It’s funny how nostalgic you become, even after such a short space of time. Rafe is almost one and I find myself looking back at the newborn days like they were a million years ago and wishing I could go back to the beginning and relive every moment again – to get one more squishy newborn cuddle. As you can see - I also find myself looking back at those days with rose tinted glasses. It wasn’t that hard was it? "IT WAS FUCKING BRUTAL!!" The cluster feeding, sleep-deprived Faye during week 3 postpartum is screaming at me. I read somewhere that motherhood is a mixture of wishing time away (right, just need to get through these first 6 weeks, when is this four-month regression going to end?) and then wanting to pause and simply go back in time to relive certain moments you had been so desperate to pass. Now maternity leave is over (still quite emotional – but less tears) I am constantly saying: “I wish I had treasured certain moments more,” but the reality is, especially as a first-time mum, you are knee deep in doubt, nappies and exhaustion most of the time – especially in those early months. And realistically, if I went back in time and said to the Faye, rocking in the chair while trying to get Rafe to latch on to a cracked nipple at 2am, wearing a giant sanitary pad and scared to have her first poo post-birth: “Treasure these moments, you’ll miss them when they’re gone,” I’d most probably punch her in the face. But my friend has given birth to her second child recently and she put it perfectly when she said: “I’m trying to drink it all in this time.” And if we are lucky to have a second little whirlwind – that’s what I’ll try to do. Also look after myself more, pluck my eyebrows, get in the gym, throw out maternity leggings, keep away from the biscuit tin, don’t obsess about naps, be more calm in general, enjoy every second, sleep when the baby sleeps, don’t hate my husband, have less rage, get baby to self-settle early on, don't google so much, be a general all-round earth mother goddess....
So second week of work down and hardly any tears. But I’m still feeling quite emotional about the little chapter ending but don’t think those feelings will go away anytime soon. But it has got easier. And only really had a few tears on Thursday. I’ve been meaning to take Rafe to the dentist for the first time for a couple of months but kept forgetting and then the first appointment I could get was when I went back to work. So my husband took him on Thursday and I was quite upset I couldn’t be there. He sent me a photo of him looking all grown up in the dental chair and I cried (obviously). I know it was just the dentist but felt like I missed out. But Rafe seems more than happy with his little adventures without me there, so I need to remember that. And like I said last week – I just need to treasure our little moments together. And it’s actually been good to see my husband realise that looking after Rafe can be a little challenging. Although he experienced those early weeks, since Rafe was about 8 weeks, he's been back and forth on weekends so he mostly got to have ‘fun’ Rafe when he was home. But the other day he texted me while out walking, trying to get Rafe to sleep: “YOUR child is annoying,” as he was fighting his nap like the nap-pro he is not. WELCOME TO MY WORLD SUNNY JIM.
Rafe has been teething all week so his sleep has been all over the place so that’s been fun. If fun now means fucking exhausting. It was particularly fun this morning (Sunday) after I'd been out and had a few proseccos and he woke at 2am then up for the day at 5.30. I just laugh now at the thought of being able to say: “my baby is a good sleeper” because I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel. Just acceptance now that I will be exhausted for life. Maybe when he is one he will finally crack sleep? He is also having a mammoth feed before bed and has done so the past week or so (literally nurses for an hour like the early days). Don’t know whether it’s teething – or it’s something to do with his routine changing and me not being around. Who knows? Do you ever figure this baby thing out?
We got the keys to our new house on Friday! It’s so exciting to actually own our home – finally. Anyone who is a military spouse will understand the excitement of not having to move every two years – and goodbye magnolia walls! We are just going to gradually move in over the week – so hopefully be all settled never weekend. A little nervous as Rafe has never been in his own room – not out of choice really, more because we haven’t had the room to do it. People have said he may sleep better as won’t be disrupted by me but I feel like we have got so used to each other, I’m going to find it a little hard to start with. Just because I’m so used to hearing him breathing, snoring, moving around. Anyone else left it quite late to have baby in own room? Any advice???
