I think I had probably resigned myself to never having children. I'd always focused on my career and enjoying a city lifestyle and I had two gorgeous nieces to spoil. Years ago, when my path had briefly crossed that of my current partner, I had joked with him that I would be amazed if I had had a child by the time I was 40. I was about 30 then. When I went out with friends last year to celebrate my 40th Birthday, I had an inkling that I was pregnant - and I was.
William was born 17 days late on Boxing Day 2011. Even then, he wasn't ready to come and in the end I agreed after much deliberation to be induced. Instinctively, I knew he wasn't ready, but it's hard to hold on to that belief when confronted by the medical establishment and compelling arguments against holding out for nature. I won't go into the drama of the induction here, the long and the short of it is that our baby arrived safely at 1.27am (and without any signs of being overdue), weighing 8lbs 8.5oz.
New or Pre-Loved?
One of the benefits of waiting until you're older to have children is supposed to be that you're in a much stronger position financially ... well, for one reason or another that is not the case for my partner and I. When we discovered we were having a baby, the first thing that we agreed on was that we didn't feel that we needed to spend a fortune to have a happy baby. Friends and family seemed delighted for an opportunity to clear our their lofts, garages and spare rooms! We are so grateful to them all for their lovely pre-loved baby things.
Not everything that William has is second hand of course. We made sure that he had new mattresses and bedding for both his moses basket and his cot. Because he was a windy baby, we splashed out on Dr Brown's bottles and we are sure they have been worth it. William has everything he could possibly need and is a very contented baby (unless he's hungry of course, in which case, he will be purple in the face from shouting within about 5 seconds!!).
We are taking good care of all the things we have been given, so that we can pass them on to another new family. I feel like we're making a small contribution to the environment too, something to make up for all those disposable nappies we are using!
Help, there's no Instruction Manual!
It is quite amazing isn't it, that they let you bring home this tiny little human being sometimes within hours of them being born? Of course, in the old days, you more than likely had your baby at home anyway. It's only in the last 50 years that birth has become a hospital event. Anyway, there really is no instruction manual in the sense that each baby is different from the outset and the baby books are based on averages and tendencies, rather than being tailored to your child. My sister gave me her copy of Gina Ford's "The Contented Baby" with the clear instruction that in her opinion it was useful only for the section on feeding, and specifically, how much to feed and when. I think there is probably more useful experiential advice in that book. We haven't followed the routines to the letter, but they have served as useful guides. I think it's probably possible to do too much preparation and reading. I wish I had done a little more than I did, but I don't think William has suffered as a consequence. In fact, I think our laid back approach has rubbed off on our baby (apart from when he is hungry!!!).
There are a couple of things that I wish I had known when he was born. To many people these will be simple common sense and my failure to realise them at the time made me doubt my maternal instincts and abilities. Maybe they are common sense, maybe they aren't. I'll share them anyway and folks can either raise an eyebrow or utter a quiet thank you ....
- There's a group on Facebook called "10 month mamas" - if you're past your due date and wondering what to do, it's worth having a read of other people's experiences
- When your baby is born, its stomach is about the size of your little finger nail - it takes very little to fill it and no time at all for it to be empty again
- Breast feeding is easy for some and not for others - that applies to babies and mothers - you both learn together
- The first "milk" you produce doesn't look like milk at all and the quantities are so small that you may wonder whether you are producing anything at all
- This first milk is called colostrum and it's packed full of nutrients that will give your baby a great start in life
- Assuming that you have started out wanting to breastfeed, try and feed your baby every 1.5 - 2 hours in the first 24 hours, even if it means gently waking them
- In the early days, a quiet baby doesn't necessarily mean a contented baby - it often means a really really hungry baby