Ellen is now 5 months old and great fun already. Every week sees a new milestone and it’s so exciting to see her grow and develop. She still throws us a curveball every few days by doing something unexpected or out of routine, so we are constantly learning.
During her first few months I was determined to get her into a good routine and so I read lots of advice in books and online on how to go about this. It was starting to become a bit of an obsession and I would get stressed if she woke earlier or later than usual, or fed at a different time. Eventually I realised there was no point in getting stressed about it. She kind of fell into her own routine anyway around 3 months and even though it can change on a daily basis, the important thing is she knows the difference between night and day. We are lucky enough that she sleeps nearly all night, apart from one feed, and has done since she was about 8 weeks old. We are nearly afraid to talk about it in case we jinx it! The night feed happens on auto-pilot at this stage and she goes straight back to sleep afterwards. Unfortunately I don’t quite fall back to sleep so quickly but I’m getting better at it!
Most first time mums will tell you that when they first bring their baby home, they wonder how they will ever be able to leave the house again. There’s so much to think about – nap times, feeding times, changing nappies, all the stuff needed – that it can be easier to just stay in the house! And I think that’s absolutely fine for the first couple of months. A friend who has 3 kids told me not to feel pressure to get out and about and just enjoy my time and cuddles with my tiny baby, so that’s exactly what I did.
Gradually I started to get more confident about getting out of the house. It was literally baby steps at first with a quick trip to the shop to get milk, or a visit to a local breastfeeding support group. Then as I got more relaxed about it, and Ellen got a little bit older, it became easier. But there is a lot of organisation involved, and everything takes longer than if you were to just take off in the car by yourself. More than once I’ve found myself in a shopping centre having forgotten the changing bag or some vital piece of baby paraphernalia so I’ve had to cut my trip short and head home. So I’ve learned to re-stock the baby bag when I get home or during Ellen’s naps. Key items are nappies, wipes, muslin cloths, bibs and change of clothes.
I’d also recommend practising putting your travel system or buggy up and down a few times at home to make sure you are confident with it. They can be tricky to manage until you become familiar with them.
So to all expectant or new mums out there – don’t worry, you will get out and about eventually and you will hopefully enjoy your maternity leave with your new baby as much as I am. Although there is always that niggling worry when you are out that there will be an explosive nappy situation – but that’s a whole other story!