And Baby Makes Three
Everything changes once you have a baby, from your body to social life to your relationship with your partner and those closest to you. The changes can be both positive and negative and they are propelled by the stresses that come with looking after a newborn. It still amazes me how quickly I went from being the only decision-maker in my life to having this small human, who is 100% dependent on me dictating how I spend each and every moment of the day. The lack of sleep and social interaction was the hardest hurdle for me to jump past, as someone who loves sleeping, I found myself operating on 3-hour sleep and maybe an hour nap if I was lucky. Although my sleep duration decreased dramatically, it was as if the rest of my life became more complicated and demanding. I was trying to balance all my normal relationships, ensuring the flat didn’t look a mess, trying to do some office work and making time to entertain friends. I started to feel numb, drained and beyond exhausted. This constant running of the day seemed to never stop, I would wake up tired, spend my day tired and then go into bed tired. I loved spending time with my little one, but I would always find myself thinking about the things I had to get done, and sadly whether it was me or those around me it always felt like I wasn’t doing such a great job.
I remember reading that research found that first-time fathers feel closer to their partner both as a co-parent and a romantic lover. I found this very interesting and so had to ask other mums that I knew if this was also the case for them. Almost all except one found the contrary to be true. I would argue in my own relationship that going from two to three has brought more challenges than positives. We argue a lot, sometimes due to fatigue, sometimes as the result of our different parenting styles and other times due to the lack of the normal structure he was used to. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I did have some resentment. Until today it feels to me that his life has not changed whilst mine drastically has. My partner does not seem to have the same worries about our child as I do, his time belongs to him whereas mine no longer my own and yet my son adores. It just all seemed a bit unfair to me.
With time I have realised that as your child grows the challenges associated with parenting also change. The greatest achievement for me was when I sleep trained my son. The first night I got a full night had been feeling like a different person. Everything around me felt different. This has taught me to not underestimate the effect sleep can have on the whole experience. The lack of sleep had affected me in more ways than I knew, it felt another thing I was robbed off and my partner not. I’m all for equality and this experience has evidence of the contrary.
I have learnt so much about myself and my partner during the first 10 months of our child’s life. As I reflect back on the experience, I think about what advice I would give my friends who are getting ready to start a family of their own. The first advice I would share is staying focused on what really matters, this will help you through difficult times. It is important to be flexible with yourself and be vocal when you feel things are unfair.
It also goes without saying be sure to notice when things are going right, praise yourself even in small achievements and make sure to be praising of your partner too.
*extract from The First Years – Now What
It is fair to say that I was really excited about the weaning process more so than most people as my son never took to the bottle. I had bought all the right equipment and I was determined to make all of my son’s food at home and put them in the fridge/freezer so we could be very efficient at mealtimes.
We hit the six-month mark and it was show time, we started him on apple sauce…. this didn’t go down well, at best he had one teaspoon and I was met with a tight lip, he was not having it. As it approached dinner time, I tried sweet potatoes, this was steamed and blended to a consistency that was close to milk so I had high hopes. Not surprising he was too excited about his meal choice that night. I was soon realising I had a very critical dinner guest. The irony was he seemed to have so much interest for my food so the following week I tried serving his meals in our normal bowls and funny enough he seemed to eat more spoonful of his meals. As soon as I felt like we were making progress, after three weeks, he went on a full food strike. Even his favourites could not get him to open his mouth. We were now back to fully breastfeeding and due to him being more mobile his requirement for milk was much higher and as a result I was always tired, like dead tired.
I decided to follow his lead and try small amounts of food every day. I bought him the small snack pouches and he would take a small sip. Slowly he was coming around to eating again. I felt some kind of relief as it worried me that nothing, I tried was working on him. As means of increasing his milk intake I bought a Doidy cup as advised by our health visitor. Sadly, this did not work for us and he was more interested in putting his hand inside the cup rather than having the contents in his mouth. If anything in life could teach me patience it would be the process of weaning. Fast forward three months and I am better luck, each time he eats his meals I honestly feel grateful and a sense of relief. If I could speak to the old me, I would say the following
1. Take it slow, the experience is new to the both of you, so it is better not to have high expectations
2. Your baby’s food consumption is not reflective of how good or bad you are as a mum
3. Keep trying, just because it doesn’t work the first 50 times does not mean that it won’t ever
4. Don’t pressure your child, I believe they can sense it.
5. Be ready for the mess that comes with weaning, the clean-up alone still takes me 45 minutes
6. Don’t batch make food until you know what your child prefers
The experience of weaning is different for every parent, the above is reflective of my own experience, please seek advice from a qualified practitioner when it comes to getting advice about your weaning journey.