Actually, this time last year, I was having just as much trouble sleeping (it is currently 5.30am) as I am today :o(. However, for totally different reasons. The moans and groans of the other ladies in the ante-natal room, the snoring and the mild intermittent pains in my lower back (that bit hasn't changed much!!) were keeping me from sleeping this time last year.
Taking it back a bit further, last year and about 6 hours earlier, my waters broke and I was gripped by fear. What was happening? Will my baby be ok? I'm not ready for this baby yet...I was practically prepared - in that we had loads of equipment and clothes, the nursery was ready despite not needing it for the first couple of months, my hospital bag was even packed but mentally, I still wasn't prepared. I still had 3.5 weeks to go. When people said "not long now" I was still saying "there's still a little way to go and that's fine with me - I'm not ready yet!". Callum had other ideas!
So, off to hospital I went and we were told that that in 24 hours time, we should meet our baby.
I really tried to keep back the tears and shock - I was so scared. Stuart was just so excited. It couldn't be more perfect timing for him. He had had enough of waiting too and was ready to meet our baby.
Stuart was sent home and I had my sleepless night in the ante-natal ward. Then they came and got me about 8.30-9am and took me to the delivery suite. By this time, I was just relieved to get out of the ante-natal ward. Stuart arrived shortly after. My mild back contractions weren't progressing fast enough so by 12noon, they induced me. At 5pm ish, they gave me my first, much appreciated, epidural. A couple of epidurals later and after a lot more pain (despite the epidural) Callum was born at 9.48pm on 2 September.
I spent another 3 days in hospital (4.5 days in total). Although being in hospital isn't great, I really appreciated the time so I could get the extra help and support with breastfeeding. They also took care of him for a bit during the night once or twice so I could get a bit of sleep (though never good sleep with the bright lights and everyone else's babies waking me up). I was also grateful for Stuart coming in each day. It made the days go so much quicker. So, by the time it was home time, I was both relieved, eager to get home and a little bit nervous about us now doing this parenthood thing on our own.
The first 6 weeks, which everyone told us would be the hardest, weren't as bad as I was expecting. I coped pretty well with sleep deprivation and Callum slept so much (though not for long stints) that it was easy to go out if we wanted too. It was after that 6 week period that I started to find it hard. The fact that I had to be tied to Callum all the time with less than an hour window if I wanted to go out without Callum. The lack of sleep was getting to me. I had moved into the spare bedroom when Stuart went back to work and I started to feel like I would never get back to our bed. Callum was still waking very regularly through the night. Breastfeeding plus expressing was hard work.
In the first 5 months I had many ups and downs. It was such an emotional roller-coaster. In some ways, I had coped how I expected - comfortably with the previous experience I had gained looking after young babies. In other ways, I was clueless and, like many, learning by the day, or even by the minute.
Around 4.5-5 months, Callum's sleep routine started to get better and by 5.5 months, I felt we had cracked it. Things started to get easier. By 6 months, Callum was becoming a lot more fun and interesting and I think it was around here that we had our first full night's sleep. It might have even been a little bit earlier.
From this point forward, I really started to enjoy parenthood and was more excited about what each day would bring. Callum was developing more each day and I was finally feeling like I was beginning to know what I was doing.
The weaning was more difficult than I was expecting but I don't regret doing BLW for a minute. Seeing how well he eats now compared to many other babies his age.
Now, my baby is becoming a toddler. He is crawling competently, climbing stairs, pulling himself up to standing and taking his first few wobbly steps with a walker.
The key things I have learnt along the way are:
- RELAX - the more you stress and get worked up about stuff the slower things happen. Everything will happen in its own time and you stressing about it wont make it happen any quicker. If you relax, you might just enjoy life and motherhood a lot more. This is probably the most important one. When I started to relax and not worry about things, life got a lot easier.
- Trust your instincts. Everyone says this but when you are getting so much advice from all corners, if you are reading advice from so called 'experts', it can get confusing to know whether what you are doing is right or whether you should be doing something else. Go with your gut feeling - mother really does know best!
- DON'T read too many books or get obsessed with the 'experts'. You will drive yourself crazy wondering why your baby isn't a textbook baby and, like the previous point, no one will know your baby more than you do.
- Similarly, don't compare your baby to others - its boring to hear it but all babies really are different (I can see the yawns and eye rolls already!)
- Its when you stop caring about whether you are a bad parent that you become a bad parent! We beat ourselves up with guilt worrying about whether we are doing the best by our baby - am I a bad mother? Although we shouldn't be hung up on thinking we are bad parents - when we stop caring about whether we are doing the best by our baby, is when we need to worry. By the very fact that we do care, means we are good parents. Not sure that makes sense? The fact I now know that, according to my own advice, does that now make me a bad parent? Hmm, think this one need rewording...maybe when I've had more sleep and am a bit more with it!
Think they are the main lessons. May add more later.
So, right now, I'm waiting for Callum to wake up so I can bring him into his room, give him his milk and he can open all his presents. I know he wont know much about what is going on but I'm quite excited about it. His first Birthday. Then, this afternoon, a couple of his friends will come over and he can play and eat bad food. And I will reflect and stare in amazement at how much and how quickly my baby is changing into a little boy.
I've made a cake. Not sure I'll do that again in a hurry. It was going to go so much better in my head. Will post pictures later.