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So you want to have another baby?

It has been on my mind lately, since a few friends have announced/had second children, and it is getting to the point where I miss some parts about having a newborn. I came across this post by A Baby On Board and it seems we’re not the only ones debating it – so when is the right time to have another child?

There are of course practicalities that need to be considered. Childcare cost doubled is not a prospect we would welcome right now. As is finding another house to live in when we’ve only just settled where we are. I don’t think I could have another baby without an extra bedroom though…

There’s also the prospect of going back to sleepless nights again, just as we have gotten into a lovely routine of actually getting a full night’s sleep every night! I’m not in a hurry to give that back. Also, I know a lot of women love being pregnant, but I hated it. I think I had every symptom under the sun, so by time he arrived I didn’t even feel human anymore, let alone ready to parent a newborn. I really don’t like the thought of going through that again, but it could be different with the second. It could be a whole lot better.

It could also be a whole lot worse.

Henry is a lovely child. He makes it easy for us. He’s good at routine, he likes his sleep, he’s been ready to experience new things and will fit in with us easily. I’m worried that the next won’t be as accommodating. Although, I have said “It’s all worth it” so many times about Henry that I really shouldn’t be put off.

Henry & his best buddy - he thrives on interaction with other children.

Henry & his best buddy – he thrives on interaction with other children.

I don’t want there to be a massive age gap though. I like having Henry in toddler-stage so that we can do more with him, enjoy him more and really get to know him as a person, not just a poop-making-machine. I am enjoying being a mother more now than I did in the first days. I guess you know what to expect more with the next too. It won’t be such a terrible shock. I remember clearly thinking “what have we done?” and wondering why anyone ever did it more than once.

Now here I am, not even two years down the line, thinking about if there ever will be a ‘right time’?

So did you always know what age gap you wanted? Did other things get in the way of your plans or are you still debating it?

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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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Petits Filous and Foodie Foodie

Henry had his first Petits Filous today. It was strawberry, and he just couldn’t get enough. His little mouth stayed open, and he was even diving for the spoon. You wouldn’t know he had just had breakfast an hour ago.

He’s firmly on three meals a day now too. Hungry little baby.

I’ve also bought a variety of fruit an vegetables to prepare for him to try. He’s had a lot already, but this time will be mango, avocado, papaya, butternut squash and sweetcorn on top of his already long list of foods.

I wish I had been less stressed about weaning. Before the whole process, I really didn’t know what on earth I was supposed to do, or when to do it, or how much. But I’m happy, and more importantly Henry is happy, with how it is progressing. So now I can stop stressing and just be comfortable in the knowledge that it will happen, and whether I feed him carrot or parsnip first really isn’t important…

It’s hard not to get a little anal about the details though. The amount of conflicting advice out there can really make you doubt yourself and your instincts. I end up following charts and other people’s schedules instead of thinking what is right for me and my baby, which is really quite dangerous. I just need to remember that the advice in books and on the internet is always quite generalised, and doesn’t necessarily apply to me.

A really good guide for weaning though, as I’ve found has a good structure to begin with, is the Cow & Gate 5 step weaning plan. I got it sent to me in the post, as I’ve been signed up to their baby club ever since I found out I was pregnant and went crazy signing up to everything.

It clearly sets out a guideline of what to feed (and what not to feed), and is a reminder of what you are actually aiming for. The whole point of the exercise can easily be forgotten when you are up to your eyes in sterilising fluid and bibs. You eventually want your baby to be eating three meals a day, progressing from milk to simple purees to lumps to solid food. And there was me worrying about whether or not he’s too young for this and that.

I’m very happy now, though, and I wouldn’t think twice about doing it all again! It has to be easier second time around, right? Apart from the fact you have two, of course…

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My Trainer (Every Girl Needs One)

I went to go and see a personal trainer yesterday evening, as my parents agreed to look after Henry for an hour or so while I nipped down to the gym. She specialises in pre and post-natal fitness, and words cannot describe how great it feels to know that what you are doing is beneficial rather than harmful to your recovery.

