Sleepless in…. just about anywhere!

Sleep, the final frontier….

These are the voyages of a mother of two small people, a nearly seven year (ongoing) mission to explore a new world, to seek out a safe and happy life, to boldly go where almost every mother has been before but you just never would have believed them if they had told you; and even if you did your hormones would have made you do it anyway.

My sleep pattern pre kids was so good. I got tired, I lay down, I read a bit, I fell asleep, the alarm went off, I got up. 8+ hours every night happy as larry. During my first pregnancy that all changed. As a hugely preggers lady I could never get comfy, at 38 weeks through to 42 weeks (yes, two weeks late) my bladder had so little space I was up to pee every few hours. Then there were the seemingly endless nights of feeding, in fact, until my son (second baby) started sleeping through the night at about 2ish (it might have been later, it’s all a blur) I was up with one or other of them every night. By the time they were sleeping well my own pattern seemed set in, ruined, insomniac incorporated. It’s been nearly seven years and I can honestly say I might sleep through one night out of seven, maybe, if I’m lucky.

I’m in tune with them still, if they murmur in their sleep, I’m awake. If a door creaks – usually the cat, I’m awake. Smells drifting through the window will wake me. Mr. K.s alarm going off any time from 2.30am – 6am and never at a regular time doesn’t help in the slightest. I just wake. All the time.

And once I’m awake, I’m awake for two, sometimes three hours…

I have mentioned in the past my under active thyroid, when it plays up it scrambles what little brain I have left.  A few years ago I was pleading with my endocrinologist to help me gain back some cognitive thought and clear out the cotton wool that is my prime symptom (there are many others) and he said:

“The thing is Mrs K. I don’t think your thyroid is playing up at all, I think you are chronically sleep deprived.” And just like that, the building blocks of thought connected in my brain and I could see I have an issue. Chronic sleep deprivation… Try and find a way to sleep better he said. Easier said then done quite frankly.

Recently I had an email from a nice PR person saying Hi, did you sleep well last night? I said out loud “Sleep? Remind me what that is?” out loud. So, that means no… They asked me to fill out a questionnaire and perhaps try a sleep accessory, its seems the very lovely people at Silentnight Beds had a few ideas they’d like us lack-of-sleepers to try, I was all for it!

Dutifully, I filled out my questionnaire, explaining my sleep pattern or lack of it and my use of ear plugs now the children are old enough to fetch me if they need me and they sent me a gift to try, to see if sleep accessories can aid sleep.

IMG_2081

Nice huh? and it smells divine! All warm and comforting, just the sort of fragrance you can snuggle into.

So, I’ve been spraying it on my linen for a week and seeing how it goes, making sure I try and get to bed about the same time. I usually have a hot cup of tea as I find this soothes me too, then I will play mind numbing games on my ipad for 20 minutes and settle down to sleep.

As ever, getting to sleep the first time is not a huge issue, I drift off quite fast. But there has been two outcomes of note since I started using the spray. The first being that over a period of seven days, if I wake, I snuggle into the lovely smell and drift back off, even if I have to get out of bed to pee (which always meant in the past I was looking at a long waking period). The smell has become a mental signal for me that I still need to sleep. This is going to prove interesting when the school run commences next week!

I am sleeping longer, 3 nights I slept through to 6.30 without being disturbed at all!

I’m a little fuggy in the mornings; but then I’m NOT USED to sleeping!

Which brings me to the other outcome of note.  Which is a purely personal issue.  The spray doesn’t like me.   It seems I’m ‘intolerant’ of it; something in it’s ingredients has triggered the reaction in my muscles that I usually have for a gluten overload or food poisoning.  I’ve been through my food and drink intake carefully and I can’t lay it at any other door. This saddens me a bit as it does smell dreamy.

But! It has got me thinking… If I can train my mind to recognize another smell as meaning it’s time to sleep, something without the unreadable words in the list of ingredients and keep a spritz bottle beside the bed, perhaps I can achieve the same results?

Gotta be worth a try! Anyone know what I could use? (Mr. K is allergic to lavender btw)

Is There Sex After Children? Hell Yes!

