Monday, November 23, 2009

Never rock a newborn and other 'useful' tips

A Day Three pre-rocked Louis
I'm never alone when I rock Louis to sleep. Aside from the obvious, I can always count on the company of a nagging voice in my head that gets stuck on repeat. "Don't get your newborn used to being rocked to sleep; you'll regret it when they're 17 pounds." That little gem was one of the many priceless tips I gleaned from my extensive pre-birth baby book reading: I find it comes in particularly handy now that Louis is 17 months and a good 10 or so pounds past that 17 pound cut off. 

Given how 'useful' that bit of advice turned out to be, I started thinking about all the other so-called top tips I wish I'd never read while pregnant. Up there with thou shalt not rock your baby, was the one about those glider rocking chairs. You know, those ridiculously comfy (and expensive) chairs, that adorn "proper" nurseries. Well, apparently they're lethal. All that rocking might comfort your baby so much that they get too used to it. Plus heaven forbid you should actually be comfortable for all those hours and hours - and hours you spend nursing and soothing your child. Avoid! Avoid! 

Then, in no particular order of irritation and uselessness we have: 
- Don't carry your baby around too much in a sling. He/she will get so sick of hearing your voice that they'll start tuning you out. (With thanks to, 'What to Expect those first 12 fraught months for that one, a personal favourite that yes I did worry about as I burbled away to Louis.)
- You're the boss, not the baby: don't let him/her dictate when he/her needs to eat. Put the baby on a schedule asap and don't be its slave. (No prizes for guessing where I read that. And yes, I know I want shooting for even picking up the dreaded Gina.)
- Think EASY and you'll have your baby in a routine in no time. That's Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time. (You think it's obvious when the baby's still in your tummy, but you try keeping a newborn from sleeping after a feed, or getting it straight to sleep after playtime. Actually, don't. It will drive you nuts. Thanks for nothing Baby Whisperer.)
- It's never too early to start getting baby used to a bedtime routine. (But what the books don't tell you is that do that and you'll miss out on all those opportunities of taking out your very portable newborn. Plus routine, schmoutine: I was anal about bedtime from about week three and fat lot of good it did me.)
- Start expressing milk pronto so the baby's dad can do the 11pm feed and you can go to bed early. (It might sound sensible, but that advice is just wrong on so many levels, from making you stress about expressing when you have better things to worry.)
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. (What if it doesn't? Or you can't? Another way to make me feel incompetent.) 
- Avoid vibrating baby bouncers. Ditto singing mobiles or anything else that will get your baby too used to a sleeping 'crutch' ever to fall asleep by himself. (And make life even harder for your sleep-deprived self? Brilliant advice, that. Advice that I diligently followed, opting instead for a beautifully designed number that I liked but Louis - sorry Great Aunt Claire - never adored.)

I could go on, but I'm seriously depressing myself. I had intended to balance this post with a list of tips I did find useful (that'll be quite short, then) plus add some of my own, but I've already broken Daddy J's golden "keep it short and sweet" blogging rule. I'd love to hear which "tips" keep you constant company in your hours of need. Or, cynic that I am, any that did indeed prove sanity saving. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bugging me, Bugaboo (ah-haaa)

Regular bwb readers will know that Louis and his buggy don't exactly always see eye to eye. Not the one he's pushing in the picture but the one that cost us a small fortune that I thought I 'had' to have before he was born. These days he seems to spend more time 'buggy surfing' than actually sitting in it. Which means that I too have a love-hate relationship with his pushchair. As fellow bloggers will know, there's nothing like writing about something to vent your wrath, and I got to do that in spades this week, with a comment piece about, yup, buggies in the wake of the great Maclaren saga. I'd be interested to know if anyone else feels the same.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

17 months going on 3 days

Last Sunday at the Flower Market

I blame it on the picture. Ever since I posted the photo of Louis as a newborn, he's decided to behave just like one. If it wasn't for the extra 15 odd pounds he's carrying round and the blonde rinse, I reckon I'd struggle to tell the difference. 

