The Baby Diaries: Part 1

Before I had my Tiny, I had all sorts of ideas about motherhood. All sorts of plans for my maternity leave, and for working (or not) when that comes to an end.

And then I had my Tiny.

It’s been, shall we say, a bit of a learning curve. Admittedly, I only read a couple of parenting books – as my mother-in-law says, the baby hasn’t read them, and as one of the few I did read says (Penelope Leach), it’s all about learning YOUR baby. Each one is different and what works for one might not work for another.

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Of course, having had a relatively easy pregnancy, and a fairly straight-forward birth, probably didn’t help. Lulls one into a false sense of security that no troubles lie ahead. That all those plans one had to fill the time when baby sleeps would come to pass.

And maybe they would have, if baby was happy to sleep in the moses basket and didn’t wake within seconds of being put down in it. Or had taken to the sling, carefully chosen to take a tiny baby and not just a normal-sized newborn (maybe one which allows a forward-facing carry, to better watch what I’m up to, will work in a few weeks). But Tiny prefers to nap in a lap, which does rather restrict activities. Perfect excuse for not doing the tedious household chores, though.

Except that keeping at least the kitchen clean and tidy does wonders for maintaining a stable mind. Far better than more sleep. And at least some of my plans can be done from the comfort of the sofa.

But of all the things I’ve learnt over the last three months or so, the most surprising is that breastfeeding, Nature’s way for babies to feed, doesn’t come naturally to either babies or new mothers. You have to learn. There are different positions, some work better than others, and you need a lot of cushions (or a nursing pillow). Babies are heavy, even the little ones after a while. Oh, and learn to feed yourself one-handed (with either hand). Chances are, baby will want feeding when you want to eat your own meals.

It took us several weeks – plus a second stay on a children’s ward and several more expressing top-ups – to begin to get the hang of it, and then several more for it to really establish properly. I can see why so many give up and switch to formula. There were times when I wondered if it would be easier, but then I remembered the cost of formula and the faff of making up bottles (and then sterilising them). It was faff-y enough with bottles for the expressed milk, and we used the cold-water Milton system.

Tiny cries enough waiting the few seconds it takes to unclip a nursing bra. I can’t imagine if there was a wait for formula, especially for night-feeds (since they can’t be made that far in advance). Unless you get one of those fancy machines, I suppose. Something else for the counter-top.

Here’s to hoping that I can manage a few more of my plans over the next few months…


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