This Time Last Year

I remember the way I felt this time last year. The way the air felt, the white noise of something mechanical humming at night (I still can’t figure out what it is), the way the lights across the city seemed crisper… It all reminds me, like the most wonderfully enchanting memory. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m remembering with rose-tinted glasses. But I know for a fact, also, that I remember that the person I was before Reuben was born felt a kind of excitement, naivety and apprehension that I’m scared I will never feel again.

The selfie I took before heading to the hospital to be induced.

I remember feeling dreadfully uncomfortable, completely DONE with being pregnant and massive. And moreover, I was done being told how massive I was. As if I couldn’t tell!? I was sick of the sickness, the acid reflux, the endless peeing, the pain I was feeling around my ribs, the ridiculous amounts of discharge and the sweating. You know, I was still trying my best to cherish my pregnancy but I think I spent more time trying to film baby kicks than I did actually appreciating the moments (something I will remember if I’m lucky enough to have a second). I would rest my hands on my bump, take endless photos, but by 37 weeks I was done. So when I was offered an induction days before my due date, I leapt at the chance.

I’d seen a lot of inductions on One Born Every Minute and I’d read the leaflet but nothing could have prepared me for the days that followed. I felt like I’d been in hospital for a week before I was actually induced – in a different hospital – on my due date.

But my mind seems to have fixated on the little details of the hospital I was supposed to give birth in, when I was waiting to be taken to delivery suite to have my waters broken. In all honesty, it was quite lovely but I was so impatient and being in a hospital bay all day waiting around was driving me a bit nuts. I wasn’t very well prepared, I hadn’t brought much to entertain myself – which is probably why I remember the space around me in vivid detail. From the way the light hit the blue flooring during the day, to the way the overhead lamp created a calming ambience at night. I remember bouncing on that big purple gym ball for hours hoping labour would come on spontaneously but I now realise, it was doing very little for me, and it was probably making me all the more impatient.

I was offered a transfer to the other hospital where I had a bed on delivery suite waiting for me on my due date, a few hours after my mucus plug went, and I jumped at the chance. I now wonder if my experience might have been different if I’d have stayed at the hospital that I wanted to give birth in. But nevermind, what good are what ifs? No good at all.

So there I was, in the delivery suite of this other hospital, taking a quick video of the room for my Instagram. I was telling people I’d no longer be replying. Although I did later on, at some point, I can’t remember when. And I had no idea what was coming as far as the syntocin drip was concerned.

I love that before they broke my waters and put me on that drip, I was blissfully unaware saying “whatever happens I’ll deal with it, as long as baby is okay”. I mean, that wasn’t a bad mindset to have but… Yeah… the girl on the ball in her nightie who just had her waters broken, and the girl on the bed who just got given the epidural were a couple of hours apart, and I can assure you the girl on the bed felt like she’s been through a kind of hell that she knew had changed her forever. The rest of it was a breeze though, if that’s any consolation – it was to me!

I gave birth to Reuben just over 12 hours after they’d broken my waters, and it was incredible. I felt the love instantly – it was euphoric! I felt the rush of love which I’d heard people say is indescribable and I was so relieved. I was so, so happy. When I had been waiting to push, I remember thinking “this is it, my dream is about to come true, I’m gonna meet my baby!” and that was an unforgettable moment too.

So is it any wonder that I feel this way now that Reuben’s 1st birthday is a day away? It’s so bittersweet. I feel happy and sad at the same time. I feel my heart aching so badly when I think back to it. I know this is common in mothers but I never really hear or read anyone talking about it.

Maybe it’s because I feel cheated out of enjoying those newborn days, maybe it’s because I had a vision of how I wanted things to be during pregnancy and it wasn’t like that. It’s not like my expectations were high but when you’re poor and feeling unsupported through both pregnancy and your newly made mother days, it’s very hard to feel like I got anything right at all back then… I don’t know. I guess I am overly critical but when I think back, I have regrets and I find myself saying “here’s what I’d do differently”.

