Our little girl took us by surprise and arrived two weeks earlier than anticipated which meant that I ended up missing my last day of work and starting my maternity leave earlier than expected. I was going to have a couple of weeks to get myself sorted and prepare for her birth whilst spending as much one on one time as possible with our son. As so often happens in life, events didn’t quite go to plan so I was left hurriedly buying some newborn sleepsuits on the way to hospital!
Looking back at the time around our son’s birth I feel I learned a lot from the choices I made in the early days, especially during my maternity leave. There are a few things that I would like to approach in a different way this time.
1. Invest in Decent Breastfeeding Bras and Clothes
When my son was born I only bought a few inexpensive essentials to get me through the six months of breastfeeding I intended to do. Those few items of clothing ended up lasting two and a half years. This time I will be buying a few more clothes so that I can feel at least a little more like myself and have a few more outfit options available as I now know that I am likely to be breastfeeding for at least a year. I will also be wearing the items that I bought over 3 years ago from Purpless and H&M as they are still going strong!
2. Keep Baby in Sleepsuits as Long as Possible
I look back at pictures of our son when he was a month or so old, dressed in little jeans with a shirt and shoes and I wonder why I did that. For a start, it was a lot harder to change his nappy but I now don’t understand why I was in such a rush to get him in ‘grown up’ clothes. This time I will be embracing the bodysuits and sleepsuits for as long as possible. Babies look so cute (and much more comfortable) when they are dressed as babies.
3. Make the Most of the ‘Nesting in’ Period
My mum stayed with us for 2 weeks before our son was born and a week after his birth. During her time with us she cooked, cleaned and took on all the household tasks so that I could rest during the last few weeks of my pregnancy and then spend some time recovering and bonding after the birth. After only a week following the birth, I sent her away because I felt I could manage on my own. I really don’t know why I was in such a rush to get rid of her and this time I will hang on to her for as long as I possibly can so I am able to spend as much time as possible getting to know our new little person and allowing myself time to rest and recover.
4. Co-Sleep from Birth
We had a Moses basket for 3 months with our son but it was a pain getting up for every feed to get him out of it. I then discovered the Bednest and rented one. This time around, I placed the order for our Bednest a couple of months before I was due. As chance would have it, I had ordered for it to be delivered the day after I started my maternity leave, which ended up being the day that our baby girl made an appearance. Read my review of the Bednest here.
5. Accept Help and Know When to Ask for it
I didn’t know many people in our local area when our son was born but I did begin to establish some new links by going to several baby groups. I am still friends with some of the other mums I met at this time and I feel that I have a much wider network of support this time around. I know that I can call on them if and when I need to. I also have my parents around should I need them, especially if one of us should fall ill in the early days, weeks and months after the arrival of the newest little one. It can sometimes be hard to ask for and welcome help but I now realise how important it is to do so in the early days when you need it.
6. Breastfeed in Public with More Confidence
After spending two and a half years breastfeeding our son I now feel that I can feed in public without a trace of embarrassment. Having said that, I wasn’t really embarrassed first time around but I was nervous about how other people would react, especially in the early days when I was finding my feet with something that was completely new to me. I think that this may be one of the reasons that levels of breastfeeding in the UK is so low. I can understand how feeling nervous about other people’s perception would put people off from feeding in public and breastfeeding in general. I now have a slightly different attitude. Whilst I won’t be wafting my breasts around wildly in public I will also not be ashamed or feel I need to hide away. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to look.
7. Stock the Freezer with Homemade Meals
I had intended to do this once my maternity leave started but as our Little Miss made an early appearance I have enlisted the help of my mum to assist in making some healthy and nutritious meals to stick in the freezer. I remember that it can be very difficult to find time to eat a meal never mind trying to prepare and cook something when you have a newborn. Throw a 3 year old into the mix and I can see in being nearly impossible. A well stocked freezer is a must and I have a feeling the slowcooker will be used on a frequent basis as well.
8. Make Things Easier for Myself
I will probably find this one of the hardest to do as it involves a large mental shift on my behalf. Like a lot of people I tend to place exceptionally high expectations on myself which adds unnecessary pressure to my life. There will be times when household chores have to wait and the house will not be as clean or tidy as usual and I need to accept that this is okay. It is a matter of shifting my priorities for awhile and deciding what is really important and what can wait. Food shopping can be done online and big jobs can be broken down into smaller, more manageable ones. It will not always be this way and as long as everyone is clean, fed and dressed then less important tasks can and will wait. I now know that this doesn’t last for ever and normality does return eventually so I can make the most of the time with my small people.
9. Not Record every Movement
I don’t know how it happened but I discovered an app for my phone that enabled me to make a note of everything our son did. Every time he took milk I recorded how long he had fed for and from which side, every wet and dirty nappy was noted down along with details of when he slept. I would obsess over the fact he had spent 3 minutes longer nursing on one side compared to the other or that he had two fewer wet nappies in comparison with the day before. I am definitely more relaxed this time around and I just don’t have time to keep track of every little thing like this, I can barely keep track of where my phone is these days!
10. Not Rush into Getting my Life back to ‘normal’
When I found out I was pregnant with our son I had been training for my first marathon so after his birth I was quite keen to get my fitness levels back as soon as possible. I didn’t rush back into running but I did start exercise as soon as I got the ‘all clear’ and was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes within a couple of months. This time I am definitely going to be taking things a bit more slowly although running around after a 3 year old may have the same effect. Along with this I will accept that ‘normal’ will be different for awhile as we find our feet with our new little person.
I now know that some time around the 2 year mark things do return to some semblance of normal. My social life will return, I may be able to run on a regular basis again and we will have found our own rhythm and routine to work around. In the meantime I am going to cherish the little moments with my small people.