8 things I won’t be doing if I have a second baby (and won’t be feeling guilty about)

As with everything first-time around, being a first-time mum is a little daunting – you haven’t got a clue what you’re doing and you have a lot to learn. You can ask for all the advice in the world (and will no doubt be given it even if you don’t ask), but the only way you’re really going to learn is once you’re actually ‘on the job’.

8 things I won't be doing with a second baby

Yet once on the job parenthood tests us – we suddenly have a real human being who we are completely responsible for, and the pressure (along with hormonal urges) to be the perfect parent can sometimes get the better of us. We’ve hung on to every word in the antenatal classes, we’ve read up and watched videos about everything we’re going to need – and we’re ready to put it all into action. But after a couple of months of finding your feet, you soon realise that what works for you and your baby isn’t necessarily what you’ve been advised ‘is best’ – and it’s your right to throw the rule book out of the window.

I feel that I’ve already learnt such a lot on this crazy journey of parenthood and here are some of the things I won’t be doing if I have a second baby.

1. Stress out about breastfeeding

Throughout pregnancy I felt I was constantly educated about how breastfeeding will give my baby ‘the best start in life’ – with every leaflet, antenatal class and visit from my midwife there was another reminder that ‘breast is best’. And I really did want to make it work.

Yet when Taylor first latched on I couldn’t quite believe how painful it was – and with every feed I got more sore and the pain became more and more unbearable. In the end we introduced a couple of bottles as I was so sore I couldn’t bear the thought of Taylor latching on again, but then my milk production slowed right down and I ended up expressing alongside feeding to try and increase it again – meaning that I hardly got a minute to myself (day or night).

Not being able to breastfeed made me feel like a failure and like I’d let my daughter down. I kept thinking (and was advised) that if I kept at it, the pain would get less, and the production would come back. But neither happened and one day I just decided to stop. Once I made that decision it was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I’ve never looked back since. I like to think that I might try it again, but I certainly won’t beat myself up if I can’t.

2. Try to maintain a tidy house

When you’re the one at home all day whilst your husband is out earning the dollar, it’s difficult not to feel a little judged when he walks through the door at 7pm to a bomb hole. In those early months I couldn’t grasp the fact that I had absolutely no time to ‘get things done’ – pretty much every minute was spent holding, feeding, or rocking to sleep a screaming baby and any time I did have was spent madly dashing around the house trying to clear away the carnage we were leaving in our tracks. At the time you can’t imagine this is ever going to end, but it does – a few months in and you’ll have a much more content baby who is happy to be put down and take a nap. Housework can wait until then – embrace the moment, cuddle up and realise that your life isn’t yours for the time being.

3. Worry about establishing a routine early on

At some point during the first couple of months I started to try and get Taylor into some sort of routine with her feeding a sleeping. Endless times did I try and rock her to sleep in her crib, only to give up 45 minutes later, put her in her bouncer and watch her fall asleep straight away.  We made up endless bottles of milk that went to waste, convinced that she must be either hungry or tired, ‘why won’t she stop crying??’ Around three-four months something just clicked. Perhaps Taylor finally got used to being on a 24 hour clock, or I just got to know her better and read her signals, either way I hope I’ll be less frantic if there’s a next time – babies will find their own routine eventually, and it’s very little to do with you.

4. Care what people will think when she’s making a scene

As a new mum I often felt as though I was surrounded by ‘perfect parents’ with ‘perfect children’ and when Taylor would have one of her hissy fits I did feel as though I was being judged by those around me for not being able to comfort my baby. I’m sure this was entirely nothing to do with other people, and everything to do with my own lack of confidence in what the hell I was doing.

At every postnatal class I attended with her, it seemed as though she was the only baby ‘acting up’ and would scream the place down until I finally had to leave. I did feel as though other mums were probably thinking ‘she’s obviously tired, hungry, wants a cuddle’ etc, but I soon came to realise that when Taylor was like that, nothing at all would calm her down. She was diagnosed with a kidney infection at 11 weeks and had to stay in hospital for three nights for intravenous antibiotics. After she came out she was so much happier. She still of course has the odd meltdown but I’ve learnt to deal with the fact that babies often disturb the peace – and other people will have to deal with that too.

