The First 1000 Days With A Baby

Excuse me a moment, please, while I hide my tissues and wipe my eyes. I’m totally going to sit here and pretend this advert didn’t make my womb ache and swoon, and every fibre of my being long for those exciting, terrifying, exhilarating, empowering, insanity-inducing, beautiful days of a new baby’s  life.

Watch this, and tell me you came away without at least a little twinge, I dare you:

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I have two daughters, both equally wanted, and equally adored.

When I found out I was pregnant with Ameli, I booked her place at nursery and was angry that I wouldn’t be able to return to work after 2 weeks, as the childcare at my work wouldn’t take her under 3 months of age. I wanted her, don’t get me wrong – I’d been waiting for years to have her, but I think I expected her to slot in with my life, rather than become my world. 

baby girls feetI had a horrendous pregnancy with terrible Hyperemesis Gravidarum and I bled for 20 weeks. In the end, I opted for a home birth, and when I raised my daughter out of the water, there was a moment where my world spun upside down, and everything I had thought I ever knew about love, and hope and life as I knew it, changed. It was so sudden and profound that five years on, writing about it, I can smell the water in the birthpool, hear the rain outside, feel the moment rising up before me again. I sat in the water and told my husband I could never go back to my job.

Not many people can look back and remember the moment they became who they are. I can.

The months that followed that transformative experience were so different to anything I had ever imagined. Breast feeding came naturally, easily. We co-slept and never once in that first year used the nursery we’d put together. We bought a pram and it was so wide we couldn’t get it up the stairs of our maisonnete, so we gave it up and took up baby wearing instead. We learned about a whole new world allergies, and rashes, and check-ups and follow ups and we quickly learned that people who tell you your child can’t be teething at four months were wrong, and people who told us our child shouldn’t be crawling at 5 months had never tried to stop a child from crawling at five months, nor had they had to run after an 8-month old toddler.

small baby 30We learned in those first years that there were no rules that were hard and fast. We learned that every parent has to make it up as they go.

When we thought we had the answers, the questions changed. When we thought we had it sussed, curve balls came. After three years of waking up between 4 and 6 for the day, every day, having been awake at least every 2 hours through the night, we figured we had hacked parenting, and this is what it was.

Then we had our second daughter. The pregnancy was worse, the birth fast and furious. She was born at 42+5 by scan dates and everyone around me was ‘worried’ and had ‘concerns’ but I knew in my gut we were okay and she was born at home, in water, into my waiting arms, ready for round two of a sleep deprivation that never came.

Baby FeetAviya slept through the night every night for six month. She was in no rush to crawl or walk. She made her first dramatic moves right off a bed, breaking her collarbone. She was 10 months old before she took her first steps. A different child, with a different temperament, and a different take on her world – so clearly different, yet so indescribably perfect too.

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Pampers have been working with the NCT on a study about those first two years of a new baby-new parent’s life and they’ve come to conclusions that I’m sure most parents would agree with and recognise.

They say that night waking and disturbed sleep are considered an inevitability during the first year – but as my experience shows, not always so! They also found that most parents surveyed anticipated better sleep during the second year of their child’s life, but that for around a third of parents (30%) sleep problems persisted throughout the first 1,000 days. The reasons that babies struggle with sleep changed over time, with parents of toddlers citing issues such as teething and illness. They could have included jet lag in their study. My sleeper was 6 months old when we flew to Australia, and that time change signalled the end of her sleeping-through-the night. Coincidence, or was it to do with teething too? I guess I’ll never know now!

Additionally, the findings looked at modern parenting roles. Over two thirds of dads (67%) reported equally sharing the responsibility for caring for their baby at night. However, mums – don’t all nod your heads at once now – didn’t necessarily agree with this assessment with less than half (45%) responding that they shared equal responsibility with their partners. In fact, the research suggests that mums still take on the majority of the responsibilities of childcare. (It’s my guess that most mums could  have told them that for free 😉 )

Dr Abigail Easter, Research Manager at NCT says, “This research has told us about the ups and downs of new parenthood, and how important it is that both mums and dads find the support they need as they care for a young baby. Balancing the responsibilities of parenting, work and finances was a key theme to emerge from the research, and affects different families in different ways. Good communication and looking after their own relationship is really important for new parents as they settle into changing roles. This research is just one part of a robust study which will inform NCT’s education, support and campaigning.”