Firstly I’d better point out that I’m not a councilor, all opinions voiced here are mine yada yada and also just because it works for me doesn’t make it work for everyone.  I personally often wonder why society is so Victorian about sex, after all, if humans didn’t procreate you wouldn’t be reading this would you? So that accepted, this post is about BEING SEXY not lesson in dynamics 😉 but if you have a problem with this please use the little x in the red box up there on the right.

Still here? Fine. Glad to see you xx

This week I visited Karin’s Blog Cafe Bebe and watched her vlog on sex after children, whilst this is a family blog and even though practically all my family and friends breeze through here at some point I felt compelled to answer her question “What do you do to keep things hot and sexy?”

My man and I may have some issues, who doesn’t! But a lack of sex life is not one of them, although until recently it probably was…

My issues…

Overtired?  You know that time when you spent months, in my case years plotting your chart, working the dates, seeing your temperature spike and calling the sperm provider to come home and fertilise the egg holder? How Sexy Was That? Total turn off to be honest but for a lot of us it’s how it was… is even. And then what happened? Your body changed so much in such a small time frame, physical change, chemical change, alien invasion.  I was never physically sick but I felt sick from 9 weeks to 30 weeks with both children and sleep? Sorry, what is sleep?  Explain that concept to me again because after four years of the kids waking up at all hours I still don’t sleep properly a year on.  #Insomniac

Exhaustion is a real libido killer, don’t be too hard on yourself if you are feeling so tired you can’t think, honestly until last year the last thing on my mind when I went to bed was getting sexy, it was more “I wonder how long I will get to sleep tonight?”

Self Esteem? On my wedding day I was 12 and a half stone, still a little overweight perhaps, curvy yes. Two children later I bloomed to 15 stone, like so many women I was unhappy with this, it didn’t feel right for me, I felt trapped inside my body. I’m still overweight (apparently) and not entirely happy but loosing 2 stone has helped with my view of me, I’m much happier enjoying wearing nicer clothes, I have more energy and I feel sexier… Please rest assured I did this for nobody but myself, I still have a few issues with my self esteem but I’m getting there…

Who are we together?

We were a very active couple. We met skydiving, we loved skiing, mountain biking, walking. We would spend our weekends under canvas dragging our all too willing border collie all over the country, it was a lifestyle we enjoyed together and I’m afraid it got sidelined…

Having kids… major roll changes, for me, for us… who’d have thought it! I have a hate of labels but they do apply, I’ve always been somebodies something, Daughter, Girlfriend, Fiancee, Wife… For a very short time in my 20’s the “Daughter” label became less important and the Girlfriend one disappeared and I became just “Me” Independent, strong minded, flirty with a strong self awareness including a sexual identity, once Fiancee and Wife happened somehow my self awareness became less important and by the time the label ‘Mother’ was attached I had no time to consider me, I was the center of someones universe in a totally dependent on me kind of way… Huge.

I remember once in my 20’s scoffing at a woman on the TV “Needing to Escape to find Myself” I remember thinking, honestly, what a strange thing to say! Now I can relate to that on so many levels it scares me.

And so, when I’m so lost in being ‘Mummy’ what happened to ‘Daddy’? He felt inadequate, my OH was never very sure how to handle/deal with babies, he says he was able to “choose not to” try and help due to this inadequacy, thankfully at 5 and 3 he is brilliant with them.. but all that baby stuff fell to me. Feeling sexy now – No Sir!

So how have we made/keep things hot and sexy?

It’s really hard to sit here writing about this and put them into some kind of order, they all kind of merge, so you will have to forgive me if I jump around a little, mine is not an orderly mind 😉

Time…. I have to say it, as much as I wish it wasn’t true, since my son turned two and has been more independent in play and feeding himself, life is coming back into “LIFE”. When I knew I was pregnant with no.2 I eased back from interactive time with my daughter, encouraged her to entertain herself, use her imagination, feel she was contributing to the family by helping and as my son has got older I’ve done the same with him.  The unexpected added benefit of this is at weekends Daddy and I can lounge in bed while they play downstairs together on a Sunday Morning and they do get very caught up in their games….

