Last weekend, we went to the first birthday party within our NCT group. I welled up when my friend helped her little boy blow out the candles and obviously couldn’t help but think about the fact Felix will soon turn one too.
My god, they’re not wrong when they say the days are long but the years are short.
It’s hard to comprehend nearly a year has passed since a teeny, helpless newborn moved into our house. That wee baby has turned into a babbling, toddling boy with a cheeky personality and a huge grin. He has every single bit of my heart.
Reflections on Motherhood
Today I’m sharing a few things I’ve learned over this last year or so. It’s my own personal musings reflecting on motherhood based on my own experience.
You Don’t Need EVERYTHING
Yes in those first few months you do need your own body weight in muslin cloths, but I don’t think I realised how quickly he would develop and how much his needs would change. Those must-haves for the first few weeks were quickly cast aside and replaced. I’m glad our bouncer was second hand as after a few months it found a new home up in the loft.
A friend of mine is looking for a pram at the moment and I remember the hours of research that went into finding ours. Now I realise these high-end prams are all such good bits of kit that in the end it comes down to personal preference. If you’re interested, the Upper Baby Vista clinched it for me as the brake comes off by pushing your foot down rather than kicking the lever up. It really came down to the simplest of things.
Mummy Groups Get a Bad Rep
I don’t begrudge anyone who doesn’t enjoy a baby group. In those early days, it’s all about who you’re with, rather than the actual activity. If you find you’re with a troop who are experiencing a totally different version of motherhood then it can be downright soul destroying.
Thankfully, Baby Massage with my NCT group was like therapy. The ladies running the course were superstars. While our babes enjoyed a light show as part of their post massage treatment, they brought us hot drinks and chocolate biscuits. We chatted, we laughed, we cried, we bonded. And it all started at 12 o’clock so there was no mad rush out of the house either.
Every Day (And Night) Is Totally Different
I read everything possible to escape the four month sleep regression. We were on the home straight with a Dolly Parton 9-5 sleeper when at 20 weeks old, everything went tits-up. I quickly learned you don’t mention sleep. It’s not a reflection of parenting and if you have a baby that sleeps, well that’s nice for you.
For a good few months Felix decided to start the party at 4.45am every morning. We rode it out and it ended up being a phase. In fact, most things are just a phase. Sometimes he sleeps well, other times it’s quite frankly horrendous.
Breastfeeding Is Hard
I’ve come to understand most women who choose to breastfeed have some form of difficulty to overcome. Getting through those first few weeks isn’t about perseverance or about privilege, it’s about doing what’s right for you and your little family unit.
In my own case, there was no way I was ever going to be in a position to exclusively breastfeed. I received some dubious advice from the professionals and Felix’s tongue tie went undiagnosed until eight weeks. This impacted my supply and at four weeks old the infant feeding team stepped in. Every single feed was supplemented with formula and we did this for the next seven months. The plan was to get back to exclusively BF but no amount of pumping or fenugreek consumption was going to remove the need to call on Cow & Gate to bring my baby’s weight back from the bottom of the chart.
I have regrets. With hindsight, I knew the advice didn’t quite add up, but I’ve dealt with my naivety and lack of experience. Felix has been poorly a lot over the last few months and I have questioned numerous times if his immune system is low as he wasn’t exclusively breastfed in those first six months. But then common sense steps in and I realise it’s more than likely due to his new pals at nursery and his penchant for ramming any and every single thing in his mouth.
Shared Parental Leave Worked For Us
Overall SPL was one of the best things we could have done for our family. My husband James took three month off over the summer and the pair had an absolute ball. James’ confidence soared and he got well and truly stuck in. As a result I feel our parenting is a very even 50/50 split.
There have been a couple of low points. I knew I’d have a few pangs of jealously when they’d go off on their day trips leaving me at my desk, however I wasn’t quite prepared for the envy I’d feel when Felix started to favour his daddy over me. Friends with older ones tell me there are phases when their loyalty lies with one parent over another and this week he seems to like us both equally!
In those early days I had no confidence. I was sleep deprived, overwhelmed and lonely. I couldn’t understand how other mamas seemed to have their s**t together and how they juggled their lives. People kept telling me to enjoy every second as it passed so quickly, but I think this just made me feel even more guilty and inadequate.
Every day it got easier, and every day he became more and more adorable. I didn’t begin to feel anywhere near my normal self until I went back to work and began to focus on something other than him. Then the time we spent together became so incredibly precious.
When I was dealing with infertility, I found the concept that people wanted some breathing space away from their kids quite alien. Like many things with motherhood though I’ve realised it’s impossible to comment until you’re in the throes of it, and even then your experience can differ greatly to somebody else’s.
This most recent trip around the sun has brought so many more challenges than I ever expected but more joy than I ever thought possible. I have learned so much but still have so much to learn! I feel exceptionally privileged to have experienced it and can’t wait to see where the next year takes us.