Wednesday, 23 April 2014

And baby makes..errrrr... FIVE!

Yesterday we had a really lovely family day out. The sun was shining, the picnic was delicious and no one fell in dog poo. We arrived home at teatime, unpacked the car (pram, changing bag, wellies, picnic remnants) and it was only when I'd taken off my shoes, been for a wee and had a beans-on-toast/cheese-on-toast debate with the twins that I realised we'd left something in the car.

The baby.

We'd left the BABY in the CAR.

Now I know that this wasn't a major disaster (she was sitting patiently in her car seat, looking disapproving when I went to get her. I get the feeling that had she had the neck strength she would have been shaking her tiny head). I also know that having mentioned "the incident" to a few friends we're definitely not the first parents to have done it, but it just highlighted to me how although loads of things have changed hugely since the we went from 4 to 5, compared to the overwhelming impact of going from no babies to two babies, our third baby has slipped virtually unnoticed into our lives. Possibly a little too unnoticed if I'm leaving her in the car like a forgotten umbrella.

It might seem like having twins and then a singleton has made me into some sort of super-experienced uber-mum, but funnily enough in many ways I feel like I'm doing a lot of this baby stuff for the first time. Until recently I'd never carried a baby in a sling before, gone to a breastfeeding group, slept with a baby next to me in bed, or pushed a pram one-handed whilst carrying a latte. I'm really grateful that, although I've got two other children to think about, I've also had a taste of what it's like to have a single baby. I don't think I enjoyed having the twins much at first, and the first few months (OK, OK, 12 months) were a long, slow slog of sheer hard work. Now don't worry, I'm definitely not turning into an earth mother, but this time I find myself picking my baby up because I fancy giving her a cuddle, lingering over her bath, entertaining her with my tuneless singing and well, dare I say it, I'm sort of enjoying it.

For me the other major difference is that breastfeeding has (thankfully) been a bit of a success so far. 9 weeks in and although I still feel like I really have no clue what I'm doing, luckily the baby does and given the opportunity to feed she will just get on with it. Given that it never really got established last time, and that I gave up after 7 weeks of misery, I'm amazed that I'm actually managing to feed her myself. Funnily enough having wanted desperately to breastfeed this one I now feel that it really makes absolutely no difference how a baby is fed as long as the mother is happy. I could give up tomorrow and not feel the slightest pang of guilt or regret.

There have been a few surprises along the way, as well as a few things that I'm writing here just so that I remember them, so here is what I have learnt about having a baby this time around:

  • Never underestimate the restorative properties of a really hot shower
  • Leave the house every day
  • Babies often sleep better on their own without a parent hovering over them
  • Boots own-brand newborn nappies are rubbish - don't bother
  • Compared to the performance of bottle-feeding (scrubbing, sterilising, mixing, warming, administering, burping, mopping up sick) whipping out a boob is convenient and (for me) much less stressful
  • Look at the baby, not at the clock
  • Shopping for nursing bras is fairly tricky when you're in constant fear of leaking milk all over the changing room (I'm offering no solution here - if you've got one let me know!)
  • If someone offers to entertain your older children for an afternoon, always say yes
  • The sun really will come out tomorrow (and then maybe you'll get some sleep)
And above all - always remember to get your baby out of the car.