Take the past couple of nights. After napping during the evening, he's proceeded to wake up hourly - yes, hourly - during the rest of the so-called night. I swear there's precious little difference between the amount of time he's then spent nursing and when he was a few days old. His favourite place for sleeping still seems to be in my arms: last night he only dropped back off at 1am after I sat up cuddling him for the best part of an hour. 

Then there's the buggy. Yet again I spent half of our walk home pushing it with one hand while carrying him with the other. It brought memories of walking home from Borough Market with him aged three weeks: my Mum pushing his buggy and me carrying him, worrying I'd get him into bad habits. Yet this time there was the small matter of him weighing the best part of 25 pounds (I'm guessing - to know for sure I'd have to either brave a session at baby clinic or stand on our scales holding him and I'm not prepared to do either). 

Not that I'm really complaining. How can I when someone seems to have pressed the fast forward button on time and he'll be all grown up before I know it? Besides, he makes up it all in other ways. Perhaps if new borns popped out being able to say "Mummy" and plant mushy kisses on their mothers' lips then PND rates would plummet. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A special birthday

Birthdays are funny things for Mums. For instance, I now realise that the day itself is of far more significance to my Mum than to me. After all, she's the one with the actual memories of 3 November 197.... no, on second thoughts, I won't say the year!

I remember last year (for bwb passed it's own little birthday last month, something I had meant to highlight, but never got round to, story of my life) musing something about how even my own birthday got hijacked by Louis. So I expected more of the same this year. Especially as I was recently reminded that it was all downhill in terms of birthday enjoyment once you'd had a child.

But actually I don't think that's right. It sounds selfish to say it, but I honestly think today totally revolved around me, not Louis. My lovely friend and her son made the day very special, and it was more of the same later on when we went out en famille for an early supper. Even the waitresses contributed, bringing me a surprise birthday pudding and candle. (To be honest, I think a round of, 'Happy Birthday to Me', which I'd spent most of the day singing to Louis, mainly because every time I finished he laughed and said, 'More!,' helped.)

So, chin up fellow Mums: you might not relish the passing of another 12 months in terms of what it does to the age on any forms you fill in (or the wrinkles on your face) but your birthday can still be special. If you doubt me, just give your baby/toddler/child a huge hug and think how much nicer it is to have them around to share it with.

*I would post a birthday pic, but my phone broke this morning and I forgot to take my camera out with me. So, instead, I thought you might like one that I just came across of Louis on his actual birth day. Plus I don't want to be able to see how aging a year of not sleeping is!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Part-time living

Four months in to my new part-time life and I'm still trying to figure out what I make of it all. And I mean 'part-time life': working three days a week means I not only do the job and Mummy bit part time, but everything else as well.

Yet tough as it is to squeeze five days work into three, it's probably the part-time family stuff that I find hardest. We pretty much operate a one-in, one-out policy on the parenting front in this house, which speaks for itself. The only reason I didn't stop writing bwb when I came back from DC was because I spend so many evenings alone.

Then again, part-time friendships aren't exactly easy. We're useless socially because one of us is usually working - day or night - and dinner party invites for one just don't happen. I'd love a decent night out, but can't even manage to organise that for my birthday.

It's working part time that's got me into this mess. When you're still on maternity leave, it seems such an elegant solution to the conundrum of whether to go back. But from this side of the fence the reality is pretty different. It's just not possible to feel you do either the job or the baby justice. Although I'd like to think Louis suffers a little bit less than the paper. Mainly because he gets to hang out more with his Daddy, not forgetting the lovely Anna and his 'Bam-ma'(s) when they have time.

The old guilt of the working mum is as old a chestnut as they come, yet each new mother struggling with her conscience comes to the issue afresh. The conundrum got an airing this weekend when the Observer's political editor described why she'd decided to resign and get to know her toddler instead of working round the clock. It's a great piece, but only served to magnify my own work insecurities because anyone who knows me knows I'd never have cut a holiday short to return to work! (As retail correspondent I managed to miss the bid battle of the century when Philip Green tried to buy Marks & Sparks because I was getting married.) I utterly applaud Gaby Hinsliff for quitting but slightly worry that she's called her inevitable blog usedtobesomebody. It hardly makes it sound like full-time motherhood has much going for it.

And the solution? There isn't one. Not working full time, not working at all, and not even working part time. What to do?