The hard nights

The hard nights

Last night was a particularly bullshit night. Today I feel that old bone weary tiredness I used to live with daily. It seriously f#%^ing hurts. 

Last night, I said, ‘I can’t do this!’. ‘What’s wrong with your kid?’ I asked my husband. ‘I’m so over this. Just go the f#%^ to sleep.’ I told my poor baby. 

I felt so very sorry for myself and had all the, ‘you’ve done this to yourself, Carly.’ thoughts that featured so heavily with my first. 

Last night, my 11 month old seriously struggled with sleep. He was restless and unhappy. From 12-3, he could not settle. He wasn’t playing but he wasn’t asleep. He was sitting up, crawling around, moaning, on the boob, off the boob, on my chest, off my chest, on his side, on his back, sitting back up … rinse and repeat. 

Nothing was working. Nothing seemed to help. Panadol, cuddles, boob, cuddles, boob, cuddles, boob, different position. Rinse and repeat. 

I was SOOOOOOO ridiculously over it. I was tired. I was out of ideas. He still couldn’t settle. 

My husband took over for a little while so I could be untouched briefly. 

He still couldn’t settle. 

I took back over and after more of the same, he eventually flopped onto my chest one last time and slept. He slept and I slept. 

A couple of more wakings before dawn, but some boob and he was back to sleep. 

He woke cranky. Still tired. 

I woke cranky with sore nipples from his restless, rough nursing through the night. Still tired. 

My husband took him while he got ready for work and I got 20 minutes to myself. 

It was heavenly. 

It was all I needed to reset a little. 

I came out to the day, still bone achingly tired but with a clearer head. I had time to feel sorry for myself but also time to reflect on just how hard my poor baby struggled last night.  He was a mess. He needed me SOOOOO much. I couldn’t seem to fix whatever it was that was making him unsettled but I was there for him. I had his back. I may have grumbled and grouched but I was there for my little human who was having so much trouble in the night. 

I was there for him when he woke. I was there through his struggle and I was there when he finally found relief and sleep. 

I was there for him. 

He won’t always need me as intensely as he did last night. I may never know exactly why he struggled so much on this occasion but I will forever know that my very presence meant that he got through it with support, with trust and with love. 


I spent the night just wishing for morning. I hated the night one more time. He’s not even Wonder Weeking, this is meant to be our ‘sunny’ time. Nights like this bring out all of my insecurities and doubts. 

But, I will never get that time with my little man again. It is one less time he will find comfort in my arms or at my breast. It is one less time he will NEED me so. 

The bullshit nights are hard but I truly believe they also lay the foundation for our relationship with our babies for the rest of their lives. 

Hang in there tired mamas x

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Normal infant sleep: honouring the village mother within

Normal infant sleep: honouring the village mother within

Once upon a time, we lived a village life. I know, I know … we don’t anymore and quite honestly when it comes to raising our families, the lack of village frankly sucks. But it’s not just the support structures that a village life provided for families that has been lost. Something possibly even more crucial has all but disappeared… knowledge of what is normal and practical day to day, night to night experience with a range of infants and watching mothers mother.  

For generations, mothers were surrounded by mothers, surrounded by babies and children of varying ages and stages.

It would have been an easier and far more natural education for a new mother to transition into her role as she would have been coming with a whole life experience of living and learning about infants and how they behave as they develop in a biologically normal manner.

She would’ve witnessed the early days of nursing, experimenting with holds and attachment, cluster feeding, night nursing, establishing supply and maintaining supply.

She would’ve already known that some babies sleep easily while most need a lot of help. She would’ve seen babies progress through their first year and beyond. She would’ve noticed the cyclical nature of their sleep. Sometimes waking more frequently and nursing more often or requiring more help than they had previously.

She would’ve been taught to babywear and probably had already worn other babies in her village and so knew the benefits to both mother and child.

She would’ve not thought twice about bringing her child to her bed to maximise both of their sleep.

