Once again, calm down you eager beavers. There’s no bun in this oven. But I do have a list of things that we will be doing differently if I ever find myself with child again.
1. Buy a SleepyHead
I was all for buying a Sleepyhead, it was on my must-have list. Except they are pretty pricey, and D’s opinion on the matter was that they ‘are an overpriced dog basket for babies’. He advised popping to Pets at Home and picking up a Jack Russel basket. I disagreed obviously but we still didn’t get a SleepyHead. In the depths of a really really rocky patch of no sleep, I panic bought one second hand on eBay when R was a couple of months old. At that point I would have sold my soul to the bloody devil for a good nights sleep. However that sale fell through and we are still SleepyHead-less. He was growing too big for the first size and I didn’t fancy shelling out for the next size up.
However since having R I have heard many more wonder stories about them, and I truly believe that one would be very practical. A safe space for baby to sleep and feel secure, that is portable, and can travel easily. What’s not to love! And if it is a bit pricey, then balance that out at having some decent sleep for a few hours each day during those first months – literally priceless.
Number one on the list for next time around.
2. Pull up the Drawbridge
I read this post by Clemmie Telford when R was six months old and it really really hit home for me. In it Clemmie follows the advice from another brilliant Clemmie (mother_of_daughters) and Steph (Don’t buy her flowers). Basically, post-birth instead of getting back to normal as soon as possible, having visitors round to see baby and getting out and about, they advise a much more relaxed approach. An approach that allows mum and baby time to bond. For your new family, whether this is three, four, five of you to get used to a routine together – and for siblings to adjust to having a new tiny squalling person in their lives. The premise is this; one week in bed with baby to recover, and a week on the sofa. No pressure to have visitors round, no pressure to get out of your pjs. Bond with baby, establish breastfeeding, sleep as much as possible.
This honestly sounds heavenly. We had visitors round nearly every day of D’s two-week paternity leave. This meant every morning was a scramble to get us up showered and dressed (along with putting newborn skinny legs and arms into totally impractical outfits), quickly try and straighten the house, think OH SHIT THERE’S NO MILK AND BABY SICK ALL OVER THE SOFA. Sitting upright was hell on my stitches. R got upset frequently when we had people round all day, and then wouldn’t latch on, causing more stress and upset on an evening.
Whilst the outpouring of love from our family and friends was truly incredible, looking back I would have been much more grateful if someone had just tucked me and R into bed, put a load of washing on, and left a sandwich in the fridge.
So if we have sproglet number two, please don’t be offended if I don’t schedule you in for a slot. We still love and need you, but our little family will be (hopefully) all getting some well deserved rest.
3. Not Worry About Routine
For the first six months of R’s life I read everything I could about routines. How to get your baby into a healthy sleep routine. How to get your baby to nap better. When should your baby be spacing out his feeds. When the HV asked how often he was feeding and I genuinely had no idea as I just whapped a boob out, I felt so guilty. Should I be feeding every three hours regardless? Was I mental for wanting to wait until six months to wean, as per the NHS guidance? WHO THE FUCK HAS A GINA FORD BABY ON THIS PERFECT ROUTINE.
But instead of worrying so much I should have trusted my instincts. We have now got into a routine and it works for us, but we were very much guided by R. When he started falling asleep at 7/7.30pm we decided that worked for us as a family and started our bedtime routine to coincide with this.
It will be tricky, I know, to balance a new baby with whatever our routine looks like as a family at that point. But I will try not to worry about it, as I know it will all fall into place.
4. Batch Cook
I meant to do this, I really did. Batch cooking, and having pre-made, healthy home-cooked meals in your freezer was on all the ‘Things to do before having your baby’ articles that I obsessively read for nine months. But we moved house when I was 34 weeks pregnant, didn’t get a freezer until I was 36 weeks…and by that point I just couldn’t be arsed. Or find the freezer space to be honest. So maybe that’s one for next time, buy a chest freezer and when the nesting hits, I’ll bake big batches of scones and lasagne and chilli and cake. And of course twenty million brownies for the 3am breastfeeding munchies.
5. Use a Wrap Sling
This is something else that was quashed by D, but to be honest I felt sceptical about it as well. Tying baby to you with nothing more than a long bit of fabric? Seems pretty dangerous, and I regarded it as a bit too hippy-like for me. When telling people about R not sleeping during the day (or night LOL), and his spitting up problem it was a sling that was recommended to me over and over. I bought a more structured carrier (The Ergobaby 360, AMAZING) which was a fantastic purchase, but it was still a bit too big and bulky to use whilst just being at home.
