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Archive for the ‘It’s My Year’ Category

The ‘How-To’ of Parenting

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 07/01/2012 at 16:57

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It’s funny, since learning I was pregnant and then, nine months later, becoming a parent, my social circle has evolved to largely include fellow mothers, my conversation rotates around issues of nappy contents, which supermarkets are having sales on said nappies, weaning, sleep patterns, buggy model… Believe me, I could go on for days! And my sense of self-judgement has been questioned.

Mothers, and especially new mothers, are an interesting breed – we doubt ourselves constantly, look for reassurance on an almost daily basis and feel guilty over every action we have a hand in …and yet, ultimately we believe we are the only ones who know what is best for our child. Like lionesses fiercely protecting our cubs, occasionally we may look to the rest of the pride for help, but mainly we alone are the ones we rely on to make the right decisions.

We all do things differently. Some mothers are convinced that rigid routine is the way forward while others fly by the seat of their elasticated pants; some mothers feed their babies by bottle while others are staunch advocates of ‘breast is best’; some mothers know every nursery rhyme that was ever written while others rely on the musical numbers from their own childhoods – in the end, the differences are irrelevant because that is what makes us human but the most important thing and the one thing we have in common is the mere fact that we are all mothers.

Every mother I meet has her own way, her own neuroses and methods and while a handful choose to judge the practice of their parental peers – shooting loaded looks when they discover that Rudy goes to bed whenever he chooses to go to sleep while their little one is safely tucked away at 7pm sharp every night – the rest of us acknowledge that there is no right way to parent, there is just the way we each know how.

Motherhood, and indeed parenthood, is a remarkable adventure and one I am honoured to be taking. Being entrusted with the welfare of another person and the opportunity to enable them to realise their potential, their dreams and their own happiness – it is a huge responsibility but one that is hugely rewarding and exciting. Every step is paved with scary moments and moments that are wonderful and we want to share every single one.

Though we are all different, and may agree to disagree on a number of points, the truth is that my best references for ‘mothering’ are my fellow mums. They are the ones I call on for support, advice and reassurance. Because it is their experience, whether 30 years worth or just 3 weeks, that is so invaluable as I learn from how they have handled everything from labour to teething to potty training and beyond.

There is no ‘how-to’ for being a parent but you can always ask for directions along the way.

They Grow Up so Fast

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 06/16/2012 at 07:28

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It seems like only yesterday I was gazing down at my newborn daughter, eyes wide as she took in the new world around her under the bright lights of the delivery room. I remember those first minutes, hours, days, weeks so clearly; how she looked so tiny in her clothes, how much I panicked if she so much as coughed, how many changes she went through every day.

Now she’s four months old and I’ve just boxed up all her newborn and 0-3 month clothing, shedding a silent year as I did so. Then there’s the issue of where she sleeps; we still have her in with us sleeping in her Moses basket but before long she will be making the transition to her cot. Discussing such a momentous move with my fellow mummy friends, there was a general consensus that while it will be painful to relocate our bubbas to their own rooms it will mean the return of dressing with the light on, reading in bed (among other activities!) and not tripping over the baby on the way to the loo in the middle of the night.

The truth is that as excited as we are to see our babies grow up we are equally saddened to know that their newborn days are over. We spend 9 months awaiting the arrival of our new babies, forgetting that they will grow into little people.

But they do and it’s amazing but that doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to be a little tearful about it!

26 and Pregnant: My Little Princess

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 05/28/2012 at 06:07

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Lying here listening to my baby growl and coo as she discovers her vocal chords, I’m amazed at how her grasp of such basic things as laughing, holding her head up unaided and reaching out for the brightly coloured accessories on her bouncer and play-mat instils such pride in me and her Daddy, and in fact everyone who knows her in the context of family and friend.

We take for granted that we’re able to do all these things but for a baby these “little” achievements are comparable to job promotions, high exam grades and other such merited activities.

As parents we are entrusted with teaching our children everything from speech to swimming to feeding themselves; but amid all this development there is of course a healthy dollop of guilt which accompanies every parent’s journey.

That uber responsibility you feel when you become a mum and dad, regardless of when or how it hits for the first time, never leaves. It is there when you’re too tired to strike up ‘conversation’ with your 3 month old after a busy day so you smile at them and stick them under the play-mat, it’s there when you accidentally nip their tiny finger with the baby nail scissors because attempting to cut nails that are not only flailing around but also naked to the human eye is one of the hardest endeavours to undertake and it’s there when you lose your footing during baby’s first swimming lesson and almost take them down with you into the murky depths of the pool were it not for the teacher standing within reach as you hurl your baby at her just before you sink beneath the surface. (Yes that really happened). It is there every time your baby cries, at every immunisation appointment and on the rare occasion that you put your needs slightly before theirs.

But this is all part of parenthood, learning to enjoy the good stuff and not dwelling on all the things you convince yourself you’re doing wrong.

When you think about it, this time in your child’s life is the closest they will come to experiencing the royal treatment as us, their subjects, bend to their every whim, pledging our lives to serving them and making them the happiest they can be. When you stop and realise that it’s easier to believe that you are being the best you can be as you continue paving the way for your little prince or princess.

