I went into blog-writing very unprepared and completely blind. Once I’d shared my first blog post on social media, I worried that I’d written something wrong, or uninteresting. I had no idea if there was some sort of unwritten blog rule book or blog etiquette I was supposed to adhere to. How often should you post something? Do you address the reader? What sort of things should I write about? Should I make a plan? Or a draft? (The teacher in me always insists on a plan, first draft, redraft and a final draft! Why?!) Had I written a blog-style blog? By nature, I’ve always been someone needing to conform to public consensus, following the crowd and only thinking for myself when I’m sure other people will approve. My name also translates in Hebrew to ‘Ewe’, so I was always destined to be a sheep, a follower. It felt scary knowing something I had done independently was out there for everyone to read.
Throughout my pregnancy and since Annabelle was born, I have been offered many nuggets of advice and pearls of wisdom from friends, family and, not going to lie, every Tom, Dick and Harry I’ve come across. It’s amazing how many things one lady can tell me in the time it takes for the lift to go from the ground floor to level 1. I’ve never been much of a baby person. I’ve not got any close friends with babies, the only babies in my family grew up too far away for me to know what to do with them, so I went into this completely inexperienced and utterly clueless. So the tips and advice were not only greatly appreciated, but very necessary.
We were given useful advice that helped us know what type of pushchair was practical. Friends gave us recommendations so we knew which type of baby bath to buy. Experienced mothers reminded me to “sleep when baby sleeps”. While we were able to take on board some advice, looking back I mainly learnt one thing.
There is no one right way to raise a baby.
Every child is different, every parent in every family is different. There are 1000 different ways to do this and while there are plenty of wrong ways to do things (not holding her by her ears, not giving her scissors to play with etc), everyone will have their own take on parenting.
So. It’s time for me to decide how I’m going to parent. One thing I was advised by the Health Visitor was “there’s no such thing as too many cuddles.” So plenty of cuddles it shall be! But as for how I use my time during the day, or how I interact with Annabelle, or what she sleeps in, or how often we go out, or where I put her for naps, or what she wears, or anything…its up to me and Adam. And we’ll probably get it wrong, or adapt what we do over time so its right for us and her, but it’s up to us.
And then there’s everything I thought I had already decided to do, but Annabelle has a different agenda. I had decided to breastfeed and I was lucky that Annabelle took to breastfeeding like duck to water. At first. At 8 weeks Annabelle wasn’t feeding well at all so we resorted to formula to keep her full. Despite being reluctant at first, we are mixed feeding (a combination of breastfeeding, expressed breast milk and formula feeding) and it’s working really well for us. But that was never the plan, I’ve had to go with the flow. And then there’s the great dummy debate. I’d never felt particularly strongly about a dummy, but I hadn’t planned on giving her a dummy. However, I knew (mothers instincts or something) that she needed a dummy. We waited until she was 5 weeks and gave her a dummy and she settled perfectly! We’re really lucky that she only uses a dummy to get off to sleep and then she’ll spit it out.
I’ve had to let go of my natural sheep-like tendancy to follow everyone else and ignore my need to do what the world says. I have to take people’s pearls of wisdom on board and add it to the growing melting pot of advice. I then have to stop and think to myself, “so this is what everyone else says, but what’s right for me/us/Annabelle?” I’ve never trusted my gut more than I have since becoming a mother. I guess it makes sense seen as my gut has grown somewhat in the process of becoming a mother!
Annabelle is 10 weeks and she’s becoming much more vocal. Gurgling and chatting away with me, Adam or any inanimate object she sets her beautiful eyes on. I’d love to know what’s she’s trying to communicate. Perhaps it’s “No mummy, I’d prefer it if you did it this way,” or “stop doing that please daddy,” or “try doing it like so-and-so said.” I’ll never know. All I do know is that with every little gurgle and groan, my heart melts and all of a sudden, every other thought, decision, worry disappears. And it gives me the confidence that however I’m doing it, it’s OK.
To finish, here’s a video of Annabelle giving daddy some advice before he heads to work for the day. After all, she’s the only one whose opinion really matters.