Things I Wish I’d Known Before I had a Baby

wish-i'd-known

Mama: What I wish I’d Known

Before she arrived

  • Pregnancy: I wish I’d known entire systems in your body turn  against you; your digestive system doesn’t know what to do, I didn’t know whether to reach for the Imodium or the Senokot, which makes a lovely cocktail with all the Gaviscon.  Respiratory system was similar.  I had a permanently blocked nose. This was a straightforward pregnancy, how do the people with real issues cope?!
  • Birth: How much it hurts – unfortunately no one else can tell you, but they had been able to tell you I may have been less scared. I don’t think it’s half as bad as most people make out.
  • The aftermath: I wish I’d known to stockpile pain killers because I hadn’t really considered the recovery. Yes there was pain but the main issue is you need to rest.  You really need to sit on the sofa and eat chocolate and enjoy your baby.  Giving birth is a massive drain on your body and it does feel a bit like you’ve been hit by a bus.  Sure you can clean your whole house while the week-old baby sleeps and feel like wonder woman. What happens next?  You feel much worse and your bleeding increases.

    Life with a Newborn

  • The worry.  No one tells you all the little things newborns  do; they breathe irregularly, they breathe especially quickly after a feed.  Sometimes they don’t breathe for a few seconds.  They vomit mucus when they’re first born…apparently a result of being in water. It is like carrying your heart around outside your body.
  • Time speeds up. It’s hugely difficult as a parent not to want them to do the next thing; roll over, sit up, stand etc…but it’s true what they say; the nights are (very) long, but the years are short.  I gave birth a few weeks ago and yet somehow in 4 months I’ll have a 2 year old.
  • You will most likely lose yourself.  You can find yourself again but you will need to make an  effort to do so and it won’t be easy. I don’t really think I found myself again until I went back to work.
  • It may be very lonely.  But you are NOT alone.  I have a pretty laid back mellow kid, but I have still sobbed because I didn’t know why she was crying.  Got frustrated with her and then felt like crap afterwards. Wanted to explode with annoyance because last week she slept through the night and this week she wakes up at 1am. You are not the only person this has happened to and none of it is a result of your parenting.

And Beyond…

  • One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.  This seems to be the mantra of my parenting.  Especially when they’re small every time they make some progress, they seem to regress in another area. It’s so frustrating!! But it is a consistent forward moving momentum, honest! Sometimes it’s just sloooooooooooooow.
  • You just trade old problems for new ones.  Sorry, but it’s true.  The old issues you faced aren’t there anymore, but you haven’t really noticed that because you have new problems to solve.  It’s when someone with a younger child asks you something you remember that used to be at the forefront of your mind!
  • It does get easier.  It honestly does.  You start believing in yourself and you get to know your child.  They are a person after all!

Mia’s I Wish I had Known

  • It’s cold outside Mama.  I’m not sure I’d have come out if I’d have known. It was cramped in there but it was warm.
  • It’s loud too!
  • It’s very bright but it’s interesting.  I love to look at different things going on.  Things that light up different colours are the best.
  • I wish I’d known about Peppa Pig sooner. And swings.
  • Teeth brushing. I wish someone could have told me about that. I still wish I knew how to avoid it. Hair washing as well.
  • I wish I’d figured out that the brown things Mama gave me sometimes were chocolate raisins earlier. I spent a long time avoiding them because I didn’t know what they were.
  • Sometimes things get scary, like when you fall down or that episode of Peppa when Daddy Pig pretends to be a dinosaur, but it’s OK, there’s always someone there to protect me.
  • I wish I knew how fun everything would be before it happened. I guess if I did I’d be excited all the time though. 
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Parenting Fails and Flounderings: What I have Learned

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Mama’s Parenting Fails

We can’t be perfect all the time, it takes time to learn how to parent. Some of the failures and worries can be amusing to look back on with hindsight. Here are some of ours:

Pre-Baby

  • It doesn’t entirely count, but at antenatal classes I put the nappy on the dolly backwards.
  • Buying clothes for a baby I didn’t have yet.  I was 9lb 8 at birth and for some reason I decided this meant I’d have a big baby.  Mia was 6lb 7oz.  Of course she wore most of the clothes eventually.  Some of it was in the wrong season.

Early Days

  • There is a picture in existence of Mia as a newborn.  We are still in hospital so it’s early days, but she has a baby gro on upside down.  Completely. Upside. Down. I don’t know who did it or how but it is very funny.
  • Forgetting how many scoops of formula I had put in the bottle and having to chuck it as a result.  That happened many, many times.
  • Worrying about milk intake.  Because she was small (obviously my fault; inefficient baby grower) and she didn’t drink much (again, my fault, should have been able to breastfeed), I fretted over every ounce of formula.  After her first set of shots? Forget about it, I was in nervous breakdown mode.
  • Wasting time worrying about those stupid percentiles. As long as they’re headed in the right direction you’re fine.

