recently a handful of my friends have had babies. in the next couple of months, 2 more will be having 2 more, on or around my birthday. theres one clear theme that has been coming through when they have come to me to ask for advice, probe for the horrors or simply just say “oh my GOD!”
strangely i’m not the only one that found being pregnant the most overwhelming thing ever and that they too were similarly finding that the amount of information available and the amount of people telling you what to do what not to do, whats best for you whats not best for you, whats best for the baby blah blah blah. all rammed down you throat like no tomorrow. making you feel uneasy and uncomfortable about half decisions you thought that you had already made
birthing plans – natural birth vs any drug under the sun to get you through – caesarian sections
milk – breast milk vs formula – demand feeding vs scheduled feeds
sleeping – crib vs cot – your room or their room – as and when it happens vs structured routines
maternity leave – stay at home mum vs working mum
seriously the list goes on and on those above are the ones i’ve been asked about the most in the last couple of weeks, so thought i would share my thoughts as some of the official advise that appears to wing it’s way to us via midwives, ante-natal groups and the rest, and how it really can put the wind up you, which is frankly very unnecessary to a first time mother when it should be a moment of calm before the storm really does blow into town!
sure investigate all the options and be well-informed but please don’t get you heart set on how it needs to be. child-birth is probably the most unpredictable thing in life, what will be will be. if you focus too much on what you want from the birth then you can either enter the world of bitter disappointment or you could also lose sight of what at that moment in time is most important to your unborn child
the birth of my son ronnie wasn’t the smoothest of births but it wasn’t the worst either. it ended in a c section after 35 hours of labour, but without that intervention god knows what could or would have happened. however on a sad note i know of a birthing situation not too dissimilar where the mother was so hell-bent on having a natural birth and that there was to be no intervention that when the doctors advised that intervention was crucial to get the baby out safely she refused. the baby was born, and had been starved of oxygen, the baby went straight into intensive care. fortunately the baby pulled through this ordeal, i would dread to think what weight would be on the mothers shoulders if it hadn’t quite turned out that way. seriously if the doctors are worried about your health or the health of your unborn child please throw any plans you may have had out the window and make sure that you are both well and safe. the c section was over in seconds. and the recovery is six weeks but it’s really not so bad, just don’t sneeze in the first couple of days that is believe me a killer!
yes of course i get it breast is best, of course it is, it’s what is intended but jeez back off, what if breast-feeding doesn’t work for you? what if you personal circumstances don’t allow for breast-feeding to be the best option for you and your baby?. i do wish everyone would stop trying to make everyone feel bad about not breast-feeding and putting so much pressure on everyone. and for heaven’s sake if you are given antibiotics don’t breast feed it will only give the baby oral thrush, i have seen 2 friends suffer from this recently for no reason what so ever and with no forth coming advise from the doctors issuing the antibiotics either
i breast-fed initially for the first 4 months but introduced a bottle very early on for the evening feed, for two reasons really, 1. so that oliver could join in the fun and predominantly 2. so i could get some kip! the earlier you do it the easier it is as they will be used to both options so you don’t have to go through the whole rigmarole of them rejecting the bottle when you need to swap over when those teeth come marching through. i had to transfer over completely to formula at 4 months as i had to return to work pretty sharpish and because i travel muchly, expressing in factories in india, vietnam, china and the likes didn’t seem like a very appealing option. and guess what? no trauma. ronnie is a bright kid, full of energy, didn’t get over weight from formula bloat, as i once had a midwife say to me. actually he is just fine and dandy. so don’t stress. give it go if it works it works if it doesn’t well there’s another option
when ronnie was born we unfortunately couldn’t go home as the builders were still lurking. so at first we had no choice but to spend our time at the in-laws. not ideal, not ideal at all. all you want is your home, your stuff, your family. mummy, daddy, baby. so for the first 2 weeks ronnie slept with us in the spare room. thankfully we escaped back to our home all brand spanking new after 2 weeks
oh no not relax
ronnie decided he was going to develop into a very noisy sleeper. noisy sleeper and very active sleeper. but he was fast asleep. you however are not as you are in a constant state of alertness. by week 4 no one was sleeping. ronnie was on the move, the move into his own room, isn’t that what baby monitors are for? the monitor was put onto its highest possible sensitivity. we bought a wonderful gadget that meant you could reduce the size of the cot and you could sleep him toe to the bottom of the cot. we had velcro bumpers which would stop him rolling around. perfecto
he settled well, much easier than i thought, but i had been putting him to sleep in his cot in the day times so it was a familiar environment. looking back i think this was key in settling him into his own room so quickly
happy happy nights
