In which I try to make decisions….(and we get our first smile!)
Why aren’t there more hours in the day? For the past fortnight, I’ve been consciously trying not to pack too much into the days. Last week, I was exhausted when I tried to have four activities in one day and I’m happy to say I haven’t done anything as extreme as this over the past fortnight. I’m learning! (Can I pop open a mini bottle of Champagne to celebrate this achievement?)
However, I still feel like I have a lot to learn and a long way to go, especially when it comes to making decisions. When I was at work, I could analyse a situation in less than a minute, make a decision and act on it and I’d usually get it right. Bearing in mind that my working day as a journalist could often be 16 hours long (from 10am – 2am), I was never much good at making decisions outside of work because I just wanted to switch off. When you spend your life in a high-pressure situation, when you’re not working all you want to do is watch trashy tv while snuggling under the duvet.
This worked well for me while I was single as I had the flexibility to change my mind at a moment’s notice. If I suddenly decided that I was too tired to meet friends then I’d cancel. If I decided that I wasn’t up for a gym session then I wouldn’t go and I’d make up for it later in the week. If I didn’t fancy eating any of the food in my fridge, I’d run to the shop and buy something else. As a mother, I can’t do this. Each outing requires military precision, so I have to make a decision and stick to it. Eeeeeeeeeek! I’m really not good at this,
If we learn by mistakes then I must be getting somewhere as I’ve made a lot of stupid decisions over the past couple of weeks. Let’s look at some of them – I can see the humour in them now – before looking at some of the good things that have happened. (I feel like I complain a lot on my blog so I want to make an effort to look on the bright side. Overall, I’m glad that I’m a mummy. It’s just a big shock, that’s all)
(1) Volunteering to be a ‘guinea-pig’ at a breastfeeding support group
I struggled to breast feed and even now I don’t find that it comes naturally. I have to top up feeds with a bottle as I’m just not certain that Rory gets enough from me. He’s been putting on weight, so something must have gone right but even so, I can’t help feeling bad when I compare myself to women that have managed to breast-feed exclusively.
Based on my issues, I should not volunteer to be a live example of a mother breast-feeding her baby for council workers who are training to teach women to breast feed. However, I decided to do it….
My decision came from a good place as I felt like I owed something to the teacher who made me feel more confident feeding my baby, when I went crying to her just after we were discharged from the hospital. It was a free service provided by a local children’s centre and that 1-0n-1 support made me feel a million times better. So when I knew that she needed someone to train her staff at the children’s centre and sent me a lot of text messages so it was clear she was searching hard for someone, how could I ignore it? However, should that volunteer have been me? Probably not, given that Rory usually expects a bottle after his time on the breast, and gets tired while he’s on the breast.
I managed to wing it a bit as the first part involved positioning the baby badly so the trainees could stop me and advise me on the best position for Rory to feed. But by the time we’d left the session, Rory was in a grizzly mood, desperately needed a bottle and I felt really guilty that I’d pretended to the breast feeding counsellor that her advice had worked and that Rory was a happy, exclusively breast fed baby. I’m not a liar but she was so passionate about breastfeeding that I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Would the work me have done that? No way. I’d work out what I thought and stay true to my principles.
My gut instinct on this issues is that although I’d like Rory to have been exclusively breast fed, it didn’t work out that way and I don’t think I’m a bad mother because of that. If I’d stuck to this instinct, then I’d have refused the session, saved time in my day and planned a more fun activity for myself and Rory!
(2) Agreeing to be a running partner when I have a leg injury
My neighbour and I are both on a mission to lose weight. I’ve been going to the gym and to high-intensity spin classes and she’s been doing the same thing and running in addition to that. She told me that she struggles to get motivated when it comes to running and asked me if I would join her on a run so that we’d definitely both do it.
I hesitated for a bit before agreeing as I severely tore my calf in several places before getting pregnant. Also, after a high-intensity spin class I started getting pains in the knee of the same leg. However, I said yes anyway….
