I’ve reached that age now where everyone around me is getting married, having babies and settling down as happy little families. I love spending time with the new little families, and meeting another special little baby. In December, Evan was born, a lovely new son for my friend, Catrin (it is a common name here in Wales!), he is such a cute little boy! But with each new baby being born in my circle of friends, it is starting to become more apparent how much work goes in to caring for a new baby. So how do you keep the balance between everything? I’m sure that every new parent has their own story about the first few months of their child’s life, but this is Catrin and her family’s story.
When I became a mum for the first time last December, for the first few weeks I was consumed with establishing my breastfeeding, mastering the art of changing a nappy without getting a surprise shower, shouting ‘muslin!’ very frequently (why are they always at the other side of the room when you need them?!), and generally bursting with love for my little bundle of gorgeousness, Evan.
When we started to go to a baby clinic for weigh-ins and Evan’s first jabs, the health visitor began asking whether or not we had been to any baby groups. We’d been to a few breastfeeding group gatherings starting when Evan was about 4 or 5 weeks old (and I could get my mushy baby brain focused on road signals and car manouvers again!), and had also been meeting up regularly with a friend and fellow new mum, and her daughter who’s 3 weeks older than Evan. We would go for walks, pop to each other’s houses for a cuppa (decaff) and a chat and generally talk babies, comparing notes and experiences, which was incredibly helpful and fun. I was interested in maybe baby yoga/massage too but felt that neither Evan (or I!) was ready for the swimming pool experience at that point!
A number of different groups were suggested to me, and soon I found I became bombarded with options to enhance mine and my babies social life! I could easily have done something everyday of the week, and having to fit in “appointments” from visitors wanting a cwtsh with Evan in the evening. I began to think carefully about what the options open to us were....what my baby would gain from a particular group, and what I would gain from it. I found that time was going so quickly....Evan was engaging and communicating with us and showing us his personality. Spending quality time at home together is precious....getting to know my little boy, and seeing what his natural patterns of behaviour really are - when he needs to sleep, when he needs to play and when he needs to eat. As I am breastfeeding we haven’t had a daily routine as such, but he recently has fallen into a little routine of his own of getting up at roughly the same time, morning feed and nap at around the same hour daily. Most baby groups are in the morning (please someone invent an afternoon group!!), so if you’ve been up a lot feeding in the night it sometimes isn’t so easy to get both of you ready and out the door in time.
It is possible, as a new mum, to feel pressure from a lot of corners to “do everything”, every group.....every meeting.... but every mum and every baby is different with different needs. What works for one doesn’t for another.
I think that little Evan and I have got the balance just right for us between ‘home and away’. We go to Ti a Fi (a Welsh group) one morning a week, occasionally baby yoga or swimming another morning, and continue the weekly strolls/picnics and meet ups with my friend and her little girl. Also by now we have enlisted a few other new mums and tots in the local area to join us and we almost have a little group of our own!
What is great is seeing my baby interact with other babies, seeing him grow, smile, touch and respond, while building relationships. But what I love even more is the special time we have at home together as a family where we get to play, to enjoy and to continue to be amazed by our little boy.
Are you pregnant for the first time? Unsure as to how to live your life once the baby’s been born? I really hope that you have had some sort of comfort from Catrin’s story – there are no rules when you’re caring for a baby, as long as you’re both (mother and baby) happy with what you get up to day by day. If you do what is comfortable to you, the balance will happen naturally without you trying!
If you would like to share your baby stories or if you have any tips for expectant / new mothers, please feel free to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, we would love to publish them in this blog.
Thank you – Catrin (and Catrin!)