My son turned 11 months old yesterday! During these first 11 months of Zachy’s life, I’ve been told by numerous people that “things will get easier”. The first year is the hardest, and once you’re over the one-year milestone, it’s all downhill from there….they say. Having had to walk out of a café yesterday in an attempt calm an inconsolable Zachy (who was distraught at not being allowed to suck on a packet of sugar), I did honestly wonder whether things are going to miraculously get easier once the 12th month hits…or whether it’s just something people say to new Mums, ust to keep us sane perhaps?
Anyway, that got me thinking about the many ways in which things actually have got easier since Zachy was born. But then this in turn also got me thinking about the many ways it has also got harder! So, for any new Mum’s wondering ‘when is this going to get easier’ here is my rundown…
(Oh, and for any Mums of tots wanting a good laugh in the knowledge of what I’ve actually got coming once he passes 12 months, please enjoy!)
Things That Have Got Easier
1) The Number Of Nappy Changes
They told us in pre-natal class that we could expect to change about 8-10 nappies a day. Oh how they lied! My husband and I were easily changing about 18 nappies a day during Zachy’s newborn days! Maybe we just had a little poop monster on our hands, but I am well informed by reliable sources that we were not the only ones to have experienced this phenomena. The poops, too, became more explosive the bigger Zachy got. Nice, messy, yellow explosions of uncontainable baby delight…often in a very public space.
It’s been around three months now since the last public poop incident. The nappy changes too have also significantly decreased, making it much easier to be out and about without multiple changing room visits. The downside, as I’ll get onto below, is the physical execution of said nappy changes with a crawling, walking, 11 month old…
The first couple of weeks were nothing less than excruciating. I set myself a goal of feeding Zachy for at least six months, but I do honestly remember thinking, with gritted teeth and tears in my eyes, that “I can’t even do this for six days, let alone six months”. It was so so hard, and so so painful! But then suddenly, I’d say around week three, it all miraculously got better! The pain ceased and we seemed to fall into a nice happy little pattern, to the point now that I have surpassed my six month goal, and have extended it to 18 months. It really has become second nature!
On top of this, as Zachy has got bigger the feeds have become shorter and fewer. He still drinks a lot, and breast milk remains his main source of nutrition, but the pressure on me and the time we spend physically attached nowadays is absolutely nothing compared to the early days. Again, this also makes being out and about so much easier as I rarely have to make any pit stops since solids are starting to take over and he’ll also happily accept a bottle of pumped milk (something he begrudgingly took to when I returned to work).
3) Getting A Good Night’s Sleep
In the early days, I do clearly remember a distinct fear of ‘the night’ since I knew how long and restless it was going to be. I did sometimes wonder whether I would ever properly sleep again. It wasn’t just the feedings, it was the profound primal fear that something would happen to my baby while I was asleep, meaning that even when Zachy was sleeping soundly, I was constantly up to check he was ok.
Nowadays, Zachy wakes a couple of times a night (a few more during leap phases), but this is usually to roll around half asleep, have a little feed, or if he wants to get up for some reason, it is very rarely for over 10 – 15 minutes (and that is when I hand over to Daddy!) What makes me tired nowadays is his restless nights and early mornings. A kind of prolonged fatigue has set in, but this is 100 times better than no sleep at all. And honestly new Mums, you will feel human again!
4) Car journeys
There was a time in the early days that I became a bit reclusive. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go out, it was just that I couldn’t bear the stress of a car journey. Zachy would cry from the moment we set off until the moment we arrived at our destination. And it wasn’t just little sobs – it was a deeply distressed persistent scream that would turn me into a shaking anxious mess. It got to the point where I just thought the trauma for both of us just wasn’t worth it, so we stayed in.
Nowadays Zachy loves car rides! He has his new big boy seat which is high enough to let him look out of the window. He is still rear facing, but he will happily chit-chat and sing to me, even though he can’t see me. The car has actually become a last resort for when he’s in his ‘I’m absolutely exhausted but absolutely will not nap state’ – setting off, he will happily believe he is going on an adventure, then drop off a few minutes later – amazing!
Things That Have Got Harder
The kid just will not nap. Or more accurately, he won’t go down without a fight. He used to be a great napper, and I would have happy periods throughout the day of reading or napping with him. Not anymore. As soon as he is down for a nap, I know I have limited time to do what I need to do before he wakes (which, I’ll admit, is usually browse Facebook!) I don’t so much mind that he naps less, it is just the fight that I can’t deal with, along with the persistent ‘I’m soooo tired’ winey-moan that ensues when I give up the fight. He keeps me on my toes, I’ll give him that!
2) Execution Of Nappy Changes
Now referred to as a “two man job” in our household, nappy changes are not for the faint hearted! Whether it’s trying to pin him down for long enough to facilitate a change, chasing a poopie bum Zachy when he makes his break for it (usually onto the cream sofa), or deterring his sudden desperate need to play with a dirty nappy, changes are a task nowadays to say the least!
3) Leaving for work
The early days of leaving Zachy to go to work were agonizing. He would scream and I would well-up feeling like the worst Mum in the world. I would sit at work all day stricken with guilt, trying to remember exactly why I had decided to return to work.
Nowadays, while we still have the occasional tears, Zachy and I have a much easier time with the separation since it has become part of our routine. It just takes time and a bit of courage. As I wrote about in my earlier post Returning To Work – A Positive Outlook, it’s important to take things one step at the time and try to keep in mind all the small positives in comparison to the one big negative of leaving your baby in the care of someone else. While the guilt is still there, it has dramatically dropped, and I am able to see the positive impact my return to work is having on our family unit.
To be continued, enough said…