At What Age Should I Leave My Baby Overnight?

It started when my baby was 4 months old – my friends suggesting I leave him for a day and night to hang out with them. They are good friends, great friends, and I have no doubt they believed it would be good for me to be away from my kids for a night. To relax, to eat a meal without being interrupted every 10 seconds and to get some gorgeous, uninterrupted, deep sleep. It does sound good. Especially the sleep part. That sounds marvellous actually.

At 4 months old I wasn’t ready to leave my baby
But it was never going to happen that early on. My baby had a rocky start, which no doubt has made me super cautious with him. But regardless of that, I really don’t think I would’ve been ready to leave him at 4 months old, even if he hadn’t had heart surgery. I wasn’t ready to leave my first baby that early either. So I told my friends that and they accepted it.

My baby is now 7 months old and the issue has come up again and again. My friends and I would excitedly be arranging something through a group text chat and it would dawn on me that they were assuming we would have an overnight stay somewhere. And that I would be fine that. But I’m not. Not yet anyway.

And there’s another issue… my husband works unsociable hours and he wouldn’t be able to look after the kids if I was away for a night, so my mum would have to step in. Can I really ask her to have my baby overnight knowing that he is the world’s worst sleeper and still has at least one night feed? I don’t think I can. That’s assuming she was even free to look after my kids on the night in question. She still works part time and has other commitments that keep her really busy. It’s also assuming that she would agree to have the baby overnight and she won’t, she’s too worried he’ll stop breathing or turn blue.

Still not ready to leave him at 7 months.
But aside from all that, I am just not ready. Even if my mum was itching to have the baby overnight, or there was someone else I trusted to look after him, I’m not ready to leave him for that long. I’m not ready to not put him to bed and I’m not ready to not be there when he wakes.

Am I being clingy? Do I just need to convince my mum to have him overnight, bite the bullet and go? Or is it still too early and my friends just don’t get it? If it is too early, at what age should you leave your baby overnight?

I suppose the answer to the question is, when you’re ready. When you’re ready because you feel your baby’s ready. When your baby wouldn’t be distressed at you not being there. When a night away from your baby wouldn’t just be a huge worry-fest consisting of tears on the drive away and a million calls home. When you would actually be able to enjoy the time away to let your hair down and put yourself first for a little while.

I’m not there yet and I don’t know when I will be but I refuse to give myself a deadline of say 10 months, 1 year or even 2 years. When I feel ready I will leave my baby for a night but not a minute before.

My friends don’t get it, they think I’m being over-protective. They don’t say that but say other things like ‘oh your baby’s a tough cookie, he won’t even notice you’ve gone, don’t be silly…’ etc. They don’t seem to get that it’s me who isn’t ready for a night of separation yet. Or if they do get that, they think it’s totally unreasonable. 

And don’t get me wrong, I know there are some mums (and dads) who leave their baby’s overnight much earlier. Through choice or through necessity. I’m not saying they shouldn’t, or judging them at all. The same way I hope they wouldn’t judge me for not wanting to leave my baby yet. 

  
I don’t think there’s a golden rule when it comes to this issue. Except only leave them when you are ready to. Otherwise the night away won’t be any fun anyway and what’s the point in that? My view is that you may as well bank the babysitting hours for when you are ready to go all out and have a baby-free blast. 

I’d love to hear other people’s views on this. Do you agree with me or am I just being a massive mumbot?

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Congenital Heart Defects – Be Aware, Be Prepared


February is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness month. You might have read my post about my baby, Zaki and his broken heart and how his life was saved by some amazing cardiologists, surgeons, consultants and nurses. Our outcome was a happy one but we all would’ve found it so much easier to cope if we’d been aware and been prepared.

Before Zaki was born I knew absolutely nothing about congenital heart defects and assumed that if there was anything wrong with my baby’s heart it would have been picked up at my 20 week anomaly scan. Wrong. Only 50% of the type of defect Zaki had are spotted during the anomaly scan. When I was told about the diagnosis I wish I’d known more about it; instead I felt confused and helpless. I’m passionate about raising awareness wherever I can now, so here are some helpful facts about congenital heart defects:

  • Congenital heart defects are problems that have occurred with the structure of the heart as it was formed (‘the plumbing’)
  • There are 18 recognised main congenital heart defects, with variations of each one
  • 1% of babies will be born with a congenital heart defect and it is the most common defect in newborns
  • That’s 12 babies a day in the UK that are affected
  • Out of those 12 babies, 4 will have been diagnosed pre-natally, 4 will be diagnosed shortly after birth and 4 will go home undiagnosed until they fall ill or die
  • The heart is formed within the first 6 weeks of a foetus’ life and the defect has probably occurred before the mother even knows she is pregnant
  • Congenital heart defects kill twice as many children as all childhood cancers combined

 

Scary stuff isn’t it? But it isn’t all bad news. With early intervention 90% of babies born with a congenital heart defect go on to live happy, long lives.

 

My baby after his open heart surgery, just days old

 

My baby at 6 months old
There really isn’t anything a mother can do to prevent her baby being born with a congenital heart defect but there are steps that can be taken to make sure it’s picked up as soon as possible.

