I always write on 1st birthday cards to the parents, “Well done, you made it through the hardest year, the first one” So I’m doing the same to myself as I reflect on the first year of my precious baby girls life & how I got this far.
The first 6 months were HARD! We had an alert baby who wanted to be held and who cried a lot! She didn’t want to be put down. Not to sleep, not for anything. This was a challenge. I remembered from my first child the first 3 months were pretty full on. This one was a whole new experience. I had to once again learn to accept I could not get much/ anything done in the early days. The lack of sleep for me and her and the crying all contributed to me getting Post Natal Depression. The early challenging days stretched on for about 6 months this time.
From about 7 months I had a handle on the PND & began to really appreciate & enjoy caring for my baby. It was such a relief to feel better. I have relished seeing her learn new skills. She is her own little character and person and has been from day dot. She is curious, clever little scientist who picks up new skills very quickly.
Along the way I’ve had a wonderful support network, comprised of my family & friends;
My husband– I’ve written before about how great he is. (Forgive the bragging) He stepped up time & time again, because he is her Dad & he did what needed to be done, for her, me & for our family. To him there is no such expectation that something is a woman’s job, he is hands on & in it with me 100%, I’m so thankful to have shared this year with him. We managed to have a few bike rides together & go out for a drink/ meal a few times too, this is really important. And to be able to talk about things besides the baby & have lots of hugs!
My 11 year old Super girl – I realised I got it right, having one child 10 years before. Even though I didn’t plan it this way, it worked! I have had the most amazing helper who just adores her baby sister. I had 10 years to focus on my first born & support her 100%. This has paid off; my baby has the most capable wonderful big sister, who is intelligent & funny. She can do everything around the house from cooking, cleaning, vacuuming, washing floors, even cleaning a toilet! She knows how to do a lot more than I ever did at her age. She has contributed to the running of our house home (as family members should) and it has run better thanks to her. She adores her sister & she has not shown one ounce of jealousy towards her. I have re-named her Super girl & am going to get her a cape!
My Family – Having a supportive & involved family is absolutely priceless. I feel sorry for people who don’t have this. My sister has been so involved, taking Kiara for entire days to give me a break, helping me to settle her time & time again, always willing to talk challenges through. My Dad visits me weekly & in the early difficult days would bring me a coffee or support me to go out to the shops when I was apprehensive. He is so intuitive about me & there whenever I need him, often without me asking – he just knew. My mum’s practical support & love is amazing. She is Mrs fix it able to mend, create & up cycle. She also had the confidence to give Kiara her baths & remind me how it was done. My Mum also made us a number of meals which – always come in handy!
Friends – When pregnant at 38, I thought there was a good chance I’d have no friends with babies! Thankfully I was wrong! I have a number of friends with young babies and children who I see regularly. We, go to each other’s homes, or to a park & share lunch. We have cried on each other’s shoulders, laughed & joked & shared stories. It is so nice to have. I also have other friends without children whose friendships I truly value. At times it’s great to talk about the kids & at others it’s great not to! I have some wonderful mates!
So here are my top tips for getting through the first year!
Get an electric blanket! Every time (in winter) I get up to feed or re-settle my angel, the first thing I do is switch my blanket. When I returned to bed, I have the beautiful reward of a cozy warm bed. I relished those moments. A reward for getting up!
Use your slow cooker – I learnt to love the slow cooker this year. I chuck ingredients in, even onion uncooked & turn it on; I’ve made many a soup or casserole, even potatoes in their jackets, which are ready at the end of the day! Cooking dinner at the end of the day is a nightmare!
Have a good dressing gown – a must, hanging on the back of the door ready to grab for those night feeds or early mornings. Super girl once said ‘A person cannot live without a dressing gown’ ha ha I tend to agree!
Expect others in the household to help more! – Teach your kids to help. Tell your partner what you need. Don’t be a hero & try to do it all yourself, you will end up angry, tired & bitter. Admit it is hard, and accept any help that is offered. If it is not, offered – ASK!
Have other interests – I think it is very important to retain your interests apart from your baby & family. I got a good camera for my birthday just after my baby was born. I have managed to do a couple of private lessons & a short Photography course, which I’ve loved & learnt a lot from. I photographed my first paid wedding as well as my sister’s wedding, my first pregnancy & baby shoot.
I had my first market stall selling vintage clothing. I enjoyed collecting things, Op shopping (for myself, family & my stall) pricing & getting my stall ready.
I’ve been selling mandarins for $2 a bag & made approx. $200 which gave me a real kick & sense of productivity. All these little extras are of great importance to me.
Also remember to talk about things other than your baby!
Plan something to do/ someone to see daily – This is something I’ve managed to do in the later part of the year, but I find it really helps. I still plan to let bub have her morning sleep at home, this is important to me & her (being a baby who didn’t sleep much).
Use Facebook to your advantage – I love Facebook, for the most part & find it a great way to keep in touch. I’ve discovered private groups this year. I love making groups with particular family & friends. I have one with 3 of my girlfriends where we organise stuff, post silly pics, can have a whinge and support one another. We post pics of our messy houses & have competitions of who has the most washing. All of this keeps me in touch with friends & helps me stay connected. I also have family groups where we share old pics, old school friend groups, and an exercise group where we post our achievements & a book club. I love it! I’m a bit addicted actually.
Do things as a family – Eat together. Doing little things together that you used to & that you enjoy, even if it was just a walk with the dogs. Watch a movie together or have a night out at a local restaurant. These are valuable times & things to do to keep the family close.
I could go on & on as it’s life changing having a baby. One minute they are a new born & the next they are walking & beginning to talk & show you what they want. I have this new little person in my life. Full of character, cheeky, giggly, inquisitive, loving & sensitive. She is an absolutely wonderful addition to my life & to our family. This precious gift I’ve been blessed with. I’m so lucky I can look after her. My life will never be the same again. And I’m glad.