Reflections on year one

When I woke up (was woken up) prematurely this morning we went through our usual wake up routine of “I’ll pour the milk, you go and get her”. I took her downstairs and I checked my phone and looked at an app which reminded me that exactly one year ago my husband and I had a huge argument about responsibility and how hard it is looking after a baby. I remember that argument well; I hadn’t slept more than 4 hours for 2 months, my boobs were full and sore, our house was a chaotic mess of baby and boxes (we’d recently moved in) and my daughter wouldn’t stop crying. I can even remember thinking that there was no way that our marriage would last……well I am happy to say that it’s a little over a year since our tiny bundle of joy entered the world and we are still very much together, and very happy. Other things which have surprised me:

1. I have discovered a new kind of tiredness. Bad news- the tiredness never ends; you just learn to cope with it. Actually, you just find a new kind of tiredness.

2. Babies fart. I didn’t realise this (I know I’m stupid) and it came as a big shock when she did her first blow off. I have also regressed and joined my daughter in finding farts funny again.

3. I don’t feel guilty about going to work. I know some mothers do, but I dont. I adore my girl and I wish that I could spend more time with her, but I’ve got used to sending her to nursery and get a huge rush every day when I pick her up. It’s wonderful knowing that she has had a great day of playing and learning with people who are more experienced in child development than me, and I enjoy my dual role of pen pusher and mother again. I even don’t mind that my daughter has a girl crush on one of the nursery nurses – Zaneta that’s you- because I know that Mummy is number 1.

4. Work is better. I work because I have to. When I went back, I went back to the same job. It’s satisfying and rewarding to me, and I make more of an effort than I did before- mainly because I want to, whereas before I felt that it was just sort of expected. However, as I explained to my manager just before my mid year appraisal I don’t really care anymore, which makes my decision making more rational. Or something like that.

5. I am not heartbroken when my baby cries. I find it quite annoying sometimes. It’s heart breaking when she is hurt or in pain, and I want to make it all better for her, but when it’s a case of “I want the remote control” or something like that, it’s irritating.

6. I am superwoman. I don’t think that my husband realised this when he married me, and I certainly didn’t reveal my powers to him until I gave birth. I have the power to reproduce. The power to comfort a screaming baby. The power to put a baby to sleep. The power to maintain a clean(ish) house, a full time job, a full-up husband, and a baby that is still alive after 13 months of being assigned to us.

7. How amazing she is. I thought that would die down a bit, but every time I look at her she has a new expression, or does something that I didn’t know she could do, or when she responds to something I didn’t think she’d understand, I get a huge rush of love and just want to pick her up and cuddle and kiss her. This happens practically on a second by second basis.

I love my new life. It’s totally weird and different, and there is plenty I would change, but I love it. Thank you my little miracle baby.

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Separation Anxiety

Babies, when they are around 6 months old, often start to get anxious when their mother or father leaves the room. They will reach a stage where they will scream until she comes back, wailing as if the world will end just because she has gone to the kitchen and then hold their arms up desperately as if they have been waiting all day to be picked up. This is something which is, for the parent in question, upsetting, annoying and probably slightly gratifying at the same time. I say probably because, though I have seen several other people go through this, Hannah hasn’t reached that stage and hopefully never will. But this post isn’t about Hannah. It’s about me.

I think my baby is the most beautiful baby that was ever born, even more gorgeous than Prince George, and he is seriously cute (I wonder if Hannah will ever have to wonder whether it’s wrong to fancy the King …) and I am totally in love with her. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me and we have been together for 15 months- longer than some marriages. And while I started this journey not having much of an idea at all about how to look after her, I am pretty sure I know what’s best for her and would bite the head off anyone who told me how to raise my child. Raising her is the sole responsibility of me and my husband and always will be.

I don’t want you to get the impression that I am some kind of over protective lioness; I’m really not. The first time I left her – to go to the hairdressers over the road- I briefly cried and then an enormous sense of freedom came over me. In the end, while I didn’t enjoy leaving her, I was comfortable with the people who were looking after her and knew that I would be back in 3 hours. On that occasion I was more upset about the disastrous highlights I ended up with that I had waited a year for. I’m very happy for her grandparents to look after her, and made the decision about 2 months ago to join a gym and leave her in its crèche while I worked out (you wouldn’t know it to look at me). That was weird but I knew that it was a good crèche and that I would be back in a couple of hours. But the other day I took her for a settling in visit at her nursery and I think that is what has set me off….

The nursery in question has an excellent reputation and I am totally convinced that the staff there will take great care of my little girl; more so because they did an excellent job with my wonderful nephews who are growing up to be happy, confident and capable young men. I want the same for her. So why was I getting tearful when they started to look for a date for a home visit? Was it because my house is a complete tip? No. It was because putting her in nursery is now getting very real. There’s only a month to go now. I know I’ve written blog posts that are along similar lines in the past but as D Day approaches I find myself feeling more and more guilty, more and more like I want to kiss her all the time and less and less like I want to leave her with anyone- even when she is being a complete toerag and I feel like putting my head on a blender. Even today at the gym I couldn’t get into it as much as I would usually and I think it’s because she was crying when I left….

