Surviving the first few weeks with a newborn baby

I thought I was prepared. The nursery was complete, and I was mentally ready. Oh, boy was I wrong. For starters, the baby was in our room anyway so the nursery didn’t matter a bit in those early days and I finally started to understand why everybody told me to ‘sleep while you can’ when I was pregnant.

For me, the first 24 hours were a blur. Honestly, I was so scared of leaving the hospital with this new little baby who was completely dependant on me. When Reuben and I got in the car at the hospital car park (away from both of our parents), I burst into tears. I was emotionally and physically drained.

I’ve broken this down into bite-size tips and know I would have most likely forgotten key things so feel free to add tips into the comments:

  • Accept all offers of help – this is one thing I didn’t do. I’m all Beyoncé, Independent Woman and I was absolutely shattered after a few sleepless days/nights. Accept offers of meals, breaks for you to shower etc.
  • Sleep when the baby sleeps – actually, do it, or it’s likely you’ll never sleep again. If you can’t sleep, at least lay down and rest, don’t worry about everything else you have to do (at least in those early days).
  • Have plenty of maternity pads on hand; steal the hospital ones if you can (they resemble a super king mattress). You will bleed, a lot, sometimes up to 6 weeks +, also invest in some Hypercal lotion for your lady bits if you have a natural delivery. I talked more on Hospital Bag Essentials here. I’ve also heard great things about Viva La Vulva.
  • Don’t forget to take your pain meds if given some, I was terrible and in a tired haze I’d forget and pay the price later.
  • It’s totally normal to cry in those early days. If it wasn’t my partner, or me, it was the baby.
  • Confide in a friend/family member or midwife (if not your partner) about how you’re feeling and doing, make sure you know the early signs of postpartum depression and if you feel like things are getting too much – seek help. It’s normal and more common than you think. I wrote about my experience here.
  • Look after yourself.  I know this may sound weird but try shower every day, even chuck on some BB cream, it would make me feel (and look) so much better. It is so easy to live in track pants but not looking after yourself is a quick way to start feeling down. You need to maintain good hygiene practices throughout this time regardless of how you give birth.
  • Learn that it’s OK to say no to visitors in the early days – while you’re super excited to show off your new baby, they’re more prone to picking up bugs in those early days plus you’re still learning. I was still trying to find my feet with breastfeeding and attempting to do it with an audience was the last thing I wanted. If you’re comfortable, go for it however, it is okay to say no.
  • Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster – more so than when pregnant. I would cry for no reason, other days I was on top of the world. Hormones are all over the show, it’s normal but we aware and no what to look out for.
  • Trust in your midwife – they are a hive of support and information. Don’t be afraid to ask them (or your GP) questions. It’s their job and I’m sure they’ve heard it all (and worse) before.
  • Prepare meals – I lived on easy things like toast/soup/pasta etc for the first few days. Accept the offer of meals and have them in the freezer ready for when you get home. It’s one less thing you need to think about.
  • Don’t feel as though you’re a burden to other people because you aren’t. I thought I could do it all myself and quickly learnt this was not the case.
  • Expect nothing – leave your expectations behind.
  • Drop your standards a little – this was hard for me. I tried to maintain a spotless house knowing visitors would come over while trying to find my feet as a new mum. It’s OK to not have vacuumed, nobody is judging you – plus, it’ll give your visitors something to do, haha.
  • Get somebody to show you how to bathe baby if you’re not sure – we had no idea and quickly realised this when it came to giving him his first bath.
  • Establish a routine early – this worked so well for us. For the first few days while we found our feet we just worked around the baby and their cues. Once we introduced a routine, it made all of our lives easier.
  • Introduce a bottle – I know this one will get some disagreement. I gave Baxter some expressed breast milk in a bottle early on to get him familiar with the bottle in case we ever needed it. He was able to go between the boob and the bottle with no fuss and it made our lives easier moving forward. It also meant I could take a break every now and then and that Dad could do the night feed.
  • Put baby in their bed when showing tired signs – this way they learn to fall asleep on their own and associate bed with sleep time. We were told this very early on (I can’t even remember who told us but this was SO beneficial for us. Sounds easy, but it really was. Rubbing eyes, yawning? Put them in bed.
  • Be calm – I was a big ball of stress and anxiety the first few weeks and Baxter picked up on this, as soon as I learnt to chill a bit, things became a lot easier and manageable.

Most importantly, enjoy the process. The days goes surprisingly fast and they’re only small for a short period of time.

Life with two

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with the whole parenting thing. I mean come on, who hasn’t? I think we all do at some stage or another – some are honest about it, some aren’t. I get comments all the time said to me or sly digs about those people who ‘share to much on social media’, who ‘have to tell the world about everything’.  Well, over-sharer? Quite possibly. But I definitely don’t tell the world everything. There is a lot you don’t know about me and probably won’t ever know.

I’ve been extremely slack on the blog front, life happened, kids happened, work happened. I’ve just been busy in general. For a while there I got so consumed in the online world, I let shit comments get to me and cloud my judgement. I wanted to stop doing what I was doing, all for the wrong reasons.