He has his first day at nursery on Wednesday. With it being term time only, we haven’t been able to have any settling in days, so I’ve taken the morning off, so will go with him – and then my husband will take over, if needed in the afternoon. I had to write a little routine for him – and obviously cried when I wrote “Rafe can be quite serious – especially if he is shy and doesn’t know anybody. But loves bubbles, sensory lights, books, putting toys in his mouth...” Quite nervous about it – but also know it will be good for him. And hoping that the nursery workers will work their nap magic on him!
Rafe is kind of crawling! Well moving forward slightly. He’s doing a one arm commando crawl which is pretty hilarious but it gets him from A to B! He’s also able to get from sitting to crawling position – which he’s never really tried to do. He does kind of face plant doing it but it’s a start!
Right, best be off. Lots of jobs to order my husband to do! (Not stressed at all….)
So we survived my first week back at work. But there were tears. (All from me). I cried all day Sunday. I cried during the whole of the 'last maternity leave walk' to get Rafe to nap (he had 30 minutes). I cried when putting him to bed. I then cried in the shower on Monday morning. I cried when I got photos throughout the day from my husband of Rafe having fun. And photos of him on Tuesday at baby yoga – a class I loved. I cried when he didn’t react overjoyed to see me after my first day. (Though he made up for the next day by jumping up and down and squealing – I hope with joy). So, yeah pretty emotional still. Though honestly – it has been okay, (despite the tears) it was not as bad as I imagined. But I do think it was never about going back at work. It was more that maternity leave had ended. Someone messaged me and said it was the 'end of a chapter' and I think that sums it up so well. I’m sad because our little time together is over. Although we will have so many more memories to come. The months after you have your baby are the most intense of your life – good and bad. You feel the strongest emotions you have ever felt – whether that be pure, unconditional love – or genuine deep-seated rage at your husband snoring. You are in this little bubble with your baby, learning about each other, changing together, every step of the way. And you go through some very tough times (cluster feeding, sleep regressions, exhaustion to name but a few) but you experience some of the best moments of your life. It’s the time when you truly bond and it’s a time you’ll never experience quite like it again – it’s so special. And I think that’s why I’ve been so upset - and still am quite emotional but I hopefully won’t be ugly crying for too long. Just maybe a few more weeks...Like many people have said – it’s just about getting used to the new norm. And treasuring the days off and weekends. The little moments - our before bed breastfeed is my favourite. Just my little pal and me again. And seeing Rafe’s face at the end of the day is pretty special. And you don’t have to think or worry about naps! And you get to have hot cups of coffee! And adult conversations. And to be honest, it’s been good to use my brain again. So to everyone as emotional as me about going back to work – you will be okay. And so will baby. Rafe does not seem phased at all. And it’s good for him to have quality time with his grandparents - and nursery, when he starts in a couple of weeks will be great for him. It’s not as bad as you think it is going to be. I promise. I know it's only week 1 - but it can only get easier right? And you’re not alone – we can all ugly cry and eventually enjoy a hot cuppa together. But this little chapter has been pretty amazing hasn't it?
So Rafe’s been sleeping amazing since being back at work. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Not a chance. Sunday night he was up loads – which was ideal. Send coffee. It’s just been hit or miss whether he’s slept okay – randomly on Wednesday he slept all the way through. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR. And wait for it – so did I!!!!! The last two times he did this I kept waking up but I think I must have had about 8 hours which I can’t remember when that last happened – maybe about a year and a half ago? It was flipping marvellous. I felt like conquering Everest the next day. Though the next few nights have been rough. He just doesn't seem to want to be put down. He’s teething and just being a bit of a whinge pants – though this leap has two more days left so maybe he’s going to be a dream sleeper after that?....
Rafe had a 6-month check at the Freeman Hospital to see how his little heart is this week. I was a little worried he was going to be pulling all the wires off him and not wanting to be poked and prodded but he was an actual legend. And the doctor is happy. He’s obviously putting on weight (have you seen those knees?!) and thriving. The hole has got a teeny bit smaller – though still quite big, but the doctor said it is not causing him any issues – and is in a ‘safe place’. So it’s still not dangerous. Just need to keep an eye on him and will be back in 6-months. Hopefully they may never need to intervene – but I’m naturally always going to worry. But it was a relief – and all the nurses and other people in the hospital kept giving him lots of attention so he was in his element!