26 and Pregnant: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 05/05/2012 at 17:06

The first time you leave your baby is one of those moments plagued with reluctance, anxiety and emotion. It throws up any number of concerns and you find yourself concocting excuse after excuse as to why you shouldn’t go out and leave your child.

From that amazing ultrasound scan to meeting her for the first time at the end of an exhausting and painful labour, any thought for yourself (and anyone else) goes right out the window as your life becomes about this little person that started life inside you. So how can you leave her, even for a second?

This week was mine and my husbands’s second wedding anniversary and tonight we have asked my mother to babysit for a couple of hours so we can go on a date and enjoy a meal which we will eat at the same time as each other and not gobble down at record pace.

I – who have had great problem with expressing – have pumped out two bottles of breast milk which are in the fridge should baby get hungry in my absence. However, this past week she’s had a cold and on two occasions has refused to take a bottle from both myself and my husband. This does not bode well…

In addition, as a pleasant development in my otherwise peaceful daughter, she is now showing signs of reflux; arching her back, crying and being unable to settle easily.

All these things have only increased my reluctance to leave her, albeit for a short time. Add to that my anal control complex over how someone else will change her nappy, attend to her needs and of course feed her, and you can see why I may have trouble detaching for one evening.

I know that an evening being a couple is both necessary and a rare luxury to be treasured and I know that I need to learn to relax when it comes to my baby, but it is a difficult thing to consider when she’s barely been apart from me since she was born. The responsibility and love you feel for your child, particularly when they are so small and helpless, is overwhelming so the thought of not being there to tend to their every need – even for a short time – is unthinkable.

But, though I adore my daughter more than words can say, I also love her Daddy and so for him – and yes, for me – I will entrust her care for one evening to my mother who at a similar point in my young life did the same with me. After all, everyone needs a bit of romance in their lives …especially exhausted new parents!

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26 and Pregnant: Motherhood is…

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 04/30/2012 at 19:10

Motherhood is…

…wearing your hair loose only for her to yank it
…applying make up only to see it smeared all over her clothes two minutes later
…looking in your wardrobe for something nice to wear even though you know you’ll wear the same old breastfeeding-appropriate ensemble
…receiving a party invite and knowing immediately that you’ll be unable to attend
…going shopping and never coming home with anything larger than an outfit in size 18-24 months
…spending more time at Gymboree than the gym
…getting excited about half price deals on nappies/muslins/bottles
…turning your second bedroom into the baby’s room
…referring to a six hour stint as a full nights sleep
…filling up your photo library with pictures of her to capture every outfit, expression and week
…showering quicker than Usain Bolt completes a 100m sprint
…eating most meals cold due to baby radar going off the minute you sit down at the dinner table
…learning to do any number of things while breastfeeding: answering the door, ordering a pizza, checking email, chatting on the phone…
…feeling guilt over the most ridiculous of things from cutting her nails while she howls like a banshee to ineffectively soothing her in the car while you’re nose to nose in traffic and she’s due a feed
…But most of all, motherhood is an experience like no other, full of the most wonderful moments, like making her smile, falling asleep with her in your arms and realising every time you look at her that she’s yours forever.

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26 and Pregnant: Two Adults and a Baby

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 04/27/2012 at 05:37

Take one adult who works 12 hour days and commutes into the city, add another adult who cares for a baby day and night while taking time to keep house and put food on the table, and finally add a 2 month old baby whose needs must be met and you’ve got a recipe for emotional chaos.

Logic says the adult who works 12 hour days should be exempt from baby duty but at 3 in the morning logic doesn’t exist!

Biology says that both adults contributed to bringing baby into the world …and you can’t exactly argue with science now can you?!

Tensions brew amid sleepless nights and the very thing that brought about baby evades the adults …that little thing called love. It is there, buried beneath the stress of financial pressure, the emotional upheaval of becoming a threesome and the agony of interrupted sleeps; but amidst all those feelings it becomes the furthest thing on your mind.

On a good day the adults rekindle their affection for one another and remind themselves that they are a team, but on the bad days they seem pitted against each other on either side of a boxing ring.

Cruel words may escape their lips and negative feelings may cloud their minds but ultimately they must remind themselves of the thing that brought them together in the first place, the thing that led to the creation of baby and the thing that keeps them going day after day and night after night… and that thing is love.

