The Good, The Bad and The Sleep Deprived

Being mummy of two little cherubs, under the age of two, has been amazing, extremely challenging and above all, absolutely exhausting. It’s not just the usual lack of sleep from a newborn joining the fold, but also the running around all day juggling them and keeping them entertained when you can hardly keep your eyes open. With just one newborn, even if you can’t actually sleep when they do, you can at least sit with your feet up and relax whilst they snooze on top of you. That’s what I used to do with Issey anyway. Even so, I was beyond tired with just Isabella! Sleep deprivation is by far the hardest thing I’ve struggled with becoming a mummy to one, let alone two babies. Despite always being an early bird, I love my sleep, and living off 4 hrs on a good night has all but destroyed me. I really really struggle to nap in the day or anywhere but snuggled in my bed, so even if I can get the girls down at the same time, I just end up rushing through a long list of chores or enjoying the luxury of eating my own meal rather than their leftovers.

Essentially my new best friend is coffee. It’s got so bad now that if I haven’t had one after lunch I can actually tell! I’ll work on that addiction once Sienna is in a better place through the night. Currently, she wakes every 2 hours if she isn’t in our bed, and every 3 if she’s in with us. She’s still in our bedroom so it’s easy to just tuck her in with us and get back to sleep. I know I know. Making a rod for my back, but to be honest, sleep is too important in my life right now so I’ll take that rod and enjoy better posture for a while. Depending on how much of a fight I can manage in the early hours, she is inevitably tucked in with us by midnight. Other than regular coffee hits I try at least once a week to go to bed when the girls do. I tend to work that in when I’ve managed to get everything done during the day before they go to bed; bottles washed and prepped for the night feeds etc. and then I can attempt to switch off immediately and catch as many hours as possible. The rest of the time 10pm is a late night for me. I basically hate nighttime and have found no real way of coping with sleep deprivation. I’m now either tired (best possible feeling), exhausted or almost dead. It’s my new look. I guess one of the pros of having the girls so close together is that I never got used to the luxury of having a proper night’s sleep in between, as Issey was still up in the night when Sienna arrived. However, the con is that I’ve not had a decent night sleep since being about 7 months pregnant with Isabella! That would be back in May 2014! Pretty confident I’ve aged like 10 years thanks to that alone.

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All that being said there are definitely good and bad days regardless of how much sleep I’ve had. In the early weeks, it was more like good and bad parts of every day. Back then my motto would be “well if I’ve achieved one thing today it’s….” usually managing a shower, laundry or keeping us all alive. It is astonishing how things change and so quickly with babies, although it doesn’t seem like that at the time. I have worked in some kind of a routine now, but I wouldn’t say its the best, and I was definitely better at getting Issey into a routine; Sienna kinda has to fit into her one. That’s largely because I only had one to worry about with just Isabella, so I could spend ages rocking her when she showed signed of needing a nap. That’s absolutely impossible to do with Sienna as I can’t just swan off to a dark room and leave Issey to her own little devices. Bedtime, however, is now a military operation which has definitely been just as good for Sienna as it was for Issey.

I’d definitely say that now we have some absolutely brilliant days; ones where I literally feel like a superhero and that I’m totally winning at being mum. Usually, it doesn’t take much to feel that way as I’ve let go of so much guilt now. Even if I’m super tired, if things are going well from my perspective I can sort of bumble along feeling pretty happy with myself. But then there are days which are so challenging; I feel like the worst mother and that I’m probably screwing up my kids. There are way too many factors that can mean a really good or really bad day, so instead of trying to narrow them down I’m going to break down two recent days as examples of what we’re working with.

A Bad Day

Sienna woke up at 5am and was definitely not going back to sleep. She is the loudest little baby I’ve ever met so her little coos just echo around our cottage and often she wakes Issey up if she isn’t awake already. After the necessary nappy change, my first thought is only ever coffee. On this occasion not only did Sienna’s baby chatter wake Issey, but her nappy had leaked so my coffee was delayed by a full clothes and bed linen change along with an immediate call to load up the washing machine. Downstairs with an increasingly unimpressed Sienna on one hip, a hungry Isabella on the other, a bag full of used bottles and dummies needing washing over my shoulder and the laundry bag in one hand. Yes, I carry the lot in one trip as more than one is even more annoying than my coffee being delayed.

