Mummy stuff

A bit of mummy wisdom – part I

little L newborn

I recently came across the blog of Alice, a 24 year old London mum-to-be. Reading through her entire blog, I was taken back to my own pregnancy. Her worries about the baby not being there any more (stop testing, Alice!), her battle with tiredness and the effect a great dose of hormones can have on you, worrying about dropping the baby once she’s out – it all reminded me of my own pregnancy and how much I used to worry.

Luckily, most of the worries turned out to be for no reason. And as soon as little L was born, I was way too overwhelmed to keep on worrying. If only I could have told myself before what I know now.

little L 2nd day at home

During my pregnancy, I thought I was tired. But nothing prepared me for the tiredness that awaited me during the first months of my daughter’s life. Sleep deprivation plus hormones made a weepy mess of my former optimistic and energetic self. I am surprised there are not more mothers suffering from postnatal depression. When little L was nine weeks old, I was thinking my life was over, I would never ever be able to leave the house again, make plans or sleep more than four hours in one go.

I loved my daughter right from the start. But sometimes I wondered what we had got ourselves into. That life would never be fun again. Those were irrational thoughts, as I know now, but they felt very real to me back then.

little L sleeping again

The first three months were painfully exhausting. People keep telling you to cherish this time as it is so precious and special and it passes so quickly. I couldn’t wait for it to pass. I did cherish and adore her, she was so sweet and delicate and tiny. But I was also thankful for every week she got older without any major incidence.

Whenever I saw mothers with two or more children, I imagined they must have been completely drunk or on drugs or both when they decided to go for another one. Why would anyone in their right mind would want to deliberately torture oneself like that?

little L very tired

When little L was about six weeks old, silly me listened to the ill advice of a well-meaning breastfeeding ambassador, who misinterpreted every fart my baby let lose as a feeding queue. We went from feeding every three hours to feeding every hour. A classic example of how ‘feeding on demand’ can be misinterpreted.

As ‘on demand’ is very much en vogue, it was near to impossible to get a few simple questions answered. Such as ‘how much milk/sleep/poos does a baby need in 24 hours’. Little L was sleeping during the day and frenzy-feeding during the night. I had enough and ventured out to Boarders (may it rest in peace). That’s how Gina Ford ended on my coffee table.

little L speaks to dolly

So far I had cherry picked parental advice from the Baby Whisperer and The Happiest Baby on the Block – but none of them made any specific suggestions how to establish a routine. And yes, did I want a routine!

I never followed Gina Ford strictly or took her every word serious. But the general idea worked wonders for us: make sure your baby sleeps well during the day, so she is relaxed enough to finish her meals. Thus she’ll wake less and less during the night, as she isn’t hungry.

little L 10 weeks

I ignored the recommendation to wake her for a 10pm feed (she’d be fast asleep like a rock, impossible to wake gently), as well as the ‘don’t look at the baby when you leave the room’ (WTF?!) and the order to have a slice of toast and a glass of water at 9:14am precisely.

Little L started to sleep through when she was 10 weeks old. During the day she is still sleeping much more than recommended by Gina Ford for a baby her age, but I am not going to mess with it – apparently she needs it. I found The Baby Whisperer very helpful to read the signs for tiredness/boredom/hunger little L made.

little L ile de re

We went on vacation when little L was three months old. Just about time! Big M couldn’t do much regarding the feeding – breastfeeding makes it almost impossible to share this task, especially when you, like me, never warm to the idea of a breast pump. I tried it a few times but couldn’t get rid of the image of a dairy cow wired up to a milking machine. However, Big M carried her around a lot, changed nappies and bathed her, giving me a much-needed break.

Little L turning three months has been a big mark in my perception about how motherhood feels. I started to see light on the horizon. I was far from the idea of getting broody again, but I had a feeling that having a baby actually could mean having a great time, too.

little L in baby bjoern

My top tips for surviving the first three months:

  • Don’t make any major plans or set yourself goals for the first three months. You are likely to frustrate yourself.
  • Sleep whenever your baby is sleeping. Don’t clean up, don’t go online, just sleep! It will help make you feel much better much sooner.
  • Get a sling. During the first few weeks our baby didn’t want to be put down. And I didn’t want to put her down either.
  • Stock up on fairly healthy convenience food (e.g. muesli bars, Innocent veggie pots, Covent Garden soups, smoothies), you won’t have much time to cook.
  • Don’t stress about weight you want to lose – in my case it went away all by itself within eight months after giving birth.
  • Carrying a baby a lot does not make for a clingy baby. Little L has been carried non-stop and is a very independent and adventurous 9 months old I now.
  • Try to relax. It’s going to get better, eventually.

25 Comments

  1. All sound advice. I would also add – remember – your baby won’t think you’re a crap parent – they have no benchmarks. That got me through some dark days…

  2. Those are all great words of advice – totally agree that carrying the baby is a GOOD thing and doesn’t make them clingy and when combined with a sling means you can actually do things like fix dinner

    Don’t forget the mothers’ mantra – this too shall pass !

  3. That’s a great post and I agree with every tips! Read the same books and made the same decisions.
    And I to think that I must have been drunk when I wanted my second baby so soon after the first, but most of the time I think that the hangover is not too bad and even sometimes bloody fabulous 🙂 The photos are gorgeous! xx

  4. Oh my lordy. I HATED the first three months of both of the boys lives. It was hard, hard work. I had crap pregnancies, births and coliccy and ill children. I couldnt wait to get back to work. Thankfully things got better.

    I think the biggest thing for me is that other mothers need to be far more honost and relalistic about life with children. I NEEDED REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS, not the perfect ones that I set

  5. Great advice! A friend who had a baby a few weeks after I did followed Gina Ford (or similar) advice and I followed ‘instinct’ (or what I had left after 2 hours sleep!) and we both have confident, clever, happy 12 year olds today.

