Over the last few weeks I’ve been watching Samantha Faiers’ The Baby Diaries! Even though I started out being sceptical I grew to really enjoy it. Somehow she seemed to totally appeal to me, her gentle parenting style mixed with her attempts to normalise breastfeeding led to my full admiration.
She had cameras in her bedroom during the little ones developmental leaps and teething episodes, and her patience seemed never ending as she turned and cuddled and offered soothing words to her little Paul.
After 10 wake up’s I’m less gentle and more Cruella de Vil- I’ve of course always attempted to respond in a empathic way but the words “just go to sleep please” accompanied with suitable swears have left my mouth more times then I’d like to admit.
Surely it would be nice to have a stretch of sleep longer than 20 min?
Her sister Billie, seemed equally gentle and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them shimmy around Essex, kiddies in tow!
Then there was the arrival of a new baby, and sam’s niece was no longer the only child in her family. No longer was she the main focus. A cute invader had arrived and not only had he taken her attention and cuddles, he had turned mummy and daddy in to sleep deprived zombies.
I find that if I liken this too my husband simply bringing another woman home; dividing his affection and love between the two of us and expecting me to love her and care for her, helps me relate to how my daughter felt when my son entered the world.
Of course, the older sister is unsettled. Her entire world has been turned upside down. Nothing makes sense anymore, she’s tired, sad and craving her parents attention.
Let’s not forget the parents though; It’s hard for mum and dad too- the toddler is waking up through the night as is baby of course, everyone is exhausted and simply overwhelmed. Little one is hurting and it’s not getting better.
Of course, little Nellie knows that the invader is in mummy and daddy’s bedroom but whilst the three of them are all together, she’s all on her own.
This must feel so big and so upsetting. So what’s the best response? I loved the idea of a family bed so I got a co sleeper cot, and we all shared the bed, baby in his own space and toddler in the middle!
Imagining my daughter alone, wondering why she was excluded when we all shared, was too much for my heart to take. I asked her where she wanted to sleep! Had she said her own bed then of course we would have followed her lead but she didn’t, she asked to be with her family. I truly believe this helped both children in bonding and transitioning from a unit of 3, in to a family of 4.
However, in a society where mainstream parenting seems the obvious way to go, maybe this wasn’t an alternative that felt right for Billie. She stated that she felt she needed advice so she called in a “sleep expert”- at first the lady seemed empathic; recognising how hard it must be for poor little Nellie to adjust. Her brain is immature and after all she’s still just a toddler herself. I was fully focused here because I truly thought this lady would be good.
“They are all gentle- this will be great”
I was so excited that empathic parenting was shown on national tv. Of course this was going to be great, this will be gentle.
Instead of responding and being empathic to such a little one, they were told to return her to her bed if she got out. The parents where advised to not speak, so literally no reassuring words. Just return her to her bed and offer no verbal reassurance. No empathic “I know it’s hard sweetheart, everything feels strange and unfamiliar”.
Giving my daughter a sibling was the result of much deliberation, it was a decision we didn’t take lightly. We made sure we focused on her when brother was born. That she didn’t feel excluded. There were some rough times, of course! But at 6 and 3 they are the best of friends, and have so much fun together. And still, if they need it, there are cuddles to be had in mummy’s bed. We have moved past that stage now, but seeing that little girl crying, heartbroken, in her bed- it really hit home.
When the most vulnerable members of our society call out for support and reassurance, when they ask to feel loved and comforted- what do we tell them if we refuse? How do we support their emotional growth if we leave them to sort out emotions so big they simply can’t make sense of them? Why not help them and do what we can to make the transition easier? It’s so exciting to add a child to the family and although it can scary at the same time it was the right decisions for us!
When 3 became 4, we became complete!
Much love ❤️