That’s something I can agree with: every new parent’s experience is so completely new, and as fundamentally different as the people themselves are. No two ways are ever going to be the same, even in the same family with the same parents, so it’s great to know that support is out there, and people are taking the time to try to understand more wholly our human experience.

And all that aside, just go back and watch the video again. You know, for the sake of your own ‘research’. 😉

Memories Of My Mother

Welcome to the December 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Childhood Memories

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about memories of growing up — their own or the ones they’re helping their children create. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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There’s nothing quite like the end of something to make you think about the beginning of it again. I lay on a thin hospital bed with my desperately skinny mother a few weeks ago, waiting for her to be wheeled into surgery so that a plug could be put into her abdomen so that she can drain the fluid that cancer is releasing into her body as it slowly squeezes the life out of her.

She was laughing, as she is prone to doing, as I had just said I was going to handcuff myself to the bed to make sure they had no choice but to allow me to go in to theater with her. They arrived, the porters ready to roll her in, and I buried my face in her chest, as I must have done so many times as a child, but haven’t done in my living memory. I buried my face so that she would not see the rush of tears to my eyes.

My mother always wanted to be better. She always wanted to improve herself, and to make the people who loved her proud. She is a fierce friend, honest to a fault, and sometimes tactless as a heart attack. She has the same heart she had 20 years ago, just with twenty years of life added to it.

I get my adventurous and sometimes chaotically spontaneous side from my mother. She once bundled us up on a hot and sunny day and drove us high up into the snow capped mountains to have pancakes on the side of the road, in the snow. I think that was the first time I ever saw snow, and I remember it so well.

She bought us water paint books and my sister and I sat in the warm rain ‘painting’ with the rain water.

Powerfailures weren’t dramas in our home… nope. They were opportunities for roasting marshmallows!

Things weren’t always rosy, and at times, money was tight. I remember once my dad was away with work and my mom took us to a local steak ranch. She had just enough money for 1 adult and three child buffet dinners, not a cent more. There wasn’t even money for drinks. I think the waiter took pity on us that night, because he delivered cokes to our table, even though we hadn’t ordered them and weren’t able to leave a tip – but what a treat eating out was!

My mom is a woman of amazing faith. Even now with the disease riddling her body, she is strong in her faith and her status updates on Facebook elicit comments of awe and amazement from her friends. Just this morning a mutual acquaintance told me my mother is a ‘picture of Victory’ even in the face of death. That’s quite something, and an amazing legacy to leave.

My mom worked as a nurse for many years, and there she showed her patients incredible care and compassion. She has sat by the bed of many a dying person, so we can’t even say that she doesn’t know what’s coming, hence the strength – nope… she has held the hands of dying people for three decades. And she’s prayed with many of them too.

This faith hasn’t just come in the face of death either. She’s always had it, and as a result our lives have been peppered with miracles. Like the time my brother fell of his bike and broke his collar bone. A friend of my mom stayed up all night praying for him, and the next day the doctor couldn’t find any trace of an injury. Or the time we were really broke and had nothing but potatoes in the house – someone (we still don’t know who) dropped off a months supply of groceries at our front door.

There’s a long list of things that have happened in our family that make faith almost a no-brainer. We’d have to be blind to not believe.

My mom has given up so much over the years, for the sake of her children, her family, her husband, and now when she should be taking back and getting back, that opportunity is not being afforded her. It’s sad, but sometimes life is sad.

