Tag Archives: baby

Muslins, guilt and mocha-lattes

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Muslins, guilt and mocha-lattes

So, here’s the thing about parental leave…while absolutely necessary while you navigate the paths of parenthood, it’s also a huge adjustment. For those of us used to working full time, suddenly framing your entire day around a small human and desperately trying to secure at least a little adult interaction for yourself every day is both tiring and expensive. I should have shares in Costa, and they should rename the decaf, skinny mocha-latte; ‘the Hilary’.

And as you suggest coffee dates to your family and friends, book lunches and walks and shopping trips, it will creep in. The guilt.

You’re a terrible parent for filling your days with going out. You should be sitting on the floor with your 10 week old daughter, developing her language and development by lying under her jungle gym and making vowel sounds while encouraging tummy time, showing her a mirror and shoving various rattles and small toys in her hands to make her grip them.

And this guilt doesn’t stop at the way you spend your day.

You’ll beat yourself up for walking away from your sleeping little darling for even a moment. Even across an open plan room, while they’re safely ensconced in a travel cot, with a video and audio monitor pointed CCTV-style at their face.

You’ll look down at your little angel and realise that their face, neck, adorable double chins and often, hair, is covered in baby vomit and wonder how long it’s been there. The nearest white muslin is now a yellowy colour because (despite owning over a million of the cotton squares), you’ve been carrying this one around with you for a week. Regardless, you use the yellow, slightly crispy linen to wipe off the latest round of vomit.

You’ll have your first glass of wine or night with friends since pregnancy and immediately worry about ‘how it looks’. Before you can take a sip your poor, tired brain has transformed your innocent (and well-deserved) glass of Sauvignon Blanc into 20 shots and an arrest for drunk and disorderly behaviour.

You’ll catch your baby staring at the television as you take a moment to drink your (lukewarm) tea and panic that you’ve already, in 10 short weeks, become one of ‘those’ parents who leave their children with a TV as babysitter.

You’ll breastfeed, formula feed, combination feed; and no matter what you choose you’ll convince yourself it isn’t right. That you’re doing it wrong. That your baby won’t thrive as a result.

Here is a checklist of things you actually need to worry about:

  1. Is your baby content (most of the time – occasional meltdowns or decisions not to sleep do not count)?
  2. Is your baby healthy and gaining a steady amount of weight?
  3. Are you content (most of the time – a raging thirst for a glass of prosecco at 11am on a particularly tiring Tuesday is all part and parcel of motherhood)?
  4. Are you feeling supported (by your partner, your friends, your parents, your siblings – whoever your tribe is, are they taking good care of you)?

If the answer to these four simple questions is yes, you’re doing a great job. Put down the hair shirt and guilt-ridden beating stick and pour that glass of wine. You’ve earned it.

 

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The arrival and the aftermath

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So it’s taken a while to share this here, but our little bundle finally made an appearance!

Only 3 days late, little miss R arrived on 8 July after something of a tricky labour, by emergency C-section. She’s happy and healthy and we’ve spent the last 5 weeks adjusting to life as a family of three.

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She’s absolutely beautiful, and as anyone who has read my blog previously will know, very much wanted; but life as new parents is tough and I wanted to share a few of our lessons.

Before I do, I also wanted to say a very specific thank you. We attended NCT classes prior to having our daughter and it was the best thing we ever did. Not only for the information and guidance, but for the new parent network we’ve since developed. My husband has a group of new dads to talk dad-stuff with, and for me, I’ve got a group of newbie mums muddling along the same way I am.

To those girls – thank you. For the 3am Whatsapp company, the reassurance that my boobs, tears, baby (insert other paranoid concern here) are in fact, normal and nothing to worry about. For the banter, the memes, the TMI, the giggles and the compassion.

I’ve included your pearls of wisdom below. They’ve got me through the last few weeks and I have no doubt you’ll continue to be awesome in the months and years to come.