5. Have baby sleep in our room until six months

nursery baby's own room

I know that the guidelines tell us six months, and I would’ve stuck to this had Taylor not been such a restless sleeper. It was either us waking her up, or her waking us up – either way, none of us seemed to be getting any sleep. Taylor would thrash around in her crib bouncing her arms and legs off the bars like a caged animal.

I started to put her into her cot in her own room for her daytime naps (as she refused to go down in her crib) and she seemed to instantly prefer it. She then went through a phase at night of constantly spitting out her dummy and crying for it back – I would be up all night putting in back in to try and prevent an all-out melt down. We endured this for a couple more weeks until our health visitor suggested we try her in her own room at four months. She seemed so much more content from day one. And I am a much nicer person now that I get to sleep.

6. Buy a separate changing bag

Don’t get me wrong, I love our changing bag and I do use it all the time, but I love my leather handbags more. I now realise that my changing bag is just a big bag with lots of pockets – of which I already own plenty. I don’t even use the bottle warmer/cooler compartment which came with it as it’s pretty rubbish compared to my separate AVENT one which was bought for us as a present. I could be £70 better off.

7. Buy lots of newborn clothes

There’s nothing quite so tempting as browsing cute newborn clothes when you’re nine months pregnant and super excited about the imminent arrival of your little one (apart from perhaps a box of Krispy Kremes). But trust me, you really don’t need much.

Aside from the fact that your newborn will live in nothing other than babygrows and vests for the firsts few months of his/her life, your family and friends will have it covered. Yes, everybody else loves cute newborn clothes just as much as you do and you’ll be amazed at the amount of gifts you’ll receive.

8. Sterilise bottles after six monthsavent bottle steriliser

Okay, so I’d be fibbing if I was to say that I don’t do this anymore – at seven months I still do. But this is really because I find the steriliser a good place to keep all of those ugly bottle parts which would otherwise be making a mess of my cupboards.

I do however struggle to see the logic in sterilising the feeding bottles of a baby who is now deemed okay to drink tap water from an unsterilised beaker – and I won’t be judging anyone who has done away with the steriliser altogether. I’m sure I’ll be doing just that next time.

Super Busy Mum
MaternityMondays

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10 newborn essentials that will make your life easier

I’m not going to lie, the first few months after having a baby are hard work. Alongside the utter joy and unconditional love that you experience when you return from the hospital with your newborn, is the daunting realisation that your baby needs you around the clock and you can say goodbye to life as you knew it before – at least for the time being.

10 newborn products to make your life easier

Being a person who likes routine and structure in my life, I found it quite difficult at first to accept that on some days the breakfast dishes would go unwashed, or I would go for days without cooking a decent meal.  I am also a person who likes my sleep, so when sleep suddenly turned from a necessity into a privilege, I did find it hard to adjust. Obviously Mr M was a huge help, but on his return to work I did feel rather overwhelmed at times.

Rest assured though that this period doesn’t last forever. I now have a happy, contented six month-old who will happily sit and inspect her finger food (whilst I wash the dishes) or play with her toys whilst I prepare a (decent) dinner. I even get to sleep through the night most of the time! I now look back on those frenzied few months with a smile and think about what a would do differently if there was to be a second baby.

The baby market is so saturated with gadgets and gizmos that it’s really difficult for a first-time mum to know where to start. Which products do you really need and which do you just think you need? I had some brilliant advice from family and friends and really came to appreciate some of the products we invested in. Other products I decided to go without and regretted, or I’ve discovered them since and wish I’d known about them before. Continue reading

8 things that will happen when Dad babysits

leaving dad to babysit

1. Dad will call you within 10 minutes of you leaving the house to ask “where do you keep the….?”

2. Baby will be fed something they ‘aren’t allowed’ to eat

3. A takeaway will be ordered

4. Bedtime will be two hours later than usual because “baby was really enjoying Star Wars”

5. At some point in the night, baby will end up in bed with Dad because “she started to cry.”

6. When you get home the following morning, your child will have been either:

  • a) the most difficult they’ve EVER been (“They must be ill, definitely not usually this bad…”) or
  • b) An absolute breeze (“I don’t know why you make out it’s so hard!”)