When did you stop breastfeeding? I always had in my head that I would breastfeed for 6-months and through those early weeks of really struggling, this deadline kept me going. I never thought I’d still be breastfeeding this long (though had to replace two feeds with formula since back to work) – and also actually have grown to really love it. Especially now – I love our little morning feed, his super sleepy feed before bed and even the night feed. I kind of have in my head that I will stop when he is one – but that’s actually only a few weeks away and I don't feel ready - and Rafe isn't showing any signs of wanting to self-wean. I’m not going to be like the Little Britain sketch (bitty!), though not judging anyone who continues to breastfeed as long as they want – I just don’t know when to stop and if I actually want to. I know they say up until babies are one – breastmilk (or formula) is their main source of nutrition, so seems like the natural place to stop but I just don’t know. Advice?!
We get the keys to our new house next week – hurrah!! Though going back to work, maternity leave ending and moving into a new house all within a couple of weeks is a teeny little bit stressful and I may need to eyeball vodka at some point. But exciting times ahead.
Rafe's first, very, very wobbly steps were a one off I think - he's started just hopping like a kangeroo so don't think he'll be on his feet anytime soon. Though not rushing it! Still just rolling and a few little commando crawls but know he will just do it when he's ready.
So yeah, a lot going on this week! Thank you so much for everyone’s comments and messages on my last post. As always, it’s so good to know I’m not alone. Raising a glass of wine to you all.
P.s Thinking of first birthday presents (how has this happened?!) and quite want to get Rafe a teepee play tent - any recommendations? Ta!
So, it has been quite an emotional week of ugly crying most days. Not just because Rafe wakes up at 4.30am now (FML) – but because it’s been my last week on maternity leave. It honestly feels like yesterday I was telling work I was pregnant and now it’s back to the Sunday night blues. I held on to dear life to the mid-morning breastfeed this week and even though I’ll still breastfeed him before work, bed and during the night, it was hugely emotional for me. I can’t quite put my finger on why but when I fed him that last 10am feed on Wednesday, I was literally crying my eyes out. Poor Rafe must have been thinking what is wrong with this woman? Maybe it’s because it was the final thing I had to do before going back to work, or I think a part of it – and one of the reasons I’m so emotional, is that I felt like once I stopped with that feed, he wouldn’t really need me anymore. Dramatic yes, I know he still needs me, but I’m going to have to loosen those tight, slightly routine obsessed, maternal hands and let other people take care of Rafe. Yes, it’s for four days, it’s not like my husband who doesn’t see Rafe for weeks on end, but for 10-months every day, I’ve been Rafe’s mum. I still will be of course but every day, every hour, (with only a few afternoons here and there without him), it’s just been us. Just me and Rafe taking on the world – one nap disaster at a time. In our own little bubble. And I’ve blinking loved it. And I feel very lucky. Don’t get me wrong – it’s been hard. Really, really hard some days. Whether that be navigating the early weeks of what the hell am I doing. The exhaustion. The breastfeeding struggle. THE FOUR MONTH SLEEP REGRESSION. Cold cups of tea. Walking 50000 miles a day to get him to nap. I’m sure the ‘living off one hours sleep Faye’ would want to fight me for saying this but I just want to do it all again. Start my maternity leave from the beginning and relieve every single moment. Even the poo in the bath moments, the hourly wake-ups, buying 50 different breastfeeding pillows to realise that my own pillow works fine, pushing the pram in wind, snow, glorious sunshine, (I’m going to actually miss those long walks to get him to sleep, honestly I am!), those newborn cuddles I wish I’d treasured more, his first laugh, the first time he smiled – just having Rafe to look after and not having to worry about much else – (apart from everything else), just me and my little pal, getting through each day, one wobbly, winging it step at a time. So yeah – I’m pretty emotional about it.
