Things I've learnt (or wish had I been told) in the past six months

yep that's right six months, don't ask me how that has gone past so quickly..
In my experience as much as you think you are prepared for a baby, the realisation is much different, something no one can really describe to you into you are living it. That being said I thought I would compile a list of things I wish I had known or that I was surprised to have learnt since Wilf was born.

Firstly, the whole time I was pregnant, the NCT classes, the pregnancy yoga, it was all about one big thing really THE BIRTH. That was going to be the hard bit, and once that was over? Well you had a baby didn't you, and then the fun begins.. Well for me the birth was the easy bit..what came after was the hard part and for some reason that had never crossed my mind.
I remember saying to my mum and the midwives during the end of my labour when I was knackered 'so when I've given birth can I have a really long sleep??' and they said 'yes'..liars!
To be honest, I probably could have slept that night, I know Wilf did..I just lay there totally high on the excitement of it all, just staring at him. The next day I felt fine, people kept telling me 'sleep when he's sleeping' and I'd say 'nah I'm not tired'. This went on for a week maybe? Then I crashed, the only problem is then, when I was tireder than I can ever possibly describe you cant sleep, you have a baby that needs feeding every 45 minutes and (in my case) a bad case of Mastitis...the realisation that I may never have a full nights sleep again was a shock..
I still haven't had more than five hours sleep in a row but its not as bad as it sounds, it slowly gets easier/you get used to it. I usually feel very refreshed in actual fact. People used to tell me when I was pregnant 'stock up on sleep now, you'll get none when they baby comes' and I used to want to punch them in the face (pregnancy hormones) how irritating!..They were right...how irritating!

There are two things I regret from Wilf's early days..one is a piece of advice I was given by the health visitor..she told me I could leave with for 2-3 hours before feeding him as he was a big baby. They advised me to do this so I could get some sleep and because breastfeeding was such a painful experience at the time. I followed this for about two weeks, I would lie in bed with ear plugs whilst Tom was downstairs with Wilf and still hear his howls of hunger, he was starving. In hindsight I don't think that was the right thing to do..the same health visitor told my neighbour (when her baby wasn't putting on weight after introducing solids) she should try and give him a fried breakfast...yer..I know!
The other is not asking for help with breastfeeding, I was too proud to admit to anyone other than Tom how hard and painful I was finding it. I wrote about that experience here. I'm so glad I stuck with it as I now rate it as one of the most amazing experiences and feeling of my life but I wish I had asked for help sooner.

I wish I hadn't bothered day after day to give Wilf Infacol which he hated and did nothing to help him with his wind. I wish I had focused more on baby massage and the cranial osteopath which did help.

People kept telling me 'it gets so much easier at four week/six weeks/eight weeks' when it didn't get easier at four weeks or six weeks I felt hugely depressed and thought it would never get easier. It did of course but in our own time (for us about 8 weeks and then tons easier at 12 weeks)

I was also told that you would fall madly in love with your baby at first sight. I loved him of course but that feeling intensified over time, it was about six weeks before I realised I would do ANYTHING for him.

I have learnt a Patience and selflessness I never knew I had.

I also have a confidence I never had before becoming a mum. Giving birth and raising a baby makes you feel like superwoman..and we are god dammit!

You will have time to get back into your old loves (for me illustration/blogging) but little by little. You can work a lot around having a baby

Be very wary of any baby trainer type books. That way never leads for happiness, all my friends who were given such books (ahem ahem Gina bloody Ford) spent the entire time trying to do her stupid routines and ended up incredibly miserable. Routines are fine as long as they go with your and your baby's natural rhythm and gut instinct (or so I think).

On that note ALWAYS go with your gut instinct, there is nothing stronger. I am slightly distrustful of Doctors and health visitors for many many reasons (I'm sure there are many good Dr's but unfortunately I have only ever come across two in my 26 years of life).

Also if possible I would join an NCT class during your pregnancy, not only are the classes good I think the network of friends that has been created from them has been invaluable. We meet up at least once a week and I know they are going through the exact same things as me..and keep me sane!

We always intended to Co-Sleep and so Wilf never used the moses basket (our cats thought it was a lovely new bed though!). When I was pregnant I thought this would a decision that would be controversial and that we would have to defend. In all honestly pretty much all the mum friends I know slept with their newborns for some amount of time even in they were dead against it in pregnancy! There are many reasons why this is a more practically option, especially if you are breastfeeding. 

I found Twitter very helpful in my early weeks of breastfeeding, Wilf would take 45 mins or so to feed and so chatting to other sleep deprived mums did make me feel less alone. We used the hash tag #twitterbabyclub which I think is still going although as Wilf got older I used it less and less as thankfully he now only takes 5 -10 minutes to nurse in the night!