7. The house will look like it’s been shelled

8. You will be missed

Mummascribbles</div

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

You Baby Me Mummy

“Is she sleeping through yet?”

As soon as you realise that sleep deprivation is the root of all evil – which pretty much occurs the minute you come home from the hospital with your little miracle – your greatest aspiration in life becomes getting them to ‘sleep through’ (*translate* – you want to sleep through).

baby sleeping through the night

It becomes a bit of an obsession in fact, an ongoing quest to seek out that magic formula as though there’s some ‘cure’ to get your baby to ‘sleep through’ – if only you could work it out. The idea that your baby is actually capable of sleeping through – but just isn’t doing – becomes all-consuming. You quiz your friends who seem to have sussed it – they must not be telling you something. You change your mind about what the magic formula must be on a weekly basis. Our journey has gone something like this:

One week: “Perhaps she’s sleeping too much in the day, let’s try cutting her naps”
The week after: “Sleep most definitely breeds sleep”

One week: Let’s just top her up with as much milk as possible before we go to bed”
The week after: “She still wakes up at the same time anyway, let’s not disturb her”

One week: “Just keep putting her dummy back in, she’s not hungry”
The week after: “Now she’s just crying for her dummy – I think we should take it away”

baby sleeping through

Just a pipe dream

One week: “Maybe she is hungry after all, perhaps we should just offer her a feed again every time she wakes up”
The week after: “She’s definitely not hungry, let’s try hot water.”

When Taylor hit five months we thought we had finally cracked it. She actually slept through. And I’m talking 7pm to 6am sleeping through, so definitely something to celebrate. We started to stay up past 10.30pm to watch ‘just one more episode’ of House of Cards and even indulged in a second glass on wine on some nights. We thought we were one of the lucky ones.

This lasted for an entire six nights…

And then on the seventh night, Taylor woke up and exclaimed “Ha! Not really! I was just playing with you guys!” Not quite, but she may as well have done. And now we’re up every couple of hours again, adamant that we’re not going to feed her (“she’s not even hungry!!!”) until I finally give in (following nappy changes, cuddles, teething powder, hot water, Calpol and every other remedy in that book), knowing that a little milk is the only thing that will get me one more hour of sleep (“but she’s not hungry – look she’s just fussing.”) Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

And it’s not the first time she tricked us. At three months she went for a whole two weeks of just waking up at 4am, feeding and then going back to sleep until 7am. I felt normal again. Fresher than ever in fact. Until again, she decided that ‘actually mum, I quite liked being fed every three hours afterall’. What the hell????

So my dear friends, do not let them trick you. Just when you think you’ve finally cracked it, your little bundle will probably have other ideas. I’ve finally accepted that I just need to go with it, not over-analyse and enjoy those good nights while they last.

Who needs sleep anyway?

Super Busy Mum
Mummascribbles</div

Why we’re addicted to parenting forums

From the minute we find out we’re expecting a baby, we find ourselves turning to the internet for all manner of uncertainties (is this feeling normal?) parenting forums

This continues when we approach labour (what should I expect?), through the early days of parenthood (I’m clueless) and (I can only imagine) throughout your child’s whole life (she’s sick, she’s troublesome, she’s quiet…)

I admit that I have never actually posted anything on a forum, but I am a bit of a serial browser (or rather frantic scanner) as I trawl through the comment threads on Babycentre looking for the ‘answers’ to my daily queries about motherhood. The truth is, I don’t necessarily want answers, just confirmation that my inclinations are right. Unlike my health visitor, midwife and GP, forums provide me with thousands of answers to choose from and I will keep on searching until I find one that I like and agree with. Any answers that don’t back up what I already thought before I typed my query into Google just get swiped past – what do they know anyhow?

More often than not, I don’t find any answers at all. Just hundreds of parents who are all experiencing the same problems and facing the same challenges. This in itself is enough for me – it makes me feel better knowing that there are thousands of others out there having just as hard a time of it. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not being over-dramatic and that another parent who has experienced the same challenges as me thought that it warranted signing up and posting a comment about it.

