It’s been almost three weeks since Baby Gray made her entrance into the world! Life has been very different, it took me four attempts to watch the latest Game of Thrones, in just as many sittings, I have no idea what’s going on in world news, but she’s perfect and healthy- I wouldn’t change it for anything!
I am learning so much everyday- but when reflecting on the last couple of weeks.. these things stood out:
1. It is possible to feel invincible and inadequate at the same time:
I did not have what some would call a ‘normal’ labour. It’s a story that deserves more than a bullet point, but it was quick (33 mins) pain free (yes, really!) and I did not know I was in established labour until the little ones head was almost already out, together with the waters. I had been walking, talking, and chowing down in Pizza Express to celebrate my sisters birthday, all the way through contractions! I went from 2cm to 10cm dialated in about 20 mins; and was given gas and air only after Baby Gray was already half way out for shock that it all happened so quickly. A certified and official SVD. My body told me what to do, and I listened. I felt like I could do anything after the birth! I honestly felt invincible, yet less than 24 hours later, on my way home.. I looked at the weeny one, and the overwhelming sense of responsibility, coupled with questions of whether I would do a good enough job raising her, was enough to have me in tears!
2. You WILL become a paranoid freak:
I was told on the very first night you’re with baby, you automatically turn into a paranoid freak, periodically checking whether he/she is breathing, waking up in the middle of the night just in case they may be too hot/too cold. Yes that was me! However since, I have had one other major episode of paranoia. I woke around 2am (on day 4) thinking an old drunk man had infiltrated our security system and had made his way to the side of my bed, snorting, grunting loudly whilst passed out in a heap. To my horror, I discovered it was Baby Gray struggling to breath and without a moments thought I grabbed her, grabbed my coat and headed straight for A&E! The triage nurse told me it was NORMAL.. (hello?- can you hear her?) ‘It’s your first baby isn’t it? Well it’s just a build up of vernix from when she travelled down the birth canal.. we used to pipette it out out of their nostrils, but then realised it causes more trauma for the baby, so we leave it..’
Unsatisfied with her diagnosis she asked if I wanted to see a pediatrician ‘for piece of mind’. It was quiet, she was available so I agreed, only to be told the same thing. Pediatrician: ‘This is your first baby, yes?’ (Yes!! But even if she was my 8th.. the fact that she seems to be struggling to breathe would STILL be a concern!) A thorough check-over showed there was nothing else wrong with her, so I was sent away with a recommendation to buy saline drops/spray. Two squirts and she was breathing normally the following day!
I laughed when I first saw these rear view mirrors (for the car) available online: Which fool would be paranoid enough to buy such a random contraption? Me it turns out! I can see her- in time she will see me and all will be well with the world. #Paranoidparentantics
3. Overall the NHS is amazing:
Home visits, follow up appointments- you REALLY are not alone. Some may find it intrusive (I have to admit the fact there are so many so I was missing out on lie-ins bugged me) but they are only there for yours and baby’s welfare. Referrals to local services including breastfeeding clinics, PND support and more are all available to make sure baby (and you) are doing well post partum.
4.Thinking you smell like an abattoir is normal:
You don’t actually smell like an abbatoir- but you feel like you do! It’s gross, no one talks about it- I lambasted my mum for not telling me that you can bleed for up to 6 weeks after giving birth. No biggy.. except this is no ordinary bleed.. you spend 9 months growing the little one AND their respective home, so it’s all got to come out.. A good friend of mine had bought me Tena pants and snuck them into my hospital bag.. I literally thought it was a joke, because I might ‘leak’ a little when I coughed or laughed post birth.. No leakage, thanks to doing a silly amount of kegels* (even now) but those pants save your nice undies, were great at night and were the best ‘present’ I could receive at the time! A relative has since told me that the population would die out if every pregnant woman revealed EVERY awful thing that happened during the 9th month gestation.
5.Breast feeding in public isn’t as scary as you think:
If Baby G was a screamer, there is probably no way I’d be brave enough to take her out as much.. but as she currently a pure delight, even when wide awake so we’ve managed lunch at Wagamama, Costa, GBK, Satori and Harvester, plus dinner at my favourite Indian restaurant, with no issues at all. All the negative press about breastfeeding in public made me think it would be the most uncomfortable experience, but the law is on breastfeeders’ side, I have a good cover, but more importantly when your little one needs to feed, what other people might think becomes the last thing on your mind.