She would’ve seen that day sleep was as varied in length from infant to infant as night sleep and she would know it was okay for a baby to ‘catnap’ and that sometimes a breastfeed or cuddle may extend a nap but other times, resettling simply wasn’t what was needed by that baby right then.

She would know to look for signs her baby was getting weary and she would’ve calmed that baby off to sleep at the breast, in her arms or in a carrier without stressing about getting them ‘down’.

She would’ve been witness to the heartbreakingly short but extremely intense weary season that is the first couple of years of an infant’s life.

She would not have had to worry about ‘bad habits’, she would not have worried her baby would still be needing to be nursed or rocked to sleep out of infanthood. She would not have worried if that baby would ever leave her bed.

She would not have worried because she would have witnessed the beautiful unfolding of independence that occurs so naturally as the children of her village grew.

She would have been confident that her baby’s dependence on her in the early days and years is but a fleeting and ever so normal and needed stage in that child’s life.

By unquestioningly responding to her baby’s normal dependent behaviour, she would have known she was allowing deep, healthy, reliable roots to establish in her baby’s world upon which independence and a sense of self would branch and blossom.

Sleep training would not be something she knew of and if it had been described to her, she would’ve recoiled and protectively enveloped her child, wanting to shield them from a practice that is so foreign and at odds with a baby’s biologically normal sleep behaviour.

This village mother still lives. I know. I found her deep in my heart. Deep in my motherly instincts. Deep in my soul.

Sadly for me, I didn’t honour her as she deserved until after I fell prey to the sleep training industry.

In the absence of village life with mothers coming to mothering with a solid grounding in what is normal, we have become a world that is disconnected from ourselves and our baby’s legitimate needs. We have succumbed to fear … fear of birth, fear of mothering, fear of breastfeeding and fear for our sleep being unnecessarily interrupted by our baby.

So here’s our challenge… if you can recognise the village mother in yourself, honour her by mothering with knowledge of the norm and do it loudly and proudly. Talk, educate and support mothers and mothers of the future in your world. The physical village may be a thing of the past but mothers helping pass on the art of mothering is here … she is within us. Let’s play our part 💙😊

My top tips for getting your head around and accepting normal infant sleep for new and expecting mamas

1. Expect that your baby will wake ALOT and want to nurse back to sleep most times throughout the first year and beyond. 

2. Even if your baby starts sleeping longer … Expect it not to last. 

3. Expect there to be times when your baby will be super hard to settle and may be impossible to put down. 

4. Expect that your baby will catnap during the day (20-40minutes) and you may spend more time getting them to sleep than they actually stay asleep. 

5. Expect that at times, you will need to call in back up support to help you get the rest you need while meeting the night time needs of your baby. 

6. Expect that you may need to consider some sleeping arrangements that you may not see as your ideal situation (eg. Bedsharing when you really wanted a cot sleeper). 

7. Expect that your baby will want to sleep on the boob and not let go at times. This is normal and not a sleep or supply problem. 

8. Expect that in a few short years, it is a long forgotten ‘ stress’ and all you miss is all the cuddles , nursing and closeness.

Expect these things and then, if it turns out your baby finds sleep more easily than this, winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Realistic expectations (even if you consider them low expectations) make it so much easier mentally to prepare, surrender and make peace with your baby’s sleep behaviour. 
Your baby is so much more than their ability to sleep. Expect little in the way of sleep and enjoy them for the whole person they are 💙😴👍🏻

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    Mummy’s Little Booby Monster

    Mummy’s Little Booby Monster

    Mummy calls my baby brother 

    By a very funny name

    She says that he’s her Booby Monster

    And that nursing’s his favourite game.

    💙

    Our baby can do other things

    He loves to watch me play

    He shrieks with laughter watching me

    And crawls right in my way.

    💙

    But if our baby is feeling tired

    Or something makes him sad

    Mummy scoops him up and pops him on

    And soon he’s back to glad.

