I underestimated the power of routine.
Simply, I had no idea how important routine and structure was when raising a young family.
For me, I was so focused on the birth that I had no prior knowledge and no desire to read books or be immersed in information. I wanted to be present during my birth with James. I was focused on breastfeeding, it was all I was concerned about was James and feeding. I simply didn't want to overwhelm myself with information. I had so much from my family, my friends that I was almost so confident that I just had to feed this child and everything would be OK. I never worked in childcare, I wasn't the maternal type, I never thought that I would be good with kids. I certainly wanted kids and I love kids, selfishly I feel like I am great with James, but at the time it was a anxiety that I had to be with James and that was it.
After the post-natal blues, I began to settle with having James in my life, and I thought about how much life had changed, and whether it was anxiety or depression I sincerely thought that I needed to be with him 24/7. Looking back at this time in life I was not in control, I was tired all the time and I made it worse for myself. I would compare myself to others and whilst I knew I was a good Mum deep down I was unaware of my responsibility to James and the impact of my routine or lack thereof was on him and me.
Maybe I am being hard on myself but during his time I was thinking about myself and my short term needs rather than the longer term impact on my health and that of my families. I still didn't realize how important routine was. I feel into a comfort of co-sleeping, during the day and night. I know it was me who had separation anxiety. I couldn't leave James and I didn't understand the importance for him to have his time and to build routine without Mum.
During the entire journey I thought no its traumatic leaving a baby alone. I need to be there for him me cuddling him is great for him, but in fact it created all these habits for James to rely on.
We went to a Sleep Doctor in Adelaide. He is known as the best, we do recommend him but he was purely telling us what we already new. So here we went, we tried closing the door for one night and it worked, James slept through till about 6.30. Although he screamed in his room for 50 minutes before going down. It was horrifying I will never forget the night. This is where I finally felt like I had let James down. It was my fault.
We got through three nights and James fell sick, we tried it again after a week where James had a bad cold, and we lost focus and the power of the routine.
I have since found out that baby's are born without fear so putting them in a dark room is absolutely fine!
Now to this day I rock James to sleep each and every night. He still sleeps with us. I love Mummy cuddles at night and first thing in the morning. I love my time with James and I live with no regrets, but there is certainly things I would do differently which I am hoping to introduce with our new baby.
In hindsight, with baby number two on his way, I get it! I feel reading is more beneficial than not reading. I have read Save our Sleep by Tizzie Hall. Amazing and profound book. If someone have given me this before James I think it was still too full on for me during that time, but now I don't feel trapped by the book. I have taken what I want out of it.
I now want to work a routine into my life and the family life with a focus on the importance of having a healthy family so everyone is happier - a routine for me is crucial. It doesn't have to be the perfect routine but a routine that can support me and the needs of my family is something I want to create.
James has been off boob for 6 months and I actually never thought the day would come. For me introducing new routines from day 1 is key because each and every day it get's harder.
I am hoping that people can learn from my experience and I it starts with accepting that its more than OK if your routine is not perfect. Don't be hard on yourself or family and friends that offer their lovely but some times frustrating comments. Focus on what you can control and that is the needs of you and your baby.
Here is what I am working on for my baby number 2, Alexander and that we as a family can work together to achieve a routine that helps us all.
Breast pumping - I never did this and will be working to do this early with our Alex. Also good so Dad can have his time with baby and/or great for grandparents to get involved so I can have my time.
Sleeping - Make sure Alex is fully awake with some light stimulation when I am putting baby into sleep. Otherwise I will create a comfort for baby to rely on me to fall to sleep.
Swaddling - Only swaddle when baby goes to sleep. Either day or night. Swaddling is an association for baby to go to sleep. Great for baby and continued routine during social times during the day.
If this is the 2nd child or subsequent child - This was a handy hint given to us by friends. We are going to get a gift for James for the first time they see each other to build trust and love.
Location - Make sure I put them to sleep in the same place where they are going to wake up.
Golden Rule - 7pm sleep time! Do not miss this and make sure the room temperature is appropriate.
Not that James used a dummy, but I am now aware dummy's can be important and effective when changing routines to help as a settler.
So in summary I now know the importance of routine. Routine is safe and secure for everyone in the family, we know when things are going to happen. Of course as baby is unsettled and/or sick, I will be flexible but as soon as baby is OK I will go straight back to my routine. I want to keep it simple but end of day I need to work with the baby, I have taken what I can out of my research to do the best I can.
I love being a Mum but I can't wait to have my body back. I am so looking forward to meeting baby number 2 in the next few days!
Love Rachel xx