, baby Nurofen, a nasal spray, cough syrup, Anbesol, raising his mattress higher where his head is… and even tried disposable night nappies in case it was something about the reusable ones that wasn’t working in the night.

But nothing seems to have worked. This leads me to believe it could be a regression (or a “progression”) where Isaac has learnt some new skills and his brain is just processing so much at night.

It’s hard because during maternity leave I had no rush to get up in the morning – of course I was guided by Isaac. I couldn’t lie in if Isaac was awake but equally if we’d had a bad night he would probably sleep a bit later and that wouldn’t be an issue. But now we have childcare for him to get to and of course work. And work itself is so much harder if you haven’t had a good night sleep, obviously.

So this is our problem at the moment. Isaac is almost 10 months and I honestly (stupidly? Naively?) believed we’d have sleep kind of sorted by now. But noooope. Of course though I’m not alone. Kyle is always there to help. Yes I’m still breastfeeding so there are limits to what Kyle can do during the night, but just having someone there to chat to, or someone to help me the next day is so crucially. We’re a team and we’re in this together. That hugely helps. Even just someone to moan with!