I, like a lot of women out there, didn’t have a clue where to start on getting back the tone in my stomach muscles. I also didn’t know what I could and couldn’t do in regards to which exercises I could safely participate in. Apparently, I’ve been doing it all wrong. But better I know now then a few months down the line when I’ve done serious and permanent damage.

It makes me wish that I had kept up doing something like swimming or antenatal exercise classes (such as pregnancy yoga) so I didn’t have to fight so hard now. But finding the energy and the time is rather difficult. Especially if you had every pregnancy symptom under the sun like I did. Being sick, having horrendous heartburn and falling asleep constantly doesn’t really leave you in the best mood to go for a workout.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt though, it’s that all the images you see in the media are ridiculous. You know the type; the celebrities that have had a baby two weeks previously and are back in the gym, or in a bikini on the beach being idolised for returning to a size zero so quickly. It’s dangerous, damaging, and completely unnatural.

I will get back to how I was, eventually, but it will take time and hard work, and I will just have to make peace with the millions of stretch marks and put up with the jelly tummy for the time being…

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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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Addicted to the Boob

Henry’s been really good today, but tempting him with formula milk has been harder than I expected. I naively thought that the big hurdle would be getting him to drink from a beaker, as he refused the bottle from a very early age. After successfully drinking cooled boiled water from a beaker, I moved onto trying him with formula milk in the sterilised beaker. Yesterday, he started drinking it, frowned and then cried until I gave in and continued to breastfeed him. Today though, he has done better. He drunk just over three fluid ounces, which is a big difference, even though he frowned at me as if he didn’t like the taste. I’m sure he will get used to it though. It will make things so much easier for when I return to work.

I know that continuing to breastfeed while returning to work can be done, but it requires dedication to the cause, and I have been wanting to get him onto formula milk soon anyway.

I think it is a comfort thing as well as the taste, but I still plan to carry on first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

And he has been doing really well with his weaning. He had apple for breakfast this morning, and sweet potato for lunch. He’s learnt so quickly how to eat off a spoon and swallow solid foods. I’m really impressed at how easy that was, especially with all the advice floating around about needing to persist even when the baby doesn’t like a certain food, or pushes it all out of his mouth again. We didn’t really have any of that.

Clever Henry, I’m just so proud.

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Continued Weaning, New Tastes

We tried Henry with apple today, and he absolutely loved it. I don’t think we are going to have much of a problem trying to get Henry to eat new things. We’ve also given him a little formula in a beaker as he refuses the bottle now, and he drunk a bit of it. I’m going to try him on it every day, and see if I can get him to replace a daytime feed with formula, and gradually build up to only breastfeeding at night and first thing in the morning.

If this goes well, it will give me a little more freedom, so Henry can be babysat in the day. I might even be able to get my manicure that I was supposed to get as a little anniversary treat nine months ago…

He was a little upset afterwards though, and was fussing for the breast, but he will learn if I just keep at it, at the same kind of time each day. I feel guilty when he gets upset, but it’s best for the both of us to get him used to this now, rather than it be a big shock when I go back to work.

And it’s not like I’m giving up breastfeeding entirely. Combination feeding works well for a lot of working mothers, as well as a way to wean him slowly off the breast. It’s funny how most of the time (or when I make any big changes like this) I really want someone to follow me around and confirm that I’m doing the right thing. I guess it’s natural to want the best for your baby though, and I shouldn’t feel guilty choosing what is right for us. Besides, I’m probably stressing a lot more about everything than Henry is. He’s just happy playing with his soft toy zebra, and practising rolling over.

Which he is getting unbelievably good at. I will have to watch out or he’ll roll right into trouble.

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Different Tastes and the New Highchair

Henry has had carrot for the past couple of days, so I decided to introduce him to some parsnip today that I prepared earlier in the week. He loved it, and kept opening his little mouth for more. He is getting the hang of eating off a spoon a lot quicker than I expected him to. Yesterday he even grabbed the spoon off me and put it in his own mouth. I guess he really was ready to start weaning then. I hate all these guidelines that don’t take into account that every baby is different. I should really remember this and use my instincts and the advice from our personal health visitor over the governments guidelines in future.

