You – You arrive home from hospital happy, terrified and scared to wee. You are euphoric. You have a baby! You gave birth! Look what you made! You realise you don’t know your arse from your elbow. You receive lovely cards, lovely gifts, and lovely messages. Visitors bring you sandwiches and tell you how brilliant you are. You stay up watching your baby sleep. Not because he is beautiful (although he is) but because he wakes screaming every time you put him down. You take it in turns with your partner and each begin the never-ending battle to prove that you are the most tired. Your baby books are used to tilt the crib from underneath and you spend any time not feeding stood at the extractor fan singing Twinkle, Twinkle.
Your baby – Tiny, squishy, amazing, cuddly, hungry. Wants nothing but to literally feed you dry. He enjoys wrenching your nipples with his gums, or loudly demanding a bottle and then not drinking it, then loudly demanding again the moment you throw it away. He may also have a funny shaped head and be nocturnal.
You – See Month one, except people no longer bring you sandwiches. You feel as though you should know what you’re doing by now, but most definitely don’t. You wonder if you will ever sleep properly or be hands free again. You proudly walk your baby in his beautiful pram, marvelling at his peaceful, sleepy demeanour and plan a long nap on the sofa once you get home. He wakes screaming at the furthest point from your house and you run home, soothing and patting when possible, which appears to make him angrier. You buy a baby carrier.
Your Baby – Starts to smile and follow you with his eyes. Positive feedback! He can now grab a rattle and seems to enjoy the irritating music from his bouncer. He still believes sleep is for losers but definitely seems to have settled in.
You – You are now in a good routine and baby is responding well. Or, at least, you now manage to shower most days, have rinsed off your dusty ladle (not a euphemism), and cook twice a week. You are sleeping more and are so proud that you hung on in there as baby is very happy in his crib, and really, there was no need to co-sleep or use a dummy after all, unless you wanted to. And you didn’t. You feel very lucky and a bit ‘Go me!’
Your Baby – Is amazing. He sleeps most of the night, is a beautiful gurgler and is in a bit more of a feeding routine. Except when you are taking a 20 minute trip into town, having fed just before you left and he decides he absolutely completely must have some milk RIGHT NOW MUMMY, NOT IN 10 MINUTES, IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU ARE IN A NOTORIOUSLY HIGH CRIME AREA AND HAVE TO EXPOSE YOUR BREAST WITH THE WINDOWS LOCKED AND YOUR FINGERS CROSSED, DO NOT MAKE ME MADDER.
You – You start co-sleeping and using a dummy. Your baby is faulty. You Google:
‘Why has my baby stopped sleeping?’ And,
‘How to get a four month old to sleep through the night, or at least part of the night, or at least for longer than 50 minutes at a time’
You read about sleep regression, growth spurts, teething, bad habits and a million different, dizzying, conflicting methods to fix your young but are too exhausted to stick with any of them. You contemplate going back to work for a rest and stop speaking in sentences as it takes too much energy.
Your Baby – Is pretty unfazed by the whole not sleeping thing. He couldn’t give a damn in fact. He is mustering all his strength to roll over, and regularly laughs out loud and squeals with delight. You decide that these are the best sounds you have ever, or will ever hear.
You – You have a date! Admittedly, it isn’t quite how you thought it would be when you booked those tickets to see that show all those months ago with your partner. You are both exhausted, the baby won’t go to bed some nights for either of you so Grandma really doesn’t stand a hope in hell, and you spend most of the evening talking about him, worrying about him and feeling a bit sick from your second glass of wine. But it is nice to be out together, and strange that no one holds doors for you when you haven’t got either a massive bump or a little baby.
Your Baby – Is dribbling like a rabid dog, desperately chewing his fists and being spontaneously grumpy. You spend £34 in Boots on teething medicine and hope that his terrible sleep doesn’t get even worse. You are of course immensely proud of his budding pearlies, and fight the urge to post 15 pictures on Facebook of his now not completely gummy smile.
You – Are finding the days much easier now with baby interacting like a real little human. He is happy to amuse himself more, now that he can sit and reach for his toys, or even better, your remote control and mobile phone. You move him into his nursery, in the hope that it will improve his sleep – it doesn’t.
