Parenting is a learn on the job kind of gig. There’s no training course, no book, no YouTube series that will prepare you for how full on it all is. I read a LOT when I was pregnant, and through the sleepless nights of feeds and windy babies. But the experience itself is something that you have to live through – which sounds like one of those things THOSE parents say, the ones we all resent “oh you just don’t know, you don’t have kids”. It’s life in a war zone. A beautiful, funny war zone that will leave you with scars and tears but laughter lines and good memories too. I learned a lot about life, about myself and about the whole keeping-a-human-alive thing. So, what would I do differently on a second baby?
I’m a whole lot more informed about my rights in the delivery room and how the whole thing goes. I’m also a whole lot more informed as to what my own body, in its broken, injured state, can take. Having spoken at length with doctors and consultants about my physical ability to birth again, I am sure that for my second baby I will be opting for the elective caesarean. Am I disappointed to not be going for the natural birth? Well, part of me is, if I’m honest, but I know it’s the right thing for me and my family. As hard as dealing with a newborn and an older child will be after surgery, the alternative is potential harm to my back and my joints which will be far more long reaching into the future.
It’s not a decision I’m making lightly, but I’d much rather a better chance at being able to do the things I want to do with my kids than merely be able to say “yes, I did the VBAC”. (The elective is an option for me this time around because Eliott was born by emergency c-section after a failed induction). Also, I’m a firm believer that regardless of how a child enters the world, the mother HAS given birth – there is no shame in opting for the surgical option if it is considered necessary, whether the need be medical or based on your own needs.
Last time I felt that I had given it the good college try by week 9, when I gave up and went over to full time formula feeding. I don’t feel like it did any harm to Eliott, and certainly for my own mental state it was the right thing to do. However, as with everything, for the second baby I will be more informed. I’ve got the “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” at the ready, the nipple shields and the lanolin gathered. Let’s not forget the support system of amazing women who have been through the wars and back again behind me.
If I wind up heading back to formula, so be it, but this time I know better than to blindly accept the midwives telling me he needs top ups with formula in the early days, and other things which limited my supply. Knowledge is power. Also, hello reason to rejoin Team Biscuit again….
The Teeny Tiny Clothes
I already know I’ll likely not stick to this one but THERE IS NO REASON TO BUY SO MANY. Except for when they’re really cute and it would be a crime not to…. Yeah, this one might be a work in progress. However, as to not get caught out without changes (which I did A LOT when Eliott was smaller), I have found this incredible hack to ensure a change of clothes for the inevitable poonami incidents is easy to fit in my bag.
Last time around we bought a cradle. It was gorgeous. It lasted ages. Empty. He hated it. HATED IT. There was a time where we assumed it was haunted (despite being brand new) the screams were that much. Transferring from sleeping baby on chest to cradle was rarely successful and most of the time wound up sounding like he was being murdered. Our poor neighbours. We wound up with him in the bed meaning we got very little sleep in the early days from TERROR we would roll over on him, and in the later days from getting kicks in the head.
I’ve been very inspired by Suzy over on The Airing Cupboard and her Ikea Co-Sleeper hack which she used on her second baby, Charlie. It’s basically making the co-sleeper something that can be more long-lasting than the smaller moses-basket sized ones which kids outgrow far too quickly. At least it will give me a corner of the bed to squeeze into while Baby #2 takes up far too much room for someone so small – just like big brother did.
On Eliott, I baby wore using the stretchy sling, from when he was about 5 weeks old until he was about 5 months old. It was a godsend. He was one of those “never ever ever put me down” babies. The sling was where he slept most of the time, it meant I could get housework done, food prep done (I wasn’t brave enough to actually cook with it on) and where he was shushed to sleep best. The power of having hands again can not be underestimated.
For the second baby, I’ll be instituting this from Day One, or at least, Day We Come Home From Hospital. I’ll have my hands full with one running around wrecking the place as it is. There’s no need to tie them up with a clingy newborn who just wants to hear the heartbeat and be close to the boobs.
I’m hopeful that next time around my back will be stronger, so I’ll be able to continue it for longer. Continuing until five months last time was only possible because Eliott was TINY. It took him a good eight months to get to 17lbs, he was only 5lbs at birth! My back was a mess from the back injury I obtained when I was pregnant. With the help of physio and other procedures along the way, I’m hopeful that I’ll manage a lot longer next time!
Not Bringing The Kitchen Sink Out With Us
Leaving the house with a small baby is enough of a burden. Bringing the kitchen sink and all of the accessories is quite another. I’m hopeful that breastfeeding will be an assist with this, as then its really just down to nappy, wipes and a change of clothes for the first few months, all of which can take up a small amount of space. My nappy bag for Eliott was massive and heavy – not what you need when you’re carting around a newborn.
Taking The Help
On my first I had the (mistaken) idea that being able to do it all myself was a sign of strength. That asking for help would be seen as a sign of not being able to do it. My stubborn streak refused to give in and just take the help. I wanted to do it all because I thought everyone else was too. I left the house every day with baby in the buggy (this sounds less impressive when I don’t tell you we lived up TWO flights of stairs with no lift), wanted everything to be perfect, AND the outfits. There were no pyjama days in our house.
Silly Lisa. I put myself under so much pressure, and for what? My child was no better off. I was certainly no better off. I spent so much time trying so hard, instead of just enjoying my new baby and taking the time my maternity leave afforded me to just BE.
Next time, I will take the offers of babysitting Eliott, of minding baby so I can get some sleep. Any and all free dinners will be appreciated. And I’ll take it easier on myself because all baby will want is a happy, sane mother.
Worrying Less About How Quick They Get Moving
With Eliott, I spent so long worrying about when he would crawl, would walk, would get on the move. Now I look back on those days and wonder what was wrong with me. I was able to put him down and know he would be right where I put him. IDEAL! Nowadays he’s likely to be found tearing around, jumping off furniture, trying to kill himself with his stuntman actions – next time I will be cherishing the staying still!
Looking Out For Mama
Speaking of sane, next time around will be different because of my views on my mental health. First time around, I was STUBBORN. I refused to accept that maybe, just maybe, my doctors were right to mention Post Natal Depression while I was pregnant. I was refusing to admit it because I saw it as a sign of weakness. Really, it was just part of my parenting journey (oh god, there’s that word).
I really, truly hope that next time around my experience will not be marred by postnatal depression. It was a truly horrible time of my life. I’m sure that my partner and those around me would appreciate it not being repeated. However, it has been pointed out to me that as my second major depressive episode in five years, there is a likelihood of it re-occuring. So this time, I’m prepared. I’ve got an incredible GP who knows me well (too well). My friends and family are all in the loop as to what is going on. On top of that, like with the birthing and breastfeeding I’m a whole lot more informed now. So, if it does happen, I’ll be ready. It won’t be pretty, but I’m much more ready for it.
I’ll also be far less ready to listen to all the “helpful advice” which is in opposition to what I’m doing with my babies. So much of it can grate on a new mother’s confidence. I’ve managed to keep one alive and thriving for the last three years. I can’t have been doing that much wrong!
So, those are the 9 things I will do differently on my second baby. What things would/have you change(d)? Let me know in the comments below. I’m sure I’ve missed out on loads of things I’d change from the way I did it the first time!