12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of being a mum

Somehow, my teeny tiny person is a year old this month. It seems like yesterday that I was panicking about breaking her every time I touched her, and it’s a little crazy to me that she’s gone from this tiny human on the left, to the cheeky monkey on the right that would rather eat cheerios than do anything else.

So, in the spirit of turning one year old, here are 12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of being a mum.

1. It’s ok (and normal) to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing 100% of the time

Let’s be honest, when you deliver a baby, they’re not born with a handbook too (though that would be super helpful). While everyone would like to think they do, nobody has the perfect formula for the ideal way to raise a child – you can only follow your instincts, do your best and listen to guidance from sources you trust. Don’t let people make you feel like less of a person if you’re unsure on the best way to do something, it’s perfectly natural.

2. While babies are fragile, they’re more sturdy than you give them credit for

When my daughter was born, I was so worried I was going to hurt her because she looked so fragile. In the months to come, however, I’d learn she was anything but. At 8 weeks old she was diagnosed with Pyloric Stenosis (you can read about that here) and had emergency surgery to correct the issue. It was a scary time for us, but it showed us that she was stubborn, and a born fighter. Since then she’s been learning to crawl, and she’s now walking. I’ve seen her fall (and bounce) so many times and been worried she’s hurt herself, but she just carries on like nothing has happened.

3. It’s ok to ask for help

Everyone needs a break from time to time. Being with your little person 24/7 is physically and emotionally draining, and it’s really hard to keep up with everything and keep up with them at the same time! If you read my previous post on being a disabled parent, you’ll know I have a lot to contend with at the moment, so this is probably the thing I’ve learnt most in the last year. Before I had my daughter, I was so stubborn and tried to do everything myself. I’m trying to be better at knowing when I’ve hit my limit and realising I need to ask for help before I burn out!

4. Cloth nappies are a game changer

This one was a major learning curve. Before trying out cloth nappies with my monster, I’d never come across them before! Thankfully, with some encouragement from Maria we got to grips with them fairly quickly. You can read Maria’s post about cloth nappies here.
It’s so handy knowing I’ll never have to run out for nappies in the middle of the night, it keeps the £££ down and they’re good for my little one’s sensitive skin. The prints are adorable, and that extra chunky butt is oh so cute. Plus, they’re good for the planet, so they’re a win win really!

5. Make time for yourself and your partner

This one is for all of you who are in a relationship. Make time to maintain that foundation, because you model your relationship every day to your kids. Even if it’s just half an hour at the end of the day, make sure you sit down and communicate properly with your partner. And for those of you who aren’t in a relationship – make time for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

6. Be your child’s advocate

This (along with my next point) has taken me a while to be comfortable with, but honestly it shouldn’t have. At such a young age, my daughter isn’t able to verbally communicate that she doesn’t want to do something, but as her mum I can tell when she doesn’t want to do something, and I need to be there to back her up. This includes not making her hug or kiss people when she doesn’t want to. You can read more on this on Harriet’s post on sex positive parenting.

7. Be clear on how you want to raise your child, and don’t compromise for others

If you want to discipline your children a certain way, make sure you’re clear about it with everybody who will be taking care of your child, because there is nothing more frustrating than teaching your child for six weeks that they cannot play with your glasses, only to look over and see someone handing theirs over as a chew toy.

8. Your house will never be tidy 100% of the time and that is ok

Everyone knows that if a baby is having fun, there is a high likelihood that they are making a massive mess! I love having a tidy home, but I love seeing my smiler having fun more, and I’d rather take the time to enjoy her while she is small and have a tidy house when she’s older (read:she can clean up as payback) and make some brilliant memories now. Plus, as soon as she’s gone to bed I hide her toys away inside the TV unit and suddenly my living room is tidy again. Who knew.