you may recoiling at the fact that we moved him so early, and that so many say “oh no baby should be with you for at least the first 6 months” well actually if none of you are sleeping how is that good for anyone? make your own call, be sensible and think of what impact of even less sleep on the little you are getting will have on your first weeks together as a family. ronnie slept through really quickly after the move so big bonus for all
now this one is interesting. we didn’t have much choice in the matter, ronnie wasn’t really planned. the timing was not best at all. i was about to start my dream job the week after i discovered i was pregnant, and they had waited patiently for 3 months for me. we had also just signed a big fat loan on a home extension and building work wasn’t due to finish until 4 weeks prior to the birth, which actually turned out to be 2 weeks after the birth! so with no maternity package, a mortgage to pay i was back at work on the odd day shortly after ronnies birth and then full-time 3 1/2 months later. oh boy was that tough. but on the flip side great too
my work is very full on and involves a fair amount of travel. the day-to-day goings on of looking after a new-born baby was interesting, actually no it wasn’t it was fairly repetitive, dull, frustrating and pretty lonely really. i found it hard. i was used to working in a buzzing office and thrived off of working as a team, being part of the camaraderie and having adult stimulation. suddenly i was really quite alone, had no sense of accomplishment or satisfaction, in hindsight i actually suffered mild post natal depression. times for oliver and i were rocky. you see they don’t really do much. no friends or family of mine had ever really mentioned that they felt this way, and i found it difficult to connect to other stay at home mums, i didn’t really feel we had an awful lot in common, the conversation was just about babies and really i needed a break from baby stuff and talk about the big wide world or just how delicious the cake was! so then i became slightly worried that i really wasn’t cut out for this lark. until one day i was brave enough to fess up to a friend and she exclaimed “my god it is so dull” wow i couldn’t believe it. it wasn’t just me. i felt such a huge sense of relief. i then loosely had a conversation with my mother in law about how she felt after her first-born and she recalled how lonely she had found it and how she yearned for interaction. yay it really wasn’t me. you might ask why i didn’t confide in my mother, well she had similar unplanned circumstances and had to go back to work when i was just 3 weeks old! i know! i don’t think i could have done that at all
anyway i’m going on a bit here without really getting to the point or any point. we knew whilst i was in the early throes of pregnancy that we would need to find a nursery for ronnie quite quickly. and because we are lucky enough to live in one of the most favourable parts of london town, it is baby boomtastic. nurseries have 18 month waiting lists! however we persevered and were lucky enough to find one that ticked all the boxes and had one place left for the january post ronnie’s birth. so we were sorted. however the reaction i got from some friends, family and colleagues was devastating, and really made oliver and i feel very uncomfortable and very emotional. it’s surprising really how opinionated some can be on a matter but in the same offering no help or solution. anyway we pulled ourselves together, ignored the comments and soldiered on. we really had little choice anyway
i had read numerous articles about the effect of working mothers on the wellbeing, parental bonding and the development of their children, and it all felt so negative, aggressive and frankly antiquated, “the womans place is in the home” a bit like the whole breast is best being continuously rammed down your throat. however i then had a chat with another mother whose son was to also attend the nursery that ronnie attended and told me to read some research that her father had been involved in. interesting read. it talked about how the childs social skills develop at a much quicker pace, how they learn so much from each other, things that no adult could teach them. how the child’s confidence is boosted and that this encouragement of independence it ultimately positive. it also talked about how in families where both parents worked, they tended to work towards the same goals. time together as a family was much more precious, the investment by all was much greater and therefore had a much greater impact on the child as they took more time to value and appreciate one another and therefore were generally happier
we were doing something right after all
ronnie is now 3 and come mid january he will have been attending his nursery for 3 years. the key thing is to make sure you spend enough time to chose a nursery that is right for you and your child and that the care that they give is of a highest standard. the cost of course is that of another mortgage and not for the faint hearted. we have had many people comment on how bright ronnie is and i have always thought are that people are just being kind. but actually over the last year when i have been in situations where he has been in contact with other children of the same age but haven’t attended nursery, the differences have been quite noticeable. i don’t believe that in the last three years i would have been able to keep up with the speed that a child can learn, and to have have the ability and the skill to keep him stimulated all day every day without fail. when i pick him up from nursery he has my full attention, i rush to get him, i’m excited to see him, he gives the best squeezes which are on my mind all day and wipe away any nonsense from my working day.
it works for me
it works for oliver
and it really works for ronnie.
happy happy days x
spot on…loved every word.x
Van this is fantastic. Couldn’t agree more with every word x