Then I saw a couple of mothers with these tiny newborns snoozing away whilst wrapped up close to their fronts whilst out and about. It makes so much sense as to why they would love sleeping there. Its warm, cosy, they can smell you and hear your heartbeat. Perfect for the fourth trimester, and another on the list for Weaver-Allen baby 2.0.
6. Practice Hypnobirthing.
Maybe I have just turned into a massive hippy since having a baby, because this is another thing I dismissed as being a bit too wishy washy, incense sticks and weird affirmations for my taste. The only thing I knew about hypnobirthing was that I had heard a tape where you were urged to imagine that your cervix was a rosebud…. and that was a whole lotta NOPE for me.
But then the thing that was the turning point in labour for me was the point where I started to panic. We were told to call an ambulance by the hospital, with no explanation, and I just thought holy mother of fuck something is going wrong. What actually happened was they thought I was having R there and then by my description of the pains, (back-to-back labour is apparently more painful), but this wasn’t relayed to us in a calm manner. I started panicking and the pain went from being bad, to through the ceiling, and not being able to control myself.
I believe hypnobirthing is all about being in control and listening to your body. Admittedly I definitely would need to research this a lot more, but anything help keep my mind focused and calm would be a bonus. I’ve also heard that the breathing techniques can be used in other times of stress, or just to calm you down and relax when needed. And if we have two terror children rampaging around the place then this might prove a whole lot healthier then turning to a big glass of wine for rest and relaxation.
7. Organise for D to Have a Longer Paternity Leave
Two weeks paternity leave is bullshit. Whats even more bullshit is that you aren’t automatically entitled to even this. D had just started a new job and hadn’t passed his probation period to be granted paternity leave. Therefore he used up holiday days, leaving us short for the rest of the year when it would have been nice to have more time off together.
I’m hoping D will be entitled to the two weeks paternity leave where ever he is based if we have another baby, but I’d hope we were a bit more settled and able to plan this time around so he could potentially take longer than this off.
If not, see point 2 about pulling up the drawbridge. I would want paternity leave to be more about the three of us and figuring out our new roles, and our new expanded family. Less about visitors and rushing around trying to do things.
8. Buy More Muslins
Muslins are bloody amazing. They can mop up baby sick, spilt mugs of tea, wees on the floor (from the baby, natch), a leaky nipple, your tears…often several of these simultaneously. Thank god for Amazon Prime as I realised very very quickly that we didn’t have enough of these amazing squares of fabric. I ordered another twelve within three days of R being born and we currently have over fifty.
Fingers crossed that the next baby brings a lot less puke with them, R spat up a LOTTA LOT, but either way I will be stockpiling these bad boys.
PS. If you didn’t already think I was a total wierdo, I slept with one of R’s muslins for a long time with he moved into his own room, it may have smelt slightly of sick but then again so did R.
9. Treat Myself to New Pyjamas
Every new mum wholeheartedly deserves
a bit A LOT of indulgence. And this should be one of those things. Nice pyjamas. I never invested in any maternity pjs, or anything for about the house really and I wish I had. By the third trimester I basically lived in a pair of maternity leggings and D’s flannel shirts. Then I saw the babe that is Hannah Gale and her lovely Asos maternity pj’s and I’ve been thinking of them ever since. Because then I would have been able to come home and know there was something that a) fitted and b) was super comfy.
In my hospital bag I packed two pairs of oversized Primark pj bottoms, two matching strap tops and a nightie with easy boob access. All fine and dandy until I bled through both pairs of bottoms, and R pooped all over the nightie. So coming home I had nothing clean to fit into.
What I should have done is invested in more pyjamas. MORE PYJAMAS. In bigger sizes. You can never have too many pyjamas anyway. But then I could have changed into a nice fresh pair to face the day instead of attempting to squeeze back into my pre-pregnancy clothes way too soon.
If you say pyjamas repeatedly it no longer sounds like a word. Pyjamas.
10. Embrace the Chaos
This is one of my mantras when it comes to being a mum. Sometimes, despite your best laid plans, shit happens. And the best thing to do is simply roll with it. If that means eating pizza for dinner at 10pm because the baby has screamed all afternoon and has only just fallen asleep, then enjoy that pizza, get Netflix on, and ignore the state of the kitchen. If picnics are enjoyed at 8am as its the easiest time to get out of the house then hey presto! Breakfast picnic!
I’m sure this will be trickier if we have a second baby and have R’s routine to contend with as well, but all this means is that the chaos will multiply. Bring it on. (In a few years please, I am not ready for the double dose of chaos just yet!)
Are you expecting your another child? Would you do anything differently?