Fuck me, where has the last year gone?
I am currently planning what kind of cake to bake for a small child’s first birthday party and it seems like only last week I was burying my face in a bag of Marks & Spencer snacks and losing at Scrabble whilst waiting for my pessary to kick in at Ipswich Hospital.
I am no longer a new parent. I no longer have a newborn and heck, in a short matter of weeks I will no longer have an infant, I will have an actual real-life grown-up toddler. Hashtag pray for Hannah.
But I’ve had enough space from the early days now to look back at them with some perspective. So here are the things I would do differently if I was to have my time again.
More photos and videos. Gah, this one. I’m not sure if it was to do with the long, long labour and emergency c-section or the fact that I didn’t want to ‘bother’ my boyfriend by asking for photos (shout out to my fellow Insta gals who constantly hound their loved ones for outfit snaps) but somehow I have managed to end up with two photos from hospital.
And yes OK, I’ve some more of the baby just lying on my bed in a variety of different sleepsuits as the weeks go by, but barely ANY of us together, as a family. I would give less of a shit how I looked and more of a shit about capturing those memories.
Cloth for lavender oil. I realise this is a minute detail that won’t matter to most, but when I found out I was being wheeled up to theatre the first thing I asked for was some of my lavender oil on a bit of tissue. It was something suggested in my hypnobirthing book to help calm and relax before and during a c-section and something I packed on a whim ‘just in case’.
Spoiler: It was absolute fucking fabulous to have something, anything to focus my last dregs of energy on, rather than the fact I was about to be sliced open. Highly recommend.
It really infuriates me after all this time that I had it on a bit of tissue that fell apart within minutes, rather than a cloth that I could cling to reassuringly for the rest of eternity.
No new clothes for the first three months. As a self-confessed clothesaholic it was sheer hell spending nine months in a cute mish mash of maternity leggings and baggy jumpers, so the second the child was pulled wailing out of me I was scrolling through ASOS and spending the coppers tinkering about the bottom of my bank balance.
The things I bought were hideous. Ill-fitting. Resigned almost immediately to a nice spot at the local charity shop.
I wish I’d have just waited a bit longer and maybe invested in a few pairs of smarter trackie bottoms and loungey kinda pieces to see me through the newborn days, rather than try to get my arse in a pair of FaShIon straight leg jeans on day ten.
Ask for more help. When you’re a strong independent woman who was put on this earth to demonstrate that you can in fact have it all (aren’t we all, mate?) it’s sometimes a little hard to ask for help.
I was pretty good at accepting the help that was offered. Yes you can make dinner for me and yes you can babysit whilst I have my first Pornstar Martini in a year and yes you can absolutely buy me some nappies on the way over. But I wished I’d have just been bolder with asking – making that first move – with people.
Because if you can’t text people and ask for help when your tummy is full of stitches and you’ve had 10 hours sleep stretched across a week, when can you?
Invest in a bigger bed. You can roll your eyes at me all you want with this one, because it is indulgent as fuck. I am obviously not saying that YOU CANNOT HAVE A BABY WITHOUT A SUPER KING SIZE BED AND A MATTRESS TOPPER, but I am saying that you know what would have been incredibly divine in those early days? A bigger bed.
We toyed with the idea of upsizing from a double whilst I was pregnant (I mean I toyed with the idea and my boyfriend shot me down with boring phrases like ‘but Hannah we need a pushchair!’), but my god what a difference it would have made to have not slept on a saggy 10-year-old mattress. Just sayin’.
Research safe co-sleeping. Naturally I assumed my baby would be happy to sleep in a cardboard box on the floor next to my bed because that’s what they do in Scandinavia and therefore that is what we will do.
But HA! Ha. Hahahaha.
My baby only wanted to sleep on me for the first week, and then next to me, and then it took until about week four or five until I could convince him that his Snuzpod was in fact quite comfy and not 65735 miles away from me. I felt unprepared for that situation and the guilt – the absolute overwhelming guilt – that I was putting my baby in danger almost tipped me over the edge. I wish I had done my research and felt more sure of myself.
Try and breastfeed for longer. Pretty sure 97% of mums feel this way regardless of whether they never breastfed or did it until their baby was five. It’s such a hard thing to explain unless you’ve been there, but ah man, breastfeeding.
I think looking back I would have liked to have combo fed for longer – it was the night feeds and sleep deprivation that killed it off in the end, and I hope that next time (if I am so lucky as to have a next time), I will be better equipped.
Try bralets instead of feeding bras. Having recently become a number one fan girl to the humble Marks & Spencer DD+ bralet, I have absolutely no doubt that it would make a better and less faff-y alternative to a feeding bra with clips.
Trying to unclip and reclip in public without flashing your giant pepperoni nipple at the 50-year-old man facing you in the cafe as you breastfeed is a real bit of extra excitement I did not need in my life.
Have more box-sets lined up. Now that I have entered a stage of BABY where it is really hard to watch anything without him shouting at me for ignoring him/not walking him around the house/not letting him scratch my face/not letting him steal my glasses, I am seriously regretting not making the most of the days where he mostly just slept on me.
I seemingly watched 57388648 episodes of Say Yes To The Dress when Atti was tiny, which seems like a bloody waste if you ask me. My boyfriend had two months off, why didn’t we binge watch an entire 12 season boxset and eat pizza every night? WHY?!
Indulge myself more. Like literally, why did I even do anything aside from nap and feed a baby for the first three months? I wish I had gone slower and stopped thinking about work and ‘staying the same person I was before’. Fuck off Hannah.
Take longer away from the internet. I did a month off social media and emails which was bloody lovely. I appreciate some new mums rely heavily on online support networks (I had a few fellow we’ve-just-had-babies mums on Facebook Messenger) but having that time without worrying if I was doing it wrong and without comparing myself to others was an absolute blessing and had I been able to save enough maternity leave beforehand I think I’d have liked to have gone longer.
That’s it. Over and out. See ya.