    Go with the plan that causes the parents less stress!! My friend would have been stressed to be so unstructured as I was and I would have been stressed about those schedules and rules.

    What a beautiful little girl Little L is!

  6. Great tips! When Betty was born I too used to look at other parents with two or more and think ‘HOW? WHY??’ etc. But then when Dolly was born it was a breeze and her newborn days were the genuinely the best days of my life. That’s not to say I didn’t completely and utterly adore Betty as a newborn, but i found it bloody hard work! And as Little L gets older, it will get easier and easier! And then you can start thinking about number two!!! xx

  7. Wonderful post. And very true. I had a very similar experience with my second child.

  8. What a great and honest post – it took me back to the nightmare that was my first three months of motherhood, with a baby who fed constantly and never seemed to want to sleep. Where was Gina when I needed her? Very sound advice for any new mother, and you are so great with L x

  9. Thank you! This post brought (happy) tears to my eyes and I think I ought to print it out and put it on the fridge.

    I think I am over the first tiredness hurdle (phew) though I think it’s the thing I will be least looking forward to in 5 months time… and I can’t imagine giving two hoots about it if my baby is as gorgeous as Little L.

    I am pleased to report that I sent the remainder of my pregnancy tests off to a lady on a TTC board at babycentre 🙂 x

  10. Great advice. Yep, those first months are exhausting aren’t they. But looking back, now that my little Ruby is 16 months, those first months did fly by. I highly recommend a routine of feeding and trying to make sure your baby is full at the end of each feed. You then get more time inbetween getting your boobs or bottle out again, your baby is full, satisfied, happy and sleepy. It worked so well for me. But whatever way you choose, its all tiring, but it does get better, much better.

  11. Great post. I found the first three months with Littleboy 1 a complete nightmare. But the period from 3 to 6 months was lovely, especially once he slept through. Having a second one was totally different – you are so busy juggling you don’t have time to worry so much about being tired or how the baby is feeding. And you have worked out by then that everything is a phase and your baby won’t need Infacol forever or need a nappy change every three hours.

  12. I too went down the Gina Ford route and have to say it worked a dream for both of mine. I’ve never struggled with breastfeeding or sleep or behaviour.
    But then different things work for different people. I wanted routine, I wanted to know how much sleep/milk was needed.
    I have to say, the best piece of advice I could ever give to a new parent is: there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t feel like there is, but after 6 weeks things will change and you will feel human once again!

  13. A lovely post hun, the first 3months are hard and i will once again get to experience them soon 🙂 It is lovely to read your story and great tips that you’ve shared xxxx

  14. Brilliant post. I went the Baby Whisperer way mostly and concentrated on developing a night time routine. We found Miss M the fell into her own routine pretty much.

    Miss E however was a nightmare. She had colic for 10 months and we did everything and anything to get sleep. I could definitely have done with this advice then.

    And your little one is absolutely gorgeous. What a cutie. 😀

  15. Carry extra nappies and never ever forget the baby wipes, until they are 3 years old!

  16. Mother of 3 here. 1st child didn’t sleep until he was 3(really, except during the day), 2nd child slept at 8 weeks and same with 3rd – and all down to Gina Ford for child number 2 and 3. You are so right routine is essential as it helps to set their little body clocks. I only followed the feeding/sleeping plan of hers, I too, found her other suggestions, frankly freaky, I think it was the ‘social time’ that got to me. Each stage will bring new challenges and delights too xxx

  17. I loosely followed Gina Ford too. Great post and your pictures……oh beautiful, you’ve made me all broody now. She is soooo gorgeous! X

  18. Great post, great tips. The only thing that I would add is that for some (like me) the watershed isn’t 3 months. I really struggled for the first 9 months until I got used to permanently broken nights. But I did get used to it (honest, even with a 4 day working week) and just before her 2nd birthday the very bad sleeper turned into the best sleeper ever, hurray!

  19. This post is brilliant and will help so many people. I thought I was going mad in those first few months. I was a single parent doing it all on my own and I had no idea what to do. I quickly dissolved into a crumpled mess of a human being. Thankfully my health visitor picked me up (quite literally) and talked to me about routines and feeding myself properly as well as my child (no need to elaborate on that one). I had no time or energy to read any parenting books despite having several and there seemed no light at the end of the tunnel. There is light at the end of the tunnel and every single minute of motherhood has been worth it. If only there were blog posts like this around 6 years ago. You’re an angel and you write brilliantly. Crying now. xx Gorgeous photos, by the way 🙂

  20. Loads of great advice, and loads of lovely pictures there too. I wish I’d realised that each stage was just that – a transitory time. If baby fell asleep on my mother, it didn’t mean I was doomed to have a child who would never sleep without the comforting warmth of a human against them. A bad night, or even three, didn’t mean we’d never sleep again. And listen to your instincts. I lost count of the number of people who told me to start weaning/not wean/give up breastfeeding/stop top-up bottles. Asking for advice is one thing, but unsolicited, ‘Poor mite, he’s hungry isn’t he?’ five minutes after feeding isn’t helpful.

  21. Great post brimming with excellent advice and stunning pictures. Little L is a real cutie. I think all new mothers should read this post. Gina Ford frightened me to death but I cherry picked bits from it and other books and muddled through somehow.

  22. Oh god… nodding my head here until it almost falls off! Just doing some catch up reading and couldn’t agree with all this more. I remember thinking how could I love my baby but feel like we’d made a huge mistake too for the first 3 months! Well done for putting it all so eloquently into a great post xx

  23. Hello
    All those tips are very useful tips for all new mothers.Its interesting to read this post about a baby and mother.I also like those photographs very much.Baby looks really very cute.Thank you.

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