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Birthday Boy

Henry had a brilliant first birthday. We spent it with loved ones, floating through a sea of new toys, and eating cake until the children were so hyper they started to resemble a tornado.

The jungle theme was brilliant, and the cake was a success! I spent the whole day before making it, but it was worth it. For my first attempt at a birthday cake of any kind, I was rather happy with it!

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I’m so chuffed that so many people came to celebrate with us too. We all had such a good day, and it just shows how many people love and care about my beautiful boy. He’s such a lucky little baby. I feel so proud of him!

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My baby is a toddler

Henry took his first steps yesterday, on Saturday 10th November, one week before his first birthday. I am so proud and so happy to witness it. More so because only myself and his daddy were present for the once-only event, and chances were stacked against us. We both work more than we spend with Henry. It’s not ideal – in a perfect world we could clone ourselves and get to experience everything – but it’s not an option at this time.

It does break my heart when I have to hand him over in the morning, but he’s in good hands and I know he is well looked after.

As for his first steps, I couldn’t stop smiling, looking at him toddling along, with a huge smile of satisfaction on his face. It was as if he’d all-of-a-sudden figured out the solution to the problem. He took at least 5 or 6 shaky steps before sinking to his knees and turning to us for approval.

We’re off to buy him some shoes today…

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The Birthday Plan

It’s coming up to Henry’s first birthday in less than two weeks. I can’t believe how quick this year has gone! I’ve heard it plenty of times, but you can never quite understand until it happens to your baby. He’s becoming a little boy rather than a baby, right before my eyes. In fact, it’s quicker than my eyes can keep up with!

I’m going to (attempt) to make him a cake, and we are throwing him a small party in a local coffee shop. There is going to be a jungle theme, and the adults are going to far outweigh the children. I think that is normal until they start school and begin to make friends of their own.

I have ordered various green, jungle-themed decorations, but it is definitely more for me as his mum than Henry himself. Everyone tells me ‘why are you bothering? He won’t remember’. But I want to be able to show him the photos and tell him about the celebration on the first anniversary of the day he made our lives whole. I can’t even put into words how much love I have inside me for that little man. So much that it threatens to burst out of me when he smiles at me or makes me laugh by pulling a funny face.

And he’s recently started growling and saying ‘tiger’, hence the jungle theme, and me trying to add tigers into all the decorations and the cake and cheekily making sure that Henry’s party bag is the only one that contains a tiger soft-toy…

Things we do for our kids.

Check back for an update of the day!

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Worst Advice

As a mum-to-be, a new mother, or even an experienced one, people tend to throw well-meaning advice at you from every direction. There are obviously those you will automatically pay more attention to; your own mother, the health visitor, midwives, doctors and alike. There is one bit of advice I’ve received from everyone I have ever spoken to about children, including strangers that stop you in the street to coo over the new arrival. It is to simply ‘enjoy it’.

You hear time and time again, ‘make the most of it, it goes too fast’ or ‘they grow up so quick’. This is very true, the last seven and a half months have flown by, and I’m sure it only speeds up. I sometimes catch my mother looking at Henry with an element of nostalgia, as if she wishes in some way that she was back there, with the baby me in her arms again. I know there is always another development to be proud of. If it’s not their first steps than it is learning to go poopy in the toilet or first day of school – all the way to first day of university or first job, weddings and grandchildren.

The only problem with being told to enjoy it all the time, is that I ended up being so worried about making the most of it that I forgot to actually enjoy it. It’s the same effect as having a camera at a live show, or on holiday. I’ve often found I get so wrapped up with memories that the experience itself is often overlooked. Spending too much time worrying about taking photos can lead you to only see life through a lens. Remembering to touch, smell, hear and feel is the key. Henry has such soft skin, such a beautiful baby smell, makes adorable little noises, and gives such amazing cuddles.

I think I’ve been overly obsessed with recording the present, for the future me to look back on. What would I really prefer though? A mass of photographs or one precious memory of the time I hugged him and he hugged back and we both knew we loved each other and that I made him feel safe and warm and he made me smile and I felt truly happy.

I am really enjoying it; looks like I took their advice after all.

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Bathtime Reinvented

We’ve recently decided that the baby bath, although saving water, will have to be retired. It has been used until we cannot possibly squeeze our little boy into it any longer. Henry was also beginning to get frustrated and unhappy in the bath, being so restricted, and I also was starting to struggle to bath him on my own. It was fine for when he was younger, because he didn’t wiggle as much and he wasn’t as strong, but now he splashes and squirms and a naked, wet baby is rather hard to hold onto.

So yesterday, we trundled off to Mothercare to purchase a new bath seat. Now, I looked carefully into all the options. I read the many reviews of the various types online, both good, bad and dangerous. The reason I decided against a swivel bath seat was because of the reviews that mentioned the underneath having rough, unfinished plastic. I don’t want Henry to be left with scratches down his chubby little thighs like a lot of babies have suffered with.

A more expensive option is the one we went for in the end. It’s called an Aqua Pod and at £29.99, it’s not exactly cheap, and you can find them second-hand for less I’m sure, but we wanted the ease of getting one right away. In my opinion, it was worth every penny. It basically is a little seat (but with no sharp plastic edges) with suckers on it attached to a bath mat. It has a handy little temperature guide that reads ‘too hot’ if the water is, well, too hot. The pattern is cute with little ducks on it, and it comes in either pink or blue. We sat Henry in it last night, for his first ‘big boy bath’. We loaded it with various bath toys including his new animal squirters, seal flips, some rubber ducks and stacking cups with holes in them and sat him in the seat. He squealed for a little bit, but probably just with the shock of it. Before long, he was reaching for his toys, splashing me with giant tidal waves of water, and having a whale of a time (excuse the pun).