    💙

    Our baby now eats some food like me

    But while he was tiny he never

    That’s why mummy has her boobs with her

    So he wasn’t hungry ever.

    💙

    Mummy fed him while we were at playgroup

    In the carrier at the shops

    He had boob while she chased me

    Even playing wouldn’t make him stop.

    💙

    Our baby likes to play booby monster

    Lots and lots during the night

    So he sleeps with us right next to mum

    So he can boob along and sleep tight.

    💙

    Mummy says I was once her booby monster

    When I was a baby too

    She says she loved to cuddle me close

    And nurse away my blues.

    💙

    Mummy and our baby Booby Monster

    Have lots of cuddles now

    But Mummy always has cuddles for me

    And she loves to show me how.

    💙
    Grubby Mummy and the Grubby Bubbies

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    Baby Sleep- let’s try something different …

    Baby Sleep- let’s try something different …

    Please stay with me. Here’s your challenge.  
    What if we stopped for even a day believing all the stuff we are told about Baby Sleep.

    What if we accepted that our baby is normal and sleeping exactly as they should by going through cycles of waking frequently, nursing frequently, falling asleep on the boob, catnapping, only sleeping in close contact with a caregiver.

    What if we accepted that not all babies need X amount of sleep in long chunks to be rested and healthy.

    What if we accepted that the majority of babies need help to relax off to sleep and are incapable of ‘self soothing’.

    What if we accepted that what our baby could do last week simply isn’t something they can this week.

    What if we accepted that just because our friend’s baby happily drops off to sleep once placed in their cot it is not something our own baby can or should be doing.

    What if we accepted that our high needs babies really do need us to help them back to sleep every 20-40 minutes at night.

    What if we accepted that a teething baby, a sick baby, a baby going through a developmental leap, a baby learning to crawl or walk, a baby who has been away from their carer for a chunk of the day is likely going to want to sleep on the breast all night long.

    What if we accepted that some babies don’t and won’t resettle from a day nap and catnapping is normal.

    What if we simply accepted normal infant sleep behaviour and stopped questioning ourselves and our babies at every bump in the sleep road.

    I challenge you to try this. Because I do believe there is method in my madness.

    Once you have decided to accept (even experimentally) that this is normal infant sleep behaviour and your baby doesn’t have a ‘sleep problem’ as many in our society would have you believe you are now at the next very important point.


    Where to now?

    You are probably tired. Maybe even severely sleep deprived. You may have other children. You may have a partner or maybe you are doing this alone. You may be far from family. You may have barely heard from you friends since the baby arrived. You may be back at work or heading back soon. You may have your own health issues. You may have many other factors in your life that need to be considered right down to your own experience as a child.

    There’s no one size fits all solution here. There is however a bit of a check you could run by to assess what changes, both physically and mentally, you ‘could’ make to help you through this season.

    Firstly, set yourself a realistic goal. For me, this is to get the best quality rest and sleep I can and to feel well enough in myself to function, enjoy and appreciate my family. You’ll notice I said ‘best quality sleep’ not the elusive ‘quantity’ and I say ‘best’ meaning best in the current circumstances not best as in the amazing sleep I had before babies.

    After that, give yourself some time to think and reflect on how you can achieve this goal in your unique setting.

    If your baby sleeps best on you or feeds or wakes constantly, have you considered bedsharing, or sidecarring the cot or camping out in the nursery?

    If your baby sleeps their longest stint first up, could you change things for this season so you too can go to sleep around this time?

    Could a husband or partner take on a settle or dream feed first up to give you one longer stint (NOTE: this has never worked for me but does for others)

    If you can’t sleep during the day, can you at least get a 15-30 minute ‘rest period’ even if it means sitting in the car at work in peace or putting the TV on for your toddler while you put your feet up with cuppa?

    Is there any way you can farm out any other ‘jobs’ to create more rest time in your day? I hired a cleaner when I was diagnosed with PND and I can’t explain how much of a positive impact it had on me. This may not be within your budget but what else could you do?