Also if you have a smart phone, download 4od and Iplayer..I used to go to bed at 8 and watch 'The Hotel' at 3am, which was actually quite fun!

Products I have found useful

I wish someone had told me about breastfeeding pillows, 'my brest friend' was a life saver for me but if I had known earlier I would have got it second hand and not bought it full price in an emotional panic.

Buy reusable breast pads, not particularly for the environment but more for you wallet!You will go through so many, I wish I had know that earlier on. If you are getting disposable go for Johnsons Nursing Pads they are ten times softer and less itchy than all the others (I think I must have tried them all!)

I wish someone had given me the 'what mothers do' book sooner so I didn't get SO depressed about the housework/cooking. On that note two books I found helpful in my pregnancy were 'Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering' by Dr Sarah Buckley and 'Spiritual Midwifery' by Ina May Gaskin

We use reusable cloth nappies during the day and a disposable at night or if we are going on long journeys. We started off with some 'tots bots' given to us by a neighbour. They were the type that include a towel nappy and then a separate plastic cover, we didn't get on well with these and so stopped using reusable for a while. My friend Sarah recommended Bum Genius and they are amazing, we have about 20 nappies (some we bought new and some second hand) as they are birth to potty nappies we wont have to buy anymore now and we probably only spent about £150 in total on them. We use Boots own brand liners which last us about two months and cost about £2. With the disposables we use 'Nature Babycare' and probably spend about £6 on a pack which will last us about three weeks or so. We also use Nature Babycare wipes. I read somewhere that even taking into account the cost of running a washing machine that using cloth nappies will save you £500 a year.

We use Burts Bees baby range for bath time which is a little pricey but lasts a long way, we have only recently ran out out of the bubble bath and the shampoo is still going strong!

Wilf has only just started to try foods but we have found these 'Nibbler's' useful for filling with fruit and letting Wilf suck on.

We have only just started to need these but since baby boy discovered his feet he loves pulling off his socks, so these 'Sock On's' are great!

I use Ecover products for all our washing/cleaning I feel a lot better knowing that I'm not using any terrible chemicals around the house or in the clothes Wilf wears. 

Well I think that's it as far as I can think! I would love to know what you found useful/learnt in the first six months of being a parent! xoxo


I am still on my holidays but I scheduled this to mark Wilf being six months old today!


MademoiselleG said...

What a sweet little one! Congratulations!

Diane said...

What a fabulous post! I will definately be adopting some of your helpful tips! Thanks - First time mama-to-be (Diane) x

Laura said...

This is a great post. I'm also a new momma - my little man is 2 months old so although i'm not QUITE as qualified as you yet, i can definitely empathise with a lot of your points! Currently trying to get back into the blogging scene - it's great to see other young mums out there with similar interests.


Lil said...

Reading over the last six months its struck me how carefully you have always thought things out,tried stuff,adapted if somethings not quite right and watching your confidence grow has been amazing,with the added bonus of all those pics of Wilf of course ;) your joy in him is a joy to read about ;)

the first six months!!,it seems so long ago :(

now, watching my daughter travel ( USA with school my stomach was in knot for ten days lol),seeing her through the dramaz of her first serious relationship, plannning uni etc has been bittersweet but Im sure the choices I made during her early years went towards making her the confident,happy young woman she is today.

so heres to the adventure of the next six months of Wilf!!!xxxxx

breadandbutter said...

It's amazing how much you learn in the first 6 months huh! Things that you stress about, you realise that there was no need to etc.

I breast fed for the first 10 months on demand. There were many days when I was feeding more than not. I even kept a log book for the first few weeks, and its so funny to read back! I stressed about me feeding him too much and picked up the dreaded Gina Ford book which i recommend NO mother to ever read. Its stressed me for weeks (i had a baby that fed whenever he wanted which was at least every hour and a half, and he never napped unless i fed him to sleep and held him) I basically did everything Gina said i shouldn't and made me feel like i was a bad mother.

13 months on, and it has all worked out. I fed Silas until he wasn't fussed about me feeding him. He went straight to beaker. He's been sleeping through for the last 2 months too. Feels like heaven! I stressed about that too.

I've basically learnt to just go with the flow. Don't read too many books or worry about what other babies do, they all get there in the end.

Food too stressed me massively (mainly the health visitor though) Silas refused lumps until about 10 months (HV warned he'd be a fussy eater if i didnt force him to eat lumps!). I stopped seeing Health Visitor and just went with what Silas wanted. He now eats everything, lumps and all :) and has a strange obsession with pink grapefruit!

Great post :)

Fi Peacock said...

