New Parent

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Becoming a new parent is an exciting (and of course tiring) time in your life, however it can also be a time of feeling isolated.

I remember after my first child, once the frenzy of well-wishers had come to visit the baby, there was a lull in adult company. I knew people were respecting the fact that I needed to rest when the baby slept and that it was hard for them to know when that would be, but all the same I remember feeling very alone. I was also overwhelmed by the changes in my life – the responsibility for caring for a child 24 hours a day, a lack of sleep and the changes in hormones as my body adjusted from being pregnant into being a full-time milk bar.

Having moved house a few weeks prior to having the baby, I didn’t have any friends nearby and my old friends were not at the same stage in life, so they were busy with work commitments. I remember when my husband went back to work that I felt a bit lost. I could go all day without any adult conversation. Of course, I was besotted with our new baby, but I also felt that I had little purpose beyond caring for our daughter.

Being a first time parent, I was keen to ensure my baby was in a routine and so my life revolved around a strict regime that I inflicted upon myself. I also lacked the confidence to know that my baby would be okay unattended in her cot while I got on with chores – I would even take her into the bathroom with me when I showered, so I could keep an eye on her.

With experience came confidence to start going out and when I joined a mother’s group, I found a supportive network of new friends who were experiencing the same issues with their babies as I was with mine.

I laugh at the contrast of my first time parenting experience with that of my fourth child. My youngest child’s routine was to sleep in the car as I ferried his older sisters to and from school. He adapted to the family routine and I no longer feared leaving my baby unattended in the cot for a small amount of time to do chores. Furthermore, I no longer isolated myself at home, instead I continued with the social commitments for my other kids and to be frank I didn’t have time to feel lonely when surrounded by friends and our combined hoard of kids.

What did you find the hardest adjustment to being a new parent?

(Image courtesy of Danillo Razzuti, freedigitalphotos.net)

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Open Apology

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I have always laughed, but felt a tad annoyed, when people would ask me, ‘are ALL those children yours?’ – like having four children made me like the Duggars who have dozens of kids. The jokes of ‘haven’t you worked out how they are made?’ or ‘doesn’t your television work?’ or ‘are you trying to get a whole football team?’ all became old very quickly, so I’m usually sensitive to this with other parents.

However, the other day I bumped into a mother with whom I would sit when my oldest kids were learning to swim. She has a son my eldest daughter’s age, a son my second daughter’s age, a daughter a little younger than my son and the last time I saw her several years ago she had another baby son. So I was surprised when I saw her cradling a newborn baby. ‘Is that yours?’ I asked hesitantly, to which she replied yes. ‘How many kids do you have now?’ I asked insensitively. ‘Oh about fifteen,’ she joked then said this little boy was her fifth child.

‘Wow, a child finishing school and a newborn, that’s amazing,’ I went on, followed by, ‘you’ll probably have grandkids before your youngest kids finish school.’ This sentiment stems from my own thoughts that it is quite possible that my eldest could have a child before we are free from school commitments for our youngest.

After I walked away I was replaying our conversation over in my mind and came to the conclusion that I had acted in the exact way that I had always made a silence pact not to! What I should have said was what a blessing to have such a gorgeous child and what a lovely addition he would make to the family, instead in my shock at seeing this lady with another child I blurted out insensitive comments for which I openly apologise.

I know that when you give birth to any baby, you love them unconditionally and can’t imagine your family without them. This little boy is lucky to have been born into a family where he has many siblings to dote on him. I just don’t envy his mum having to sit through all those swimming lessons again!

(Photo courtesy of papaija2008, freedigitalphotos.net)

My son’s heartfelt message on Mother’s Day

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From the moment your belly swells with the new life inside, you develop a primal love for the child you are carrying. A love so pure you will accept the excruciating pain of giving birth, put up with sleepless nights and spend your life ensuring your beloved child is loved, safe, secure, educated and entertained.

Mother’s Day is the one day of the year your child is encouraged to show you how appreciated and loved you are. This year was the first ever I didn’t receive a glitter covered macaroni necklace or a kitschy ‘World’s Greatest Mum’ mug. This year my husband purchased a great gift on behalf of the kids, so their only input was a hand written heartfelt message in a store bought card. My nine year old son’s message will be forever etched in my mind:

“To Mum, hope you have fun. P.S. Can we go see Mall Cop 2?”

After all the dirty nappies, sleep deprivation, cooking, cleaning and playing mum’s taxi, that was my son’s heartfelt message!

Luckily he does still cuddle me and spontaneously tells me that he loves me, otherwise I might have had to put him up for adoption after his effort this Mother’s Day!

(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)

Kate’s not alone

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There has been a lot of conflicting opinions about whether Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, left hospital too soon after giving birth to little Princess Charlotte.

With my second child I left hospital after 20 hours. I just wanted to sleep in my own bed without listening to other babies crying and without the nurses chatter disturbing me. What I hadn’t counted on was that people took that to mean there was endless visiting hours at our home.

The night after giving birth to our daughter I had 26 visitors at my house at dinner time. I was exhausted and wanted time to rest and bond with my new baby. Instead I was hosting a party and ordering in copious amounts of pizza to feed the hordes.