Well, life is still happening and I am still shit at making time for me as much as I try preach about how important it is. It’s a work in progress okay. BUT, I need to get back to writing, it helps me release and I get messages daily saying it helps you to so win win right?

I’ve been a mum of 2 for over a year now – what the actual fluff (see Mum, I can do it without saying the F word). If anybody knows where the past 12 months have gone then please holla atcha girl and let mew know cos I’m sitting here in disbelief that we’ve already celebrated Lily’s 1st birthday. I was so freaked out when I found out I was pregnant (yes, pregnant on my first child’s 1st birthday – am I mad?). I had huge fears about how things would pan out and how I would cope. I struggled with one so how on earth was I going to manage with 2? Well, I did. We got through and here we are, a year in and I am by no means going to say it was easy – it most certainly wasn’t. But I’m alive, and so are both the kids (and Reuben – just).

People often ask me what life is like with two kids. I don’t have a straightforward answer. It’s hectic, with one you can get away with distracting them and getting other stuff done, with two – you distract one and then the other goes in to pick a fight. So basically, there is a never a dull moment – for me anyway. Like everything in life, you find a way to get through, to manage – to get by. I can pop Lily in the highchair, give Baxter some toys and still get housework done. We chose to have the kids in quick succession which meant a small period of madness. Lily is 1 now and I think we are out of the really tough stage (for now), they’re getting along reasonably well (70%) of the time but don’t get me wrong – I know we’ve got some real shit times ahead of us. It’s all part of this parenting gig.

Looking at these kids when they’re playing nicely just makes it all worth it, all those shitty times are just forgotten about. I say to Baxter do you love Lily and he says “yes Mummy”. I die inside. He pats her head and gives her kisses. They’re really starting to engage with each other and get each other. He knows how to wind her up and she definitely knows how to wind him up.

Baxter is a mini Reuben and Lily is a mini me. It’s scary but its Karma at its finest, haha. I see us in them and it scares the shit out of me.

I am glad we chose to have the kids close together (18m gap). The stages are familiar with us and we haven’t forgotten about the tough times. Our theory was, ‘do it quickly and get those initial shitty times out of the way’ – they’re gone, behind us and gosh it feels good. The first 12 weeks is still hell but a different kind of hell because we remembered what it was like as we’d not long done it. We clearly remembered what tactics worked with Baxter and tried them on Lily.

The kids are actually different, Baxter was SO chill, almost too chill. Lily is so full on – all the time. Is really rough with Baxter (the me in her, haha). She climbs, jumps and squeals and the kid has no fear – none of which we experienced with Baxter. He has totally had to up his game now she is walking and trying to rule the roost.

Baxter is now in Kindy 3 days per week and is thriving, best thing we did for him (and lets be realistic, for us too). Reuben is a stay at home Dad still so having B in Kindy 3 days allows him some 1 on 1 time with Lily which he really enjoys.

The wolfpack is complete with no additions in the foreseeable future. I am content with the kids. I am still working on myself and managing my anxiety + depression but to be honest, I don’t think it will ever be gone. It’s part of me, its who I am and some days are shit, other days I am on top of the world.

Here’s to another year…

To the boy who made me a mum

To the boy who made me a mum,

You turned my life upside down.

You showed me that there were far more important things in life than what I was currently prioritizing.

You brought out strengths in me that I never knew I had and discover weaknesses I never knew existed.

You made me realize I was focusing on all the wrong things in life and that it was the small things that really mean the most.

You’ve made me cry, you’ve made my laugh and you’ve made me yell.

You have the most amazing personality and you have such a kind heart.

You inspired me to start this blog and help so many people.

You saved me.

The moment you were put in my arms, I was overwhelmed with emotions. So much love, and so much fear. I was so scared because this whole motherhood thing this was new to me. I was so scared of not being a good Mum to you. I got post natal depression and I cried a lot. I would sit there and look at you, and cry. I was so scared that I was failing you because I wasn’t coping. The first few months were really difficult for me, coming to terms with such a big adjustment, my hormones were all over the place and I was discovering a new side of myself.

You are such a good big brother (most of the time) and these days when I look at you I am so proud of how far we have both come.

We are gonna move mountains together kiddo 

A letter to my first born

My OG. Bad boy ginge, our resident bobble head.

You made me a Mum.

If only I knew the things I know now.

I wasn’t sure if I’d have the capacity to love another like I love you, but the love you’ve shown towards Lily has made me realise that love never runs out, it only expands.

I’ve always been told that a mother has a special bond with her son, and you’ve shown me just how true this is.

You have taught me things about myself that I never knew existed. You made me find a strength within myself that I didn’t even know I had, a love I didn’t even know was possible.

The moment you were put in my arms, I was overwhelmed with emotions. So much love, and so much fear. I was so scared because this whole motherhood thing this was/is new to me.  I was so scared of not being a good Mum to you. I got post natal depression and I cried a lot. I would sit there and look at you, and cry. I was so scared that I was failing you because I wasn’t coping. The first few months were really difficult for me, coming to terms with such a big adjustment, my hormones were all over the place and I was discovering a new side of myself.