Breakfast meant Issey munching on a microwaved warmed croissant sat on the worktop whilst I made up Sienna’s bottle. Shortly after I recieve an apologetic text that our morning Playdate needs to cancel. Stare into cold coffee wondering how to get through the morning as Sienna is now just constantly crying despite being changed, fed and burped. She is refusing to be put down anywhere and all Issey wants to do now we have moved into the lounge, is also sit on my lap. Mr. Tumble swiftly found on Sky+ (I have far too many recorded so I have an immediate toddler fix). For the rest of the morning, and after only drinking a few ounces at breakfast Sienna decides she doesn’t want any milk or have longer than a 20-minute nap. Issey wasn’t helping her mood by taking everything off Sienna (toys etc.) and pushing her hands off things when she was pulling herself up. She is also going through a hideous phase of screaming really high pitched about anything that’s annoying her. Most things annoy toddlers so that’s been fun. Not helping my sleep deprived mood is that my period decided today was a good day to start. I’ve learnt a lot about being patient and not holding grudges in becoming a mother, but when it’s ladies week I lose a lof of my filter.

The whole morning consisted of ‘if one has something the other wants it’ and Vise Versa. Sienna wouldn’t sit in her chair, Walker, bouncer or jumperoo without shouting or crying. I even had to shower with her screaming her head off in her rocker in the bathroom whilst Issey watched even more telly laying on our bed. I wouldn’t have had one otherwise. I tried waiting until after Sienna’s morning nap in the hopes she’d be better, but it made absolutely no difference and her not wanting to drink any milk was driving me bonkers. ‘What is wrong with you if it’s not bloody milk?!’. I attempted cooking scrambled eggs for lunch with Issey but it was just a nightmare as Sienna was crying or shouting despite me giving her tons of toys or snacks to nibble on in her highchair. I’m glad I didn’t try to make anything more adventurous. Sienna now pulls herself up on everything, favorites naturally being anything that either moves or can’t take her weight. It’s so stressful, especially when you are trying to juggle both of them or Issey needs help or her bum changed etc. Attempted some imaginative play with Issey pretending to drive a car [sofa] with her baby in a car seat etc. but too tired to function and didn’t really win at my make believe face. Tried supplying snacks and drinks to keep Issey on board whilst Sienna just cried and moaned, but with little effect. The more I kept having to pick up Sienna, the more Issey wanted me, my lap, help; I was literally holding on by my fingertips until Issey’s nap time and Mr tumble ended up being on the majority of the morning. At one low point Issey did a poop and whilst wrestling her to change it with Sienna climbing up my back as I’m crouched over Issey, I managed to get her poo on my finger. Not just on, but fully up my nail. *Breathing slowly*.

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Managed to get them to nap together thank goodness; Issey in her cot and Sienna on me sprawled out on the sofa wondering how on earth this is now my life. Get another text that our afternoon play date also has to cancel!! Generally wonder how I’m going to get through the afternoon.

The afternoon was a lot better as both were much more amenable. Hooray. Took them up to Waitrose for absolutely no reason other than to get out the house and ended up buying things we definitely didn’t need. Called Marcus, whilst juggling cooking dinner and Sienna yelling from her highchair, to see if he would be home soon as felt a bit at breaking point. Had a little cry even though he was on his way and should walk in the door in time for bedtime as I just felt like the worst mother in the world. Issey was much better in the afternoon thankfully and was so sweet hugging mummy when I cried. She went off and got her comforter for me to hold. Heart bursts a little. She is either a nightmare in the morning and better after a nap or the other way around. However, naps have started to become hit and miss so once she flatly won’t take a nap I guess I’ll have a whole day of either happy or nightmare toddler to contend with. Oh yay.

Daddy came home just as we were climbing the stairs for bedtime after we had bumbled through a dinner of baby pizza (made on English muffins) and chips. He was immediately hands on as usual. Yay Daddy, however, he doesn’t like if I haven’t coped well for whatever reason. He brushes it off and doesn’t want to talk about it. I can only assume he’s being all defensive for his angles or that I’m being “negative” again. But I don’t care how much of a ‘mother earth’ you are, surely everyone has tough days?? If he mentions he’s having a hard day I try to make things as easy as possible at home for when he gets in and ask how he is etc. Men are different I guess.

Girls successfully put to bed after many delay tactics from Issey and what feels like hours of rocking a sleep fighting Sienna. Tomorrow is a new day. One that will no doubt start at 5am.

It’s crazy as I had literally been crying the day before because I was so worried when my in-laws took them for a much longer walk than anticipated. I got all panicked and missed them like crazy. Today I would have killed for someone to take them off my hands for a breather. Don’t get my wrong, I’m so thankful to have them. They are our little miracles, but it doesn’t make being a parent any easier. At times I feel like I’m a slave to naps and feeding times, it has at time been the loneliest job if we are stuck inside with bad weather or illness, and it’s impossible to always please a toddler let alone a baby who you have no idea why they are crying.

However, some days do go perfectly…

A Good Day

Daddy was working today despite it being a Sunday and Father’s Day. He had to be out by 9am.

