Pip’s birthday swiftly followed Elphie’s and accordingly, I have been reflecting over the past year. It’s true what they say: I don’t think anyone ever thought the first year of their baby’s life went slowly! Of course, there have been slow moments… very slow moments, but on a day to day basis it has gone by in a blink.
I second all of Elly’s advice and have a few bits of my own to add…
I didn’t really expect the first birthday to feel like such a milestone, but it did. It was quite an emotional day, not least because Elphie burst into tears at being presented with her birthday cake. It certainly feels like a good chance to think back over the year and pass on my “wisdom” to those that come after me so they can steadfastly ignore it as we all do.
Ah the heady days before baby, when I could have a few large glasses of wine after work, share a bottle with a meal or finish the night with a wee dram or two; a sudden withdrawal from alcohol was always going to raise suspicions of pregnancy in those around me.
Luckily while pregnant, I just went off the stuff. From occasionally actually craving a glass of wine, I went to not being bothered by it – I would have a sip of Fred’s tipple just so I knew what I was missing, but that was enough. I was paranoid that Elphie would be born with fetal alcohol syndrome as a consequence of the extra drinks I had at Charles and Laura’s wedding following a negative pregnancy test that I mistakenly thought had put me in the clear. Fetal alcohol syndrome has a number of nasty growth and mental retardation symptoms alongside facial abnormalities like the below courtesy of an article by Warren, Hewitt & Thomas. There is speculation that Jade Goody and George W Bush shared these facial characteristics but I’ll leave you to play Dr Google on that one.
Pip’s sleeping has, I think, been pretty average on the whole: he seems to fit somewhere in between the “good sleepers” and “bad sleepers” of our acquaintance, although it is hard to compare as most babies his age seem to be at least combination fed these days. Being an optimist by nature, I have lost count of the evenings I have gone to bed thinking tonight would be the night he would sleep through, only to be inevitably dragged out of bed in the small hours (repeated disappointment is one side effect Pollyanna never mentioned). We went through a golden spell of him only waking once in 11-12 hours, but since January, things seemed to have gone backwards and we decided it was time to try and do something about it. By the way, when I say sleep through, I mean going down at 7pm and sleeping until 6-7am – none of this five hours business, I aim high!
Both Mr Cath and I find Pip’s crying very upsetting so traditional sleep training was out of the question. The key, we agreed, was night weaning, that is, teaching Pip that he did not need to breastfeed any more at night. When he fed it was only for a few minutes and it was clearly a comfort rather than a nutrition thing. What would happen if and when night weaning was successful was something we could deal with later! In February we briefly tried a couple of nights of Mr Cath going in and comforting Pip but it was a disaster: we did not anticipate the crying that would result, and more often than not I ended up feeding him anyway which made the whole thing pointless and frustrating. Then Mr Cath was ill (which may or may not have been related to his recent night traumas), then Pip was ill, then one thing led to another and it was March and I was still waking a few times every night to breastfeed Pip.
One of Pip’s little girlfriends, who is a actually a few weeks younger than him, iswalking already (with a push along walker, but still!) While Pip himself hasn’t shown much interest in moving around yet, this has brought home the imminent prospect of crawling, or at least some bottom shuffling. Babies’ development at this age seems so rapid: it only feels like a minute ago that Pip mastered sitting, and so many seasoned parents have informed me that I will “miss” these days of immobility that I’ve started to think there might be something challenging on its way that will need thought and preparation devoted to it before it hits us.
Enter the concept of “baby-proofing” or “child-proofing”: essentially preparing your house so that it is a safe zone for your baby to roam, by way of nifty inventions such as plug socket covers and stair gates.
People have been weaning their babies since time immemorial and yet in the baby world this seems to be one of the topics with the largest degree of misinformation and confusion around it (I still think breastfeeding holds the top spot on topic with the most misinformation).
I was fully intending to wait to start the weaning journey until Elphie became six months adjusted to her expected due date so that her gut would have developed to the same extent as a full term baby’s would have. But a Health Visitor gave me pause for thought when she said that their guidance is to only wait until six months unadjusted, however premature your baby. This seemed a bit bizarre to me because surely their guts wouldn’t miraculously have become ready for food just because they have been on the outside for longer, so I thought I would do some digging.
It might be the eating, or the moves towards mobility accorded by a slithering action on her belly, but suddenly Elphie seems almost all grown-up and fast heading towards being a toddler rather than a baby.
The past seven and a half months have got incredibly quickly and at each stage I have felt behind the curve playing catch-up (don’t even talk to me about babyproofing). Before having a baby, it seemed like people had babies forever, that it took too long for them to learn to walk, to talk, to be an actual person. Now she’s on the precipice of all that, I miss her being tiny and wish I had taken more videos of her just being as it is hard to remember her being so small now she is a mega baby.
Elphie finally has a stamp in her passport, ironically (for anyone who gets the film reference) it doesn’t say Italy on it, despite that being her first international destination, as the grumpy customs officer in Sardinia refused to stamp it as we were travelling within the EU. So the United States of America gets the privilege. Photo credit: Tim Dodd
New York is one of my favourite cities. A city that never sleeps has a certain appeal to a night owl and with its towering skyscrapers, amazing architecture and history, there is no truer monument to what man (and woman) can achieve. So I was thrilled to be sharing it with Elphie – although I am not sure she grasped the significance.