    Who can you call on when it’s all too much and you need more of a break? Could your husband take a half day or even full day of leave? Could grandma come and have bub while you have a rest or bath or a good long cuppa?

    What exercise are you getting to keep you mentally and physically moving? I’m no gym junkie but an evening walk with our sleepy babes is a great way for my husband and I to stay connected. There are also many mums and bubs classes, crèches at gyms and other options if you need to bring babe along.

    What are you doing socially to stay feeling connected and supported through this season? Finding your mummy tribe can be a very vital key to not only surviving this season but also enjoying it. Mothers groups, ABA or La Leche League meets, online forums and groups … Put out your feelers for likeminded supportive mamas who become your safe place for support, encouragement and genuine friendship.

    Are you saying ‘yes’ or loading yourself up too much at this time? Could anything wait until this season ends?

    How could your own health (physical or mental) be impacting on how you can manage this season and what could you do to alleviate any of this?

    Do you think there are any other factors making it hard for you to accept your baby’s sleep pattern and if so, what could you do to deal with this?

    Lastly, what expectations do you hold of yourself that may be making this weary season any harder than it needs to be?

    The next step, try it out. Make the adjustments and changes (both physically and mentally) that you’ve identified and take it for a spin.

    For me, stopping nighttime resettling and taking up bedsharing with my first was a complete game changer. I simply could not believe how much more rested I was when I stopped physically getting up and stopped having to wind back down to sleep. I wasn’t always comfy. He still slept like shite but hell I got more rest.

    Give it a chance and tweak it where necessary.

    You may have gone through this process and found you are unwilling to make the changes required to achieve your goal. Or maybe you feel there aren’t viable choices to be made. You may decide that for you and your family, sleep training is the right path. If this is you, I urge you to please, investigate gentler options that do not involve your baby crying. It may take longer but just as you’ve found it too difficult too make changes to your comfort zone, respect that your baby will also find these changes hard.

    If however, you are still with me, I look forward to hearing how you go with your goal. I look forward to hearing how you work through your own adjustments to manage this season. Sometimes, simply knowing your baby IS normal is all that you need to make it through. It was a huge part of finding my surrender.

    So here’s to accepting normal infant sleep behaviour and here’s to trying something different 💙😴

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    All the comfort you need sweet babe

    All the comfort you need sweet babe

    Comfort. 

    Comfort is something so very undervalued in our interactions with others in today’s society.  

    Comfort seems simple.

    But it’s not. To provide comfort takes time. It requires connection and and a level of intuition.

    Comfort cannot be fake.

    Both the comforter and comfortee need to accept the give and take.


    My precious first babe taught me just how much comfort one person can need.

    He taught me about the beauty and value in surrendering to another’s need for comfort.

    He knows that he has all the comfort he wants from me.

    I offer my comfort freely.

    There are no strings attached.

    My arms will always be open to him whether he be happy or sad, afraid or mad.

    As a babe, he needed me to comfort him at my breast. Day and night. He found comfort in my arms, on my chest, warm milk flowing as I hummed and sang to him. He slept right next to me from 6 months when I finally accepted his waking for comfort and nursing was a necessity not a problem to be fixed.

    As a toddler, he still finds great comfort in me. I remain his safe place.

    The time in my arms has greatly reduced as he blossoms and grows and still he returns whenever he needs.

    It warms my heart to realise that whatever distress, whatever the disquiet he comes to me. He may still cry. He may still rage. But my arms, my voice my presence brings the comfort. Slowly he calms. Gradually he relaxes. Eventually he finds his peace.

    This sweet babe of mine may be small but he knows about love. He knows how it feels to be able to depend on another. He knows that turning to someone when you are feeling bad brings comfort and peace not turning against them in spite.

    He will go out into this world knowing and feeling unconditional love.