9. Take photos, but be present

I love taking photographs as much as the next person, and now that she’s learning to walk I’d love to get it on video, but I’d rather watch it happen in front of me rather than through a screen.  We do tend to limit screen time in our house; little one doesn’t watch television so is fascinated by the television in other people’s houses. In 2017, researchers at the Illinois State University and the University of Michigan Medical School published a paper funded by The Pennsylvania State University, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in which the conclusion was that parent’s excessive use of mobile phones can drive behavioural problems in children under 5. You can read the NHS’s assessment of the paper here. While the study has some issues, I did feel convicted when I read it and resolved to try and be more present in the day time when my mini me was up and about.

10.Be prepared or prepare to fail

I’m an organised person anyway, but since having a baby I find I have to be an organised person on steroids. If we don’t have a meal plan for the week, we’re in trouble and I fall behind. We have a column in our calendar for jobs, and I write the jobs I have to get done each day, even the basics like hoovering and putting a wash load on (which is a must if you’re keeping on top of washing cloth nappies). We have spare clothes, thermometers, every cream you can think of, bibs, bottles, and practically the kitchen sink in our nappy bag, but it’s better it’s spare than desperately needed.It may sound like overkill, and I feel like I make lists for my lists sometimes, but it keeps us afloat so something must be working!

11. Always carry snacks

There is nothing worse than being hangry. Hanger. Is. A. Real. Thing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, The Oxford Dictionary defines being hangry as

“ADJECTIVE – informal. Bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.”   

There is no shame in keeping a snack in the nappy bag for adults and babies alike. It sounds like such an obvious thing, but you’d be surprised how many people have been shocked that I keep food in there for me too. Try it. You’ll thank me.

12. Allow yourself WAY more time than you’d think to leave the house

This. Took. Some. Time.
Ask anyone who knows us, and they’ll confirm, we were at least an hour late for everything until baby was at least a month old. It sounds stupid because at that age, they don’t move around, but my goodness was it a challenge. I’d try and leave the house 47 times and realise I’d left something vital inside every single time. Somehow, even though it’s much tougher to get little one ready and dressed now (think crocodile wrestling) we’re rarely late. It’s taken us some time, but we’ve finally got there.
I honestly can’t believe that time has flown so quickly and my little miracle is going to be one in just a few days time. The last year has been tough but so rewarding, and she makes my day every day.
What did you learn in the first year of being a mum?

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ENDED:#RNW2018 – Reusable Nappy Giveaway!

***WINNER ANNOUNCED IN THE COMPETITION WIDGET***


Reusable Nappy Week happens every year and is a great time to get into cloth – not just because the warmer weather means quicker drying times. The popularity of reusable nappies is soaring (yay!) and during RNW each year there are special discounts with so many retailers and competitions for prizes of all sizes. If you’ve been thinking about trying cloth now is the time to give it a go!

We have teamed up with Ashford Cloth Nappy Library this Reusable Nappy Week to bring you the opportunity to win a large (9-12kg) Bambino Miosoft cloth nappy cover and two prefold nappies to use inside it. Please note, this competition is for UK entrants only.

 
#RNW2018 Prize - White hook and loop fastening Nappy Cover

If you want to try cloth and don’t know where to start, find your nearest nappy library here.

 
We would love for you to share but it is not a requirement to enter the competition. 

ENTRIES FROM OUTSIDE THE UK WILL NOT BE COUNTED.
Winner to be announced on Tuesday 1st May 2018.

#RNW2018 GIVEAWAY!https://js.gleam.io/e.js

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Mummies Waiting

Deciding to Use Cloth Nappies

When I first found out I was pregnant cloth nappies weren’t something I had even thought about, in my head they were hard work and prone to leaking. They were plastic pants, complicated folding, safety pins and buckets of poo-ey water.  I was so very wrong.  It’s easy, can be better for babies’ skin, better for your wallet and much better for the environment. It’s also really not as complicated as it can appear. You can read about the bare basics of using cloth nappies with TeamMills here
A friend of mine was six months ahead of me in pregnancy, actually not too far from giving birth when I finally had my positive test. She had started posting pictures on Facebook of the cloth nappies that she was buying for her little boy and they were seriously cute. It was not at all what I was expecting, so I started looking for more information and it wasn’t long before I found some figures showing how much money I would save which was a huge factor in the beginning. I was determined to save money and the idea of spending £10 a week on nappies was more than a little daunting.