This is such a lovely post! That sounds awful about the ear plugs, I bet that was really hard for you all. Bloody health visitors and their nonsense advice! xxx

Cathy said...

Lovely post Fritha. I have really enjoyed following your journey since we met at the P&B shoot. My daughter was born two days after Wilf so I really enjoy reading your experiences.

I can't agree more with your point about trusting your instincts. It takes confidence to listen to yourself, not over-think or over-analyse, and often as new parents we feel anything but confident, but like you I have always gone with what my gut tells me, and so far it seems to be working.

I read Gina Ford before I had my daughter and I have to say, I thought some of what she advised made a lot of sense, but you can really tell she doesn't have any children of her own. I think the key with books like that is to remember that they are only a guide and you don't have to follow them to the letter! Some parts of them can be helpful. I really enjoyed The Baby Whisperer books, which also advocate a structured, but flexible, routine. This approach has worked extremely well for us, but I can't say I've followed it to the letter. Every baby is different, after all.

I have found a combination of having useful books to refer to, and trusting my own instincts, has been the best approach for my daughter and I.

I have also been interested to read about your experiences of co-sleeping. We made the decision not to co-sleep, as we did not feel it would suit us as a family. The little one shares our room, but not our bed, and I also made the decision not to allow her to sleep on me or my husband, but to have her sleeping in her own crib (now cot) from the word go. We have stuck to that and I feel it was the right thing to do for us, but I have been really enjoying seeing how you are finding co-sleeping and I'm glad it's working well for you.

It's amazing to think our children are just two days apart, and how different they are and we are, but at the end of the day we both have happy, healthy, gorgeous babies, which just proves once and for all there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach and different methods of parenting can be equally effective. It all goes back to going with your instincts.

Finally I really enjoy your blog because you are very open and honest about your choices, and you have strong beliefs about parenting, but you manage to express these whilst respecting that others take different approaches and make different choices. Keep up the good work, here's to the next six months. Next year I hope to see this blog up for a MAD Blog Award :) x

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@Diane congrats! hope it was useful!

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@Laura, I'll have to take a peep at your blog now, dont worry if you are not finding time at the moment, it will get a bunch easier in a month or so (or so I found) and congrats! x

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@lil aww thanks Lil thats so sweet of you! I've really appreciated all your comments on here! It must be so hard to let them go and start their own life, I cant imagine! xx

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@breadandbutter, your experience sounds so similar to a friend of mine and is why I guess I have such a aversion to the woman! And yes, unfortuantly I think whilst there are wonderful HV..a lot are box tickers and cause unecessary stress! Thanks so much for sharing xx

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@Fiona yes I feel hugely guilty for that and in hindsight have no idea why I listened to them..I blame hormones! xx

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@cathy Thanks so much for this comment! You are totally right re: parenting books, I thought that actually reading back that its not so clear, you can take bits from each I guess but the problem is when people try to follow them to the letter. I read some attachement parenting books when W was about 3 months, mainly to validate some of the things I was doing already and whilst I agreed with a lot some of things I didnt and if I had wanted to follow it completly would have stressed me out!
I'm very touched by what you said in that last paragraph, I really hope that is what comes across from my blog. I often worry people thing I'm being preachy with the things I say when in actual fact I am very open to others ideas I just have my own too which I care about. (urm I think that makes sense? you wrote it better!)
I also love hearing about Cherry on twitter as like you said we both have different ways of bringing up our babies, but unlike some mums I never get the impression that you are trying to imply the way you do things is right or being boastful. So whenever I hear about how you two are getting on I feel genuinely happy! Well I've just come back from a long journey so I hope some of the above reads well. Glad to have met you at P&B all that time ago!! xx

Coffee and Cat Hair said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coffee and Cat Hair said...

Only just catching up with my blog reading so have only just seen this lovely post!

It is true, you can prepare all you like for a baby, but you really do learn on the job!

I think the biggest lesson I've learned since Pip was borf all is n was that the best parenting style osimply to follow your instincts. I was told this so many times while I was pregnant that it actually lost all meaning, but it's the one piece of advise that's held true.

Wilf looks like a very happy and healthy little man Fritha, nice one love. Here's to the next six months and all that they will bring!


Eleanor said...

I agree about bumgenius nappies - they are simply the best! I've got some fuzzibunz but they just aren't half as easy to use or good and I only use them when I've run out of BG!

Just thought I would share this that I just found out on a forum I was reading - apparently it's not good to use Ecover detergent to wash Bumgenius nappies because it repels. I also use Ecover and Method for everything but I have now switched to using non bio powder to wash nappies. Here's the post where someone got a letter from the makers to confirm this:


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