Several other things happened to change the post baby blues. I lost that 2 stone I hated and my self esteem improved, energy levels increased, my reading brain returned – I read my way through the Twilight saga in four weeks and then moved on to rereading other books I’d enjoyed and some new ones, I’ve always enjoyed adult themed literature (along side my huge love for comic fantasy) and reading about relationships, how people interact and come together, flirty, sexual tension with adventure and romantic notions is a strong influence on me! Another huge experience at the same time as the rediscovering reading for me was my birthday, I had a bit of a epiphany in hitting 40… The ‘naughty forties’ time to re-capture that independent feisty sexually aware 20 something I once was and reinvent her into a more mature feisty, sexually confident woman who feels she has nothing to prove to anyone anymore and can be ‘herself’ – Yeah, that and why the hell not? After all, you only live once.

Romance? No Romance? What is Romance? What does this mean to you? Candlelit dinners? Walks in the rain? We are all different. For me it’s being tactile, being held, feeling contact, being wanted… Quite simple things really. Tiny things that make your partner feel like you want to be close to them, like SLEEPING NAKED! Honestly, nothing says “I don’t want you” more than clothes in bed…

Sex is not about romance for me, I’ve lost the rose tinted glasses Hollywood paints for us, it’s a pre-cursor certainly, it helps with feeling sexy, romance is something a couple can work on all the time, not just with an ‘end goal’ in mind. Romantically speaking I do love the idea of getting myself ready for my ‘lover’ taking care of myself, I like him to make an effort too; but in reality for both of us this doesn’t happen for a whirlwind night of passion, it’s an “Ongoing project” I like to be aware of.  I get waxed, I go to a good hairdresser so I look reasonably acceptable, I try and wear nice clothes often, skirts and yes pretty (inexpensive) lingerie; nothing special just not ‘Bridgets’ all the time.. and these things I do for myself because it pleases me, makes me happy. YES! of course my husband likes his wife to look good and feel sexy but in my opinion that’s a happystance.

Don’t worry about being tired, be close, hold each other, be together when you can on whatever level you can manage, if that is just spooning at night so be it, who said sex had to be all swinging from the chandeliers anyway, adjust you athleticism to what you feel you can manage and UNDERSTAND that your partner needs to do that too… how do you do that? Well it’s all down to….

…Communication! This is the most important factor in our relationship, we talk, we listen to the verbal diatribe (and you think I drivel here!) about everything, no subject is taboo and when it comes to sex I do mean everything! Even investigating each others thoughts on things that don’t appeal to us, being opened minded about each others quirks and leaving no stone unturned. I’m lucky in this fact, it makes it easier to consider what Sex means to me and expand my horizons or just reaffirm an avenue we don’t wish to investigate. How you communicate is of course up to you, we hide ourselves away in the evenings in the hot tub and chew the cud, a rare escape to Minehead recently saw us covering subjects together that we had only hinted at before, frankly, intensely sometimes – TALK – no holds barred. And when you are not talking you can still be communication, non verbal communication is really important. Watch, explore – learn…

What do I like?

A friend of mine often says: ‘Men tell women they only think of sex every seven second so as not to scare them, because in reality it’s an awful lot more.’ Well, newsflash, a lot of women do too! Perhaps I’m just one of ‘those women’. I have blogged before in this post about my love of erotic photographs, I love reading erotica too, hell I even write it. I find it expands my mind thinking about the process of sex, choosing stories that appeal to me, pictures that interest me, most importantly working out what doesn’t appeal. This exploration of my mind, the use of words and the sight of an appealing picture is probably the single most key factor I associate with my increased libido since having children and I am sure my husband will agree, discovering what I like is what has bought sexy back into our lives.

So – a summary might be necessary.. 

Sleep naked

Talk

Listen

Touch

Explore

Is it legal? are you happy? do you like it? Do it…. Be open… Discuss.

Well there you go Karin…. I think I may have gone a bit mad…. 😉

Foot note – This is a family blog… Anything you think I’ve been vague about or you want some more detail on ask. I have email and Twitter has DM’s I don’t know all the answers but maybe if just chewing the cud would help, I’m up for that.

