Harry & Sophie The Sleepers

I have to start this month by talking about something that I am still struggling to find in the parents manual.  It’s not on any of the posters that you see in the NCT groups nor do parents seem to talk about it.  The dreaded toddler sleep regression – or as I like to call it 2 weeks of soul destroying, sleep depriving, insanity inducing torture.  Yeah it happened.  One day Harry woke up and decided that the room which he has adored for 5 months now, he hated.  The bed which he drags anyone who visits in to see, like leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, he was scared of.  What was going on?

He has always been a good sleeper and we revelled in the fact that he would go to bed at 7pm every night once the Pontipines and Wattingers had finished their neighbourly disputes.  It was always a fairly relaxed process and he would even take himself off to bed every now and then.  We worried that when Sophie came along this might knock him out of kilter with it all, but it didn’t.  Everything seemed fine.  Then one day as we sat down to watch another episode of Altered Carbon Harry just strolled out of his room and it began.   Three hrs later we were still desperately trying to negotiate with him to go back to bed but he wasnt having any of it.

We then hit a spiral of non sleeping and excessive tiredness that turned him into a hissy-fitting monster who would melt down at the smallest thing.  A personal highlight for me was him throwing himself to the floor like Deli Ali and then when neither of us took notice he stood up and did it again!

This video shows day 2 where I went head to head with him for 2 hrs to try to get him to go back to bed.

It was, without doubt the hardest 2 hours of my life to date as I just couldn’t reason with him, nor could I stop him throwing himself around (and banging his head off the bed!)

Over the next few nights we tried everything from climbing into his bed to try to invoke his jealousy (you can see the ongoing negotiations here)…

…to sleeping on the floor next to him stroking his face, but nothing would work and we were all dying! (Apart from Sophie who slept through the lot waking only to demand her early morning feast).

We had to change it, so we read up on everything.  Mumsnet gave us 200 different anecdotal stories of the same thing with a platter of conflicting advice on how to combat it.  People we spoke to just nodded and said “yup, the terrible twos…”

We formulated our plan and decided on an abridged, military version of the Ferber method.  Harry was going to have his very own, tailor-made hell week.  Ok so slightly dramatic, but the plan was to go through his usual bedtime routine with 3 or 4 books and then try to leave the room.  When he then kicked off we would leave the room and not let him leave with us.  This meant holding the door handle – something which I am sure will divide opinion.  On Mumsnet it certainly did, people talked about locking the doors but we didn’t have a lock and didn’t feel comfortable adding one.  Instead I held the door handle.  Harry screamed, hammered the door, cried and shouted “come back daddy”.  It was awful.  I have cried on 4 occasions that I can remember – when I carried my nans coffin, when Harry was born, when Sophie was born and the scenes leading up to the execution of John Coffee in The Green Mile.  These 7 minutes that first night became the fifth.  Nikki sat in the living room crying and i held the door shut blubbing.  We did it knowing that he was OK and that we could see him on the nest cam.

It worked.  After seven painfully long minutes he gave up.  Stopped crying and walked over to his bed and climbed in, rolled over and went to sleep.  We couldn’t believe it had worked.  We just sat there in silence for about an hour too scared to move in fear of waking him up again.  Night 2 started the same but this time only lasted 4 minutes and was a lot less dramatic – no door banging, just some forced tears and again he walked over and got into bed again.  Night 3 was 1 minute and night 4 he just sat up in bed as Nikki left.  I write this on night 6 and he now just says “night night mummy” and rolls over when his book is finished – it really had worked and touch wood he is back into his normal sleep pattern of 7pm – 5.30/6am.

On a much lighter note Harry celebrated his 2nd birthday in Feb so we enacted our new tradition and took him and Sophie to Bristol Zoo.  We took him for his first birthday and he loved it

Nikki also knocked it out of the park when it came to his birthday cake creating this little beauty.  I’m not sure if it could do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs but I’m fairly sure it would make Chewie look fabulous!

Sophie is doing well and plumping up inline with where she should be.  In fact ahead of the game, at her last visit from the health visitor we found out she is in the 95th percentile for both weight and length!  We have already had to move her out of her Moses basket and into her cot in her room as she is too long!

She is holding her head up already, something we don’t think Harry was doing at this point.  Her hair is just starting grow again and is in the gorgeous fluffy stage – aside from the growing bald spot on the back of her head.

We are so blessed to have 2 little beauties that are so clearly in love with one another.  I’m sure the years ahead will bring arguments and bickering but for the moment it is amazing to watch Harry dote on Sophie and equally to watch Sophies eyes follow him round the room.

Until next time, when hopefully it will be a little more light hearted!

When Harry Met Sophie

For the first time in about 9 months I actually have a genuine excuse for the delay in writing a blog.  We had a baby!  Sophie Emily finally arrived, slightly later and a little larger than anyone had expected at a mere 10lbs 12oz – for anyone worried, apparently it’s easier to birth a bigger baby, with, you know, gravity and that….though I didn’t say that!