Woke up at 6.30 am by Issey yelling “mumma”. We’re using a grow clock which some mornings works and others not at all. If she is just calling my name it usually means the sunshine is on, if she is crying it’s likely it’s still showing stars and she isn’t in the mood to wait. I snuck out the bed leaving Sienna and Marcus snoozing still. Sienna is either up at a horrific time if the morning, like 4-5am am or can make it to 7am on a good day.

By the time I’d changed Issey’s full nappy Sienna was up so changed hers and we gave daddy his homemade handprint card and new satchel for Father’s Day. He was super chuffed. It’s the best feeling knowing he is finally a daddy; it’s all he ever wanted. There was a time we didn’t think we’d make it, so it’s brilliant now celebrating Father’s Day.

Breakfast downstairs – banana, brioche bun with chocolate spread and I had toast shared with both girls. Upstairs to faff around whilst daddy got ready for work. Sorting washing piles and getting Issey dressed properly etc. After waving daddy off to work we did a bit of playing in the lounge; girls following each other around crawling, which is their favourite game atm. Then Sienna starting yawning and rubbing her eyes so wrapped her to my back and set up Issey in the garden with her sand table, whilst I washed up and posted father’s day photos on social media. In which time Sienna had fallen asleep. Told Issey I was putting Sienna in her cot and took her upstairs to put her straight down. Out in the garden with Issey and the monitor. Sand, swings, slide and seesaw. Win, win win. She likes to do it all with one of her babies (doll) if Sienna isn’t about. Funnily enough, she is great at sharing with her “baby” compared to her actual sister.

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Sienna woke up so got her dressed and then had my shower with her sat in her rocker and Issey watching telly laying on our bed. Accidentally shaved centre of my pubs off with my lady shaver whilst suddendly looking up thanks to Sienna dropping a toy. Had to then shave the whole lot off! An extra surprise for daddy tonight then lol. Got ready with Sienna running around in her cot and Issey “helping me” by getting my knickers and putting them on herself, with pantiliner of course, same with my bra and pretending to put on my deodorant. Eventually prised my undies off her by getting her to help me put cream on my legs.

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Downstairs and put a load of washing on. Started to prepare lunch whilst Sienna sat happily in her in the high chair sucking on a breadstick. Issey went back to her sand pit; she took her shoes and socks off and then put both on correctly after. So proud. In for lunch. Pate on English muffin, strawberries, Raspberries, cucumber and ham. A bit of playing with a balloon and rocking on rocking horse in the play room then upstairs to put Issey down for a nap. Sienna crawls around Issey’s bedroom whilst I get Issey into her pj’s and sleep bag. We all sit for a story and then pop Issey into bed with her comforter, dummy and sleep tunes on her stereo.

Took Sienna back downstairs and we played in the playroom with cars, balloon and fortunately, she was fascinated in washing machine for a while. She then started rubbing her eyes so put her on my back and washed up and cleaned the kitchen surfaces and floors, in which time she had fallen asleep. Made a coffee, took her off, sat on the sofa with her asleep on my lap and caught up on Geordie Shore.

Sienna woke up first so we did a bit of playing with stacking cups and balls. She’s all about cause and effect at the moment. Issey was still asleep by 3.15pm so Sienna and I went upstairs and were purposely not quite so we might wake her. Issey is really good at bedtime but I don’t want to start making that harder by her not actually being tired. She was up by 3.30pm. Bit moody but half expected since she had been so brilliant all morning. Faffed about upstairs and did a bit of playing chasing and hiding. Downstairs played a bit with musical animals and babies (pretend changing nappies etc). Then time to make dinner. Cooked sausages and peas and had them with some left of cheesy pasta from yesterday. Berries for dessert. Sienna was quite happy crawling around the play room (at the end of the kitchen) eating cars and chasing a balloon whilst Issey and I sorted dinner together. She loves helping me standing on her stool.

Reasonable dinner but Sienna, not that bothered about the actual food, aside from sucking the sauce off the pasta and gnawing on a bit of sausage. Had to have her on my knee towards the end as she was getting tired and grumpy. Issey’s favotite game at the moment is holding up food for me, but then putting it in her mouth instead as I go to eat it. It gets her eating so absolutely embracing that game.

Put Sienna back in her high chair a bit grumpy but needed to make up bottles for the night. I alway do everything before I take them up as I hate coming down and having loads to do other than sitting on the sofa. Got through Sienna’s grump by singing and giving her toys whilst I filled bottles with water from the perfect prep machine and measured out the formula into a dispenser. Issey was playing with her toy kitchen which is in the dining room so I can see her from the kitchen.

Back in the lounge for a bit of dancing to nursery rhymes and reading stories before daddy walks in the door from work. Yay. Lots of hugs, kisses and chasing around before up to bed for a bath. Both girls super tired by then so no faffing just bath, bottles, clean teeth, story and Issey into bed first then rocking Sienna to sleep. Job done, for a few hours at least.

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