It’s OK if it’s crap sometimes

I know. I’m a terrible mother. I should be beatifically smiling and glowing because I have a gorgeous little bundle of joy. Only she isn’t always joyous, and I’m not always smiling. Between hormones and sleep deprivation and that piercing newborn cry, it can be bloody hard work. You’ll cry, you’ll get fed up, you’ll yearn for your pre-baby life sometimes. I categorically ADORE my little girl. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find motherhood a challenge.

NCT advice: It’s all a phase. Babies go through growth spurts and developmental leaps and changes all the time. Breathe, and remember things will get better soon – this bad day is not forever.

Don’t hate the mirror, hate the game

I hate how I look right now. After a C-section I have what I’m affectionately calling ‘the overhang’. I have stretch marks. I have a permanent scar. I have weird boobs that don’t feel like my own. I rarely have time for make-up. My hair is super-fluffy and uncontrollable. My clothes all make me look like a sausage that’s about to burst out of its skin. The numbers on the scales are far too high for my liking. On top of the sleep deprivation and hormones (see point 1) it makes me want to cry daily.

NCT advice: It took 9 months for your body to grow that baby, give yourself a break and a chance to find your new shape. You won’t look the same anymore – you grew a small human. Be proud of that, and let yourself take time to recover and renew. Happy and healthy is the important thing.

Fed is best

There is so much wonderful advice and support out there for breastfeeding mothers. And on the whole, it’s really well-intentioned and really helpful. However, in some cases there is a fine line between support and pressure. My daughter took her sweet time to regain her birth weight. Cue worried noises from the health visitor, despite her behaviour, nappies etc all pointing towards a very healthy little lady. I therefore trundled off to a number of breastfeeding support groups and followed advice about latching (which she was fine at), positioning (no, I do not want to try to hold my daughter like a rugby ball in the middle of the night), and lactation aids (imagine McDonalds straws taped to your boobs, next to your nipples while you wear a bottle of formula/expressed milk around your neck like a cowbell). She still didn’t gain weight, so I continued to breastfeed (no cowbell contraption – I drew the line) and topped up with  a small bottle of formula after each feed. She put on 10.5oz in a week.

NCT advice: Breast is great, and if it works for you to exclusively breastfeed, seriously well done because it’s not easy and it’s a brilliant thing to do. But honestly? Fed is best. Our NCT group feed a variety of formula, combination and breastfeeding and all of our babies are thriving.

Trust your gut

Nope, not another reference to my post-baby body but a seriously important point. You will receive soooooo much advice from people – family, friends, professionals. And unfortunately, it won’t all tally up. You’ll feel lost in a sea of feeding on demand, co-sleeping, poo-splosions, bottles, colic, wind, soothing, dummies and more. Everyone knows what’s best for your baby…except they don’t.

NCT advice: In the immortal words of one of the NCT girls, Mammy and Daddy know best.  Do what feels right – pick and choose the advice that feels like the best thing for your child and your family. As long as your child is fed, rested, safe and healthy – you’re doing it right.

 

So to any sleep deprived, tearful, bemused new parents reading this, you’re doing an ace job. Stop beating yourself up – look at your little one and remember why you did this. Think about all the ‘firsts’ you have to look forward to – the first smile, the first laugh, the first steps, the first birthday and Christmas, starting school. You have a million happy moments ahead of you and you will get through this period like a champ – you have an army of parents behind you, cheering you on and holding you up.

The final countdown

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So we’re really here. 38 weeks pregnant and our little one could arrive any day. 2 more days at work before maternity leave, and 2 weeks until that magical due date.

