What’s the first year of having a baby like? A new parent’s guide to the first 12 months of family life

A year ago today, I woke with a stiff back from a second consecutive night on the hospital floor, filled with a sense of trepidation and an inclination to go back to bed. Well, it was just after 6am after all!

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A really grumpy newborn baby

A little while later and I was decked out in ‘one-size-fits-all’ scrubs, which seemed to be tailored more for the larger gentleman, awaiting the walk of destiny to the operating theatre where I would meet my newborn son.

Arriving like a badly dressed extra on the Casualty set, I was reunited with Hanna, who had been prepped for surgery and was shaking like she was amidst a major earthquake.

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I’m here to perform your C-section…it’s my first time, too!

‘A bit over the top’, I thought, despite the anxiety of the occasion – but I felt such a comment wouldn’t have gone down awfully well. My caution paid off, as it was quickly revealed that the shakes – combined with the blood-spattered drape around her – were a result of the spinal she had been given.

The ten to 20 minutes before 9.46am were a surreal blur. And now 12 months later, it’s passed in a similarly rapid fashion.

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Time flies when you’re having…to look after a baby

Today Albie turns one – and like many parents who have marked the 12-month anniversary, there’s a lot of truth in the saying ‘time flies’.

Pregnancy is such an odd experience when it comes to time. Up to the 12-week scan – when we finally made our baby news public – time dragged as it became harder to hide our joy.

From then on, the pace seemed to pick up and before we knew it we were in the operating theatre. There was no let up from there.

Learning lessons

Reflecting on the last year, I’ve learned some important things:

  • Your will develop a hatred flatpack furniture – It’s taken the full allocation of time to realise it, but having spent the last couple of nights assisting in the erection of a wooden kids’ kitchen, it’s now clear any flatpack furniture instructions are designed purely to confuse and irritate. If you ever buy a child-size kitchen, be prepared for it to come with more dials and features of your actual kitchen.
  • Ordering teepees from Poland isn’t a cyber scam – A rather expensive baby play house I had shipped, accidentally, from Poland, surprisingly arrived. Construction of the thing, however, is nowhere near as simple as the woman on Youtube made out!
  • The art of delegation – Given all of the above, it’s best just to finance the stuff and pass on the setup to your better half. Forget macho ‘building stuff’ ideals. It isn’t worth it!
  • Informing parents of the size of their child isn’t helpful – If familiarity with the bottom line of the growth chart wasn’t evidence enough, everyone explaining how diddy Albie is has been super helpful to confirming what we already knew. It’s not the greatest confidence boost for parents desperately trying to beef their little ones up. On the flipside, if their baby is on the 99th centile, it’s probably not news to them that their little one isn’t so little.
  • Toddling children need crash helmets – When your baby begins the journey to its first unaided steps, they are ridiculously clumsy. Albie’s already picked up a couple of bumps and a sumo outfit would probably keep him safe.
  • Save for the first-birthday blowout – If you’re anything like us (Hanna), your little darling will be showered with a plethora of presents and a party like one thrown by a crazy millionaire on these cringeworthy reality TV shows. If you’re footing the bill, allow enough time to save – and be realistic.
  • You’re going to attract people like a magnet – We covered this in our early days. It’s what I like to term the ‘Granny Rule’.
  • Passing toothless children a bourbon biscuit without a two-metre exclusion zone is a recipe for disaster – Once bitten, twice shy: that’s the stance I adopted in July when I stupidly fed Albie a choccy treat on my lap. Click here to find out more. Equally, don’t wear your best designer clothes at meal times!
  • It’s ok not to feel out of your depth – Confidence comes with time, as I found out when I faced my fears and took Albie to a wedding for the day without Hanna to help. There really is no textbook when it comes to parenting, so also don’t be afraid to ask ‘stupid’ questions and don’t feel like you’re a terrible parent if you’re not having a good day.
  • If there’s an issue, you will get through it – Many a day has been spent caked in baby sick. Lots of weigh-ins saw our son make disappointing weight gains – or even lose pounds. Months passed before we got him to sleep in his own bed. Sometimes things take longer than ideal but there is always a time when things change for the better 🙂
  • Make the most of it – When your child’s young, a day or two can see them make surprisingly quick progress. If you can be there for as much of it as possible, make sure you are. For me, a change of role at work came at the perfect time – and I was lucky.

Marking a milestone

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Just 28 weeks into pregnancy, we wondered whether our baby boy would be born fit and well.

Yet fast forward a year and we are immensely proud of how much he has achieved.

He may be small. He may puke a lot. He may be a bit of a berk and he may ignore us when we tell him not to stand up in his high chair, the bath or at the end of the bed. But he is a unique, special character who has made a huge impression on our lives.

Happy birthday, Albie. We hope you enjoy the mountain of presents Mummy has bought you!

 

 

 

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