The birth itself was relatively straight forward though entirely different from Harry’s.  Firstly we were on the ward rather than in the birthing suite which means there was just a bed and some equipment rather than the full jungle gym experience with rings and balls everywhere.   This was due to Nikki’s waters breaking without any contractions – which involved us racing, film style to the hospital only to be sent home again 30 minutes later with 24 hrs to sit and wait for the ball to start rolling naturally.  Sadly it didn’t so we made our way to the birthing ward, with still no movements or tightenings.  We prepared the room for imminent arrival by dimming the lights and getting my snacks (which i remembered this time lined up on the window sill).

Secondly there seemed to be a much different approach from the midwives who apparently took a “mother led” approach which basically entailed lots of sitting around  and waiting and very little interaction.  It wasn’t that the midwives were absent, far from it, it just meant that they just observed, like we were chimps in the zoo (with a little less faeces throwing).

Having arrived at 2pm into our room for the day we started with all the excitement you could imagine… enough even for an inappropriate selfie….

Though by 7pm and 5 hours of sitting doing nothing, with Nikki strapped into the machine and the induction drug on tap we started to get a little bored, well I did – Nikki at least had the occasional check up from the midwives and her first meal with a nice sandwich lunch (nothing offered to me if you were wondering)

It was about this time that I resented Nikki rejecting  my request to bring my DS with me – apparently there “wouldn’t be time” for a little Mario Kart – wrong.

A mere 3 hours later and we had movements, contractions the return of the blood curdling screams and the all to familiar bone crushing had squeeze.  weirdly for us both the midwives still didn’t really do or say anything, other than ‘your doing amazing Nikki’ – which it was hard to disagree with at the time – it is hard to describe the emotion of watching someone you love go through something that seems so painful and at times relentless.

Thankfully it wasn’t relentless and not too long after Nikki almost snapped one of the midwives forearm in half we had action.  Suddenly their stand-off approach switched to furious note taking and then they wheeled over something that can only be described as the batman signal light – im not sure why they didn’t just turn the lights on to be honest!  It reinforced to me and to Nikki that there really is no glamour or dignity when you reach the business end – nor do I think anyone cared.

Then she was here.  10.51pm. 2 legs, 2 arms, 10 fingers and 10 toes.  The full gorgeous package.  She didn’t seem big to me at that point – to be honest I thought Harry was bigger.  I joked with the midwife about the weight and asked her to guess.  9lbs she thought – I went with 9lbs 4 – the same as Harry.  We were wrong and there was silence as she was weighed and 4.882kgs came up.  There was an awkward moment when everyone was trying to do the mental arithmetic to calculate the weight in pounds an ounces….10lbs 12oz.  Then just silence.

Such a beauty though and after a brief overnight stay thanks to staff shortages we found ourselves for the 2nd time in 2 years sat at home with the bassonet in the middle of the floor, both just staring.  The only difference this time was that there were 3 of us looking at the basket wondering what we were supposed to do.  Harry has been the model older brother and after only a few moments of jealousy, as we had expected, he has accepted her entirely and is very much besotted with little Sophie.  We have followed all of the guidelines and advice around introducing a new sibling to the family and have tried to involve him as much as possible – even with nappy changes, though he seems a little less keen to keep that one up!

3 weeks in and she has settled in amazingly well and, thankfully, like Harry seems to be a really chilled out little person.  The feeling of absolute and relentless tiredness has returned to Nikki and I, though she is sleeping for 3hrs at a time which makes it a little more bearable.  The tough element is knowing that even though she is awake and feeding through the night at 4am Harry is almost certainly going to be up at 630.  For some reason he doesn’t like lying in, even on a weekend.

Either way it is this face which makes it all bearable.  The frustration and demoralising feeling of disgust when you hear her snuffling like a pig, which is the prelude to all out hunger screaming, is instantly replaced with utter joy and love.

Second time round it’s amazing how much more relaxed we both feel about things.  No dramas about how to hold her, or panics about her being too hot, too cold or questions like “is that cry different to the other cry – what does that mean?”.  Everything is more chilled out and much like the first time Nikki is the ultimate natural, taking everything in her stride.

So how do we get Star Wars into this post?  We could talk about the new Episode 8 film which is everything a Star Wars film should be or I could just force it onto Sophie by dressing her up in the crochet had that we were given before Harry was born and we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl.  I think its fair to say that she didn’t really care for it much and somehow looks less Princess Leia and more Frau Farbissiner with a look that Nikki has also perfected if I force her to  watch anything in a galaxy far far away.  I guess this one I may have lost already.  Harry looks so chilled as Yoda, taken when he was also just 2 weeks old.