At the 20 week anomaly scan the following questions can be asked of the sonographer:

  1. Can you see the 4 chambers of the heart?
  2. Are there 2 upper chambers and are they controlling the blood flowing out of them with valves?
  3. Are there 2 lower chambers and are they controlling blood flowing out of them with valves?
  4. Do the two great arteries (aorta and pulmonary artery) cross over each other as they exit the heart?
  5. Are there any holes in the wall between the two lower chambers?
  6. Can you see any abnormalities at all with the heart?


If you are pregnant, write those questions down, take them with you and ask. It’s worth it. The sonographer might not be able to answer all of those questions and might put it down to the position of the baby. If that happens offer to go for a walk and come back in 10 minutes. You might sound like a pushy mother-to-be but who cares? It might just save your baby’s life. I so wish I had asked those questions. Knowing about a congenital heart defect prior to the birth increases the baby’s chances of survival and also means the parents can mentally (and practically) prepare themselves for what’s to come.

There’s an amazing charity called Tiny Tickers who do great work in funding training for sonographers so that more CHD’s will be spotted at the anomaly scan. You can order a card free of charge from the Tiny Tickers website here which you and the sonographer can go through together at your scan if you’d prefer to do that rather than ask the questions above.

If a congenital heart defect isn’t picked up at the 20 week anomaly scan there are signs and symptoms that might become apparent once the baby is born:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Cyanosis (skin looks blue, especially hands and feet)
  • No interest in feeding
  • Fatigue (baby will not wake)

 

Zaki was too tired to feed, which prompted a doctor to checks his sats.

If you have any concerns AT ALL please insist that a pulse oximetry test is carried out on your baby. It’s a really quick, non invasive test that involves a sensor being placed on a finger or toe. The oxygen saturation levels (sats) in the blood can be measured that way and if they are lower than expected, that suggests a problem with heart function and further tests can then be carried out to establish exactly what’s going on.

Don’t be embarrassed/shy/too polite to ask for that test to be carried out if you are genuinely worried that your newborn isn’t behaving as he or she should. That simple sats test saved my baby’s life. (For the first time, his life was about to get saved several times over the following weeks but that’s another story.) Don’t sit there quietly panicking, just explain your worries and ask for the test.

If you go home with your baby and later notice something isn’t quite right go to a&e. Heart defects are time critical and every second matters. Don’t worry that you are being over-cautious, just get your baby checked out. Your instinct might save their life.

Of course 99% of babies do not have a congenital heart defect so please do not let this post worry you sick. The chances are that your baby will be absolutely fine. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Something that I definitely wasn’t when I was told there was something wrong with my baby’s heart a few hours after I had given birth.

If you find yourself in the position that I was in try to take comfort in the fact that the cardiologists and surgeons will do absolutely everything possible to save your baby and above all else, stay strong.

The Mama That Raised This Mama (Project 366 – Day 27)

  
I persuaded my mum to let me take her photo for Project 366. But she didn’t like any of the pictures I took so I downloaded an app called Perfect365 and airbrushed her! With one tap the app gave her a full face of make up (she was wearing none) and whitened her teeth! Who knew this was possible?! What a time to be alive! 

Anyway, this is my good old (airbrushed) mum and she’s golden. She’s the main reason I can’t move away from this little town I live in. She helps a lot with childcare and my boys would miss her so much if we moved away. As would I. 

Plus, on the day I took this photo she paid me two compliments. 1 – she told me she’d read some of my blog and enjoyed it and some parts made her laugh. 2 – she said my hair never looks greasy. I was overjoyed to receive both counts of such praise! (Although deep down I know she’s biased about the blog and my hair looks like an oil slick half the time.)

Like all mums with their kids, mine does my head in sometimes but I know I’m so lucky to have her so close by. She’s a genuinely kind person and she’s put up with a lot of crap from me over the years. She’s one in a million. 

I didn’t appreciate what she had done for me or what she felt for me until I became a mother myself and when that feeling hit me I instantly felt racked with guilt for all the worry I’ve put her through and all the times I’d been a total cow. 

If you’re stalking me again, sorry mum. Sorry  for all the terrible behaviour. And thank you. Thank you for never disowning me and doing me loads of favours all the time and basically keeping my life ticking over. 

Some of my friends have been less fortunate than me on the mum front and it’s so sad that some women are blessed with children they don’t value. The damage a crappy parent can do is immeasurable. But on the flip side, those friends are amazing mums themselves, determined that their kids will have much lovelier childhoods than they did. 

Here’s to my mum and all the other mums who do their best. 

Tax Hell (Project 366 – Day 15)

I’m pretty sure I’m one of the most disorganised people on the planet. I seem to function best when I’m in a last-minute panic and “the fear” has set in. “The fear” being the terrifying prospect that I’m going to miss the deadline/bus/wedding. All of my best uni assignments were done at the very last minute and any exam revision I did was done the night before. My method works, I get decent results. But it’s bloody stressful. 

Which brings me to today’s photo, which in itself is stressful to even look at: 

  
My husband owns a shop and I do pretty much all of the admin stuff, including the tedious tax return. In true Me style I’ve left it until the last minute, which means I’m now spending every free minute trying to get it done before the looming deadline.

It’s quite handy in a way though because the deadline is just before my birthday, which usually means my husband is so relieved I’ve done it on time that I get a decent present. Win! Told you my method yields decent results 😁.