As I type this, the house is quiet. The dishwasher is churning away on its daily grind and the toddler is peacefully asleep. For now, peace remains. I know, however, that this peace is soon to be upended and replaced by the madness that comes with a new born, as I am due to have baby number two in the New Year.
I’ve been really trying to spend these last few weeks of pregnancy enjoying the little things; the things that I know will be put on hold for that first year, at least. These things are nothing huge – no holidays to Barbados or expensive shopping trips – just the small things, like spending an evening with my hubby in front of the fire, watching cruddy TV and then getting a (fairly) decent night’s sleep. I’ve enjoyed (probably far too many) trips to coffee shops when I’ve dropped my toddler at nursery and I’ve really been enjoying having the odd afternoon nap. All of these things will be put on hold soon, so I’m trying to be mindful and find the joy in the little things.
We’ve been practising changing dolly’s nappy – I’m going to need all the help I can get, right?! – and she’s even pulled some wallpaper off the walls, when we decorated the nursery. When I have a little wobble and worry that I’m going to lose my time with her and upset her by bringing a new baby into the house, my husband reminds me that we are enriching her life by adding a sibling, and this seems to stem my emotional wobbles. There is only 20 months between my sister and I, who I adore, and this also keeps me thinking of the positives of baby number two.
Of course, there are things that I will be doing differently this time, however. The main one of these is breastfeeding. Oh my word, what a struggle we had with it first time round! Not the struggle that you might be expecting as you read this – we were lucky in that she took to it like a duck to water – but it was the struggle of getting her off the boob that nearly sent us over the edge! Nobody told me how important it is to introduce a bottle early on so that they get used to feeding from both bottle and boob. I think that there is SO much pressure on new mums to breastfeed and SO much guilt-inducing garbage written about bottle feeding, that new mums find the whole feeding issue a total minefield. It was certainly one of the most discussed topics amongst my new mum friends. I wish it wasn’t an issue laced with so much guilt and expectation; clearly breastfeeding has huge benefits for both mum and baby, but it is not an issue that should be thrown at new parents to make them feel inadequate or, somehow, better or worse than each other. That is how it made me feel by the end and it was definitely the hardest part of being a new mum, for me.
Now I’m more experienced, I feel far more confident about feeding. Surely as long as we are feeding baby somehow then that is enough? It galls me how so many people have an opinion on how you, as parents, are feeding your own child. I’ve written about this on my blog before (having a toddler with allergies and struggling with others’ opinions of that) but, when it comes down to it, anyone who has an opinion on how you choose to feed your child probably doesn’t have very much excitement going on in their own lives, let’s be frank! My one message to expectant new mums would be to block out the ‘opinion noise’. It’s incredible how many people have an opinion on feeding; I believe as long as you’re feeding your child somehow and you are meeting their needs then you’re all good. This time, we intend to combination feed from the get go and let Daddy be far more involved, because let’s not forget that it’s difficult on the men, too. My husband found it really hard not being able to comfort our daughter in the way that I could and, naturally, I was very envious of the amount of sleep he was getting, whilst I was up every two hours for well over a year! After 15 months of exclusively breastfeeding through the night I have vowed to never let do so again.
I appreciate that this is a bit of a maverick thing to say and that I will be considered by some as being extremely selfish (all part of the ‘people having a strong opinion about you feeding your child’ brigade) but, for us, it’s the right decision and I now feel confident and brave enough, as a mother and a blogger, to be 100% honest about our choices. If it helps one other mother and father feel more confident in their choice – whichever choice they make – then I’ll be happy. I know that every baby’s different but, for us, once we stopped breastfeeding she started sleeping through the night and everything fell into place. I know that friends of ours have had a similar outcome, so we are taking this experience and instilling a different routine for number two. Fingers crossed! (Watch us have a fussy baby who won’t feed or sleep well, now! Ha ha!)
So, in general, my final post for 2017 for this blog is a bit of a reflective one, I suppose to match the mood that I’m in at the moment. Life is going to change again next year and I am super excited about it, whilst still being grateful for what we have right now. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a healthy 2018.