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26 and Pregnant: To My Daughter

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 04/22/2012 at 07:44

Her hand in mine

Waking up to that beautiful smile, her little face full of joy,
Reminds me each day of how lucky I am (that I didn’t end up with a boy!)
Seriously though, no matter the sex, my baby has changed my life,
Now I add ‘mother’ to my list of roles, as important as daughter and wife.
The relationships that remain consistent and true, not forgetting sister and friend,
It is our ties to these people that make life worthwhile, getting us through till the end.
I, the self-confessed shopaholic, have rechannelled my spending ways,
No longer intent on needs of my own, I buy baby something new every day!
The only person I get up for night after night without any complaint,
She is my focus, the star in my sky, my inspirational saint.
Convinced my first child would be a son, I suppressed my desire for a girl,
Because ultimately though it would not have changed my heart, a daughter completed my world.
Someone to share my experiences with, to provide support through puberty, school and boys,
To exchange clothes and secrets, offer advice and pass on to her all my old toys.
Perhaps when she’s ready she’ll want to wear the dress from my wedding day,
As she takes her steps as an independent woman who knows she can go her own way.
The things that I wish for my darling daughter are to be healthy, happy and good,
And to find someone by whom, she will be loved, cared for and understood.
Lying beside me in her basket taking in the world that surrounds,
My heart bursts with a deep true love, a love that knows no bounds…

 

26 and Pregnant: Moments are Fleeting

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 04/15/2012 at 21:48

Time flies when one’s having fun. A cliche at the best of times, but currently a phrase which holds profound meaning for me. When a baby enters the picture, every moment counts; from those first life changing moments when they’re placed in your arms to every moment that follows as you watch them grow, mature and try out basic human expressions that were it anyone else you wouldn’t care less but when they do it, your world is instantly made a brighter place.

The first time Denny smiled at me (it was a smile not wind… that’s my version of events and I’m sticking to it) it made me feel as though I’d won a million bucks!

Time moves quickly – even more so when it’s being assessed via a two hourly feed-change schedule that blurs day with night. It is almost unbelievable to think that almost two months have passed since I gave birth to my precious daughter. And I cannot imagine life before she was in it. (Similarly I cannot process that my husband and I are in fact parents – an epiphany that became ever more clear to me during a chance encounter with Winnie the Pooh on a walk at Aldenham country park this past weekend).

It is easy to allow the stress of hosting friends and family members, eager to meet your little one, overwhelm and erase your enjoyment of actually spending quality time with loved ones. However, with well-processed hindsight and personal experience behind me, I know that making every moment count is what makes life worth living. After all, aren’t those moments the very thing we live for?

26 and Pregnant: Keep Calm and Carry On

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 04/09/2012 at 07:43

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There are a lot of changes that emerge when a baby enters the picture, particularly for the woman who aside from being relabelled with the perpetual ‘Mummy’ tag must make undue changes to her person.

Jewellery with any appendages sticking out can never be worn (for fear of imprinting in baby’s skin), make up should only be applied in aesthetic emergencies (for fear of adding to the wash load by inadvertently transferring foundation etc to nearly every item of baby’s clothing – which in most cases is white or at least pastel), and handbags enter early retirement as the ever-practical nappy bag becomes the only accessory a mother dons (in addition to her baby of course!).

The one change I did not predict was this… my temperament. Most people who know me will attest to the fact that I am at best a control freak and at worst a bit of a biatch – prone to entering rooms in the manner of a whirlwind and effectively crushing everything in my wake as I note just how many things do not meet my specific requirements. Neurotic for much of my pregnancy as I worried about …well pretty much everything, not averse to the odd bout of hypochondria and nursing an unhealthy need to clean and tidy as a form of “relaxation”; it came as quite the shock to most, myself included, to find that motherhood has mellowed me.

Having a baby has endowed me with an inner calm that I’ve never had. Imbued with Earth Mother essence I appear to have taken to motherhood as a rubber duck takes to a child’s bath water.

In fact, calmness is what everyone who has met my baby comments on – that she’s so good and calm, and that this trait is down to my own calmness. My little princess is at present asleep in my lap as I rock in the nursing chair typing this post on my iPhone; in fact, I think I’ll join her.

Peace out!

26 and Pregnant: Keep Calm and Carry On

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 04/09/2012 at 07:43

20120409-081435.jpg

There’s a lot of changes that emerge when a baby enters the picture, particularly for the woman who aside from being relabelled with the perpetual ‘Mummy’ tag must make undue changes to her person.

Jewellery with any appendages sticking out can never be worn (for fear of imprinting in baby’s skin), make up should only be applied in aesthetic emergencies (for fear of adding to the wash load by inadvertently transferring foundation etc to nearly every item of baby’s clothing – which in most cases is white or at least pastel), and handbags enter early retirement as the ever-practical nappy bag becomes the only accessory a mother dons (in addition to her baby of course!).

The one change I did not predict was this… my temperament. Most people who know me will attest to the fact that I am at best a control freak and at worst a bit of a biatch – prone to entering rooms in the manner of a whirlwind and effectively crushing everything in my wake as I note just how many things do not meet my specific requirements. Neurotic for much of my pregnancy as I worried about …well pretty much everything, not averse to the odd bout of hypochondria and nursing an unhealthy need to clean and tidy as a form of “relaxation”; it came as quite the shock to most, myself included, to find that motherhood has mellowed me.

Having a baby has endowed me with an inner calm that I’ve never had. Imbued with Earth Mother essence I appear to have taken to motherhood as a rubber duck takes to a child’s bath water.

In fact, calmness is what everyone who has met my baby comments on – that she’s so good and calm, and that this trait is down to my own calmness. My little princess is at present asleep in my lap as I rock in the nursing chair typing this post on my iPhone; in fact, I think I’ll join her.

Peace out!