An exciting month ahead

The blog might be a little quiet for the next month as my little family is heading off on an exciting adventure. The Hubby and I are taking the little one back to the UK to meet the family he has not yet seen. It is going to be a marathon getting there (two flights and a journey time of over 24 hours) but I keep reminding myself that there will be lots of pairs of hands ready to have a cuddle when we get to the other end so it won’t be so bad. We are away for a month in total, spending half the time with Hubby’s family and half the time with mine. It is going to be awesome for everyone, great for us to catch up with people we haven’t seen for a long time (it’s six years since we last went back) and great for the little man to get to know his extended family.

So please excuse my quietness, I promise it is all in a good cause and I will be back as soon as the jet lag has gone on our return!

The truth about babies…what I’ve learnt so far!

I thought I would share some of the things I have learnt in my first six months (almost) of mummyhood. In no particular order…

1. Your baby will always fall asleep on a walk just before you get home/back to the car, just in time for you to have to wake them moving them into their car seat/bed.

2. Just when you think you have a schedule happening your baby will change things up just to keep you on your toes.

3. Your baby will always wait until your other half has gone to work before doing the biggest, smelliest poo possible (Monday mornings are a particularly popular time for him/her to do this)

4. Whenever you think it is safe to get a hot drink/some food your baby will prove you wrong.

5. Just when you think your baby can not scream any more they will find their second wind.

6. Your baby will save his/her cutest smile for the time he/she knows you are most annoyed/frustrated with them (I’m sure this is a built in survival mechanism!)

7. Your baby will behave impeccably around other people, making you out to be exaggerating everything you say about them. The second those people have left your baby will revert to normal behaviour.

8. Your baby will save their loudest burp/fart for when you are in company (but it’s ok to laugh at baby burps and farts!).

9. You will try all those things you were told not to do, anything to get some sleep (a cuddle or a snuggle can solve many things)

10. Despite and because of all these things it is an amazing first six months (even if it is at times difficult to see this)

Please let me know any pearls of wisdom you might have learnt about mummyhood (or daddyhood) as it is always good to get warning about what might be ahead!

Bring on the apple

We made the decision to try the little one on some food. He’s been watching us eat for a couple of weeks now and makes the occasional grab for my cup of tea and then on Sunday he managed to get a piece of apple peel and was in seventh heaven licking it (to the point that he got very distressed when it broke!) With this in mind I stewed up some apple ready for our first attempt as he seemed to already like the taste.

Deciding whether it was time has been tricky with so much advise around about when is the right time. Lots of Mummies I know have already started their little ones on food at around the four month mark, other people say wait until six months. Our little one has never been a very consistent eater as well, some days he will take almost a litre of milk in a day and other days we are lucky to get him to have more than 700ml. I had been advised to wait until he was more consistent but to be honest I don’t think he ever will be so we decided to try and figured if he wasn’t interested he wouldn’t take it. In other words nothing tried, nothing gained. All this advice is enough to make someone want to tear their hair out!

I guess that’s the problem with babies, there is so much “advice” out there that you can end up feeling very over whelmed. As a first time Mum I want someone to tell me what to do, after all I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, but there is no one answer and there never will be. It’s taken time but I realise that what works for my little one doesn’t work for another. Some of the babies I know sleep and eat like champions, some lie quietly taking the world in, some are big, some are small. My little boy is a power napping, constantly wiggling,fussy eating little monkey! Together Hubby and I are slowly working out what works and also figuring out that what works one day might not work the next, it’s all good as we are learning together.

He didn’t look too impressed with the new experience of apple and pulled some wonderful faces. Fingers crossed he will slowly grow to like the experience of eating and we will have fun giving him the chance to try new flavours.

Teaching Hubby

I’m going to try and teach a friend to crochet tomorrow. I’ve been crocheting for years now and am pretty quick (I can do a granny square almost without looking) so I know I need to slow it down and work out how to describe everything. With this in mind I asked hubby if I could try and teach him this weekend and bless him he said yes.

He loves to watch me crochet, especially when I am making cool things for the little one, but has never expressed an interest in actually learning. He undertook the lesson with enthusiasm though and we were aiming to make a crochet jellyfish.

We started with a simple chain and he quickly picked that up, producing a tentacle in no time at all. Pleased with his progress he wanted to move onto the body, confident he could make the other tentacles later. To do the body I needed to explain double crochet (or single depending on where you are from), a much more tricky undertaking. I learnt one lesson very quickly, dark wool is not good for beginners as it makes seeing the stitches quite tricky. I also learnt that it is surprising how much goes into a good explanation of a stitch. Hubby got frustrated with me for not explaining things well, I got frustrated for him not understanding me and taking a while (my impatience rather than any fault of his) but he was definitely starting to get the hang of it by the end of the weekend. I’ll see if he will let me publish a picture of his jellyfish when it is finished.

