What advice would I give to Harry & Meghan or any other new parents-to-be? Well, read all the books, do the ante-natel classes and then expect the unexpected.
It’s true that nothing can prepare you for parenthood, even if you read lots of books and get lots of advice from other parents, it’s very much your own journey. Discovering what works for you and how your baby is going to develop in their own way.
There are a few things that surprised me when I gave birth and during the first year with my son.
Everyone has a different experience of giving birth and you can plan all you like but often these plans go out of the window once you actually go into labour. Mine, was fast around nine hours. I wasn’t expecting this, I had practiced some hypnobirthing techniques and had made a concerted effort to relax during contractions. What I didn’t expect is for the midwives at the hospital to keep telling my husband and I that we needed to stay at home because, since it was my first baby, ‘I had a long way to go.’ I was 10cm dilated when we arrived at the hospital and my son was born about an hour and half later. I actually went into shock after his birth and passed out, since it all felt like it had all happened too quickly.
Combination feeding worked well for us
It took me a while to realise that breast-feeding exclusively wasn’t working for us. My body just wouldn’t produce enough milk and my son was too busy falling asleep on the boob to feed probably. Once we decided to introduce bottles in the day and breastfeeding at night, did I end up with a baby that fed properly and started to gain weight. I actually wish I’d gone on combi-feeding for a lot longer than I did.
My son wanted to race to every milestone
His development surprised me, I knew it was possible for babies to cut their first tooth at 4 months, I just didn’t expect mine too. Well, he did and from 3 months old he spent a lot of time chewing my arm. He found the Gumme Glove useful since he was so young he dropped a lot of his other teething toys. He ended up getting the rest of his teeth pretty early and got his final set of molars at about two years old.
He was determined to crawl, then walk and then run
Just as we were packing up and getting ready to move out of our flat in London, Luke decided he wanted to get closer to all the boxes. He started commando crawling just before six months. I hadn’t been that shocked he had started rolling onto his tummy at four months and would just prefer to be on his front. When held, he constantly twisted and turned, he wasn’t a chilled baby that would happily sit on your lap. He constantly wanted to be free and on the floor and exploring.
He was pulling himself up at 7 months and progressed to walking just before turning a year. He was fairly steady on his feet early on and then just upped the speed.
He’s got an independent streak
By the time he got to two years old, Luke was basically running everywhere and the reins became a necessity. He has never been particularly clingy. He used to crawl away from me and not look back. Once he was walking he just carried on going whether I was holding his hand or not. However, this has led to some issues, like him trying to run into the sea on Lyme Regis beach in June or him taking off out of the door of the childminder’s house and heading straight down the drive towards the road. I constantly worry about him running into danger and it’s got a lot harder to pick him up and carry him.
On one hand I know his confidence and independence will mean he will probably love school and when he grows up he will probably want to travel to far flung places. Until then I will be keeping a firm grip on him and pray that I can always keep up.