I didn't think I'd be this emtional as it is going to be quite a gradual back to work routine as we are still at my mum and dads so I won’t have my own little office yet and Rafe won’t be out all day while I’m working - though I’ll be busy and I really want to try and get back into the ‘work frame of mind’, I’ll be able to sneak a cuddle in if Rafe is around – so I know I’m VERY lucky in that way. (We are getting keys to our new house at the end of August – hurrah!) I guess a lot of my emotion is about how different everything is going to be – my little maternity bubble is bursting and it’s back to reality almost. I won’t just be mum Faye, I’ll be work Faye – even back to being wife Faye…maybe. But you know what, that might not be a bad thing. I think as much as these 10-months I have been able to whole heartedly, ‘just be mum’, it will be good for me – and Rafe, to get a bit of the old Faye back. Though not quite old Faye – don’t think tequila loving Faye needs to ever make a reappearance. Or does she?
So apart from tears, we’ve had a lovely family week with my husband being home. I haven’t wanted to kill him too much so it’s all good. Having him there to help during the night has been amazing too – although Rafe is not playing ball and has decided that he wants to wake up numerous times throughout the night and also wake between 4.30am-5.30am and want to party. And not go back to sleep. So I’m currently looking like I need to sleep for a year (I do) and need to drink coffee all day long. It’s two weeks left off this leap so I’m hoping it’s just leap related or I may start ugly crying on a regular basis. And I’ve tried getting him to nap in his cot but that’s not happening, but next week that’s my husband’s problem....(He will have Rafe while he’s still on leave for a few weeks and then grandparents will take over – and nursery once term time starts.) Rafe has also been teething so bad so night times are a laugh a minute at the moment.
Like I said earlier, I’ve dropped another breastfeed (and replaced with formula - thank you to everyone who shared their routines with me), which has been the hardest one. As well as the ugly crying, it’s also been quite painful as it’s the longest I’ve gone between feeds so my boobs were killing the first few days. And still are to be honest. I've had to keep expressing a little in the sink as I feel like they are going to burst. Oh the glamour. But I’ll still breastfeed in the morning, before Rafe goes to bed and then through the night if he needs it. I know all babies are different but when do they stop needing a feed through the night? Do you need to wean them off the boob?
Rafe’s not crawling still (I know he will do it in his own time) but he’s really trying. He has a new trick where we ask him how tall he is and he puts his hands up in the air and it is literally the cutest thing in the world. Oh and he purposefully feeds the dog now so Yankee loves him. And yesterday he took his very wobbly first steps! My mum was holding on to him for dear life but after standing like a statue and not showing any signs of moving - it felt like a big achievement for him to move those chunky, chubby feet!
It’s been quite an emotional post this week but I guess it’s like most things, the dread of something is always far worse. And maybe I'm being over dramatic but it just feels like a huge change and one I'm not quite ready to jump straight into yet. But once the first few weeks are over, I'm sure I won't be ugly crying every day....
P.s If you've left a comment on my blog posts recently, it looks like it has went a bit tits up so apologises, I have been replying. It is technology, not just my tired-ass baby brain!
So I thought it was only fair that because my last blog post detailed the ‘red rage/ARE YOU A REAL PERSON?’ moments we have to deal with daily from our partner’s, that I would ask my husband to see if there was anything that I did that may have annoyed him. Well at first he didn’t get back to me for a while and I thought – fantastic, I’m obviously not annoying at all. Then War and Peace came. Okay. Not quite – but a few...
• “It’s fine – I’ll do it. Like I always do.” (This was in relation to getting Rafe to sleep but to be fair – my husband was faffing around.)
• Wanting to know every detail about something: “Who is going to be there? What time are we going?” “What are we doing after?” “What are you wearing?” “Are they bringing their kids?” (It’s called being organised love.)
• Constantly changing your mind. (Because I have a million things on my mind!)
• Built up anger being directed towards me, when I’ve done nothing wrong. (Might you have done something wrong?)
• Being treat like a child. And spoken to like one. With zero manners and a rude attitude. (I know what you’re thinking, HE IS A LUCKY GUY...)