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Big Boy Bedtime

When is the right time to change the cot for a bed?

My daughter was 21 months old and we went on holiday to a cottage in Devon, there was one cot so the little man at 2 month got it, the little lady slept on the bottom bunk bed with a side guard and when we got home we took the sides off her cot bed and that was it.  So I’m wondering at 25 months whether I should unleash the little man into the world of unrestrained sleeping (or rather early rising) or let him keep the cot whilst he is not trying to climb out of it?

I’m beginning to think my reasons for keeping him in his cot are purely selfish.

He wakes often in the night, two or three times, usually because he has lost his dummy (I know I should have got rid of that ages ago but it is so useful to have a settling tool with a second child…) if he was in a bed I think he would come looking for us rather than searching for his dummy.

My other half often gets up VERY early and the little man is often disturbed by him, do I want a toddler up at 3.30am – no I don’t!

In the mornings he often wakes about 5am and after chatting for 10 minutes or so he goes back to sleep, I think he would get up if he could, the fact he can’t helps him sleep longer.

My bedtime routine at the moment with him is bath, milk, song, bed, he is usually asleep within 30 minutes.  He has always needed sensory deprivation to settle, not sure why it was the only thing that ever worked with him, blackout, no music, dummy = sleep, I think if he knows he can get up and play he may never go to sleep.

If I take the sides off his bed there is NO WAY he will have his customary afternoon nap and as he is always rubbing his eyes and being grisly by 1pm he still needs that 2 hours.

I’m sure you can see why I think I might be being selfish, I like my sleep and a grumpy free little boy!

What age should children move to a bed, is there a way to tell when they are ready or is it just up to me, how did you know when your kids were ready?

Things I would share with my Cousin…

My cousin is about to have her first baby at 41, it has got me thinking of my experience of being pregnant, having a baby and all that involves, so I thought I would share that experience with my blog, these are some random things I learned that were useful to me, they may not be applicable to anyone else, folk may disagree with me should they choose and they are certainly not scientific!
Take what is useful to you and leave the rest 🙂

Make the most of the bump, when it appears feel free to use it to make your life easier, let people hold doors open for you, give up seats for you, if they don’t ask them to!

You don’t HAVE to let people touch the bump, it’s your body the baby is in and if you don’t want people in your space make yourself clear, I had to back away from one person and ask them to stop, I had only met her once before, she was actually fine with my saying no.

You will be pregnant most of our summer, putting your wrists in cold water really helps with the heat.

Be aware of where the loos are…

People will forgive an obviously pregnant lady for parking in the mother and baby slots in the supermarket.

Those strange flutters might not be indigestion, for me the best experience of being pregnant was the little kicks inside me, little miss always started a dance routine as soon as I stopped moving, at bedtimes I used to get back up and stand and sway for a while, she also liked listening to music – Il Divo was a favourite – once she was born too, then she would lie on my shoulder with me swaying and drift off to sleep – so lovely!

Midwives are wonderful people, they are knowledgeable and supportive, if one of their tests comes back less than perfect they will send you to the consultant, this is not necessarily because things are wrong and you shouldn’t panic, I was sent to hospital twice with Alex due to small amounts of protein in my wee, when I was re-tested at hospital there was none present but if in doubt check it out, phone them for any niggle that is why they are there.

Do check out the hospital / midwife center prebirth, they normally do “tours” that way you can get a feel for the facilities and know what you need to provide yourself.

Do write a birth plan, both of mine were carefully thought out and then went out of the window straight away but it was a useful exercise. Little Miss was an emergency c’sec and we were delayed doing skin to skin until I came around (Daddy did his best bless him) but they knew I wanted to do it – it was in my birth plan!

Once you get the baby home you will be in demand socially, leave the coffee, tea and sugar next to the kettle somewhere easy to find in the kitchen, when people visit tell them to help themselves and make you one too, better still, get them to bring a casserole. We had an arrangement with some friends of ours that when visiting after a new baby was born they bought dinner with them, as we did to them when their daughter came along, it worked really well.