In other news Harry is sleeping in his bedroom now without drama.  The absolute hatred of the bed that I reported last time has been replaced with a desire to be in his room at every waking moment.  The nest cam we have installed in his room means that even if I am later back from work in Bath I can watch (in HD) as he goes through his bedtime routine of 2 or 3 books – normally involving some kind of creature wearing underpants – and then sleep.  No more fighting or wrestling to keep him in bed, no more holding the door to his room shut and feeling like the worst parent in the world as he cries on the other side.  He just goes to bed and sleeps.  It’s wonderful.  That being said he doesn’t always stay in there and, again thanks to the nest cam, we have so far watched him roll out of bed onto the carefully placed bean bag about 20 times.

This collage highlights some of the many sleeping positions he gets himself into over the course of an evening.

Christmas was an interesting one and with Sophie only 2 weeks old and Nikki still recovering it was time for me to step up to the plate and make the dinner happen.  Im not a bad cook, but Christmas dinner was always going to stretch my abilities.

That being said, it was bloody easy*, I mean look at the rise on these yorkshires!  Stories have been written about yorkshires that good.

In all seriousness it went OK and noone got ill from the food.  It’s fair to say that the Sharp household was a happy place this Christmas and getting used to our new family of four is one of the best presents I could have asked for.  Harry was a lucky boy and got lots of amazing toys from our very generous friends and family.

What an end to 2017 – couldn’t really be happier, especially as I got the new Call Of Duty for Christmas! (which I havent actually played yet – too tired to watch telly let alone interact with it)!


*yeah, it definitely wasn’t and I don’t think I have been that stressed before – but hey it was actually alright!

Harry the Homeowner

Another month or so has passed and this time we have packed in major life event to go alongside the imminent birth of number 2.  I have switched jobs, after 8 long years it felt like the right time to try something new, in a new city, in Bath.  A few people told me it was stupid to change and that the timing wasn’t right but I have come to realise that happiness in work can really impact happiness outside of work.  Commuting from Swindon to Bath has meant that I see little H and Nikki slightly less, but the time I do spend with them is definitely more quality as I am already much happier and less stressed!

It’s October and we are now bum twitchingly close to being a 2 child family, 2 kids, 2 under 2 – sweet jesus what were we thinking.  We are 4 weeks out from the potential start time, though the due date is 7 weeks.  Who knows, it always feels just like a guess by the doctors – either way it is close and we seem to be a lot less concerned by it than the first time.  I guess that’s normal for number 2, everything is old news this time round – it’s still a wonderful, amazing thing but the gloss is much duller – it is much more about the practicalities.

Nikki is cooking the little one well though and we had the gender scan to confirm if the 90% certainty of it being a girl was correct.  The scan was a private one and as it turns out I think it was the quickest I have ever spent £50 in my life – the whole thing was over in 10 minutes.  We did though get the confirmation that the mountain of boys clothes could in fact be sold/donated/bined.  Apparently we are not allowed to dress the new little one in blue hand-me-downs and then pop on a pink bow on her head – no matter how much it might save us!  The guarantee of a girl has awoken a new beast in Nikki which  I can only assume has ignited the little girl in her as she has bought more and more pinker and cuter things!

One of the benefits of the scan was getting a freebie 4D look at the little one which was incredible seeing her yawn in 3D (not sure what the nonsense of calling it 4D is all about).  Here is one of the pics we got

In preparation for new baby we have embarked on the path of migrating Harry from the nursery on the top floor of the house to his newly refurbished room on the middle floor.  The room itself is lovely and as it’s on the same floor as the living room we have been encouraging Harry to play in it and get used to it.  He even “helped” me to build all the new IKEA furniture, which was more than can be said for Nikki who sat and gave helpful advice throughout…

Now that the room is mostly finished, less some wall decorations we are waiting for, we have started to load in some of Harry’s stuff including his toys and books and so far Harry has loved going in there to play, and slam the doors of his drawers and try to climb everything!

He has even taken to climbing into his big boy bed and pretending to be asleep – all good sings we thought, “this is going to be easy” I said.  “I don’t know what people moan about, Harry will be sleeping in his own bed before the weekend is out”.  Then the night came for him to sleep for the first time in his beautiful new bed.  I went downstairs to get the dinner on so that it would be ready for when Nikki came down stairs after putting him down in the usual 5 minutes that it takes to get him to sleep….

WRONG. wrong. wrong.

He went totally mental. Batshit crazy. Apeshit. Thermonuclear.  I think it is fair to say that it is the biggest meltdown he has had to date and I got to watch it live thanks to our new Nest cam in the bedroom.  You can see the “negotiation” happening below and the blurriness of Harry’s face gives away the seriousness of his refusal.

For some reason he just wasn’t interested in believing us that his new bed was amazing and that being in it would make him a big boy and he would love it. Nope he just lost it and we had to admit defeat, for now.  We will continue to play with him in there until he is ready to give it another go.  No doubt there will be more to discuss next time round.

On a more positive note Harry has spent lots of time with grandma and granddad and even managed to convince each of them to get into the soft-play with them on 2 different occasions…

I think the “oldies” were having more fun!

Till the next time….