5 things I wish I knew from the start
1. Don’t worry about creating bad habits in the first few months – it’s all just a phase!
“You have that child spoiled” I really HATE that line. It just seems so crazy to me to imply that caring for your newborn baby’s needs can somehow ruin him or her for life. Because, as far as I could tell, everything in that newborn stage is a phase – the good stuff and the bad stuff. Just when you think you have something about your baby figured out, he changes! And thankfully, the same goes for the bad stuff. Even now, as I write this, we’re facing into our third night in a row of bad teething, and the accompanying sleepless night. But at this stage, I can cope with it because I know that just when I think I can’t bear another broken night of sleep, it will pass, and we’ll be on to the next stage. Took a while to learn that lesson though!
2. Infacol is not poison and it won’t harm your baby
I don’t know why we held off so long giving Little Man infacol. He had a problem getting up wind from very early on. Whoever said breastfed babies suffer from less wind and colic never met my little wind machine. Even when he was exclusively breastfed, wind was always a bit of an issue. By 11pm most evenings he’d moan and groan when you lay him down, and winding him during the night could take 30 minutes or more after a feed. A few people recommended Infacol to me, but I just hated the thoughts of giving some kind of medicine to him. It seems silly now looking back on it. Eventually when he was about 10 weeks old, we picked up a bottle in the chemists, and within three days we had a new baby on our hands. I couldn’t believe the difference it made. In the end, we used Infacol for about 6 weeks and then weaned him off it when he got a bit bigger, and better able to bring up wind himself.
3. Making formula from powder is not that difficult
If you’ve read my breastfeeding story, you’ll know that when Little Man was six weeks old, we started combined-feeding him. At 10.30pm each night he got a bottle of formula. It gave me a break from nursing him and allowed me enough rest and recovery time to continue feeding him for months after that. It seemed to me that the little cartons of premixed formula would be so much less hassle than buying the powder and having to boil the kettle and mix it up to make up a bottle. So for the five months or so that we combined breastfeeding and formula feeding, we used those little cartons. God, when I think of the waste. You see Little Man would never drink a full carton in one feed. The cartons only last 24 hours once opened, but since Little Man only had one formula feed a day, the leftover formula wouldn’t usually last until the next feed. When we decided to introduce more formula feeds in the day, around the time we were weaning Little Man on to solid food, we quickly realised that it would cost us a fortune to continue using the premixed cartons. So we bought our first carton of powder, and to our surprise and delight, Little Man preferred it to the premixed stuff! And it was easy to make! Boil the kettle, leave the water to cool, and then 30 minutes later add the required number of scoops. If I had my time over, we’d have just used the powder from the start.
4. When your mother says that heating the cot will help the baby settle when you move him, she is right!
I wish I could remember where I saw the reference. I can’t remember if it was a blog post somewhere or a thread on a discussion board, but someone referred to the “transfer of doom” – just when you think baby is in a deep sound sleep, and you decide to take a chance and transfer them to their crib or their cot, and then “pop!” – their eyes spring open just as you lay them down! Several times, my mother suggested using a hot water bottle to warm the crib so that the difference in temperature between my body and that of the crib wouldn’t wake the baby. It took weeks before I actually remembered to try it though. And when I did – wow! While I fed Little Man, I left the hot water bottle in the crib, heating it, ready for his return. Then I removed the hot water before transferring him back to the crib and success! I waited, breath held, to see if he would wake, but he didn’t. He stayed sound asleep and he was in his crib! Fantastic!
5. When people tell you “everything changes after you have a baby”, they are telling the truth!
I never understood why so many people would comment about how “life will never be the same again” or “everything changes after you have a baby”. We’re not idiots. Of course we knew life would never be the same again. I thought people were making fun, or being condescending, or something… Looking back now, I don’t think that’s the case. I think they were trying to convey to us that life would never be the same again! That we would never be the same again! And we’re not the same. It’s hard to define, but I know I’m different now. And parenthood is nothing like I expected it to be. I’m no longer even sure exactly what I expected. But “knowing” that parenting is a 24-7-365 job is different to experiencing that. So now when friends of mine announce that they are expecting, I find myself telling them “Prepare yourself, everything changes after you have a baby,” but I know what they’re hearing and what I’m saying are two different things. But that’s okay – they’ll make their own journey into parenthood, and learn this lesson for themselves soon enough!