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…
1. Go out every day
So Elphie turned one! I don’t know how it happened, but somehow a year has flown by and my premature baby is on the cusp of becoming a toddler.
Photo credit: Punchbowl
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.
From the start, most people have said that Pip most resembles Mr Cath rather than me. There are exceptions: for example, my parents think he looks like me as a baby. And one friend who shall remain nameless recently commented that Pip looked like his father when he was born, but he is looking more and more like me “now that his cheeks are filling out a bit”. Um, cheers.
The funny thing is, it’s not just Pip, and certainly not just boys. Most babies really seem to look like their Dads. But why? Babies’ genes are split 50/50 so they should look like both their parents equally… but my experience and that of other people appears to suggest that this isn’t the case.
There are a few credible-ish theories as to why this might be:
One reason why babies look like their fathers could have its roots in evolution. To reassure the father that the baby is his own offspring, and therefore not a threat, this particular resemblance developed. As in the animal kingdom, it also discouraged the man from eating his young… possibly. The instinct to hunt and gather would also be stronger when one is providing for one’s own child.
2. A mother’s honour
At my Mummymoon we did a sweepstake on the weight of the baby. Harriet put 8lb 8oz but literally everyone else chose 7lb something, probably because most of us including me thought that 7 and a half pounds is average weight for a baby.
Indeed, when Pip was born, one of our first thoughts was “wow, he’s a bit big!” Having recently spent time with two newborn baby girls (Elphie and another little bundle of pink and frilly cuteness) who were around 2lb and 3lb lighter respectively, at 8lb 7oz he seemed particularly large in comparison. And as my bump had always been average, that’s what I was expecting: average. I hope Harriet doesn’t spend her £5.50 all at once!
But Pip is far from unusual; it seems these days as if babies are just being born bigger. Most of my NCT group’s babies weighed over 8lb (including two weighing exactly the same as Pip), and even Prince George was just an ounce lighter than him at 8lb 6oz.
It turns out everyone was right: the average is about what we thought, but babies are increasing in weight:
“The royal baby, weighing in at 8lb 6oz, is larger than the average, although the average birth weight of UK babies is increasing – 7lb 8oz for boys (up 2oz)… and 7lb 4oz for girls (up 1½oz).”
Only 1lb in it!!
Before the unfortunate blog strike a couple of weeks ago I’d had a post stored up in my head about rashes (again!) – I took the inability to do anything about it as a sign that our readers should not have any more musings about this subject inflicted on them. Therefore, I will not bore you with details about my arm or thigh rash, and I certainly won’t mention my unbearably itchy feet that lasted for a whole week and I think must have been something I picked up from the park…
However, never one to let a sleeping dog lie, I have been thinking about my body in general and how motherhood seems to have irrevocably changed the way it looks. I know it hasn’t been that long since I gave birth, but some things you just know are going to be permanent, unless I win the lottery and decide to invest in laser surgery or something. But even if I did have the cash, I’m not sure I would want to change the way I look now: this body carried and gave birth to Pip and each mark is a reminder of that. Although I didn’t choose them like I would a tattoo, they are part of me now!
I’ve never been a freckly person. In fact, they used to be such a novelty that I remember writing a poem about a freckle on my finger while at school (yes, really – it included a line about the freckle being an eye observing the world. Such creative talent!)
This all changed during pregnancy. Thanks to the dire spring and early summer we had, I spent maybe a handful of days absolute tops in the sun. Our babymoon was spent in the arctic conditions of France itself rather than a French Caribbean island. All my Vitamin D came from supplements! Which is why it was rather odd to discover one day that I suddenly had a sprinkling of small, dark freckles on my chest and back where before there were very few. It couldn’t possibly be sun damage… so must have been something to do with pregnancy?
Back in the days when I frequented Facebook I was a member of a group called “A Cup of Tea Solves Everything”. While I don’t take this literally (pause to imagine how it would be though..) I do believe in the uplifting, healing and general delicious properties of tea.
When I say “tea”, note that I mean the English Breakfast/Earl Grey variety. I love a spot of herbal tea, but it is less interesting to me at the moment because it is not restricted when you are pregnant or breastfeeding!
I have already mentioned how tea was one of my main lifesavers during the first few days at home with Pip – coming third in the list behind only Mr Cath and my Mum. I would say it definitely solved the overwhelming tiredness – not bad for a bag of dried leaves, some hot water and a bit of milk.
