Thursday, 9 April 2015

Everything I learnt about having a baby

Everyone loves these types of posts right? The ones where fabulous pearls of wisdom are dispensed. The ones where you finally learn those all important secrets about having a baby that open the doors to being a baby-whisperer. Well, you can easily read what I think about that kind of advice. Instead, this is the sum total of everything I actually learnt when I had BabyBear. And some of these aren't even mine.

1. It's just a phase

Whatever it is, it will pass.

Breastfeeding every hour all night? Yup, feels like it's going to last forever, but let's look at the bigger picture. How many ten year olds are waking to breastfeed every hour? That's right, none of them. It will pass.

Refusing to sleep anywhere other than in a moving vehicle or on another human being? Bigger picture. How many ten year olds only sleep in a moving vehicle or being cuddled? None of them.

Spits out every spoonful of loving prepared sweet potato and broccoli puree? Bigger picture. How many ten year olds...? OK, you've got me on that one, I suspect most ten year olds would spit out sweet potato and broccoli puree, but you get the idea. They will eat food.

Potty training? It will pass. Literally. Possibly all over your carpet, but not forever.

Teething? That tooth will come through. And so will the next one. And the next one. And... what do you mean there are twenty of them? I have to do this twenty times? Stop... breathe... twenty is OK... twenty is a finite number... twenty will come to an end.

2. Do what works for you until it stops working

Seriously, as long as you're not straying into the land of neglect or cruel and unusual punishment, do whatever the hell works for you and ignore anyone else*.

Sometimes after a 3am feed I couldn't be bothered to lift my arms far enough to put BabyBear back in his crib, so he just slept in bed with me. He slept, I slept, it worked, so we kept doing it. Then we reached a point where he slept, and I didn't sleep. That didn't work, so we stopped doing it, and I decided I could be bothered to lift my arms enough to get him back in his own bed. (Obviously, being a neurotic mess, I frantically Googled "co-sleeping" to make sure I wasn't Getting It All Wrong, but once I stopped doing that, it was fine.)

When I started weaning BabyBear I devotedly made all sorts of noxious nutritious purees, all of which oozed straight back out of his mouth. It wasn't working. With head in hands one morning, I handed him a sliver of my toast. He ate it. I gave him some pieces of strawberry. He ate them, and reached for more. Never mind this puree nonsense, we'd accidentally invented "baby-led weaning". Now this was working!

When I say "ignore", obviously what I mean is don't let other people tell you you're doing it wrong when whatever you're doing is working for you. If what you're doing is driving you stark, staring mad, then don't ignore anyone. Ask anyone who gives you so much as a friendly glance for advice and then try absolutely all of it until you find the next thing that's going to work for you.

3. Make sure you have a really good washing machine

If you haven't (yet) had a baby, you will find it hard to imagine just how often you will run your washing machine. The day our washing machine stopped working was close to being the most catastrophic day of new-parenthood.

For at least the first six months of BabyBear's life every single item of clothing I wore, every single day, was sicked-up on. OK, so BabyBear was a particularly sicky baby, but every single day, all my clothes were soiled, at least once. Yes, I do mean my underwear as well, including socks. No, I don't know how he managed it. And BabyBear worked his way through multiple sets of clothes every day. BigBear seemed to dodge the brunt of the sick, but then it tended to be a post-feed event, and it was my shoulder BabyBear was perched over immediately post-feed. Not that he limited himself to then, he was capable of spewing semi-digested milk on me at any time of day or night. And I'm going to draw a discreet veil over the events known only as Apoocalypses. Who knew that nappies could fail quite so spectacularly to perform their allotted function?

And now, LittleBear uses his clothes (and mine) as a general place to wipe his hands, face, shoes, sticks he's found in the park, bits of food he's dropped on the floor that need cat fluff removing from them, you name it, it ends up on our clothes. Yesterday morning he wiped his nose on his hand and then his hand on my pyjamas. Not even his own pyjamas. Varmint.

So for the past three and a half years the washing machine has run what feels like constantly. I now find it disconcerting if a day passes when I don't do a load of laundry. Seriously. Get the best washing machine you can.

And that's it. That's the Sum of All My Knowledge. Not much is it?

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