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Reflecting on the first year of parenting

Tall Boy's First Birthday

I wrote this post shortly after we celebrated the NCT babies’ first birthdays. It was just before they turned one and the emotion of the occasion caught me off guard. I blinked back tears as we all sang Happy Birthday to the bemused babies, who were sitting in high chairs round a table, about to eat their first ever birthday cake. Tall Boy wolfed down a whole black forest gateau cupcake, which is hardly surprising giving his mother’s weakness for cake and afternoon tea.

Tall Boy is now fast approaching his second birthday, and this post has been half drafted for almost a year. It was written to mirror my pregnancy update posts, to reflect on where we were at as Tall Dad and I approached the end of our first year as parents. Better late than never right. 

First Birthday Cake

 

Development

One of the joys of having your own baby is that you see every little change in their ability as it emerges. One day they go to bed not being able to do something that they’ve mastered by the time they wake up in the morning. Strangely the opposite also happens when they apparently lose a skill for a short time as their brains work on something else entirely.

 

Walking

Tall Boy hadn’t shown any signs of crawling by the time of his 9 month check with the Health Visitor. They gave us a sheet of exercises to help encourage him and arranged to check how he was getting on at some point before his first birthday. By the time they got back in contact, just before 11 months, Tall Boy was on his feet and almost walking on his own. I remember the Health Visitor congratulating me on his progress. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the physio sheet had stayed on the shelf and Tall Boy had worked out how to get about all on his own.

In fact, Tall Boy only really started crawling a few months ago, after deciding it was a useful skill for exploring tunnels and other small spaces.

It’s the big milestones like mobility that highlight differences in the way babies develop. Tall Boy was one of the last to get mobile in our NCT group but, as it turned out, he was one of the first to walk. As a parent it helps to remember that children really do develop at their own pace, although it can be hard to be confident about this when Health Visitors are monitoring your child’s development with a tick box system.

 

Weaning

When I started weaning Tall Boy I followed the Annabel Karmel book. We’d been given it and the meal plans made it all seem quite straightforward – although I never managed to fit milk feeds in at the times she recommended.

Tall Boy ate puree happily for about a month before deciding he didn’t like vegetable mush any more. Cue a stressed mama as I tried to work out how to get food in to him. In the end I went back to where we had started, with a bite of banana. Puree was decidedly off the menu after that, and I had to work out what to feed him that he could pick up himself. I will be adding a weaning page to my blog soon, which will include all my go-to recipes, which I hope will help parents in the same situation.

By the time Tall Boy was a year old he would eat almost anything; chicken legs, corn on the cob, apples, and he was starting to allow us to feed him meals with a spoon. We could no longer eat anything in front of him without giving him a taste and Tall Dad and I had to restrict treat time to after Tall Boy’s bedtime. 

Figuring out an orange

 

Sleeping

Tall Boy slept in our room until he was 8 months old. It was easy to lift him out of the cot, feed him and put him back down again with minimal disruption to my own sleep. After we moved him I noticed that, for some of his feeds, he was not really eating. It felt like the right time to start cutting out his night feeds and Tall Dad took a turn at settling him during the night. We were still up at least once until he reached a year but I was getting more sleep and felt able to function like a human being again – although my memory went missing somewhere in the labour ward and has yet to be recovered.

 

Confidence

When you are new at parenting you question everything. I should have written a post about the crazy things I Googled in the early days. Eventually I realised that I could find arguments in support of completely opposing views and that I still had to make my own decisions. As I became more confident I Googled less. I rarely turn to the search engine for parenting advice these days, and I am much happier for it. Tall Boy seems to be doing ok too.

 

The Cats

The cats adjusted to the arrival of Tall Boy better than we expected. They were a bit lost in the early days when we just couldn’t manage to give them as much attention as they were used to. Tall Boy has made up for this has he has got older, and I suspect they’d prefer things to go back to they way they were when he was small. He got so excited every time they entered a room. He loved, and still loves, to stroke them and we have to make sure he doesn’t pull out handfuls of fur or pull their tails too hard. I’m not sure why they tolerate his behaviour, but so far they have let him get away with most things. Of course, they can always run faster than him if they need to.

 

Everyday Life

Tall Boy started to become really good fun around 8 months. It felt like we were finally getting something back from him and parenting was more enjoyable for it. At the same time, day to day life got easier. Less poos meant less on the go nappy changes, and once he could sit on his own he was able to entertain himself for short periods while I got things done.

As Tall Boy reached a year, his personality really started to shine through. He would belly laugh as Tall Dad and I chased him round the dining room table, pretending to scare him. And for me, hearing him laugh was, and still is, the most rewarding sound of all.

First Birthday with the giraffes at Chester Zoo

 

I remember looking forward to the second year; to going back to work, to having the opportunity to think about things other than parenting, and to watching Tall Boy become more independent.

Parenting is a forward facing journey, but it’s worth pausing every once in a while to reflect on how far we’ve come.

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Becci Johnson

Hi, I’m an almost 6 ft, thirty-something living in Manchester. Writer, blogger & first time mum.

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