With apologies to my mum…

Recently, I’ve been thinking that I really should go back and pay a visit to the local NCT antenatal group. The antenatal group is supposed to ‘prepare’ you for life with your new wriggling bundle.  In reality though, nobody actually tells you what life is like with a baby. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are several types of people, all of whom try to convince you that having a small baby is quite like having a cat.  It’s cuddly, soft, sleeps in a little curled up ball and likes to play with toys.

Firstly, there are the people who claim to ‘not remember’ (my mum falls into this category).  Whenever I ask my mum questions like, “did I still wake up 6 times a night when I was 7 months old?” she replies evasively, “oh…I can’t remember that dear.”  Personally, I find this very hard to believe!  What my mum is probably trying to avoid telling me is that I was still waking up 6 times a night when I was 3 years old. Or else she’s effectively blocked out the nights of sitting on the landing, holding the baby monitor, waiting for a little ball of baby to stop rolling around and go to sleep! (On second thoughts, they wouldn’t have had video monitors in those days, so maybe she was actually blissfully unaware!?).

Next, there are the people who remember everything as cosy snuggles and cooing.  I’m sure Edward coos and snuggles as much as any other baby, but he certainly doesn’t do this all the time.  Yes, he’s very cute, but at 4 in the morning – not so much!  The people who claim to have ‘enjoyed every moment’ are lying. Either that, or they have selective amnesia (my mum?!).

Then, there are the people who try to convince you that having a baby is even easier than having a cat! These (fictitious?!) babies sleep through the night from 3 months, rarely cry, do not try to grab toys/food from other children at playgroups (Edward!) and never scare old ladies by shrieking in their ears (Edward again!).  These people are important because if they hadn’t convinced me that it would be nice and straightforward then Edward probably wouldn’t exist.  But I’m not entirely sure that they are 100% correct. My mum doesn’t fall into this category by the way!

The last group of people are the ones that tell you to put your life on hold and ‘enjoy your baby’.  I can (and do!) enjoy my baby very much, but I also enjoy eating, wearing (fairly) clean clothes and having a shower.  My mum could perhaps have fallen into this category had she not complained about the state of my front door panels less than a month after I had given birth.  One morning, I opened the front door to find her cleaning them (they did look good though – thanks mum!) so I assume she had got fed up with waiting for me to do them.  However, despite the issues with my front door, I have found it hard to put my life on hold entirely.  Nathan, in fact, has gone the whole hog and has not only got a new job since Edward was born but has also recently been promoted!  This is a great achievement only 8 months after ‘giving birth’ (so to speak – although Nathan still complains that his body hasn’t recovered!).

All in all, 8 months in and we are still adjusting.  Although we shouldn’t really moan about the lack of sleep, as our new Microsoft Bands tell us that our sleep duration and restoration is actually above average for our age group.  Perhaps people just don’t sleep?!

I need to change my name to ‘Ella’…

Sorry for the lack of posts this month.  Life with a 7 month old baby is a lot busier than I thought it would be and doesn’t leave a great deal of time for other things.  Recently, much of my spare time has been spent in the kitchen cooking up new and exciting food for my baby to eat.  Yes, Edward has started to eat and is even growing two lovely front teeth to help him chew all that juicy steak!

Although I really wanted to wait until Edward was 6 months old to wean him, things didn’t work out quite as I planned.  One morning, I left Edward with Nathan and my mum as I needed to go into London to a composition workshop.  However, when I rang towards lunchtime to check that everything was OK, Nathan’s response to ‘has Edward been fed yet?’ was (slightly worryingly) ‘I’m working on it!’.

Several panicked phone calls later and I was running effortlessly (OK – staggering and gasping for breath – having a baby does nothing for your fitness!) through Waterloo station to jump on the first train back home.  Edward, it seemed, had decided that day was a good time to go on ‘bottle strike’ and only a breast would do!  On arriving home, I was greeted by Nathan and my mum sitting eating hot dogs (don’t ask!) whilst Edward sat on the kitchen table munching on a bread roll.  Weaning had clearly begun.

Originally, we thought that we would just feed Edward the food we ate ourselves but we soon discovered that this meant being rather more healthy than perhaps we’d like!  I’m sure the time is fast approaching when I’m not going to be able to sit eating a piece of cake whilst Edward is munching on broccoli and cauliflower pieces but I’m enjoying it while it lasts!  Breakfast is the easiest meal as we all like eating porridge and Edward enjoys sucking on pieces of fruit.  Nathan and I always complete for who will not have to clean the baby up though – it is always horrendously sticky!

When we started weaning, I decided that Edward was not going to have shop bought baby food.  Having explained this to Nathan, he watched in dismay as I began mashing, chopping, steaming and blending frantically in order to make a selection of dishes that looked vaguely edible.  I suppose as I’d never been really into cooking it was a bit of a shock to see me actually using the food processor that we’d been given as a wedding present!  Finger foods were easy. Edward was happy to chew or suck on most things I put in front of him – or that I was eating – but I decided to combine this with some more traditional ‘mushy’ foods as well.  However, apart from porridge, which was a huge success, my tasty combinations of chicken and mashed potato or broccoli, rice and cauliflower didn’t always get greeted with such enthusiasm.

Not to be put off, I continued to encourage Edward to eat my home made concoctions – with varying degrees of success.  Edward ate some of them, spat some of them out and ignored others.  Nathan refused to eat most of them, although this might have had something to do with the fact that one of the key ingredients was usually breast milk!  Even though the fridge is always well stocked with this delicious beverage, Nathan has never been desperate enough to pour it on his cereal, even when the only other option has been hazelnut milk (bought out of interest when I saw it in Sainsbury’s – it’s actually really nice!).

This carried on until recently, when I was out with some of my NCT friends, and saw one of the mums feeding her baby an ‘Ella’s Kitchen’ pouch.  It looked revolting, so I disdainfully ignored it and thought proudly of my stash of home made food in the freezer.  However a few days later, in Sainsbury’s, I was dazzled by the vast array of different pouches on offer as I browsed the baby aisle, and so decided to buy a couple of small pouches of ‘peaches’ just to see what all the fuss was about.  After two spoonfuls of the pouch Edward’s face lit up!  He waved his arms, made his ‘I want’ noise emphatically, and smacked his lips.  I fed him more…and more…and more!  He finished the pouch.

I was a bit disgruntled by this, but the next day as he ploughed diligently through cod and sweet potato, I decided to try an experiment.  I added a little bit of the other ‘peaches’ pouch to the cod and potato.  Edward spotted the pouch and shrieked with excitement.  In disgust, I lobbed it behind a pot plant and offered Edward the spoon again.  He finished the bowlful.

The next day, when he refused to eat my courgette and broccoli surprise (who could blame him really?) I added the rest of the ‘peaches’ pouch.  Yes, this does sound totally revolting, but it was a complete hit with Edward.  “You prefer mummy’s food, Edward,” I told him, but he looked unconvinced.
“Just buy him the pouches!” said Nathan, “he obviously loves them.”
“But what about my lovely home made food?” I complained, “he should love that too!”

I refuse to be beaten.  Edward is still displaying an inordinate amount of excitement whenever he sees one of the pouches so I have taken to hiding them.  I have also bought an Ella’s Kitchen cookery book. Also, a few more pouches…just in case.