For the past six and half years of my life, two little girls have completely stolen my heart. I could talk about how proud I am of all their achievements, but instead, I want to talk about what the past six and half years have taught me!
I had Lola in my life for 5 years before Frankie and parenthood up to that point was fairly plain sailing. We did things by the book- literally, we read all kinds of things such as Gina Fords Contented Little Baby and took what the NHS literature said as gospel.
Truthfully, Lola seemed pretty ok about that! In her first year we had the typical long nights and us figuring out ways to make her stay asleep for longer, but by 12 months we’d kinda cracked it. She was the most pleasant two, three and four year old, a bit of a diva at five but I see her now doing so well in school, making friends and being such a devoted and caring big sister at home I feel like we did things the right way for her.
As a baby, structure, and routine weren’t such a bad thing, she was happy self-soothing herself at night with her dummy, there were never any awful nights of screaming although we would always tend to her if she did cry. Lola was also very independent during the day happily playing with her toys by herself for short spells. She loved to be held and cuddled but she didn’t crave constant bodily contact with me.
As my pregnancy with my second baby progressed I had visions of her basically being a clone of her sister and that she would behave the same way and fall into the same routine with ease. Then, along came Frankie and it was quite apparent that she had her own set of rules. She did not do things Lola’s way, she hasn’t behaved in the same manner and she certainly hasn’t fallen into the same routine.
With Lola, I was led to believe that there were so many strict guidelines in bringing up a baby which have been royally tossed out of the window this time around. 18 months of Frankie, with her own set of rules, has taught me that not all babies want to do things by the book and that’s perfectly ok. Instead of listening to the book I listen to her and she responds with glee!
For the first half of that 18 months, I carried her on my body to keep her calm and that kept me calm. She breastfed on demand and it kept her calm and that kept me calm. She woke up from her slumber in her cot every night and wanted nothing more than join me in my bed so she could a) breastfeed and b) feel safe, secure and loved. She had slept in her co-sleeping Snuz pod up to 6 months of age so it’s understandable that being next to me felt perfectly natural to her.
Originally I hadn’t set out to co-sleep at all but I now completely understand why its the norm for so many Mothers. Babies thrive on connection, love, and security.
Lola didn’t co-sleep but she had learned to feel secure as she knew we would be there if she needed us. I never really considered it sleep training as such but we did a hell of a lot of rocking, singing, shushing, and lying on the floor next to her cot until she fell asleep, though we never allowed her to cry or feel distressed.
For Frankie, lying on the floor next to the cot just didn’t cut it. Any dummy that we tried in the early months was swiftly spat out and the only real way to send her off to the land of nod was me. Boob solved everything! The books we read for Lola were no longer relevant to this kid!
Ridding ourselves of the baby books and strict guidelines allowed to use our basic human instincts at being a mummy and daughter. When my baby was born a mother was born, both times, as I’ve had to learn and adapt to two very different little people.
At six and a half and one and a half both of my kids are growing into wonderful happy people that make each day that bit brighter. I am forever learning how to be a mum and have been taught one crucial life lesson, expect the unexpected! Unlike baby number one baby number two still doesn’t sleep all the way through the night without waking several times, she still wants mummy cuddles and needs to know I’m close by. She’s ‘attached at the hip’ as they say but one day she will no longer need me and that day is really not that long off.
For now, we are making each day count, doing what is best for us with a big side order of winging it along the way!