I’m actually looking forward to bath time now; it’s finally at the stage of being an addition to playtime rather than just part of the routine.

And I’m sure Henry is happy about that too. He slept like a baby afterwards…

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Admired

I love taking Henry out and about with me. He’s just so lovely to have around; he’s the best company and he makes me happy.

I always get stopped by people admiring him and wanting to tell me how gorgeous he is. It’s lovely. What parent doesn’t want to hear that about their baby, despite already knowing that they are the most beautiful, handsome, adorable thing on this planet.

It doesn’t hurt to be agreed with.

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Keeping In Touch: First Day of Work

I had my first day back at work yesterday since having Henry. It was really hard to say goodbye in the morning, but once I was there, I had a great day. I missed Henry, of course I did, but when you’re busy it doesn’t feel as long as eight hours plus travel. It feels like two minutes, so it wasn’t as terribly awful as some people had built it up to be. I actually quite enjoyed it. I love my job, which is more than most people can say, and it was nice to have a break. I don’t feel guilty saying it, because after a day at work, I can come home and be a better parent to Henry as I’ve missed him so much. I want to play with him and cuddle him and change his nappy and feed him and do all the things I missed out on doing that day.

My other half did an amazing job being at home on his day off too. Not only did he keep Henry clean, dry, well fed, interested and happy, he also kept the house tidy, managed to take Henry out and even rearranged the furniture to make it more baby-safe. I think I’m marrying a superdad. He’s brilliant. Oh, and he cooked dinner (which was delicious!) and bought ice-cream for dessert. I could really get used to this. Maybe being a working mum isn’t so bad…

Besides, there is nothing better than walking in the door in the evening and seeing your baby playing happily on his daddy’s lap, smiling and laughing. Then he turns when he sees you and gives you the biggest grin in the world. In that moment, it’s perfect.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Swimming Success

We took Henry swimming again this morning, and with a friend joining us too. Henry adores other children and babies. He finds them fascinating and stares at them, attempting to copy their actions. He’s a baby with an inquisitive nature, and he learns so well in these situations. I really relax around other mums too. It’s nice to be with someone who knows exactly what it’s like.

And this time, unlike the less successful swimming session we had pre-wetsuit, Henry had so much fun! It was by far the happiest he’s been in the water so far, and the most animated he’s been. We held him on his back, floating in the water, and he splashed his little, podgy arms and kicked his chubby legs making massive splashes and laughing and smiling all the while. He loved it. He splashed himself with water then laughed about it. He’s never been like this before. It makes it so much nicer that he’s clearly getting a lot of enjoyment out of it, and it makes it far more rewarding for me. My persistance is finally paying off!

I don’t even dread going back next week. I want to go, I’m actually looking forward to it. Wow, I never thought I would say that.

And Henry didn’t even cry when we were getting him changed. A few little grumbles as he was being manouvered back into his clothes, but what baby doesn’t prefer being naked and free as nature intended? And nature obviously intended for Henry to be a little water baby… eventually.

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Benefits of Blogging; Reading the Archives

I started this blog thinking that it would be quite a nice record of my son’s development and a documentation of our life. I knew that I would enjoy writing it, but I never thought that the archives of my blog would be a source of comfort for me. I was reading the blogs I wrote when we first brought Henry home and how much I struggled in those early days. I’m not saying it’s easy now, it will never be easy again, but it isn’t a struggle anymore and I have really learnt so much. If I could give any advice to new parents that are worried about their ability to parent, it would be this; don’t stress about every little thing, and don’t think it will be like that forever. Babies, like adults, have good and bad days, and even one bad week doesn’t mean the next week you won’t be walking around town in the sunshine with your baby cooing gently, playing with his hands and making you smile. It doesn’t get easier, but it gets better. And far more rewarding.

I wish I could tell the me of five months ago these things. I wouldn’t have felt so guilty for asking for help when I needed it, and I would have enjoyed it a lot more! And my little bundle of gorgeousness is thriving, and I’m sure he still would be, whether I worried so much or not.

There is a lesson to be learnt here. One of many I’ve discovered since undertaking the most eventful, exciting and beautiful journey of my life.

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First Trip to the Zoo

For my birthday, my other half decided he would treat me and the little man to a day at the zoo. It was so lovely, doing something as a family, and Henry loved it. He was so interested in all the little animals, his favourite by far being the monkeys. They came right up to the glass, and Henry and the monkey were just staring at each other. It was so interesting for him, and he fell straight asleep after we left. He had worn himself out with all the new things to take in.

He got to see all sorts of animals; penguins, flamingos, beavers, otters, porcupines, mice, meerkats and lizards among other things. He also loves to watch other children running around and playing. It must be interesting for him, and important for him to know the world isn’t only full of adults!

There was also a sign on one of the enclosures saying ‘New Baby’ and it had details of a new baby monkey that was just four and a half months old. By coincidence, it was born on the same day as Henry. I had to take a picture.

I was thoroughly spoilt, with such nice gifts (including a huge Me To You bear from Henry) and lovely cards. We also went wedding ring shopping, and ordered our rings which is very exciting. I love doing things like that. And my partner cooked a delicious meal in the evening and a couple of friends came round. It was a very nice day indeed.

I never thought that I would be taking my son to the zoo for my 20th birthday, but it was so nice to do something we all enjoyed, and I’m sure Henry loved it, even if it was a little cold. I am rather lucky really. It makes me appreciate how much I have in my life!