Anyway, it’s hard to believe Reuben’s been on this earth for a year now. He’s turned into my little best friend & he makes me smile all the time. Even though we have been poorly recently, there’s still been smiles. And I’m far from perfect but I know I’m a good Mama.

I’m feeling very nostalgic and wistful about this time last year but don’t worry, I’m also concentrating on making this year’s memories count! Reuben’s presents are ready for Thursday, the flat is looking nicer than it ever has done (apart from the kitchen right now) & I’ve even put the Christmas tree up!

I love motherhood, it puts a kind of joy and resilience in my soul that nothing else can. I mean, there’s obviously sadness and mum guilt in there too BUT! Let’s focus on the good!

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡

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Next Time (Part II): what to buy.

Following on from my recent, emotional post about my wishes for the next time I have a baby, I want to continue on with a similar but less emotive post. This is more about providing information. I think that this might help any expecting or new mothers/fathers wanting a bit of advice on what to buy for their baby, and also it will refresh my memory in years to come.

Of course, this is personal preference but I remember going through many videos and blog posts about what I needed for my new arrival… so I’m going to try to be helpful. This isn’t going to be an comprehensive list by no means but hopefully it highlights enough of the right things.

These items I think are a waste of money:

  • Smaller sized, ‘newborn’ bottles.
  • Wipe warmers
  • Nappy/diaper bins
  • Nappy/diaper/changing bags (so overrated in my opinion, I think a big bag and possibly a bag divider works better)

These items are essential if you want to make your life easier:

  • Comfortable places to sit: if you can’t get a nursing chair (even if you’re not breastfeeding), make sure the places you’ll be sat for long periods of time are comfortable because like it or not, you’re going to be sat down a lot – especially if you’re breastfeeding. Think pillows, think good back support… I didn’t realise how important it was until I had Reuben.
  • Talking of where you are, are you close to a table of some sort? You’re going to need somewhere to put drinks, snacks, their bottles, wipes, cloths… you get the jist. It maybe worth curating a kind of basket close by so that everything is to hand and you can carry it where you need it.
  • Nursing pillows. Breast or bottle, these make life easier. I didn’t have one with Reuben and I really *really* should have made it a priority. I found myself using normal pillows so often and they just didn’t do the job well enough.
  • Get a good bottle steriliser. Microwave sterilisers are just as good as the electric ones and take the same amount of time to load up.
  • Places for your baby to sit. There’s no guarantee your baby will like them but bouncers, swings, rockers… they will help you gain your sanity if they’re happy to sit in one for a while. Then you’ll need activity centres, ‘jumperoos’ and walkers. But it’s basically there to entertain them whilst you get things done… or just sit, and breathe, and get some food/drink/take a sneaky nap.
  • Baby monitors. I don’t have one, but it’d make life a lot easier if I could check a monitor when I hear ‘phantom screams’ rather than rush across my flat with soapy hands to see my perfectly happy baby sleeping in his cot.
  • Look into a postpartum basket for the bathroom too. I was very lucky and I didn’t need quite a few of the things but many, many women do.

These items you need:

  • Comfortable clothing: whether it be loungewear, your pjs, tracksuit bottoms… whatever you’re comfortable in.
  • If you’re breastfeeding, invest in a good breast pump (manual is fine but it’s hard work), breast pads, breast shields, and especially nursing bras and clothes that will allow you to nurse easier. You want to make sure you’re kitted out. I wasn’t, and it contributed to me giving up. Breastfeeding is already hard enough so invest in this. The milk may be free but the equipment certainly isn’t.
  • It really does help if you make meals to store in the freezer, it’ll make life a hell of a lot easier to know you’ve a healthy, homemade meal that can be easily reheated when you have ten minutes to either shower, nap or eat.
  • Luxuries for yourself. Have nice things, okay? You deserve them. Every shower, no matter how rushed, should seem like a luxury occasion. Have candles. Have fairy lights. Have hot chocolate. Have a glass of wine if you want. I don’t care what anyone says, being a mother is really hard, you need to treat yourself. That includes taking breaks and accepting help.