It definitely also helps to make things easier if your clothing is breast feeding friendly! I’ve tried a few brands that have ‘hidden’ slits, wrap dresses and nursing vest tops, and these may be great for other people, but for me buttons are working best!
Shortly after giving birth I went to get measured properly for a nursing bra. I had bought a couple of cheap nursing bras from Primark until the milk came in- as you have no idea what size you will be until then. So far I’ve found Mothercare’s ‘Blooming Marvellous to be the most comfortable and the best value for money. Their staff were also professional and beyond helpful (even though I forgot my pads and was leaking) #fail : The nursing bras from Primark were shockingly bad BUT serves their purpose whilst producing colostrum and did have the easiest clip of every brand I’ve tried! Also, not completely off the subject but John Lewis’ feeding/baby changing rooms are uh-mazing! Soft chairs, mood-lighting, both clean and convenient- it makes for a good shopping experience with baby!
6. Babies grow.. really fast!!:
I was torn between taking five thousand pictures every day so I could remember each moment, and also NOT wanting to take photos so I experienced each moment IN the moment, but I think I’ve found a happy medium. What surprised me looking back even a few days is how much she’s changing. Baby G put on 1lb in just 10 days, she’s already grown out of her current size baby gros. It’s both amazing that she’s growing so quickly and scary..
7. All girls have hundreds of items of clothes and STILL have nothing to wear.. even if you’re not even 3 weeks old:
Baby Gray has been ridiculously spoiled by my friends and family: she has SO many items of clothes it’s unreal, yet nothing she owned fitted her. I had only bought her a pair of socks and a hat before she was born, so it was fun to have a mini spree over the weekend, buying her things that she could wear until she grows into her other clothes. It made me chuckle whilst going round the shops, that I have signed up to a lifetime of hearing her moan that she has nothing to wear, whilst her chest of drawers are bulging with unworn items and it’s started before she can even speak!
8. There are A LOT of nosy people in this world:
Baby Gray has been a dream, but this is still all new, and it’s still pretty full on. I won’t get these first few weeks back so I don’t and won’t feel guilty for not organising more visits sooner. I’m trying to sleep when she sleeps, so I’m not completely frazzled; which would leave visitors free to come by between the hours of 1am – 6am. I get it- it’s a baby- it’s a new life, it’s exciting but when strangers accost you e.g tell you they missed their stop because they were staring at your baby (yes this happened to us!) That’s just plain creepy. Worse is people you haven’t spoken to in years, who couldn’t be bothered to congratulate me during the pregnancy and who aren’t close to you asking for pictures or to visit (sometimes via my mum or sister, like they bought her into this world!!).. erm..why and how about.. NO?!
That’s not happening on my watch! Come direct, come correct or don’t come at all!
9. Everyone will have an opinion:
I appreciate good advice, but some things I’ve heard, especially old wives tales are just a joke. Some things I’ve been told wouldn’t be out of place in a book of spells, literally everything from how to stop babies hiccups to tips on how to enhance my milk flow. I am open to trying anything that doesn’t result in hospitalisation but if it sounds crazy to you or you KNOW that the person giving the advice is crazy..
A tip from a friend: Politely say: ‘That may work/ have worked for you for you-but it’s not really for me..’
10. New parents.. well parents in general have a secret bond:
I had a really lovely group for my ante natal classes, it’s been lovely keeping in touch with the ladies, and hearing of the birth of each new baby in the group! Also, I may have been a parent for all of 2 mins, but the conversations I’m having with other parents whilst out and about concerning the lack of parent friendly services (e.g the ‘lack of lift’ in certain shops), experiences of pre and post natal care have opened me up to a world I never knew existed and didn’t really care about, until now. Who knew discussing which Sure Start Centre provided the best services could be so enthralling! Finding out which car parks have parent/buggy bays, sharing tips or advice on baby friendly places, baby products and offers- all things I have bonded with complete strangers over.
Lastly.. I’ve learnt it is possible to kiss these tiny humans a thousand times a day..
..and you do!
Until next time! xx
* I cannot stress the importance of doing kegels and excercise, I believe it’s at least part of the reason, physically my body was able to cope well with the enormous pressure put on it during pregnancy and during labour.