Again, my decision came from a good place as I do think that running is better for weight loss than going to the gym. Also, she needed some motivation and I ddn’t want to let her down, nor admit that I was less than perfect with a long-standing injury.
So I iced my leg at every opportunity, often soaking the sofa with frozen pea juice. I took so many ibuprofen that I got a stomach upset and I was in a mood for the whole day before the run. I struggled round, sweated profusely and looked so unfit that I had to admit that I had an injury.
Why didn’t I say no in the first place and asked if she wanted to go to a class together?
(3) Travelling across town with a baby rather than asking visitors to come to me
My friends live all across London – I have some in East London, some in South London and some in South East London and I live in West London. Rory and I love having outings, but do we really need to be travelling an hour across town on an overground train and then walking? That’s not a fun activity – that’s a hard slog.
When friends in Crystal Palace asked if I wanted to visit, my initial thought was it was too far to travel. But then I’ve never been to Crystal Palace and I started to think that I could be missing out on something really fun that only happens in Crystal Palace.
We ended up having a really fun time, but it was hard work taking the buggy on two trains and changing between platforms each time. On the way back, the train was packed with tipsy race-goers coming back from a day at the races and I didn’t really enjoy having a baby in that environment. If only I’d asked my friends to come to me, we could have done something fun in my local area and I’d have got to see my friends and had more time for fun rather than travelling
The lesson learned is to trust my instincts more!
(1) Rory’s first smile and giggle
I feel like I’ve waited ages for this milestone, but it’s just as amazing as I imagined it to be. He was sitting on my lap while I was talking to a friend in Costa Coffee, and then he looked up at my face and smiled. Then he did it again!
Now he does it more regularly. Almost every time he clearly looks at my face he smiles as long as he isn’t hungry or in need of a nappy change. I love the way his lips curl up at the ends, I love how he opens his mouth when he smiles and I see his gums and I love the twinkle in his eye that’s perfectly framed by his long eyelashes. I fall more and more in love with him with each smile – how is that possible? My heart actually hurts from loving him so much.
(2) Rory’s increased neck strength
We had a bit of a fright at the 6-week check up as they told us Rory had head lag (ie his neck wasn’t as strong as it could be for his age and his head fell backwards when he was pulled up from the floor).
However, this turned out to be a good thing as I learned lots of new carrying positions and it motivated me to play with him more when he was doing ‘tummy-time’. Now his neck strength has remarkably improved and I can tell he’s happier now that he can hold his head up better on his own. It will only be a matter of time before he’s strong enough to sit in his Bumbo seat and play with toys and I cannot wait for that level of interaction.
(3) I’m bonding with the girls (and babies) from the NCT course
While I was pregnant and doing the NCT course, I thought it was a complete waste of money. The lessons were boring and took up time that I could have been eating or sleeping. But I can see the benefit now that I’ve had my baby as the other ladies have been a great support network.
We’ve started meeting up once a week in a local park and cafe and I look forward to it. As our babies were all born within a month of each other, we’re all going through similar things. My other mum friends have older babies and I’m constantly comparing Rory to their babies and worrying that Rory isn’t as advanced as he should be. However, when I meet up with the NCT crew I see that he’s perfectly fine. All our babies are doing similar things and none of them are particularly well behaved or advanced. Also, all of us mums are sleep-deprived and shocked about how becoming a parent has completely changed our lives. I can talk to them about how I’m feeling and they won’t judge me and that helps so much. Also, it feels great if one of them complains about a subject that I’d thought about but been to embarrassed to talk about. I can’t wait for the NCT kids to grow up together!
My mum gave me some good advice this week by saying that nobody makes the right decisions all the time but some people are better at hiding their mistakes than others.
Life really is too short to dwell on mistakes. Parenting is one big learning curve and if I trust my instincts then I might make better decisions next week. Hope so!
When I first had Rory, I thought it was all give, give, give on my part and I didn’t feel like I got much back. Now I realise that just by being there, he’s teaching me things about myself – like the fact I need to be more decisive – and that’s pretty cool, isn’t it?