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It feels like another life

Looking back on early photos is a very strange experience. Henry has changed so much in the last year that it feels like a lifetime ago. I remember back then, when he used to cry or laugh but no words would come out. I remember when we got really excited because he smiled for the first time. I remember these things as if they are fuzzy, like a memory that has been blurred with time. Although it has only been 17 months, things have changed so quickly that I have barely noticed the days whizzing by.

It is very strange to have a life so well documented, through photographs and blogging. Never before has a generation had such easy access to computers and cameras and other methods of capturing moments. Go back a few years and you’re lucky if you got one posed portrait. Go back a few more years and it was only the ridiculously wealthy that could afford a sitting with a portrait artist. But now, every moment is stolen, and edited, and posted…

My little baby isn’t a little baby anymore. He’s a little boy. He’s grown and grown and taught himself so much and he impresses me every single day with a new word or new skill.

I feel sad that it has gone so quickly, and I feel sad that I have missed so much of it, but being at work is important and more to the point, necessary. I wish I had the funds to be a SAHM at least until Henry goes to school, but alas, it is not to be. But at the same time, I am so proud of Henry and all he has acheived so far. When people moan about wanting their babies to stay babies forever, half of me understands. The other half, though, wants to tell them how annoying and ridiculous they are being – the alternative to growing up is not growing up and that is every parents’ worst nightmare. Nobody wants that.

So, my baby, my big boy, I will watch him grow with a smile on my face. I feel a twinge of sadness when I read the past posts of this blog, but then I remember, I was there with him, enjoying it at the time.

Henry's Mother the early days

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Breaking News: New Development

Henry stood up yesterday, without holding on to anything. I couldn’t believe it. He’s only just turned nine months last week, and he’s already capable of so much. The concentration on his little face was incredible. I could see his muscles tense in his whole body, wobbling slightly, trying to balance. He realised he was doing it without falling, and gave me the cheekiest grin as I stood there, mouth open wide in awe.

He’s just so clever. He waves really well now, and claps all the time. He said ‘grandada’ for the first time a few days ago too, adding to his list of words he says out of context but impressing us nonetheless.

It’s amazing how he’s growing so fast into this little boy I can’t help but be insanely proud of. It’s just shocking how much emotion one little thing can make you feel. It’s crazy how much love and pride can explode inside you, and I understand now when you get grandparents telling you stories about their beloved grandchildren. I can completely relate to all those parents whose first words to you after ‘Hello’ are ‘I have two of my own, you know,’ before launching head-first into a story about how they once did this and once did that.

And I can appreciate why you would feel the need to write about every little thing your pride and joy has achieved in an online blog.

Thanks for listening. What did your son or daughter do that made you smile with pride and love today?

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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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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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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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Duck Pond

It’s such a lovely, sunny day today that we took Henry out in his pushchair and took him to the park. We had a nice walk around the duck pond and over bridges and in the woods, bought ice creams and enjoyed the sunshine.

Henry loves being outside so much. Apparently I was the same as a child. It’s funny how he can be so upset indoors for some unknown reason yet as soon as we step outside he’s the happiest little boy on the planet.

I think we may have to invest in some National Trust memberships when he’s a little older. He’s going to be a nature kid. I’m glad. Better that than television and xbox. Little boys need the park and outdoor games, especially in summer. It will be lovely to take him to feed the ducks too. There’s so many things to get excited about now.

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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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Being Prepared for Weaning

I like to think I’m an organised soul, the state of my wardrobe would tell you different, but I am very attached to my Filofax. I love it so much, and it is so exciting when they release the new year’s diary. Or when I treat myself to an extra map or some stickers or even a new pen! Anyway, I digress…

As Henry is about to take the plunge into the wonderful world of baby purees, I have decided to prepare for the event. I don’t have the money for pre-made baby jars and more importantly I don’t want to give them to Henry on a regular basis. Making them myself means I know exactly what goes into them.

I’ve breastfed him exclusively for four months now. I’ve given him the best start I possibly could have, and I want to continue giving him the best. I know what it is like to struggle with weight issues, diets and sometimes having quite an unhealthy relationship with food. I don’t want Henry to have to experience any of that, and if I can start him on the right track, I’m surely going to make the effort to prepare him a few purees.

Jars only on the odd occasion, like a takeaway treat.

I’ve ordered the Tommee Tippee Explora baby blender, bought some lidded ice cube trays and freezer bags, dusted off my steamer and arriving in my Tesco delivery this morning is a whole bunch of fresh fruit and vegetables. Carrots, apples, bananas, parsnips, spinach, and brocolli to name a few!

I am very excited. As you can keep them for up to a month as frozen cubes of baby puree, I an going to start preparing some now. He is going to learn to love healthy food, and there’s no better motivation for me to be a little more careful with my diet than having a baby to take care of.

Not just for the here and now, but because I want to live a happy and healthy life so I can be there for Henry as long as I possibly can be.

This is, of course, a benefit of having Henry young.

So, it will be time to start making Henry’s dinners just as soon as the blender arrives. I’m very excited.

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Lonely Seaside Stroll

It gets a little lonely sometimes, after the first few months. It is just around the time when you settle into your new role as a cleaner/carer/caterer and general handyperson. It has been a long time since the other half went back to work. A week off just doesn’t seem right when you have a new baby, but technically (even if not emotionally) it only takes one person to look after a baby, so that’s just the way it is.

When on maternity leave, it is lovely to not have any professional responsibility for the time being, while you get to grips with parenting in the early stages. It does, however, leave you on your own most of the time. The days go by quickly and slowly at the same time. It’s an odd feeling, not going to work. I, like a lot of other lucky people, have never been unemployed. It takes getting used to. Not because I have a lack of things to do, the list of chores is never-ending, but because it generally involves being on my own with Henry. I never really used to do anything alone.

While your life stops, almost as if time is standing still, everyone else carries going to work, and having busy social lives. Unfortunately most of these plans don’t include me anymore. I’m not interested in going clubbing anymore, unlike most people my age. I get bored, the music is the type you can only appreciate when very drunk and I would rather spend the time with Henry, or sleeping.

So today, I decided to put Henry in his pushchair and go for a nice, long walk by the sea. It was such a lovely day and it seemed a shame to waste it. This adds to the list of things I’ve only done on my own since Henry was born, like going to Costa for a coffee, going out for lunch, and going shopping. All these things previously felt like group tasks.

At least I’m not entirely on my own. Henry is brilliant company for a four-month-old, and when he giggles, it makes me feel so lucky to have this special time with him.