    I may have days that are long. I may feel touched out. I may feel stretched too thin. But I will give that babe all the comfort he needs until my end of days because to bring him comfort brings me home. The look in his eyes when he sees me. The way they communicate the sadness, anger, frustration, hurt, joy, pain and excitement. The moment we connect. It’s just him and me. Our days of breastfeeding are over but the synchrony remains.

    It is an honour and privilege to be his mum.

    And then there was peace.

    And then there was peace.

    I have had one hell of a 24 hours with my babies. No great tragedies or events that need to be detailed. Just more the kind of time where every little thing that can go wrong does. Every turn you take there’s a hurdle. Every time you stop to breathe, someone cries.  


    My 6 month old is particularly intense right now. I could hazard a guess at a few developmental reasons why if I could have been bothered but in truth, I was too tired today to work it out.

    I hit survival mode at about 7am this morning.

    Once I’m on survival, it’s really never going to be my best day. Not because I’m being careless but more because quite often, I only feel like I can offer my physical self to my children. The mental and emotional part turns inward. I go into pity party mode with lots of, ‘I swear they hate me sometimes.’ And ‘of course you had to wake up, can’t let mummy have two seconds to herself.’ I lose my empathy switch. I race through the day, just waiting to get that precious time for me. Just me. I am not present. I am not in tune. I am out of sync.

    I can recognise this happening but quite often, I can’t turn it off. Not until I get the chance to reboot. Had the stars magically aligned and my babe’s sleeps had overlapped, I may have reset. They didn’t.

    It was a long, relentless let’s just freaking do this kind of day.

    My toddler was unusually quiet and my baby whinged, whined and moped all day. They wanted and needed their mum. Physical mum just wasn’t enough.

    But then came bedtime for baby. Nope, fake out. But then came second attempt at bedtime for baby. Nope, fake out.

    He is never hard to put to bed. Ever.

    But then I put him down for one last play to wear him out and for the first time today I really watched him. There he was in all his grizzly glory on all fours desperately trying to crawl to me. The frustration was raw on his face. He knows exactly what he wants to do but his little body is still figuring out how to do it. Eventually he crumpled to the floor and burst into tears.

    My empathy switch lit back up. My poor tired, frustrated, hard working, learning baby boy was shattered.

    I carried him back to his room and we danced our slow dance in the dark until I could feel his calm. I then put him to my breast and remained present as he started to nurse.

    His beautiful face. Those lashes. The little hand clutching my finger. The other hand stroking my back. The sound of his breathing. The sound of his suckling. The sound of the quiet little sighs as he slowly surrenders to sleep. I feel his weight deaden. He has found his peaceful rest.

    After a day of mayhem. A day of tears. A day of frustration. A day of confusion. He returned to his safe haven and his safe haven returned to he.

    I was lost at times today and so was my sweet babe. But this is home. This is where we need to be. In sweet synchrony. Him and me.

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    Is it fair to expect equal share? Parenting roles and ratios

    Is it fair to expect equal share? Parenting roles and ratios

    This one is doing my head in a bit. My previous blog on Extreme Night Waking really struck a chord with many mothers who have lived or are living through severe sleep deprivation but a person called me out on it saying that basically my article asked only of the mother and not of the father. I’ve read and reread the article and run my experience through my head so many times now to see if at any turn my husband and I could have better ‘shared’ these sleepless nights and I have come to the conclusion that yes, we could have but I honestly don’t believe that by sharing the sleep deprivation we would have achieved better or happier outcomes for me, my husband and also crucially, my baby.  

    Prior to having my first baby, I decided that I would breastfeed and did all the research I felt I needed to make it a success and luckily for me, my baby and I, after a short learning period, took to it like ducks to water. I joined ABA, I fed on demand, I didn’t introduce a bottle in the early weeks (he ended up refusing it completely when I did try), I kept my baby close at night so I could respond quickly to his nighttime needs.

    Breastfeeding worked for us.

     It was just as well I knew enough about feeding and knew the right people to contact when my confidence in my knowledge wavered to be able to stick with my extremely demanding high needs baby who fed frequently around the clock from day one. If I knew any less or trusted my body any less, I would have no doubt worried about my supply and ability to ‘fill’ my baby as his constant waking signalled to some who knew less around me that he needed ‘top ups’ with formula. He didn’t. 