The effect of tea on my life is in fact so fantastically positive that like all good addicts, I want more! However, according to breastfeeding guidelines as given to us at the NCT breastfeeding class, we’re supposed to consume only 200mg of caffeine a day, I assume because a gram more might cause the baby to never sleep again…or something like that. That’s equivalent to about two or three cups of tea along with chocolate (an average bar is 50mg!) I have always just vaguely accepted this as the way of the world without really thinking much about it. It’s easy to remember as these match the recommended intake while pregnant: when you’ve already been doing something for nine months it’s pretty easy to carry on!
Here are a few pieces of advice for fathers gleaned over the experience of the past few weeks…
Note taboo words/topics and avoid accordingly
I expect every new mum has their own area of particular sensitivity, that their partner has learned about to their own peril. Perhaps a body issue or something to do with the baby.
For me, it is tiredness. As previously explained, the sleep deprivation that goes hand in hand with having a baby has hit me hard. So hard that for several weeks it was no laughing matter at all. Therefore, when Mr Cath happened to mention his own fatigue, can you blame my rather negative reaction?
Fathers: if you value your lives, do not, under any circumstances, tell your other half you are tired. Especially if the word “tired” is, heaven forbid, preceded by “extremely” or even the innocuous-sounding “really”. Your partner is guaranteed to be more tired than you. Even if you are one of those couples that share all the night time feeds and nappy changes (who are you?) she is the one who gave birth! Which trumps everything…
Now we have got the first six weeks behind us and Pip is sleeping much better, this is slightly less of an issue. However, Mr Cath still can only say Voldemort-style “I am that thing I’m not allowed to mention.” Last night, it even almost raised a smile. Almost.
One of the hairiest moments during labour was when we decided to put the iPod on. In all the chaos, Mr Cath located the speakers and cable but the iPod itself was nowhere to be found. Within seconds of him going to look for it I was having a contraction and screaming at him to get back to me anyway – it was the first time he’d left my side in hours. So that scuppered the labour playlist idea.
It was all a far cry from the spa-like experience I’d imagined, complete with soothing music, atmospheric electric candles and of course the centrepiece of the birthing pool!
Although I kept the iPod with me during my hospital stay (by the way, it was in the bag exactly where we’d packed it!) I never listened to any music – after the fail during my labour I just couldn’t face it. However, in retrospect it would have been a good idea in order to drown out the sounds from the other people inhabiting my ward. Next time…
It was when we got home that the labour playlist really came into its own. I was struggling with the discomfort of breastfeeding and in tears for what seemed like 99% of the time. Mr Cath suggested putting some music on and with neither of us capable of making any decision he chose my labour playlist and put it on shuffle. The very first track that came on was the first dance at our wedding which of course had me in floods again, but this time it was different. The music helped channel my emotions and more importantly provided a soothing distraction. Pip’s weight loss in the first week was minimal and I think a lot of that was down to the effect of the playlist on his feeding!
Unless you have been under a rock for the past 18 hours then you will have heard that the Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to the baby boy who will be King.
So with the rest of the world, I am sure they will be keen to know that havingkittens.net is sending its warmest congratulations to the Family Cambridge!
Unfortunately, neither myself nor Cath could time our births quite to coincide with the Duchess’ and hence get our little one’s palms crossed with an exclusive silver penny from the Royal Mint.
So while we await the first photos of our future King, here are photos of our current Queen and the future Kings in between to whet your appetite for royal baby photos.
Picture credits: Getty Images (Prince William)
I’ve never been completely sure about the word “pregnant”. It conjures up the idea of impregnation, which is rather biological for me (in my head it is associated with words like insemination, which quite frankly I could do without thinking about too closely).
My favourite substitute is probably “expecting”, especially when with Mr Cath – “we’re expecting” just sounds so much more warm and positive than “I’m pregnant”. It was a team effort after all and we will be equal as parents, despite the fact I’m the one to have carried our baby around for nearly nine months now.
But what other terms are there for my current state? It’s a bit late now as my condition is so obvious, but I decided to investigate a few other labels a pregnant lady can describe herself with:
I find this a bit too slang and while it’s somehow ok to gossip about someone being preggers in the third person (e.g. “do you think she’s preggers?”) I wouldn’t use it to describe myself – it’s too flippant a word for something so special!