We tried him in his new highchair that came this morning too. We bought a purple snack highchair from Kiddicare, and it is brilliant. Under thirty pounds and it does the job. They have a lot of the same highchair but with different designs, all for £29.99 too. I chose the purple one because it looks rather nice and it matches our rug and curtains as well…

I should make up some more food for him, as it is so much easier just to get out a little cube of puree from the freezer. I’ll make some more carrot and parsnip batches, and try some sweet potato, then apple next. It’s all very exciting. I’ve been using my new Tommee Tippee explora food blender as well. It works so well, and I am really glad I got it. I don’t have the space to store a full-size blender or food processor in my kitchen. Also, from experience, I know that they tend to just get left in the box most of the time until one day you feel like making a smoothie or a soup and then afterwards, realise that it’s just made a whole lot of mess to clean up when you could have just bought a carton from the shop for a few pounds.

Anyway, it is lovely and small. It’s just the right size for making batches of baby puree to freeze, small enough to leave out on the counter inbetween the toaster and the kettle, and it doesn’t make too much mess. It is also really easy to cold-water sterilise in a bowl of Milton solution.

I am glad that I haven’t gone down the ‘pre-made baby food in jars’ route. This has got to be so much healthier, and cheaper.

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First Food!

Our family nurse/health visitor came round to weigh Henry again today, and check-in to see how we are all doing. Henry now weighs 14lbs 10oz and is still right on track. We told her about Henry waking up again for feeds, wanting to feed all the time and all the other ‘signs’ to begin weaning that he has given us.

So, on her advice, we decided to start giving him solids. I made a massive batch of carrot puree (and parsnip seperately for later), and we started to feed him a little today. He loved his carrot. When the first spoonful touched his lips, the concentration on his face was immense. It was like a whole new world had opened up to him. Before long, he was opening his mouth as wide as he could for more, and slurping it all off the spoon. He didn’t even do that thing I was expecting of him that most babies do, when they push it all out again with their tongues. He only had a little, as it was his first try and we didn’t want to overdo it, but he was very happy to eat more.

I’m excited to carry on doing this. I’m so glad that it went well today, especially after the disasterous swimming episode earlier.

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Crying in the Swimming Pool

I took Henry swimming again this morning, on my own this time, and he hated it. I don’t really know why, but he was fine while I was getting him into his swimming nappy. He was even giggling at me, and I thought that maybe he actually knew what was coming and was even looking forward to it. I was wrong.

As soon as I dipped his little body in the water, he screamed and screamed. I managed to calm him down a little - just long enough to have a lovely conversation with a grandma and another mum taking her daughter swimming – then Henry decided enough was enough and wanted to get out. We had only been in the pool a matter of minutes. He got himself in such a state that the lady that worked there advised me (politely but leaving no room for debate) that I should just try again with him next week. I know I shouldn’t be, but I was so embarrassed. It is going to take a lot of courage to go back again, because every single set of eyes in that crowded swimming pool was on me as I took my screaming baby on the ‘walk of shame’ out of the pool and back into the changing rooms.

I had to feed Henry in the changing rooms, not because he was hungry but just to calm him down. He went bright red in the face, and I’m sure that he hurt his little throat from all the screaming. It was quite a challenge trying to get myself dressed while holding him as he just wouldn’t let me put him down. Anyone would think he was really in pain or something by the way he was crying the poor little baby.

I’ll just try again next week I guess, except I will take my other half with me for moral support. I can’t be put off by one bad experience. I’m also going to buy him a little baby wetsuit so he doesn’t get so cold. The water did feel rather chilly compared to last time, and my Henry does love his little luxuries… I think that might be why he was so awfully upset. Hopefully it will be warmer next time. If not, I’m going to a different swimming pool.