More Recently

  • Believing I was fully aware of her capabilities.  This is always a fail.
    • Leaving her on the bed thinking she couldn’t fall off.  She could.
    • Leaving her on the floor thinking she couldn’t climb onto the sofa. She did.
    • My favourite was believing she couldn’t climb stairs.  I found her laughing at me from the top step.
  • Buying any toy for a purpose.  Her walker is turned upside down and she sits in it. She stood in a bouncer and looked around.
  • Taking her for to a coffee shop at around 4pm one day.  I know she gets tired around this time but I was then surprised when she totally kicked off.  I still drunk my coffee but it wasn’t exactly the relaxing experience I was hoping for.

MIa’s Fails

  • I should have established my place in the big bed.  That was a fail.  The bed is comfy and now I sleep in my cot.
  • Thinking I wasn’t going to trip up the garden step, I thought my legs were longer.
  • Not realising sooner that walking is an efficient way to get about.  I’ve been messing about on my knees for months!
  • I still haven’t quite figured out the remote.  I can turn the TV on, but I can’t select programs yet.
  • That time I ate broccoli.  That was a mistake!
  • When I insisted on going down the big slide on my own at the park.
Bringing up Georgia
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Choosing your Battles: The Art of Living with a Toddler

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Mama  Choosing her Battles:

Choosing your battles is an essential part of toddler parenting. It’s ridiculously easy for life with a toddler to resemble a battle ground.  They are argumentative little blighters. We all just want to get on with life though don’t we?  So how do you choose when to stand strong and when to let go?

Here are some examples of our battles and my responses to them.

The Non Negotiable Rules

  • Anything to do with safety is non-negotiable. Mia can scream all she likes, going headfirst down the stairs is not an option.
  • There are certain issues I call ‘core values’. Things like sharing, not snatching and (at the moment just trying to encourage her to) say please and thank you.
  • I will try never to say anything that I will not do.  My mother did this and it worked really well so I’m trying to emulate that.  I have never said “Mia if you don’t stop doing that I will kill you” because it’s not true, she’s not stupid and she’ll figure out that my words mean nothing!

The Battles I ‘Let her Win’

  • Food. 

    I’m not saying she eats exactly what she likes; she is presented with a choice of food that I have picked out. If she doesn’t eat it, I won’t have a fight about it.  As a fussy eater myself I know this doesn’t help.  I will usually offer her a taste of everything again before she gets down, but if she says no I don’t push it.  I don’t think the dinner table should be a battle ground as I don’t believe it encourages a healthy relationship with food.

  • Sleep. 

    This one is easy for me because I have a unicorn baby.  I brought her home from hospital, put her in her Moses basket. She looked around a bit, decided she liked it and went to sleep there.  Sure, she woke up every 2 hours, in fact she didn’t sleep through the night until she was 10 months, but she has always been perfectly happy to sleep on her own.  This probably contributes to the fact that I am fairly relaxed about if she is sick, teething or going through nightmares, she can come into bed with me.  That’s not something I feel the need to worry about. I really need sleep to function, so I prefer whatever gets us all the most sleep!

  • Dummies and Bottles

    Mia is 19m and has a dummy and 2 bottles a day.  I extended our formula feeding for a number of reasons, she refuses to drink formula from a cup.  I have 2 years as the cut off in my mind and will just stop giving it, but for now I don’t need to make an issue of it.  Some parents would be worried about teeth, but I clean her teeth twice a day, every day, so I feel I am doing my best to look after them.

    The dummy issue conflicts me slightly more as I know they are known to inhibit speech development. I have limited it to nap-time and bedtime as I feel that’s definitely a step in the right direction, but she gets so much comfort from it. I would like for her to give them up knowingly, perhaps at Christmas or to put them into a special teddy bear. That way I can explain to her where they have gone and she has a chance of understanding.  At the moment she is too young for that so that battle is on hold for now!

  • Screen Time

    See my post Screen Time for Mamas and Kids. Should it be limited? But basically I allow Mia to watch a bit of TV every day and I don’t believe it to be harmful.

Mia’s Battles

  • Sleeping is boring, I don’t always want to go to sleep when Mama wants me to, I’d like to stay up later and practice my walking.
  • Sometimes I don’t like to eat the same as Mama and Dada, other times it looks really yummy.
  • I don’t understand why I’m not allowed to crawl along the window sill in the conservatory, it’s just the right size and it’s fun.
  • Climbing everywhere would be great,  I get stopped doing that a lot.
  • Toast is excellent, I’m not sure why I can’t have it for every meal.
  • I wish Peppa was on 24/7.  She’s always taking a nap. Or so Mama says.
  • Why am I never allowed the remote?
  • I can stand now, why do I need to lie down to have my nappy changed?
  • Walking is great, I would like to do it everywhere now please, why do people keep picking me up.  20 minutes with 18 pauses is surely an acceptable time to get 20m distance?!

 

The Tactical Mummy
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