    You see, for him and the vast majority of breastfed babies, nursing not just feeding was as crucial to his wellbeing and survival as air. He NEEDED the extra human contact, the cuddles, the pressure, the skin to skin, the suckling, the sound of my heart, the sound of my breath, the feeling of my chest rising and falling to keep him centred, relaxed and at peace in a world he found absolutely terrifying from the day he was born. As a newborn, noises, sudden movement, the feeling of air on his body as he was changed or bathed, the feeling of falling asleep, the feeling of being put down alone frightened him out of his skin. You could feel the ‘wire’ within his tensed, scared little body and his alert eyes did not miss a beat. The boob and my chest were his safe place. They were home. As he grew, he slowly (much more slowly than a less high needs baby) adjusted to the world and his confidence and joy at experiencing all the wonders of life began to blossom. And still he had his safe place.

    Even now, as a weaned toddler, he finds great comfort in my arms. He loves to stroke my chest as I hum and sing him to sleep. And, although now others can put him to sleep and be with him at night, if I am around, he still wants and needs me.

    This high needs, breastfed baby is also fathered by a loving and committed dad who also works a high stress, high responsibility job with long hours. This dad, like all new dads, has had to make huge adjustments and sacrifices to his life as well as his mum. Does his life solely revolve around his children? No. Does mine? As a stay at home mum, yes, it pretty much does. Does that mean I should be doing more of the child related work than my husband? Yes and no. When he’s at work, I absolutely do. When he’s at home, no, he parents our children alongside me. 

    At nighttime though, just as in the day, if the baby needs or wants boob, then that’s all on me. And for a substantially large amount of the time, boob is the answer to nighttime wake ups. If the boob is failing and other methods need to be employed, then my husband always helps with one or the other baby/ toddler. He’s been on many a late night pram or carrier walks around the neighbourhood. He’s rocked in the rocking chair, paced the hall, he always gets the Panadol or tissues, drinks or any other random nighttime call out. He cleans up vomit, changes poonamis, bathed a poo covered baby at 2am. If the baby or toddler wake for the day at the Sparrow’s then he’s onto it. Anything and everything, just not the boob.

    So, while I wouldn’t describe our load sharing as 50/50 and yes, this man who is responsible for many other people’s lives in his role at work, does get more sleep than I do, I would call our mutual parenting ‘fair’. His contributions are different to mine but our family needs his ‘work’ as father every bit as much as they need my ‘work’ as a mother. We are a family, we are a team and this is not a competition or a drive to make sure that the painful parts of parenting such as sleep deprivation are evenly shared/ suffered for the sake of ensuring we appear to not be loading me down in favour of the man of the house.

    Let’s face it, mothering through breastfeeding is very work intensive for the mother. Only I can do it. Wanting to mother this way does not mean I am a glutton for punishment nor does it mean I cannot vent when my mothering style leaves me exhausted. I am following my heart as well as my babies.
    If my husband had tried to maintain a 50/50 share of the nighttime waking with my first, 50% of the night would have involved an extremely distressed, exhausted baby wanting nothing but to be at his mother’s breast. My poor husband would have had to endure our baby’s distress every night, knowing that the one and only way to calm him was at home stressing not sleeping because she knew exactly what her baby needed. What a disgusting situation for all of us.

      
    So while it may seem all very modern and up to date to expect that a father bear his ‘fair share’ of the sleep deprivation, it must be asked if it is the right choice for the family involved. If the babe settles easily for dad, then maybe it is a viable option but for families such as mine it simply does not meet the criteria of, is it safe? Is it respectful and does it feel right?

    Working out what works for your family and your situation and meeting and respecting the needs of everyone involved is by far the safest and best route to follow.

    I would love to hear how your family shares the load and in particular nighttime parenting.
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