Of course, most of us aren’t saints, and she has her foibles too, but in the face of the end of a thing, it’s good to look back at the beginning, and remember the good bits, emulate them, and remember the bad bits, and do them better. I am sure my own children will say the same, in years to come. I just hope that when they look back on my life, they remember more good than bad, and that they recognise with the hindsight and wisdom of adulthood the things my being there improved, and my being afforded them as I do when I remember my mother.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon December 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • Childhood Memories of Peace, Support, Joy, and Love — Amber at Heart Wanderings wants to make sure the majority of the memories that her children have as a part of their family are ones that are positive and help support the amazing people that they are now and will become as adults.
  • Hand Made Baby Books — Destany at They Are All of Me talks about why baby books are important to her for preserving memories of her childrens first years, and shows how she made one by hand for each child.
  • Can your childhood memories help you keep your cool?Here’s To A Boring Year uses memories of being a child to keep her on the path to peaceful parenting.
  • Inter-Generational Memories {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about her own childhood memories, and what she hopes her daughter will remember in the future.
  • Snapshots — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings reflects on the ways our childhood memories appear to us, and hopes her own daughter’s childhood will be one she remembers as being happy and fulfilled.
  • What makes the perfect parent? — In a guest post on Natural Parents Network, Mrs Green from Little Green Blog reflects on camp follow and camp no-follow…
  • In My Own Handwriting — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about her journals and the hope that they will be able to keep her stories alive even if she isn’t able to.
  • Candlelight, fairylight, firelight — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud re-discovers the ingredients for bringing magic to life, especially at Christmas.
  • Making Memories (or) How We Celebrate Christmas — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about creating new memories at Christmas, and the joy their adventures bring to her whole family.
  • The Importance of Recording Feelings and Emotions and Not Just the Experience — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares why she puts pen to paper every day to record more than just her experiences as a mother and her daughter’s experiences as a child. Jennifer looks at the importance of capturing feelings and emotions that accompany the experience.
  • Dredged up — Kenna at Million Tiny Things has been forced to recount childhood memories at bedtime, due to the failure of her middle-aged imagination. She resists, of course.
  • Crafting Memories — Handmade is what makes the holidays special for Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs, and she wants to create the same connection with her daughters that she remembers with mother and grandmother.
  • My Childhood Memories; beacons of light in the darkness Stone Age Parent shares the impact of her childhood memories on her life as a parent today, listing some of her many rich childhood memories and how they now act as beacons of light helping her in the complex, often confusing world of child-rearing.
  • 10 Ways I Preserve Memories for My Children — From video interviews to time capsules, Dionna at Code Name: Mama wants to make sure her children have many different ways to cherish their childhood memories. Dionna’s carnival post features ten of the ways she preserves memories; check out her Pinterest board for more ideas.
  • Memories of my mother — Luschka at Diary of a First Child remembers her mother and the fondest moments of her childhood, especially poignant as she sits by her mother’s sickbed writing.
  • Creating Happy Childhood Memories through Family Traditions — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why family traditions are so important to her and her family and shares how she’s worked to create traditions for her children.
  • Traditional Christmas Tree — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep remembers the great times spent with her family driving for the Christmas Tree and the lessons learned.
  • Wet Socks and Presents — Kat at MomeeeZen writes about her favorite Christmas childhood memory and why it’s so special. And she hopes one day her kids will also have a feel-good memory of their own to look back on.
  • Stuff does not equal memories — Lauren at Hobo Mama learns that letting go does not mean failing to remember.
  • A Child’s Loss- Will They Remember Dad? — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about their family’s loss of their husband and father. She trys to find answers to the question: Will they remember their Dad?
  • Childhood Memories – Hers and Mine — Jorje of Momma Jorje wished for her daughter the same passions and experiences she loved as a child, but learns the hard way to accept whatever passions strike in her child.
  • Holiday Non-TraditionsErika Gebhardt enjoys her family’s tradition of not having traditions for the holidays.

 

Maternity Photo Shoot With Urbanvox

*This is NOT a sponsored post

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll have seen a few of these pictures already, and if you’re a follower on Facebook they’ve surfaced there a few times already, but now, as my little Aviya uncurls and loses her new born look, I’m finally ready to share some pictures with you from our maternity shoot.  I hope you enjoy them.Read more: Maternity Photo Shoot With Urbanvox

Memories

I’ve been thinking about memories a lot lately. I guess it makes sense with not only a recent death in the family, but also my baby’s first birthday coming up, and our house move. Understand, I’ve moved 20-something times in my life, so moving is no big deal to me. This move, however, is. Apart from the fact that the two years we have stayed here has been the longest my husband and I have stayed anywhere, this is also where my daughter was born. Right here. In the kitchen. I feel a great sadness leaving this house.
Read more: Memories

Dear Ameli- Letter to an Eleven Month Old

Hello beautiful girl,

How we have come 11 months in the blink of an eye I just don’t know. Our lives have changed so much in so many ways, and yet in some ways they don’t really feel like they’ve changed at all. It’s so hard to explain, but it is what it is.

This has been an incredible month. I’ve felt motherly pride rise up in my so many times in ways and for things I never thought possible. I know you’re not the first baby to go through these things, but you’re my first baby to go through them and they are your firsts.
Read more: Dear Ameli- Letter to an Eleven Month Old

365-22 Pregnancy Flashback

I seem to have missed this day,  what with being in bed with a teething baby for most of it.  For inspiration and motivation I looked back in to what is now part of my history, my pregnancy. It’s sometimes shocking to me how fast the five months since I gave up full time work have gone!

Read more: 365-22 Pregnancy Flashback