These are things your baby needs:

  • Plenty of vests, sleepsuits, etc. Every list out there will tell you that you need about a weeks worth of each. But what if you have a sicky/refluxy baby like I did? Well, you’re either gonna have to do their laundry every day or you’re going to need to buy a lot more of them. If money is tight, focus on those basics over outfits. Your baby will look like a newborn for all of five minutes, so embrace the sleepsuits for then at least. I swear, with my next, they will live in vests and sleepsuits until they are 6 months old.
  • Sleeping bags and swaddle blankets (you can get ones with velcro to make it easier) are so much better than anything else because you know they’re safe in them. Definitely prioritise them over blankets. Blankets are still important, but you want to make sure you’ve got these in the right tog for the season, to keep baby safe and warm whilst s/he sleeps.
  • Muslin cloths. Lots of lots of muslin cloths. Bibs, too, they’re good. I didn’t really use bibs at first as I prefered to tuck a muslin cloth under Reubens’ chin.
  • Every list about what your baby needs is right, all those basics… from socks to bibs, from hats to rompers… you need them all. And if you think you’ve bought enough in the first size and 0-3 (baring in mind Reuben never fit into first size) then go ahead with the 3-6 month clothing. You have to remember… you will be constantly buying for your arrival because they grow and develop so quick. But let’s just focus on the newborn stage for this list.

Things I recommend:

  • Buy a baby wrap or buckle carrier. I can’t properly recommend these because I only bought a stretchy wrap and I didn’t really get my use out of it. But I wish I’d gone to a sling library earlier on and discovered what would work best for me and my body type. They’re so convenient. I can imagine it be better if you drive to the shops and you don’t want to be pushing a pram and a trolley.
  • If you can, a car seat that lasts from birth into the toddler years (or maybe even beyond) is an investment and will save you lots of money.
  • Really think about the kind of pram you want. Look into the handlebars so you can push it along comfortably? Will it fit properly on the buses if you’ll be using public transport a lot? Does it fold up enough to fit into your car boot? Do you want to be able to utilise it to carry shopping home? If so, what’s the basket space like? Will your changing bag/bag you’re using for nappies and bottles sit on it comfortably? It’s a lot perhaps, to think about, but really you just want to consider how much you’ll be using it and where you’ll be using it? The range of prams out there is overwhelming but thinking about these things should help you narrow it down.
  • Look into cloth nappies/diapers. Now I have started using them, I realise that it’s not as complicated as I thought it was and it’s really not grossing me out like I thought it would… so I think I’d prefer to have done it from the start. Disposables are great in their own right but it’s good to consider the amount of nappies you’ll be buying and thus, the amount of nappies that will end up in landfill.

Ultimately…

You need to do what works for you. You know yourself best and you will know your baby better than anyone else. The way you want to parent is up to you. The way you want to do things is up to you. Someone could disagree with my list and that’s absolutely fine. For me, I think I’ve realised that there were things I prioritised wrong when having a baby and things I wish I’d done differently. I think that most parents feel this way. And if this helps nobody, at least it’ll jog my memory if I’m fortunate enough to have another one day. I feel like I’ve probably missed out a very important section but for now, I think this list is pretty good.

With love, Rebecca xo

 

 

What I’ve already forgotten: the newborn days.

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I’ve been going through the thousands of photos (no exaggeration!) I took of Reuben when he was a newborn and it sparked a lot of memories. It’s strange because such beautiful, cherished moments become blurry as time goes on. However, it’s made me realise there’s a lot I’ve forgotten about.

Here’s 7 things I have forgotten about the newborn days:

1) Oh the torment of hunger! First and foremost, keeping it light, I suddenly remember the hunger. Trying to find time to cook or make something, and then eat it? And what about if you need that ten minutes to nap, or shower? What then? I spent a lot of the newborn days absolutely starving and my best bet was to make toast, pot noodles or chicken nuggets or hope I could devour them before Reuben awoke. It wasn’t healthy, it was survival.

