My husband Mick and I had our first baby when we were both nearing the end of our studies at University. I was pregnant at 21. I had gone over to Australia to study abroad, met Mick, got engaged a year later and then one month after our engagement I was pregnant (clearly we did not want to waste any time, although not being on birth control for one month might have had something to do with it :lol:). When I told my mother over the phone that I was pregnant her first words were, “You have to finish college”. Thankfully I did, although I took some time off to be a new mum first. We were the opposite of what you would think would be ideal as first time parents. We were young, I was living in a different country learning a new language practically since Australians love the use of slang. I also had to adjust to the insane Queensland heat and SO.MANY.BUGS…. I mean SERIOUS amounts of bugs. The spiders are the size of city rats here!!! They also have these adorable little green tree frogs although one spot they love to hang out in is the toilet!! 😀
I went from party animal to stay at home, pregnant twenty two year old. When our little boy was born I was amazed. I sat there staring at him and immediately put him to my breast. He latched on straight away and we never looked back. Throughout it all Mick has been supportive and has usually allowed me to convince him of all sort of things he was not initially into such as co-sleeping, breastfeeding to natural term and other various “hippy” type activities. Our first born was incredibly “high needs” as some might describe. He was unhappy unless I carried him and slept with him. Looking back I will forever be grateful for what he taught me. He showed me how important it was to follow his lead, listen to what he needed and just go with it. Forget the mainstream baby training books and just look at what your baby needs. He truly taught me how to mother…
Mick is my guest blogger for this post. He has written some thoughts as to what it was like for him and how he has changed his thinking a bit since having our first…
“I am writing this post for three reasons. One is that my one and only previous post was popular and my ego opened my mouth about writing another one. The second reason is that the more popular Meg becomes, the more people will hire her as a consultant and thus I will be one step closer to working part time and being at home to annoy the family (Just kidding. But seriously you should have a consult with Meg. She’s passionate and exceptionally good at what she does). The third reason however came as a result of our reflections and conversations about attitudes to raising kids, especially in those early years.
Kids are harder than an Ikea bookshelf to figure out and help construct without making mistakes, losing things and general frustration. The end result is usually pretty good though. When our first child came screaming into the world after a great State of Origin victory by Queensland (that story is another blog post in itself) I quickly realised that there was no instruction manual and we were on our own and really sleep deprived.
Meg and I were fairly intuitive with what to do and had some idea how we would like to best take care of the little cone head staring back at us. There were some things that I hadn’t thought about and my opinions and feelings have definitely changed over time. Co-sleeping and breastfeeding to natural term are two things that now, having three children, I can see the benefit of both and what suited our situation and lifestyle. Yet I did not always feel so open to the idea of sharing our bed and having Meg breastfeed them into toddlerhood.
It’s really hard the first time round, especially when every grandparent, aunt, uncle and family friend shares the secrets to baby raising. All of which seems easy, but don’t really work and I believe there is an actual medical condition that affects all parents that you forget the tortures of raising children and it all seems like a beautiful summer’s day where everyone is having fun and laughing and eating ice cream. I digress. With our oldest I was very keen to move through the stages of development. Baby born, baby sleeps, baby eats, poops and goes back to sleep then to baby moving around, drooling and pooping. When our child got to the development stage of eating solids, bigger poops and general chaos wherever we went, I had the feeling that it was time for the big fella to get a bed of his own. He was still waking during the night and breastfeeding, but I felt that it had been a long time since Meg and I shared our own bed, that it was time to sleep without being kidney punched, scratched and other dirty fighting tactics that he seemed to use against me. We did wait until he was two years old though to transition him out of his bed and we did it gradually. He continued to wake up and get into our bed (and then a mattress on the floor) for a few more years.
The fact is, each kid is different, but they all love to be hugged, cuddled and snuggle up to you in bed. It’s only for a short time of your life and I’m pretty sure I won’t be comfortable when my boys are teenagers and come into bed looking for a cuddle. Co-sleeping doesn’t affect their development; it doesn’t make them a mamma’s boy, what it does is let them feel safe and warm and loved (something we all like to feel).
My other issue that I had was being comfortable with what age my boys breastfed to. I was not comfortable when my boy would say “boobie” to have a breastfeed. At times I feared that this wouldn’t end and Meg would be breastfeeding him on his first day of university. It’s interesting that the education system I work in now (Montessori) and the way we have raised our children have gelled. Follow the lead of your child is the best piece of advice I wish I was given. We all have grand plans as parents, but you know what? It’s not about you, it’s about the squirmy little thing in your arms that will pee, puke, poop, pout, punish and prove so much to you.
Let them sleep with you if that is how they sleep best and let them breastfeed as long as they need (the dude in Game of Thrones is a little extreme though). If you’re in the baby business to check the boxes and look good, then you have it all wrong. The more you observe and follow their lead, the more you enjoy.”
-Mr. The Milk (Mick)