Eve is two months old tomorrow and I am currently writing this as I watch Eve sleep in her cot. Our evening routine has evolved from the relatively simple bath, feed, bed to now include half an hour to an hour of screaming. We have tried everything - feeding her before bathtime, making sure she has a nap just before bathtime so she isn't overtired, and all manner of variations. Nope, it appears that my darling daughter just needs to scream for a bit to wind down after the day. Like everything, she'll grow out of it at some point. Had it started when she was 2 weeks old rather than two months I would have been a nervous wreck, but now we just let her get it out of her system ("It's good for her lungs" her nanny says with a wry smile) and then she falls asleep.
Eve is now the oldest baby at the mother and baby group (which is for 0-3 month old babies) and I found myself today in the unusual situation of being asked for advice from all the newer mothers. I don't in any way think I have done much right, but then Eve is still alive and putting on heaps of weight (she is now twice the weight she was when she left hospital) so I can't have done too much wrong either. I know that a number of pregnant women and new Mums are now reading this, so I thought now would be a good time to review some of the "dos and don'ts" I have gleaned so far.
- Realise this is going to be the hardest thing you will ever do, and the most rewarding
- Accept help wherever you can get it be it a nanny or friend
- Ask for help, nobody won a prize for doing everything themselves
- Moan, whinge, complain, scream and cry. In fact anything that makes you feel better. Apologise later if you want to, but otherwise don't worry.
- Jettison anything or anyone who doesn't support you or makes you feel bad, life is simply too short
- Ditto anyone other than a professional childcare expert who offers "advice" based on their friends, their kids / grandkids. NOBODY knows your child better than you do
- Get used to your baby crying sometimes, or a lot, and that this doesn't make you a bad mother
- Become very clear in how you communicate. If you don't want your husband to go out because you've had a crap day and need a break, tell him or at the very least send him an SMS
- Make time for yourself, once a day if you can, and do something mindless or intellectually challenging. Strangely either reading Hello or reading the Economist make me feel better
- Try to sleep when the baby sleeps - ignore the books and gumpf about bad habits and stick them in bed with you if that means you will get an extra 10 mins kip
- Get out and have fun
- Find a mother and baby group to share your experiences and realise you are not alone
- Expect your baby to be like the babies in the books - they get ill, have growth spurts, have bad days. Factor in all these and your baby will only do what Gina Ford says one day in every 20, let it go (or burn the books)
- Plan anything until the morning of the day itself. All it takes is for baby to have a crap night and you need to sleep more than you need dinner with friends. Caveat every invitation with "we'd love to but baby is a bit ill/grumpy/ difficult at the moment so can we provisionally say yes but let you know on the day?" - real friends won't mind at all
- Spend too much time in a confined space with baby - get out once a day if only for a walk
- Be too ambitious about what you will have time to do. 20 hours of your day will involve burping, feeding, nappy changing and sleeping. The remaining 4 hours will come in 15 minute increments!
- Think breastfeeding will be easy. And don't beat yourself up when it's hard.
- Put up with any crap from anyone. Someone makes you feel guilty about something, stop talking to them for a while.
- Believe that babies are portable. They are more portable than, say, a 4x4 Jeep but they have huge amounts of stuff and love routine. Suddenly having bath time at the same time each night becomes very important for your sanity!
- Feel bad about going to see the doctor when you are worried about something, it's what they are there for
- Forget to enjoy your baby. The roundabout of feeding, burping and changing sometimes feels so functional you forget that your baby is fun, and that first smile is amazing.
Story so far... other suggestions welcome!
The sarcastic cynic. Or something like that
5 weeks ago