I clearly need to toughen up and accept that while no one will love my daughter like I do, no one can ever love me like she does either and that other people can enrich her life and advance her development far more than I can alone. So my fervent hope is that we are now bonded for life- me to her and her to me (at least until she leaves home) and that when she comes home in the evening she will still need me and love me as much as she does now. It will be OK because it has to be OK, and if so many other women can rear a happy baby and bring home the bacon I know I have that capacity too. But I tell you right now, one of the hardest things I will ever have to do will be that first drop off at nursery, and I pray it will get easier. My boss had better prepare himself….!

Perhaps you have had similar concerns or could even offer me some pearls of wisdom…..?

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Who am I?

The other day I asked my husband if he thought that motherhood had changed me.  He said “yeah, you’re calmer and more patient”.  That doesn’t sound like the stresshead I though I was. Am I still me? About 18 months ago, if you asked me to describe my life I would have said it was pretty free and easy.  I had a job that was interesting and fulfilling, I had lost a load of weight and physically at least felt great, I had long highlighted blonde hair.  Evenings were spent cooking something yummy or, if we were tired, in a local restaurant.  We’d spend weekends in the pub or watching a good film on TV after a long lye-in, and the rest of the time was spent gazing at the beautiful view from our little flat.

If was to describe it now I would say that I look like, and often feel like, a sack of spuds.  The highlights are pretty much gone (I would worried that maintaining them would harm my unborn baby); the food I eat is wolfed down on-the-go, a lye-in is now 7am, and weekends are spent alternating supervision of our little girl while we catch up on sleep or do the various jobs that need doing around our new house (our view is now of a huge roundabout).  Watching a film only happens by accident and, though we do occasionally go to the pub with our daughter, there’s no room for the 6 or 7 pints that I could down in one sitting before.

I certainly don’t want to sound ungrateful.  I passionately wanted this baby and I am thankful beyond belief that I have been blessed with this wonderful little person in my life.  But it does get waring sometimes when I don’t seem to be able to find time to pluck my eyebrows, and it would be nice to be able to have a glass of wine of an evening without wondering whether it will stop me from breastfeeding later (sometimes, I admit, I take the hit and just give her a bottle – though I know that I’ll pay for it with a reduced supply the next time I want to feed…).  And it would be nice to look in the mirror and not see rolls of fat and clothes covered in sick (I’m doing something about both, by the way). Continue reading

Poorly babies

I always swore I wouldn’t be one of those mothers who run to the doctor just because their baby has sneezed, but I have to say that Hannah has seen more of the doctor in 5 months than I have in 5 years. Well not quite. She is, after all, a baby who needs check ups and jabs and so on. Aside from those I feel I can justify those visits. The first time was about 4 months ago when she hadn’t pooed for 2 days- everything I had been told previously suggested that this wasn’t normal and that she should be doing a number 2 at least twice per day. Nonsense. Hannah’s record is 5 days and it’s nothing to worry about. The second time was yesterday. She’d had a cold for a couple of days and had also been coughing, to the extent she couldn’t sleep (and to be honest I couldn’t either and feel rubbish myself). I felt a bit stupid going to the doctor with a cold, but it was the Friday before a bank holiday and my little girl had been valiantly struggling to sleep for 3 days without much success. So I was pleased when she was prescribed antibiotics- my poor little baby’s suffering will soon be over and not before time. As I type I am sitting in the back seat of our car with her on my way to visit my parents for the weekend. I can’t wait- the thought of 2 days of rest is so exciting I might wee.

I’ve been sleeping with another woman….

It’s my wedding anniversary today and while my husband was at work I slept in our marital bed with someone else for the first time.  It was Hannah.  We both have colds and yet I decided that this would be the week that I would train her (not that she’s a dog) to sleep in her cot (and no she isn’t 6 months old yet) DURING THE DAY.  She’s not having any of it, at least not for more than 15 minutes at a time.  Anyway, after an hour of bargaining (which basically involved me rubbing her nose and her screaming) I agreed that she could sleep in my bed with me (I SERIOUSLY needed to sleep).   I was s***ing myself.  I barricaded the edges of the bed with pillows, put her in a low tog sleeping bag, grabbed the bottom of it and wedged it under my backside so that she couldn’t actually move, and stayed awake watching her sleep for about 25 minutes because I was too scared of rolling over and squashing her.  I did drop off in the end but it’s fairly clear who won that little game.

The thing is, when I was in hospital the only way that I could get her to sleep was on my tummy.  And I did it when I got home.  To be honest I grew to love what I call “naughty nap time” – and still do.  The problem is so does Hannah, and I need to convince her of the benefits of sleeping on your own pdq – she starts nursery in 2 months!  Wish me luck.