As I’m typing this and reflecting back over the last 12 month and I can’t believe how much has happened/changed in my life in only 52 weeks. I was in labour this time last year, praying that I’d be able to stay at the birth-centre, not knowing in exactly 24 hours my baby girl would be with me, delivered by a wonderful team at Royal London with forceps while I was heavily under the influence of my now favourite drug, the epidural! S
I’m perplexed at how much she has changed. How much she has learnt. The tiny baby I bought home, frozen with fear of breaking is now this wonderful solid little girl who laughs, and plays and babbles away with a deep understanding of her surroundings. In 12 months she’s learnt about movement, speech, food, play, people… The list is endless. She knows what she likes and how to get what she wants. It’s really very smart.
As hard as the first 3 months were, I can honesty say I barely remember them now. I laugh with the Mr at how I used to cry about making it through her colic days and now when someone reminds me of how much she used to cry I think to myself ‘she wasn’t that bad!’ When she was really small I was really looking forward to her being able to move but now that she’s crawling and picking herself up with the aide of anything, regardless of how stable, I’m reminded of the days I could just leave her safely in her cot and get things done. If you think the gym is exhausting, try spending a day running around after a baby! I’m grateful for our early bedtimes as I’m usually far more exhausted than she is.
I remember long, long ago, when I had the luxury of time. For example, I would take at least an hour getting ready for work. I’d brush my hair. I’d have a soak in the bath. I’d make plans to see friends in the city and stick to them! Now I’m up and out of the house for work in under half an hour, because I’m afraid to wake the baby if I linger. On the days I’m at home with her, I literally don’t bother. If I get to brush my teeth before 12pm it’s a successful day. None of this takes away from the awesomeness of parenthood, it’s just a little reminder of how different your life is with a small child, how priorities change and the importance of being flexible to adjust to your new normal.
The most fascinating thing to observe is their personalities take shape. Baby A reminds me a lot of my middle sister, she knows exactly what she wants and she’ll dig in her heels as deeply and persistently as needed. I love how fierce she is, even though most of her battles are against me. I’m amazed at how quickly she picks things up and how she tests her boundaries. As she’s beginning to get used to communication, she’s picking up on my queues, such as my index finger or how I widen my eyes when she’s bordering on ‘naughty’. On some occasions she responds to me by stopping but on others she’ll keep her eyes on me while continuing to do what she wants. It’s adorable and testing. Her favourite word seems to be no, which says a lot about what I might spend most of my time saying!
I have a friend who has a little boy who’s about 6 weeks younger than baby A and its great watching them interact. It’s also very interesting to see how different children, are how varied their development is, especially in the earlier months when some new parents might fret over developmental stages. The reality is all children are different and develop at their own pace, when it’s right for them. As parents we know better than anyone else what’s best for our babies, so as hard as it is, it’s best to try and not compare.
There’s nothing about being a parent that anyone can teach you; so much depends on your child, their habits and the parenting choices you make to suit your situation. That being said there are things I think all first time parents should prepare for, and the biggest of those is change. Don’t expect anything to go as you plan, give yourself space to be flexible, with time, with your parenting style and also with your partner (if you have one). It’s a very steep learning curve and you have to be kind to yourself as God knows you will be tested! It’s also the most rewarding, fun, unexpected and fulfilling thing. So if I was in the position to give advice (which I’m not!) I’d say read a few books about parenting and then decide what suits you and your lifestyle. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you need to make changes or adjustments to what you thought would be best, do it, all parents have. No one is born a good parent, it’s something that has to be learnt. This time goes so quickly, don’t waste it feeling bad about other peoples judgements, do whatever works for you and your family. And take lots of photos in the process.