Your Baby – Is no longer just a milk monster! Quick as a fox and hungry as a lion, he begs and steals food from your plate and happily smushes and smashes any offerings he is presented with. You brave Baby Led Weaning because you like the ethos he refuses to be spoon fed. He makes an almighty mess but you don’t mind, food is fun and you want him to express himself. He even appears to be eating some! You begin to pine for those non offensive nappies of the previous months.
You – The food mess is driving you crazy and you fantasise about getting the Mega Mop 2000 for Christmas. There’s way more food on the floor than in his mouth and you start to take bin liners wherever you go.
Your Baby – Is in his element, doing a variety of new things that you swear you’ll remember forever but have already forgotten a few months later when you come to write an article about them. He is very smiley though and now that he doesn’t need to nap every flipping hour (as it used to feel like,) you can have much more fun together whilst still obsessing daily about his sleep intake and your only chance to get five minutes to yourself.
You – Are loving Eight Months! Fun times out with your baby who so enjoys playgroups, shopping and café culture, AKA, a new place to make a mess. It is so much easier to be laid back now – so long as there is a highchair, baby changing, space for your pram, and you manage to get out during the two hour window you have between naps and milk; and it isn’t raining, or too cold, or too hot.
Your Baby – Is enjoying spinning around in a circle and watching his baby friends crawl around him. He will move in his own sweet time thank you Mummy. When he decides he will in fact go mobile, he does so backwards and is very pleased with his achievement, despite moving away from every single toy that he is trying to commandeer.
You – Things just keep getting better! Baby is lots of fun, and though you still struggle to get much done day to day, things are definitely easier. His sleep is finally improving and although your bladder still wakes you regularly and you wish you had done your pelvic floor exercises, you are no longer surviving on a smidgen of sleep every night. You may have just finally sussed this baby thing. It is now time to go back to work.
Your Baby – Is officially on the move, and you are as pleased as punch that he has finally found his sense of direction. There is no stopping him and you beam with pride and spend hours crawling around with him in a bizarre, regressive state which makes you both laugh like hyenas and you wonder if you have toppled over the edge into formal insanity.
You – You realise that despite stopping breastfeeding two months prior, you are still wearing your nursing bras and haven’t waxed your eyebrows for four months. You go shopping to rectify your sloppy self and almost join your baby in their mega meltdown in the changing room, which begins and quickly intensifies whilst you are stood in your pants and are reaching for the first item of clothing. In your hot and bothered haste to leave you trap a pram wheel in the narrow aisle and nearly derail a stand of (too skinny for you) jeans. You learn your lesson and shop online hence forwards.
Your Baby – Has a lot to say for himself and joins you in several conversations each day, happy to get his point across with grunts, growls, squeaks and a sound you convince yourself is Mama, even if he says it more to the cat than to you. His sleep has gone to pot again thanks to a cold / teething / scamp like behaviour.
You – As you approach your baby’s first birthday you can’t believe where the year has gone but look forward to more fun, and hopefully easier times ahead with your little bundle. Babies are less work in the second year right? Right? You try to block out the voices that delight in warning you of temper tantrums, cot escapes and food strikes. La la la la la, as your baby might say.
Your Baby – Has become Mr or Miss Social. Waving politely manically at everyone he sees and exclaiming loudly at the site of any fellow smalls, animals or cars, he is getting all grown up! He is also mastering a range of impressive physical activity, his favourites being climbing up your legs whilst you are boiling pasta and leaping out of your arms when you are carrying him downstairs.
You – Your little baby is no longer so little. You reminisce about labour, buy too many birthday gifts and feel really quite emotional reflecting on the last year. Your life has changed beyond anything you could recognise and you have survived the worry and exhaustion, plus a multitude of coughs, colds, rashes, vomits and explodapoos. You have also had the privilege of being part of more beautiful and funny moments than you could have imagined, and have learnt more about love in a year than in your entire life time. And after making someone rather special, are doing a pretty cool job of raising the hell out of them. It’s time to celebrate your little miracle!
Your Baby – Likes all this turning 1 business. Or, as he calls it, the day he is allowed to eat lots of cake and is given boxes to play with, some of which hold pretty cool new gadgets. Though he can’t remember details, he knows that he much prefers his birth date this year, as the last wasn’t exactly his idea of party games and a buffet, and he thinks his Mummy would agree, judging by her unsavoury language at the time.
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