2) REFLUX. Oh my, the first three weeks of reflux…. it makes me want to cry just thinking about it. I would feed Reuben and keep him upright and he’d throw up and throw up until he needed another feed. At some point I was told this wasn’t normal and I switched him onto anti-reflux formula three days after stopping breastfeeding. He still had sicky days of course but oh goodness, getting out of the house at all, with a baby that won’t stop throwing up? Horrible! Especially when trying to get out of an upstairs flat with the shakes. I had the shakes for ages after giving birth, thinking about it, the hunger didn’t help.

3) On a not so nice note, there’s the unrelenting fear of your baby passing away. When you’re pregnant and when you have a newborn, the fragility of life has never become so clear to you. You hear about SIDS constantly. When your baby is finally placed in your arms, that’s not end of the worrying – I would wake up constantly through the night when Reuben was sleeping to check he was still breathing. I’d also think I was holding him when I was holding my quilt and I’d be panicking and crying searching for him in the covers when really he was sound asleep in his moses basket. I still check on him now, but it’s not so intense, I don’t have to wake up frequently to make sure. I think that comes with confidence that they’re safe and realistically, no harm should come to them. You should never take a baby for granted though, so I will probably always be doing this.

4) The hormones. The overwhelming hormones. I’m talking about the crying because you’re in love with your baby, crying because you’re happy, crying because you’re afraid, crying because you’re tired, crying because you’re hungry, crying because you saw something about midwives on the telly. There’s lots and lots of strong emotion coursing through your veins and it takes you on a very wild ride.

5) How tiring it was. I am very much used to Reuben sleeping through the night now, I’m a lucky mama, I know not all babies do. But I do remember the days when this wasn’t the case, and when he had to be attached to me 24/7 (or so it felt that way) and it was hard. Any time he wasn’t, I was rushing to get something done or sleeping. Mentally, it was probably more tiring than it was physically.

6) But perhaps the saddest thing, to me, is that I cannot for the life of me remember what that newborn smell is. Isn’t it weird that one day they just don’t smell like a newborn anymore? I miss it and yet I can’t remember it. I just know it was damn good to take a deep sniff upon your babies head when they were new and breathe them in and it made everything else irrelevant. All that mattered was you and your baby determined to get through this journey together (in one piece at least haha!).

7) And last but not least, and this is very much a personal aspect of something I’d forgotten… how hard it was to not have the money to be supporting myself, let alone Reuben. It was a struggle for the first six weeks or so and it caused a lot of stress. Stress that I really shouldn’t have had to feel during such precious days. I often talk about how something feels stolen from me when I think back to Reuben being born and that’s one of them. You see because I lost my job when I was pregnant, I fell deep into my overdraft through my entire pregnancy and I didn’t get out of it til Reuben was around two months old. It was hard. When I imagined myself as a mother in the future, that’s not something I expected myself to be going through but it’s a struggle I have learnt a lot from.

Three things I haven’t forgotten however are:

1) How precious the cuddles are… I mean I still love nothing more than snuggling up with Reuben but when he was tiny, idk, it was just so lovely. He felt like he was all mine and I was his world and I loved it.

2) The feeling you get when you finally meet your baby. For me, it was an instant rush of love and honestly, I don’t think there’s anything more euphoric. I often take myself back into that moment when I want to relax. It creates a pang in my heart but it’s very grounding. It refocuses me.

3) How hard it can be to take care of a tiny person when you’re in pain (need I say more), I mean I don’t know about you but my spine still hurts!

So if you read this, thank you very much! I decided to actually do it very late at night because I was waiting up for a shopping delivery. Hell to paying more than two quid for a delivery slot! Haha.

Take care, with love (or whatever I usually say!),
Rebecca xo