I feel much more prepared for my next attempt at teaching my friend tomorrow although it could be interesting as we will have two baby boys with us…fingers crossed they sleep!

The baby pincushion

There were tears!

There were tears!

Our poor little boy was used as a pin cushion yesterday, it was time for his six week jabs. Mummy showed him how to be brave first by having her flu jab and then it was the boys turn. Daddy held him while the nurse got on with what she had to do. There was screams but thankfully they disappeared quickly with a good cuddle and all was soon forgotten. As the son of a doctor there was never any question of him not getting the jabs, obviously Daddy has great faith in them (and so does Mummy). Thankfully the others at our antenatal class were in favour of them too and so we managed to avoid what could have been an awkward argument and the loss of some new friends.

Vaccinations are obviously a rather controversial topic between new parents with the debate over whether they are safe or not continuing to rage across the Internet. In fact the Internet has a lot to answer for, it makes information (both fact and fiction) too readily available to people who may or may not fully understand it. The main culprit here is a piece of research done several years ago by a British doctor that supposedly showed that vaccinations (specifically the MMR vaccine) could cause autism. This research was shown to be bad and the findings were discredited. However once something is on the Internet it is there to stay and so this information is still there and still causing people to not vaccinate their children (I do recognise that this is just one reason people choose but it is generally the most prominent).

As with any medicine I recognise that there is a chance of side effects and even a chance that it won’t work and my little one will still get what he has been vaccinated against but that chance is small. The illnesses that he is being vaccinated against are potentially much worse. Something like one in ten people who get measles for example will suffer a side effect which can range from deafness through to death. Those are odds that I wouldn’t want to gamble with (and it’s highly contagious with over 750 people being affected by an outbreak in South Wales at the moment).

A quick cuddle and a plaster and all was forgotten!

A quick cuddle and a plaster and all was forgotten!

I was heartened to see some parents in Auckland advocate for people to vaccinate their children after their son caught tetanus. They had no idea how serious the illness could be and have now vaccinated all their children, hopefully their plea will help prevent other children having to suffer because they didn’t have the “evil” injections. I was also heartened to read that in general New Zealand parents are good at getting their children vaccinated (all be it a bit slowly), as a teacher I am always aware of those children in my class who aren’t protected (even more so last year when I was pregnant).

Now I don’t mean this post as a preach at people, it is simply a way for me to express my views. I know there are people out there who strongly disagree with that view and they are entitled to feel that way. However I urge people to research carefully when making this decision, check where the information you are reading comes from, make sure it is current and credible, after all it is your child’s life you are gambling with.

I found this rather well written opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald, the facts and figures make for compelling reading and the author is right, there really is nothing more persuasive than seeing someone who has suffered the effects of the illness that could have been so easily prevented.

A new nationality

Today was a big day, a day when Hubby and I became citizens of a new country.

We’ve lived in New Zealand for six and a half years now having originally only come for a years adventure. In that time I have trained as a teacher and we have started our own little family. It only seemed right that we make our lives here somehow more official. In order to make our citizenship official we had to attend a ceremony and affirm our commitment to the country so today we made the journey across to the next town to do this *. We had hoped to do this before the little one arrived but had to wait for a ceremony to be organised so he beat us to becoming a citizen by five and a half weeks. It is good to know that we all have the same nationality now though, now we just have to work out which passport we should use next time we travel back to the UK.

* This was a major effort as Hubby had just finished a night shift and getting anywhere to a schedule with the little one is quite a challenge.

Night shifts

We’ve managed a day home alone but tonight we are entering the realm of the night shift. Hubby works in the ICU department of the local hospital and does shift work. He has successfully got away without having a night for quite some time but we can avoid it no longer. So far we are going ok (30 minutes in!) as the boy is asleep and obviously I am getting to write this.

Fingers crossed for lots of this.

Fingers crossed for lots of this.

I shouldn’t be daunted really as I normally deal with the night feeds and nappy changes by myself to let Hubby sleep for work but somehow it feels a little different knowing that I have no support should things go wrong. I guess there is no reason to believe that things will be any different tonight to how they are most nights and I’m sure a positive attitude will go a long way after all the little one is well behaved at night more often than he isn’t.

