Five things I would have done differently from the beginning

1. Co-slept from the first night
From the moment we brought Herbie home from the hospital, he went off like a burglar alarm if we even looked like we were going to put him down, and the doctor said not to push it as he’d had a traumatic birth. So Stuart and I settled into a nightmarish 24-hour-a-day routine of holding the baby for two hours while the other one of us slept.

Day and night we slogged through these purgatorial shifts, dangerously nodding off in front of the worst of what Netflix had to offer with the baby snoring in our arms while the other one catnapped. This went on for two weeks which, when you’re living without REM sleep, is roughly 97 years.

Eventually a visiting midwife (I don’t know which one, only that she is the most glorious human alive) asked whether we habitually drink to excess or thrash around in our sleep. When we said no, she told us, a little conspiratorially, about safe cosleeping and breastfeeding lying-down.

Since then we haven’t looked back. I lie on my side with Herbie encircled in my arms, and together we sleep for between four and six-hour stretches. Even when he nurses, he’s basically at boob-level, so neither of us really wakes up. Compared to those early days, it is bliss.

I mean sure, sleeping in a family bed doesn’t make for a very romantic bedroom situation, and I can’t really feel my arms anymore, and I don’t sleep quite well enough to stop accidentally putting the kettle in the fridge. Oh, and obviously when we start sleep-training I will write a post totally reversing my position, BUT for now this works for us. Ish. And what I’m finding is that “works-ish” is about as good as it gets when you have a new baby.

2. Not bothered with nursing tops
Okay, FIRST OF ALL, why are most nursing tops ALSO maternity tops? Surely the subset of pregnant women who are nursing a baby AS WELL is relatively small?

SECONDLY, it turns out that if you develop giant mutant milkbreasts, as I have, those hidden-flap tops just make them look like the world’s most obscene tongues sticking out.

It’s so much easier to just wear a vest under a normal top. Then to feed you just pull the former down and yank the latter up, and tuddah! Accessible boob. Job done.

3. Watched RuPaul’s Drag Race
Why did I save up all of True Detective to watch while trapped under a breastfeeding baby? True Detective is slow, requires concentration, and contains “upsetting scenes”. I am a new mother. I can’t deal with slow programming because I’m too busy wrangling a crying/pooing/vomiting baby. Also my brain, she no work so good anymore. I barely sleep, ergo I don’t GET moody police nuance. And my hormones are so ridiculous that I pretty much consider Jennifer Lopez saying “I AM A BRONDE” an upsetting scene.

What I need in a show is primary colours and an easy-to-follow plot that will captivate me all day but not disintegrate if I conk out for an episode. I need a show where no one mumbles and everyone experiences simple, relatable emotions – like jealousy, and reem. I don’t need moody supernatural dramas like The Returned or challenging moral dramas like Breaking Bad. I need trash. I need RuPaul’s Drag Race.

So if you’re about to have a baby and you’re building up a stash of Game of Throneses to plough through after you give birth, well done, but don’t. Because do not underestimate how annoyed you’ll be if you miss a key scene because the baby’s crying. Whereas it won’t matter if you have a bunch of Catfishes or The Royalses, or Pretty Little Liarses, instead. Hear me. Netflix up some trash today. You’ll thank me later. Actually you won’t, because you won’t remember, but still.

4. Bought a little bag
One major thing I’ve learned about breastfeeding is that one session can take anywhere between zero and 90 minutes, you require constant rehydration, an obscene amount of snacks, your phone, and all the working TV remotes in your house.

What makes things worse is that when you have taken steps to assemble all said items, but find yourself trapped under a feeding baby ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM FROM THEM. For 90 minutes.

Hence I should have bought a small bag.

5. Saved up for a cleaner
Look, I don’t know about you, but my house is a fucking state. We moved to Kent from London a month before Herbie was born, and six months on we’re still finding homes for everything. Tidying, when I have time to do it, is mostly a case of moving the mess from one place to another.

All the literature says “just do the necessary and leave everything else”, and reasonably so, because entertaining a needy baby and keeping the house perfect is near-impossible.

The truth is, the dirtier your house gets, the worse you feel about it. You become convinced people are judging you and that you’re days away from a plague of rats, and every day you’re home with the baby this worry ticks over and over in your head until one day you put on your too-loose glasses, strap your baby to your front, and attack the kitchen floor with a mop too vigorously.

And then THIS happens:

  

More regrets coming soon!

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8 Comments

  • Reply Alex 12th July 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Awesome blog. My wife and I have a ceaserean tomorrow, all these tips are useful!

    • Reply Robyn 12th July 2015 at 2:42 pm

      Ooh, good luck to you both. And thanks! Get her an eye mask and some ear plugs so your wife can sleep in hospital.

  • Reply Avril Read - grandma 12th July 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Very well done you, I wouldn’t say this is just good advice, more on the level of a guru, I can’t remember having a coherent thought for the first six months let alone thinking it and writing it.

  • Reply Nanette Westerman 13th July 2015 at 6:31 am

    Yes. My son is 20 and I STILL wish I had done these things. We should have got rid of our beautiful antique double bed and bought a king size bed, and resigned ourselves to 3 years of co – sleeping. I might have skipped the whole almost psychotic stage caused by 2 years of sleep deprivation.

  • Reply KSB 26th July 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Fab post and all so true. In the early crazy days we found ourselves watching Death in Paradise (wtf!!). I’ve seen more episodes of Come Dine With Me, Four In A Bed and C4 property programmes than I care to mention. But now at 6 months, my baby is so nosey that I can’t watch tv while feeding as he turns to watch it too. I’m gutted.

  • Reply Gemma 25th September 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Oh amazing tips, thank you – particularly as I had been tormenting myself with guilt about co-sleeping (by mistake during feeds). Can I just ask, did it eventually reach a point where you could put Herbie down?! I’m currently feeling like I’ll never get there with my 3.5 week old :*****(

    • Reply admin 26th September 2015 at 8:19 am

      3.5 weeks! That’s so tiny. We were able to put him down, but only after we accepted that we would never be able to! So we just started carrying him around in a carrier all the time and I think that’s what he needed. Once we’d done that for a while it was just easier to put him down for short periods. When they’re that tiny you’re they’re entire world, but when they’re a couple of months old you can distract them with toys! Also, we used a Poddlepod (Google it) so he felt held, and warmed it with a hot water bottle and put something that smelled of us in there. That worked occasionally. Good luck!

      • Reply Gemma 30th September 2015 at 9:04 am

        Brill, thanks for the tips

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