It’s a weird old time. I thought I’d be veering wildly between ‘so excited I can’t sleep’ and ‘so terrified I can’t breathe’. But actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

I’m sad. After months of anxiety at the beginning, in the last 10 weeks or so I’ve finally learned to love my bump and to be excited about this pregnancy. Just in time to not be pregnant anymore. Now, I know that the whole point of pregnancy is to have that little bundle at the end – and I know that’s going to be brilliant; but nonetheless I’m going to be sad not to be pregnant. We’re really not sure if we’ll do it again, for reasons of our own, so it’s possible that this is the last time I’ll experience pregnancy. Me and the bump have had a unique bond that (selfishly) I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Like a secret club of two, with clandestine nighttime meetings and secret handshakes (well, maybe not handshakes but definitely bum wiggles and kicks). I’ve enjoyed our little journey so I’m letting myself feel sad so I can say goodbye to the bump before the next stage.

I’m worried. This baby will change everything – not just practically but for us as a couple. I know we’re tough enough to weather the change. I know we love each other enough (yuk, vom, I know) to make sure we communicate and stay in love, and make time for each other. But nonetheless, we won’t be the same. Spontaneity is going to be harder for a while – no more last minute trips to the pub. We can’t be as selfish with our time – it’s not all about us anymore as a twosome, but about our family of three. And yes, practically we will be tired, we will find it hard to be on time and to see everyone we want to and to function and to get all those niggly jobs around the house done.

I’m excited. I can’t wait to see if we’re having a boy or a girl. Just imagining if the baby has my husband’s eyes, or my nose, and what their personality develops into gets my heart pumping and makes me all emotional. We. Are. Having. A. Baby. It’s like a self-belief mantra I have to repeat. A teeny tiny part of me still doesn’t quite believe it’s going to happen and when I realise it is, I can barely contain myself!

I’m actually not that scared. Physically, this baby is coming out of me. One way or another it (and I) doesn’t have a choice. So I don’t see any reason to be scared. I can’t keep it in there (nor would I want to), and no matter what happens it’s going to hurt. But I’m going to have great care, from great midwives, and great support from my husband and my mum. In the grand scheme of my (hopefully) long and happy life, a day or two of pain with such a wonderful outcome is completely worth it.

So there we are. Depending how long this baby wants to cook, the next blog post might well be a birth announcement. In the meantime, rest and relaxation are the order of the day with a few lunches with friends thrown in for good measure. Bring it on baby, we’re ready for you!

Dear baby…

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Dear baby…

Dear baby,

We’ve been so scared, your Mummy and Daddy. Last year was sad for us and you have been so very precious from the moment we found out about you.

Every milestone has felt like a huge achievement – you’re already the thing we’re most proud of and the most valuable thing in our lives. Mummy is a big worrier anyway, and she’s lost sleep, cried, refused to get excited (don’t be offended please, Mummy was just trying to be brave). She’s been the opposite of her normal self – so pessimistic and cautious. But now, halfway through your stay in Mummy’s tummy, we’re slowly letting ourselves smile and mean it. We’re talking about names, thinking about what we need to buy for you, how to decorate your room. You’ve become a part of us – you’ll make our family of two (plus Archer, your fur sibling), a family of three.

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But there are a couple of things you need to remember to help Mummy and Daddy be brave:

  1. Keep growing – get big and strong and ready for this big bad world you’re joining. Stay healthy and safe in there.
  2. Take care of Mummy – your kicks and roly-polys are already starting to provide reassurance to Mummy. It’s your way of saying ‘Hi there guys!’ and it’s  brilliant.
  3. You are not a rainbow baby – some people might talk about you as if you are. You are not. We will always be a little bit sad about what happened before you took root and decided to make Mummy your home. But it has nothing to do with you. From the moment we first saw that little nugget on the screen all those months ago, you started a whole new chapter for Mummy and Daddy, and we love you for it. Your job is not to fix us, your job is to simply be wonderful, beautiful you.

We can’t wait to meet you, to get to know you. We know we’ll be tired and grumpy and that it’s going to be hard work getting used to you, but you’re going to be worth every second.

All our love, already and always,

Mummy and Daddy xxx

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