I hope that one day you will be proud of me and that you’re OK with me writing about you and your sister and how I am feeling. I have found a safe haven within this blog and people really love hearing about you and how you’re doing. It’s really helped me by helping others who were also struggling.

I was so afraid when Lily was born that you would become withdrawn. Sad and jealous of the attention I was giving your sister, but you’ve been amazing. You have been so welcoming and shown her so much love. You have such a kind heart and I know you’re going to do amazing things in your life.

We got some bad news this week and just having you around has made things a little easier to deal with. You have brought so much joy to our family. Seeing the bond you have with my Dad is something in itself. It literally brings a tear to my eye. You’re like his little shadow and it just fills my heart. Seeing you with my Grandad makes me so happy that he was able to get such joy from both you and your sister. I know Grandma would have been so smitten with you as your cheeky just like my Dad.

You’re an amazing wee boy Baxter with such a gentle soul. I sit here writing this with a tear rolling down my cheek. You are 2 next month and it has gone so fast. You’ve achieved so much and I know you’ll achieve so much more. I am sorry its not just you and me anymore kiddo, but I promise you that the love I have for you will never change. It will only grow. I promise we will have lots of Mummy & Baxxy time. We will go for secret ‘supermarket trips’ and eat chicken nuggets in the car and then dispose of the rubbish so Daddy and Lily will never know. I promise that I will make you proud. I will be the best damn Mum I can be to you and your sisters.

You’re going to go places B, I just know it.

Love you now, and forever xo

Where for art thou?

Do you know what I lost along with my pelvic floor muscle control? My patience. I’m not quite sure where it went, but it’s gone. If anybody finds it, please DM me.

I’ve heard people say you really learn patience when you have children, for me, it’s been the complete opposite. My fuse is short. Short af.

I love my kids, with all of my being. I hate that I always have to state this, it’s a no-brainer – of course I love them but there is always one negative Nancy who is like “well maybe you shouldn’t have had kids”, or some other shit comment that makes me backtrack to ensure I’ve ever implied that I don’t love my kids.

Lily is only 12 weeks old (only?). Where the hell did the last 3 months go? Right now, it’s Baxter. He’s two next month and his personality has changed so much in the last few months. He is so amazing when he is good he is good. When he is bad, by god is he bad. Or is he? I’ve started wondering lately if maybe he’s not that bad and maybe it’s just me and the whole no patience thing? I know Reuben constantly says to me “he’s just a kid”. And he’s right. It’s the whingeing that goes right through me like nails on a blackboard. I physically shudder. It’s the tantrums now when you say no. He’s getting smarter and he’s learning more each and every day. It really is a pretty cool experience watching this little human that you created grow and be so excited about life and their surroundings. Oh to have no worries in the world.

I believe a lot of my stress and lack of patience is linked to my anxiety and depression which I have struggled with a little bit lately. I haven’t been sleeping much and my mind is constantly on high alert. I look in the mirror these days and I don’t really like who I see. Who is this impatient angry person? What happened to ‘the old Jess’? 

While I know this new ‘mum Jess’ is an adaption of my old self, I’m still learning who I am with all of this change. It sounds stupid, I’m hoping one or two of you get what I mean. I still AM the same person, but yet, I’m not? I used to only have myself to worry about and now I am responsible for two tiny humans. It’s scary. Some days I can’t even decide what to wear, yet between Reuben and I – we make decisions for the kids which can shape them for the rest of their lives. It’s often a scary thought.

I’m working on myself, I know I’ll be happy again soon. Genuinely happy. 

Motherhood can be extremely lonely, while I am currently away from the office on maternity leave and Reuben works from home I shouldn’t be lonely. There are 4 of us in the house yet I’m often alone with my own thoughts. Yes, we’re a team but that doesn’t mean we agree on everything. It’s all part of it, right? We’re learning to become parents together and sometimes there are things that I struggle with and Reuben doesn’t quite understand. 

I know in time things will improve, I need to work on some techniques to improve my patience and anger. I need to remember that Baxter is ‘just a kid’ and that often these difficult periods are just phases and they will pass. I need to remind myself that many struggle with these exact things, but we don’t like to talk about it but hey? It’s pretty damn normal. We’re tired, we’re sick of tidying up the lounge only for it to be trashed 5 minutes later (literally). I’m sick of making food only for him to shake his head and say ‘no’. I’m sick of feeling like I am in a constant uphill battle with my own self. Striving for perfection, for the clean house that can’t stay clean for one whole day. It’s sound utterly ridiculous but when I’m surrounded by mess and clutter, my mind becomes the same. When things are clean and clear, I feel so much weight off my shoulders. I am currently on a mission to declutter the house and live in a more minimalistic way. Material things are exactly that and I would much rather be happy than own a few items which supposedly give off some impression of status or achievement.

So here’s to the shit days, I’ve just washed the same load of washing 3 times because I keep forgetting to take it out of the machine and it seems I am the only person in the house who knows what to do with dirty clothes..