Returning home also signified to my husband that I was back on board to care for our toddler and resume cooking and cleaning. I was exhausted and didn’t give myself a chance to heal and rest after what was a stressful experience for my body.

For the birth of my subsequent children I stayed in hospital for 3 days which meant I had allotted rest times, scheduled visiting hours, had time to stare at my beautiful baby without worrying about chores and best of all just had to tick a box on a sheet to order my meals.

While I truly understand Kate’s motivation to leave hospital immediately, having done it myself I wouldn’t choose to do it again. Having said that I’m sure Kate has nannies, chefs and cleaners so maybe returning home so early won’t be quite as exhausting for her.

There’s one thing I can tell you for sure is that I certainly didn’t look as glamourous as Kate when I left hospital with my newborn babies!

IS KATE A BIT OF A PRINCESS?

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As the news flashed across the world the Princess Kate and Prince William are expecting their next child I was of course thrilled with the news. The palace was forced to release the news early due to Kate being sick with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe morning sickness).

I also suffered from morning sickness, throwing up every day for 20 weeks with each of my four pregnancies – that is almost two years of my life vomiting every day! I wasn’t just a bit queasy, I was so ill that I ended up with broken blood vessels in my eyelids from the force of the heaving! The funny thing with morning sickness is that it becomes such a regular thing that you just accept the routine of having to hug the toilet bowl several times a day.

When pregnant with my fourth child, I had to deal with, not only being sick every day, but I had two small children at two different schools, which meant every morning was a juggling act getting them ready and at each school on time, paired with afternoons running them around to a multitude of activities. I also had a toddler to look after while I ran my own business. I was in the process of suing our company’s landlord, which was a David and Goliath struggle against a large multi-national company. We also sold our home and moved into a rental property while we were in the midst of building a new home (which took 12 months longer than planned) and I did all this without the help of a shopper, cook, nanny or a plethora of doctors to help me! As they say, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!’

While I feel sorry for Kate in this period of sickness, she is lucky to be surrounded by all the help she could possibly require to allow her to just focus on looking after her health.

I’m sure Kate is sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, but the struggle of dealing with morning sickness becomes just a shadow in your memory once your new baby arrives. After all, her previous illness didn’t stop her from wanting to get pregnant again. So what are you betting on, a new prince or a little princess for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge?

HOW TO HAVE A CHILD WHO IS A SPORTS STAR!

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I don’t profess to have the secret formula for how to give birth to sporty kids, but I did come across a very interesting hypothesis by author Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’ that looks at statistics of successful kids.

He shows that representative teams of athletes are heavily weighted with kids who are born in the first three months of the school year. So in Australia that is January, February and March; however in the Northern hemisphere it is July, August and September.

The reason behind this is that when kids are young and are introduced to their chosen sport, there is a big difference in size, strength, maturity and skills of a kid who is say 6 versus a kid that is almost 7. This difference means the older kids are chosen for representative teams. When they get into those teams they have more coaching and more game time so their skills increase exponentially in comparison to the kids who are just playing on a local team coached by a mum or dad. As they gain more experience the gap between the older kids and younger kids increase and then once they are teenagers and their size difference is no longer that obvious, the older kids already have the superior skills due to the advantages given to them when they were younger.

There are of course talented people whose birthdays fall outside these months, but the majority all have birthdays at the start of the year.

My kids have had their athletics carnivals over the past two weeks and I was interested to see the children who excelled at athletics did seem to be the eldest in their age group.

So the moral of this story is that if you want to have a child that has the potential to be a sporting super star who will earn mega bucks, then you need to have a baby at the start of the school year and be willing to invest a lot of time and energy (and lets face it – money) to nurture their talent.

Just as a footnote, none of my kids are born in these months, so I guess I missed the opportunity to have a child who is a sporting super star!

(Picture courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net)

BABY VS BRA

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I recently read a post by a mother who justified her choice to not breastfeed because she wanted to wear pretty bras and wanted the convenience of bottle-feeding over breastfeeding. The premise of her post was that it wasn’t a selfish choice, but I had to disagree. Research shows that breast milk is best for babies to help them gain improved immunity and is the perfect type of sustenance for growing babies.

 

Maybe this woman was trying to be witty by inferring wearing pretty lingerie was more important to her than her baby’s health. We all know how ugly maternity bras are, but in the scheme of motherhood, I think it is a rather small sacrifice to make! Furthermore, she has a better chance of slimming down to her pre-baby body if she breastfeeds, so that when she does put on that pretty lingerie she will look better in it! As for the convenience of bottlefeeding – what is more convenient than breastfeeding on demand where there is no preparation, sterilization or waiting for water to cool to the right temperature!

 

Having said that, I’m not a breastfeeding Nazi and I believe there are times when bottlefeeding is a better option for the mum and child:

–       If a mother doesn’t have sufficient supply and the baby isn’t thriving then formula is definitely necessary.

–       If a baby can’t attach properly and both mother and baby are suffering!

–       When there is a multiple birth and the logistics of feeding more than one baby at a time is required.

 

I would have thought that for all mothers the number one priority is their baby’s health. Of course the formulas for babies are great these days, but I believe they should be used as a last resort, not a choice based upon bras!

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Jomphong, freedigitialphotos.net)