• Contradicting yourself, then doing something that suits you at the time, but having a go at me for doing the same thing. (I don't know what you mean.)
• Putting your handbag on the kitchen bench. It’s a food preparation counter. (Oh, okay, sorry Chef!)
• Going from level 0 to 1 billion rage over nothing. (Hormones darling.)
And on an even brighter note. After being slightly ecstatic last week that Rafe’s sleep seemed to have got better – HELLO OLD RAFE. WELCOME BACK. 3AM COT PARTIES ARE NOW MY LIFE. Like seriously. Mum to mum here: Do babies/toddlers ever sleep through the night? Is this a myth? Will I honestly ever sleep again? Please send wine. And coffee. And more coffee. And wine.
So last week, I honestly thought we had turned a corner sleep wise (not naps, we are still a 30-minute King but I’m not stressing about them anymore…damn you naps) as he was just waking up once, having a feed and going straight back down. I wasn’t having to re-settle him and I could put him down half-asleep and he would be fine - was it just too good to be true? The past week he has been difficult to put down - like the good old days. Yet he doesn’t want holding. Does not want me to put him down. Does not want to be in his sleeping bag. Does not want me to sing to him (Why he would not want to hear my angelic voice I don’t know). And I’d say like clockwork when I do get him down eventually, he wakes up within 30-minutes again and screams till I go cuddle him. And then the cot parties have started again. The other night it was from 1-3am. On Thursday night, he wouldn’t go back down at 10pm and I had to feed him to sleep – he normally feeds midnight at the earliest. And then he woke at 5am and I had to cuddle him to sleep. The other night at 4am, I tried just bringing him into my bed but he just repeatedly slapped me in the face and pulled my hair so that was a joy. I dare google ‘10-month sleep regression’. I’m hoping it’s may be just leap related. And it’s fine – only 24 days left of this leap. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HELP.
Rafe’s still being a bit fussy food wise and I don’t know whether just to stick to what I know he likes for now – or experiment more and try him with different things? I still worry I’m not giving him enough but then I just think I’m following his lead – he is eating what he wants and lets me know when he's full and he’s actually an absolute chunk so I think he’s doing okay! As he’s approaching 10-months, I don’t know whether I need to drop a feed completely and replace with a snack. Help! So at the moment this is our little routine roughly:
3pm: Formula (Sometimes he takes 7oz, other times hardly anything. Can still be quite fussy and wants boob – or just doesn’t want much.)
Always feel like I’m stocking him up – but he still seems to want the same amount of feeds – well definitely the breastfeeds (still has one through the night). I don’t know whether to replace the morning or afternoon milk with a snack? What is everyone else’s routine for 10-month-old?
Speaking of routines, I got a text (does anyone else hear someone from Love Island saying this now?!) from the nursery manager this week to let me know I can ring anytime with any questions (he goes in September for one day a week) and to also bring a written routine on his first day. I literally wanted to cry. I know I’ve been massively reassured from other mums about leaving him, but still feeling emotional about it. Have two weeks left of maternity leave (where has the time gone? I swear I only told work I was pregnant yesterday) so trying to make the most of it. I’ve been able to request to work my hours over four days, which I feel very lucky about. And also, the majority of my work, is remote-working. Which again I feel lucky as I won’t have to be rushing out the door. (I wouldn’t be able to look after Rafe and work from home. I’m writing/interviewing people all day and the only distraction I will be able to deal with is the biscuit tin). As well as thinking about getting into work-mode again, I’m a little worried about the cabin fever setting in. Before Rafe, I got cabin fever being in the house all day working (was used to being in a busy newsroom) but I was lucky as I could just take the dog out in the evening – and my husband was around quite a bit then but I think when you become a mum, one of the things I have struggled with is the cabin fever. Almost feeling slightly isolated if you haven’t been able to get out the house. But I shouldn’t complain as I know it could be a million times harder and I could be rushing out the door every day. Just going to take time to get used to the new routine and it will all work out I’m sure.
On that note. I need a fucking coffee!
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.