Pop-in nappy
Close Parent Pop-in Lions nappy (ft. my son’s beautiful chubby leg)
I started researching cloth nappies and I soon found myself in way over my head; the vast amount of information out there about different brands and styles of cloth nappies can be incredibly overwhelming. It can be conflicting and sometimes biased towards companies that can pay more for advertising because their websites will come up first time and time again. At the time, I didn’t have access to a cloth nappy library near me and I had no idea how easy it was to buy preloved cloth nappies. 

Cloth Nappy Stash
My son’s nappy collection at its peak
I spent a few days solidly sat at my desk, reaching over my growing belly, trying to decide which nappies to buy. By this point I was about 80% sure I wanted to use cloth but I was (naturally) scared about making a relatively big investment before knowing if it really was going to be manageable for me. Spoiler – it’s totally manageable, even with my Fibromyalgia.  Ultimately, I made a fairly good decision on what to buy but not really the best for us – I decided to go with all one type of nappy that turned out to be a bit too big for my tiny newborn. In hindsight, I should have chosen a couple of different types and some smaller sizes.

But the decision was made and it was by no means a bad one, we just had to wait a while before we could use our gorgeous nappies. I have since started a cloth nappy library to help other parents use cloth and make their choice a little easier.  You can find your local cloth nappy library on this website: http://www.uknappynetwork.org/find-a-library.html  and if you don’t have one near you there is no reason not to contact whichever library is your closest for impartial advice, us librarians are a friendly bunch and a little nerdy about nappies – we’ll talk endlessly about nappies and most other reusable products to anyone who’ll listen.

 
Nappy Library
My son’s nappies and my first set of library nappies.
I will, of course, be writing more about cloth nappies in the future and writing some reviews (and maybe even hosting a giveaway!) but this was just a little insight into how I came  to the decision to use cloth for my little guy. 

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Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness

7 Actual Important Things all Pregnant Women Need to Know…

There are so many practical things no body ever told me when I was pregnant and I never even thought to ask  – You don’t know what you don’t know, right? 

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I see a lot of posts on this subject that focus on the funny side, about how everyone will see your nakedness and you won’t care, about how you’ll get used to being puked on etc etc.  This post isn’t that, there are so many practical things no body ever told me when I was pregnant and I never even thought to ask  – You don’t know what you don’t know, right? 
 
So, here is MY personal list of really important things that I should have been told, I’d love to hear yours in the comments!

1. Group B Strep 

It’s strange, I was asked several times on the maternity ward whether I was Strep B Positive and I always assumed that I must have been tested or they wouldn’t be asking (after all, they nicked enough of my blood for testing over the course of my pregnancy) I also assumed I must have been all clear or they would have told me. WRONG. It wasn’t until Harriet got her results that I found out what it is and why it is so crucial for EVERY mother to be tested in EVERY pregnancy. (Read her story here)
 

2. Your birth might not go according to plan

Okay, thats a pretty obvious one and I guess on some level we all know that but what I mean is that no one told me exactly what it was that could go wrong and how that might be resolved. Nobody prepared me for emergency procedures in theatre. I suppose nobody wants to scare a pregnant woman, well, I’m gonna do it. You might have to have major abdominal surgery. You might have to have your lady bits sliced and diced. Your lady bits might rip and you could lose a lot of blood. If you are pregnant I would strongly advise you to talk to your midwife (or relevant healthcare professional) about what you can expect if you need to have an emergency procedure. What the risks are, why they happen and what you have to sign when they thrust the surgical permission slip at you between contractions. It’s going to be easier to take that information on board when you aren’t 15 hours into labour and drifting in an out of consciousness.
 