Give yourself at least a week before people who are not grandparents or siblings can visit, Daddy’s best friend turned up right in the middle of my baby blues (3 days after delivery) and a midwife visit, so not only was I blubbering I was showing another woman my breasts!
Get your partner to be your security guard, decide between you when you want to start seeing people and be firm about it – this is a magical time for you but not an easy one, turn people away or book them in later, our first Saturday with Little Miss was like Piccadilly circus people were arriving as others left, it resulted in exhaustion for me and a totally cranky baby!

If you can get newborn poo off with just cotton wool and water, you are a better woman than me, it’s like tar!

Baby girls often have a little “period” when they are working Mummies hormones out of their body, I was totally freaked out finding blood in her nappy and phoned the hospital straight away, apparently its quite usual, don’t panic.

One packet of wet wipes will not last a month or even a week, a friend of mine once commented that on preparing for her newborn she only bought one packet because it seemed so big it would last for ages, within the first week she sent her partner on an emergency buying spree for more…

Don’t buy a huge amount of newborn nappies, Little Man was only in new baby nappies for about a week, he was then too big and had to have size 1’s, he didn’t last long in those either.
Sudocreme is a great product for comfy bums but for real nappy rash that won’t budge I’d recommend Metanium – it the bees knees!
Anti bacterial hand gel is ideal for on the move nappy changing, Detol wipes are also good for the nappy bag if you are planning to use cafe highchairs – just sayin’
Pampers are excellent overnight protection. My two both had/have a routine for pooing in the morning once they are up and moving so I put on a cheaper nappy just to catch that early morning one, then back to pampers.

Yes, breast is defiantly best but if you are unable, don’t want to don’t let anyone tell you that you are wrong, you will do your best and love your baby, that’s all anyone can ever ask of you.

If you are breastfeeding, it is your right in my opinion to feed your baby when he/she is hungry, where ever you are, if someone doesn’t like it they can stick their head under a blanket. I personally don’t enjoy getting my boobs out in public unless I’m on a beach somewhere hot, however, you will soon get used to what items of clothing allow you to comfortably achieve feeding almost anywhere discretely, when I was feeding little man I could hold him in one arm feeding him whilst doing something else with my other arm – practice makes perfect.

Shopping center breastfeeding booths are terrible, The outlet village in Swindon was not too bad and John Lewis at the mall has an okish one otherwise they are small and dim with plastic chairs or a bench seat. The one at centre parc’s Longleat is sheer heaven, I could have stayed in there all day!

I’m fed, I’m warm and comfy, I have a clean bottom and I’m burped… Key issues 🙂

My midwife said to me “if mummy sleeps the baby sleeps” whilst this is true because Mummy won’t be able to sleep whilst baby is crying it is not that easy to leave them to cry and some say it’s harmful for the baby. Try different things, Little Miss liked to be fed to sleep or rocked to sleep (people will tell you this is not a good habit) but once asleep she would be put down and got used to waking up in her cot. She could also be put down in her cot to sleep but she needed a dim glowing light and music. The Little Man will not even try and sleep if something is going on, he needs blackout and quiet. They are all so different, my sister used to drive her boys around for hours to get them to sleep, She hated driving in the dark – keep trying anything that you can think of and find what is right for your baby. Sometimes you will try everything and nothing works, so start at the top of the list again and keep going, eventually something works.

If you choose to use a dummy, leave a few in the cot because if one falls out they might find another before they wake you up.

Don’t worry about the housework, it will still be there tomorrow, get some rest when you can,

Get the giveaways – Bounty bags are treasure troves, Boots Baby club nappy bags are fab, Lloyds pharmacy also does a gift bag, I’m sure there are more.

Books, they say babies don’t come with a manual but actually there are several useful books around, we thought Haynes baby manual was hilarious but it was also pretty informative, What to Expect the First Year, by Arlene Eisenberg, was really useful to me.

Well, I seem to have gone on forever so I’m going to stop here, as I said before, take what you need and leave the rest…. Good luck and most of all enjoy, it goes too fast!