I started to understand very early on this journey of motherhood that nobody really knows better than yourself. Forums serve this mindset nicely, allowing us to self-diagnose any problems and take and leave advice as we see fit. I’ve had no end of conversations with my parent friends who have tried to obtain advice from their health visitors/ GPs but have been disappointed (or darn right pissed off) by text book responses that leave no room for individual circumstances. My health visitor is actually pretty easy going about ‘just do what works for you’, but even I find myself just asking for advice for the sake of it, already knowing beforehand what I’m going to do regardless of her response (I already Googled it).

So here’s to another 18 years of stalking parenting forums. What would I do without you?

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Parenting fails

Being a new parent is no easy feat. Despite getting by on four hours’ sleep a night and having to adjust to a whole new way of life, there’s an expectation that because you are now a mother/father you should all of a sudden become the most organised, responsible and capable person overnight.

parenting fails

Alongside this, there are also those ‘rules’set out by the healthcare professionals that put the fear of god in you from day one – if you don’t abide by them you are a very bad parent. Not to mention your baby eyeing your every move with suspicion and wailing whenever you don’t quite understand her needs – ‘seriously, what kind of mother are you?’And to top it all off, there seems to be a whole host of very organised, responsible and capable parents everywhere you go – the ones with four kids in tow who don’t seem in the slightest bit flustered and smile at you with pity for not knowing that your pushchair wouldn’t quite fit in the lift.

So here is my list of those times (so far) I’ve been very aware of my ‘newbie mum’ status:

1) I realise baby has been in her car seat for a whole 2 hours and 10 minutes. I’m not quite sure what’s happened to baby during those extra ten minutes, but I know it’s really bad.

2) Baby wakes up from her nap early and I realise I haven’t even sterilised the bottles, let alone boiled the kettle and waited for the water to cool down. Shit, shit, shit!parenting fails

3) Those pesky vests are sooo difficult to put on, especially when baby’s screaming and throwing her arms and legs all over the place. After a particularly stressful episode, I finally get it on. Only to realise it’s on BACK TO FRONT.

4) I forgot the red book – again. The health visitor, nurse, doctor asks encouragingly, ‘has it been a bit of a stressful morning?’ No it hasn’t actually, I’m just a terrible mother.

5) I’ve been winding baby for at least 20 minutes now and she hasn’t burped yet. I convince myself that I must have just missed it and put her back in her crib and crawl back into bed. She’s immediately sick all over herself.

6) I was sure I tucked baby’s blankets into the mattress but wake up to find that she’s pulled them up over her face. I’ve been lead to believe that she will die if this happens. Luckily she’s alive and smiling.

7) I decide to go out for a nice walk. Half way through it starts to piss it down and I didn’t bring the rain cover for the pram. Baby is not happy.

8) I momentarily forget I have a baby and plan a night out…

The List

A belated apology to my dear mum

lesson

Dear Mum…

I don’t think I ever thanked you for those months at the beginning of my life when you doted on me no matter what. I confess that I was just testing you, trying to see how far I could push you – you were just so nice to me all the time…So  I played a few cruel tricks on you. Just for kicks really.

Now that I’m experiencing this first hand myself (karma hey?) I think a few apologies are long overdue. So here goes…

I’M SO SORRY FOR:

Taylor pretending

Taylor pretending

  • Throwing the dummy out of my crib for the seventh time that night. I decided I didn’t want it after all.
  • Letting you change my outfit and then weeing all over it in the 4 seconds you took to swap my nappy. I thought I was being funny. You clearly didn’t.
  • Pretending to be asleep every time the health visitor, midwife, friends, family visited so that you would look like a big fat fibber.
  • Letting you take ages swaddling me and then breaking out of it as soon as you put me down. I thought you were testing my motor skills.
  • Waiting until you settled down to watch the next episode of that drama you were in to and then screaming for you. I just wanted to see whodunnit.
  • Eye-balling and smiling at you during the night feeds. I knew you were trying not to look at me.
  • Crying for food for two hours and then falling back to sleep once you got up to make the bottle. I was just playing with you.

Please forgive me, I knew not what I did.

The List
Mummascribbles