3. Packing for hospital stays 

I see a lot of posts about hospital bag essentials. I disregarded most of them because they contain bluetooth speakers, tablets and essential oils. I packed a small bag of actual essentials (clothes for me, clothes for baby, nappies, sports drink, vaseline, maternity pads, granny pants, phone charger, hospital notes) which would have been absolutely fine if my birth had  gone smoothly and my son wasn’t crazy jaundiced. My poor husband was back and forth with clothes and supplies all week. He doesn’t drive so he was walking three miles to the hospital and three miles home (what a trooper). So, pack a bag for if things go to plan. Pack another, bigger bag for if they don’t. Oh, and hospitals don’t give you shampoo. 
 

4. Tongue tie (and other feeding issues)

This is a huge deal to me and I will be talking about it in more detail in another post soon. I did hear tongue ties mentioned when I was pregnant. ONCE. It was in the following context; “You can’t breastfeed a baby with tongue tie because they can’t latch to the breast”. This is possibly the single worst piece of misinformation I was given. My son had a tongue tie and he latched and fed, just not very well. None of the midwives or health visitors picked up on it and I had no idea what to look for. I was supported by amazing local services which are now facing massive budget cuts (see their campaign here) but I wish I had gone to see them when I was pregnant for some advice and again after my son was born before I was told that his behaviour was normal or that it was my fault.
 

5. Nappies

You are going to be changing a LOT of nappies. I decided to use cloth when I was pregnant but my dinky baby didn’t fit in them to start with. If I had realised just how many disposable nappies we’d get through in the first three months (around 900) I would have invested in some smaller sized cloth nappies. Obviously a lot of people told me that it would be a lot but the actual figures still startled me. If you’re in the UK you can find your local cloth nappy library here.

6. How and when to bathe a newborn 

This one was a source of panic for me from around 20 weeks. I asked at an antenatal class but I was shown with a rigid toy doll and no actual water so I was ill prepared. When I was presented with a mucky baby fresh out of the womb I had no idea if I should be washing the gunk off of him and how I might go about that. I avoided it for a while and picked the crispy bits of womb lining out of his perfect hair as best I could. He was eventually washed for first time at a week old by a lovely member of the maternity ward team who talked me through top and tailing. I still had no idea how to give him an actual bath so I just didn’t, for weeks. I’m still not 100% sure but if you’re concerned I hope you find comfort in the fact that it isn’t just you.
 

7. Dressing your baby 

How do you get those tiiiiny little vests over the head of a baby with zero muscle control? (Answer – you put the head hole under the back of their head and pull it gently over the top). As silly as it sounds, no one ever told me or showed me and I had not slept much so how was I to know? It took me a week to figure it out – luckily I have a summer baby. He lived in fully poppered sleepsuits most of the time. Also, everyone kept telling me I needed a going home outfit for him and that is a lie. I needed a clean sleep suit for him to go home in. I did pack an outfit but he was too tiny and I didn’t care one bit, I just wanted to get home.
 
I’m sure I’ve missed some because… well because my son is two and my brain is mush from all the parenting. As a bonus, I asked my husband what he wished he’d known. Apparently he’s quite traumatised. Here is his list:
 

Labour is terrifying

Seeing your partner in labour, in that much pain and not being able to help is awful. Seeing them in theatre and having to hold it together when you’re worried you might lose the woman you love and your child is the scariest thing. 
 

Babies are terrifying

How do you hold them with out breaking them? How do you change nappies? Dress them? Undress them? Put them in the carseat? Pick them up? Put them down? HOW?
 

The weight of the world is terrifying

Your partner just made a small human. She is in no position to do anything much so you’ve just gone from being responsible for yourself to being responsible for you, your wife and your baby… and all of the cooking and cleaning. Two weeks in and you have to work again. It’s a massive adjustment to make and it can be a little overwhelming.

The soft spot is terrifying

Every time you touch the soft spot you think you’ve hurt your child. Absolutely. terrifying. 

 


If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

harriet labour
 
 
sarah birth story
 
tongue tie
 
We are linking up to some of these amazing blog linkies!
 
Mummies Waiting

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

 

Cuddle Fairy