I know it is hard on Hubby as well, he desperately wants to be at home with the boy too, he doesn’t want to miss out on a thing. I’m sure he will be rushing home from his shift to grab some cuddles and maybe a smile before he has to head to bed for a daytime sleep. I’m sure that the little one will be totally unaware for the most part that Daddy isn’t here either and as long as I stay calm then we’ll be sweet.

I’ll report again from the other side…wish us luck!

Reading

One thing I have found more time for since the little one arrived is reading. Being trapped on the sofa with him for at least a couple of hours each day I had to find something to do and there is only so much telly you can (or should) watch.

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I’ve always loved escaping into a good book but I noticed that since I became a teacher three years ago I have found very little time to indulge in this pleasure. Now I am rediscovering this little luxury again. I have even managed to get some reading done while feeding (iPads and eReaders are the best for this as no pages to fight against!). It is so nice to escape the four walls of my house through a book if I can’t physically get out (just as this blog is kind of like a conversation when no one else is around). My current read is “The House of Silk” by Antony Horowitz (a new Sherlock Holmes novel) and so far it is fabulous.

Daddy and the little one enjoying a good book.

Daddy and the little one enjoying a good book.

I hope to instil a love of reading in the little one and he already has quite an extensive library of his own. Both Daddy and I enjoy reading him a story already and I don’t think he minds listening. Our favourites so far are “The Snail and the Whale” by Julia Donaldson and “Daddy’s Cheeky Monkey” by Andrew Daddo.

To be honest I don’t remember my Mum or Dad reading to me regularly when I was small,even though I know they did. I do remember Dad reading two particular books though and to this day they are favourites of mine (“The Hobbit” and “The Fox Busters“). These books are among my fondest childhood memories.

As a teacher I always encourage parents to read to their children and to demonstrate enjoyment for reading. I always felt a bit sad when parents told me they no longer read to their child as they were too old (at 9 or 10) or because the children can read themselves. Nothing brings book to life more than someone reading it to you with voices and expression. It also makes reading a social pastime rather than a solitary one and aren’t we are all looking for an excuse to spend more time with our children? What could be easier than reading a book together. I don’t want my little ones first exposure of books to be an academic one either as books then become a chore rather than a pleasure.

Our little man should be fine as both his Mummy and Daddy love to read and are happy to make time for reading to him and with him. I wonder what books he will remember as special. Fingers crossed he will become as much of a book worm as we both are.

Time flies

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Everyone always tells you that time flies by when you have a little one and you know it will be true but it is still surprising how quickly time does pass. It’s not as though we have done much to make time pass; each day is generally made up of cuddling, feeding, changing nappies, napping and maybe a tiny amount of housework or crafting; yet time is whiz zing past at an amazing rate.

The little one is four weeks old today, almost a whole month of life with our tiny man. It’s not always been easy, there are days when we can’t work out for the life of us what is wrong with him and there have been nights of very little sleep. It can be incredibly frustrating at times, especially when you think he’s hungry but it turns out he’s not after a struggle to get him latched (you’d think that struggle was a clue but not the case as sometimes after a struggle he’ll feed for ages!). We have made it through the days that Daddy has gone back to work and we are getting things done (even if it is just little things at the moment). It is fun watching the lights slowly come on though and I think we are becoming more confident parents.

He makes up for all the crying with his lovely snuggles (Daddy particularly likes these) and we are starting to see the start of a smile developing (and boy is it going to be a winning smile!). Today he appeared to be reaching out for a toy on his play mat, something he hasn’t done before. I know this time is precious so I make a conscience effort not to wish it away (although I do wish he would stop crying some days and count the hours until Daddy is home to help), these milestones will soon be coming thick and fast.

Home alone

The time has come when the little one and I find ourselves home alone as Daddy had to go back to work. It is a rather daunting prospect (perhaps more so as Hubby’s shifts are 13 hours long!). It is amazing what a difference an extra pair of hands makes. It is also amazing how much time it takes to look after a newborn who essentially just eats, sleeps, poops and cries! Our first day home alone yesterday was ok although I think my greatest achievement was unloading and loading the dishwasher! It doesn’t help that the little one has decided he needs to be near one of us nearly all the time during the day.

I have decided to be my own best friend though and set no goals for each day other than getting through it, if I then manage to do something it will feel like a massive achievement! I’ve heard of people who write themselves big lists of things they will do when they have so much time at home with their babies and then drive themselves crazy because they tick off a grand total of zero from the list! I guess my biggest achievement only has to be making sure the little one is comfy and happy, that’s a pretty big achievement when you think of it.