Happy half birthday little one! We took these pictures of you several days after your actual half birthday as you were a right grumpy moo that day, and definitely not up for photoshoots. But today follows the first night when you have slept through, from an amazing midnight to 6.45 (so, not exactly a lie in for us, but definitely an improvement). And to top everything off, this morning when I got up and said hello to you, you squeaked with giggles at me, despite the fact you've got a bit of a cold at the moment. You are THE BEST.
It's incredible to think that Daphne has been around for half a year already, but at the same time it feels like SO much longer than that. Emotionally, I've experienced more than I had in the previous ten years before she was born put together (and that's saying a lot, considering I got married and divorced in that timeframe!). It's so true all those sickly cliches about motherhood opening up a part of your heart you didn't know existed - I used to roll my eyes at all that stuff, but now I'm the same soppy sucker.
At six months, Daphne is the proud owner of two bottom teeth - the first one came through when she was about five and a half months old, followed by the second just last week. I'd love to get a picture of them but it's really hard - unless she opens her mouth really wide (which usually only happens if she's screaming!) her tongue is always in the way. But they're definitely there, and thank god - because the teething process was as properly horrible as I had anticipated, with lots of nightwaking screaming and suchlike. We resorted to Calpol a few times and it didn't seem to have much of an effect, neither did the teething powders unfortunately. Dentinox teething gel worked quite well the first time I gave it to her smeared on a dummy, but she soon got wise to it and once it was sucked off spat the dummy out and started screaming again. I'm quite dreading the next set of teeth coming through - poor babies, it must be horrible.
On the subject of dummies, Daphne has almost completely weaned herself off them. They were quite effective at getting her to sleep when she was younger, but now she usually spits them straight out. Sometimes she likes one if she's in the car seat but I can see that we'll be chucking them away soon. Which is good, in many respects, as I was paranoid about her becoming hooked on them, but bad in the sense that they were really good at settling her in the past, and I have no alternative tricks up my sleeve.
This week though, on the advice of my friend Julia (thanks J!), I started giving her a Jellycat rabbit to cuddle when she goes to bed every night, and I don't know if it's just coincidence or the fact we started a bit of controversial sleep training (more on that next) but since then she's been sleeping much much better. I even noticed she's started sucking on his ear in the middle of the night so he's definitely comforting her. I slept with him for a few nights first (which was quite funny, I came in to see Oli had made the bed with the rabbit 'tucked in' on my side) so that he smelt of me (NICE) and she definitely nuzzled her face against him when I gave him to her. He still needs a name though, as currently we are calling him Bunny. Original much?
So sleep - yes. Daphne was becoming one of those stereotypical nightmare sleepers, waking every hour between 2am and 6am, screaming her head off, and nothing could be done to comfort her. That was the weirdest thing. I would go in, try to cuddle her, or offer her a feed, but still she would scream, like she was angry at me because she wanted to sleep and it was MY FAULT she couldn't. We tried Calpol in case she was in pain, but that didn't help either. It was after one particularly horrendous night, when she was awake from about 8pm until 3.30am, and NOTHING I did settled her, that I decided we had to try something different.
So the next night we did the controlled crying thing. Yes I know it's controversial but I looked into it properly beforehand, and was reassured by several people that the stories of the raised cortisol stuff has very little scientific backing. Anyway, it was horrible, horrible, horrible. But actually she only cried for about ten minutes before falling asleep. The next night we tried it again, but every time I went in to check on her she cried even more - like I said, it was almost as though I was preventing her from learning how to sleep by going in and disturbing her all the time. So I stood outside the door and tried to shush her through it, and just waited. And it was hideous and I probably cried more than her, but she went to sleep and didn't wake for five hours.
Every night since then she's got better. The crying is now down to literally three minutes or so and more just moaning than crying - certainly no screaming, and her stretches of sleep are getting longer and longer. Last night she slept from 6pm to midnight, when she woke up and was clearly hungry. I fed her a bottle, put her back down in bed awake, and she chatted to herself a bit before falling asleep again until this morning. I'm not going to get cocky because I know that things with babies can change so much so quickly, but it's just lovely to know that she's getting some real, decent sleep, instead of these crappy hours here and there that were making her so grumpy and upset.
The weird thing is though, since she's started sleeping better at night, her naps have gone completely haywire. She was great at napping before (mostly worn out from her wakeful nights I guess), now she's a mess. Sigh. Swings and roundabouts I suppose!
What else can I say about six months? Well, she's certainly 'chatting' more, making all kinds of weird and wonderful noises (including a week of non-stop screeching which was really fun - she decided it was a great sound and would make it at every available opportunity but especially when mummy was out having lunch surrounded by people without kids. You've never truly been embarrassed until you've looked up to see EVERYONE in the cafe staring at you in disgust. Although may I suggest to the man who sat next to me on a shared table and frowned at us as he was trying to make a VERY IMPORTANT WORK CALL that he is a bit of a wanker and that possibly a coffee shop is not the best place to be doing VERY IMPORTANT WORK).
Physically, she's definitely taller than she was and maybe not quite so plump. She's still not great at rolling - she'll do it once maybe then decide it's a waste of time, but her hand-eye coordination is much better and she can grab things and pass them from one hand to another really easily. She's also constantly doing sit-ups, which make me laugh - she's trying SO hard to pull her back up to a seated position, bless her. I'm really looking forward to her being able to sit up on her own as I think it'll make playing with toys so much more fun.
And a quick update about me. When Daphne was first born I read everywhere that by six months I should be back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Well I AM NOT. I'm still the same as I was before Christmas, when I gave up dieting. I'm about seven (OK, OK, ten) pounds heavier than I was before. This is probably linked to my utter lack of general movement over the last two months - this miserable weather has seen me hibernating and driving places instead of walking. I stopped doing my exercise programme and I'm generally eating and drinking a lot more than I was at the end of last year. So I really need to get that sorted and have resolved to start in March, or once the weather cheers up. I will say that I've been absolutely KNACKERED since the four-month sleep regression thing took hold, so finding the energy to exercise has been really tough. Plus my sugar cravings are off the scale. I really should try to give up sugar but it sounds so depressing... any advice on that gratefully received!