The first 6 months 

Sam is 6 months old today. 

This time 6 months ago I was in a birthing pool, a mere 3 1/2 hours away from meeting our little gummy bear. 

I’ve often jokingly said that the weeks are going slowly, simply because I’ve been awake for nearly the whole time, but it comes as a shock to realise we are half a year in already. I look at the little boy in front of me and realise that this is the perfect description: little boy. To us, he seems more like a toddler than the newborn I assume everyone else still sees him as. 

At the moment he is bouncing away in his Jumperoo, happily blowing raspberries and chatting away…a standard Thursday afternoon really! Sam is such a smiley, giggly, happy baby (unless he’s tired or bored!) and is a joy to spend time with. He loves giving me ‘kisses’ (rubbing his dribbly open mouth on my cheek) and we often spend ages laughing at each other for no real reason. Sitting up properly has been my favourite development since his first smile and allows him to play without me either holding him or having to do it all for him. 

When Sam was born we had a lot of “The first 6/8/12/16 weeks are the hardest”, depending on who we spoke to and what their experience had been. While I don’t believe that parenting will ever be ‘easy’, the last 2 weeks have been a real step forward and I’m inclined to believe the one person who said that the first 6 months are the hardest. Our challenges will change and I’m sure my days will get much more full on as Sam starts moving around…but he is in his own room and asleep sometime between 6.15 and 7.30 only waking a couple of times before 6-7am, cluster feeding is a thing of the past, we no longer spend all day every day carrying him or having him sleep on us, the constant sick and wind are long gone, he accepts both bottle and breast…so many obstacles I thought we would never get past. 

These first 6 months have been a HUGE learning curve, but I’m learning to trust my instincts and to do whatever I feel is right. Gone are the days when I listened intently to others and followed what they told me to do, to the letter. Carl and I know our child best, we know what is worth trying and what will cause meltdowns or unnecessary hassle.

Here’s to the next 6 months and all they will bring – namely Halloween and Christmas outfits…I can’t wait!

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Life at home 

It’s an under statement to say that my days are different now I’m on maternity leave. Where once there was order, there is now chaos. Where once I had some element of planning, there is now ‘wing it’. Spreadsheets have been replaced with a bit of sick or baby porridge lingering on my top. Lunch is at whatever time Sam remains chilled in his jumperoo, swing seat or mat. My hair is generally in a pony tail or French plait (probably from the day before), rather than neatly straightened. Tea that once sat on my desk and went cold, now gets drunk while it’s still hot – aha, you weren’t expecting that one, were you!?

My days are harder, but at the moment they are so much more satisfying. I feel like I’m achieving something every day. This week, Sam has started reaching out a purposefully grabbing things; I helped him learn how to do that! He smiles when I enter the room or sing him songs; he knows and likes my face! He shakes his maracas; I’m helping him become a muso! He is starting to take a bottle; I did that! He blows raspberries in my face; I showed him that…oh…oops. 

And the list goes on. All these tiny little moments that become so big and important in a parent’s life. 

Today, I came across an article with the 10 thoughts stay at home parents have every day. Sam may only be just under 17 weeks old, but it is very true and made me smile.

The 10 thoughts of stay at home parents

Every day is different. At the moment, every day is hard work. But every day is worth it (although I may not agree with this sentiment sometimes!!). 

The beginning of a routine

No, we aren’t there yet, not by a country mile. What I’m going to share over the next…however long it takes…is how getting some kind of order into our life goes. 

So far, we have simply started by getting Sam up earlier in the mornings rather than letting him (and me!) have a nice long lie-in. 

This ruined our weekend. 

Sam was exhausted having suddenly lost hours of sleep. 

On Saturday he did nap during the day, but maybe too much. He was awake until 10pm, having first been fine, then got himself incredibly worked up and whinged solidly for about an hour while I rocked him to sleep. 

On Sunday we had our long awaited NCT reunion lunch. We got Sam up at 8am and he was happy as anything playing in his jumperoo with Carl. Fed and fell asleep on me at about 9.15…too early for a nap really but I didn’t immediately realise he’d stopped feeding to sneak one in! We left just before 12, after the next feed, and he slept for 15 minutes in the car, waking up about 10 minutes after arriving. This was the beginning of the nightmare. He is miserable when woken up and each time we managed to get him back to sleep, something woke him again. He basically cried for the entire lunch from 12.30-3.45 with short calm breaks for feeding or a brief nap. 

After a feed to calm him for the drive home, he slept in the car and woke up about 15 minutes after arriving back. Since he really was exhausted, I lay him on the sofa to do a lie-down feed. We both slept until 5.30…a 1.5 hour nap. Worst timing ever. After Sam’s bath, he pretty much cried until 10.30. It was like being in hell. 

Monday. Up at 8am and he happily played with Carl until 10. He then fed and, unusually, didn’t fall sleep. Presumably because I wanted him to. 

The yawning began. 

The rocking commenced. 

After half an hour of whinging, I popped him in the stroller and set off round Capel. He slept for an hour, only waking when a motorbike scared him (I left him outside after the walk). After a feed, we left to collect my sister and head for Polesden Lacey for a walk. When we arrived, Sam surprised me by tolerating the sling for a little while! However, he wouldn’t nap in sling, stroller or my arms, despite being tired so, by the time we left….loud shouty crying. I did manage to get him to take a short nap before bath time and, after the bath ordeal, he fed well and went to sleep by 6…

And woke up at 6.45. After a fair struggle (interspersed with smiles and a lot of fist sucking) he went back to sleep at 9. Better than his usual 10.30 anyway. 

I’ve learned the hard way that a baby who misses a nap they desperately need is going to be beyond miserable and so overtired that they can’t physically calm themselves to go to sleep. Also, changing his bedtime by 3-4 hours is not going to be quick, or easy.

This week is going to focus on getting him up earlier and helping him have proper naps during the day any way I can. 

So…it’s not a great start but it has to get better, right!? 

It’s 9pm on a Saturday…

…and in our previous life, we might be just getting dressed up ready for a meal or maybe even a boogie. This is all seems so alien now as I write this. 

It’s still light outside. Next door’s kids are still outside playing football, enjoying being young and having fun. It’s 9pm. 

We are in bed. All 3 of us. Carl isn’t feeling great so came up for a pre-bed nap earlier, but never made it back downstairs (unsurprisingly). Sam properly fell asleep after his feed about half an hour ago, so I took a chance and popped him in his cot. 

For once, for no reason (seeing that last night was hellish), I don’t feel all that tired. Every bit of me wants to clean and tidy up the house, get on with a project, read a book! But I’m learning…when it is possible – and especially before the night shift – for goodness sake, sleep when the baby does! If I stay awake, I’ll only kick myself when I come up at 10/10.30pm and no doubt get woken up within minutes of falling asleep (such is the unpredictable nature of Sam’s nighttime sleep). 

So, I feel wise and safe in the knowledge that I’ve made the right choice. Now I just need to fall asleep…

The first 12 weeks

The fourth trimester is over. 

I can’t even believe I’m writing this! 12 weeks…how the time has flown? Gone by in a haze? Left me in a continual state of shock? All of the above. 

I recall being told that the first 12 weeks are the hardest but that seemed such a long way off…it’s hard to believe Sam is 3 months old already. 

What I have learned is that babies definitely don’t do things on cue! I’ve been thinking about a few things I was told and compared to what is actually happening:

By 12 weeks your baby will likely have settled into a routineWouldn’t that be nice!

You may find your baby starts sleeping longer spells from 6-8 weekshmmm

Most young babies nap for hours during the dayDo they? Can I borrow one? 

Babies start teething from approximately 4 monthsI wish! Hello early tooth that is just sitting there making my baby grumpy, but not coming further through.

It really helps when your baby starts smilingSo true. That toothless smile will make life better when you’re awake – again – at 3am.

Your baby smiling when they see you will make it all worthwhileMelts my heart every time. 

All babies are different, so don’t worry about what yours is/isn’t doing – Correct!!