So, working as a Nanny I thought I pretty much knew everything there was to know about raising children and babies. People who used to say to me ‘oh but it’s SO different when you have your own’ used to really get on my nerves. How did a person with experience of just one or two of their own kids know better than someone who had looked after over 30?
When I found out I was pregnant I was adamant I wasn’t going to be one of those batshit crazy mums who thought giving their baby a bottle was the devils work, would never leave my child with anyone else or call myself Mummy in the third person……ahem, well at 5 months my baby hadn’t been left with anyone for more than 2 hours (and that was his dad whilst I went to Tesco), he is thankfully taking a bottle but god did I battle with guilt over that one and yes I constantly refer to myself as Mummy and blow raspberries in public.
I am hoping to one day become the ‘cool’ mum I had envisaged, multitasking work, having an amazing social life whilst being witty, trendy, sexy and well turned out. Pah, until that day comes I will continue walking round with my monobrow, un ironed clothes (most of the time totally unmatching and covered in sick) and hair like an electrocuted lion.
Apart from the first 3 months of morning (read ALL DAY) sickness (I so very delicately puked down the side of some unfortunate commuters Porsche when getting off the train one day), I was determined to be a ‘cool mum’, to carry on exercising , to not get obsessed with food or to read endless pregnancy books and expect special treatment all the time. To be fair I managed most of that (probably not the ‘cool’ part) but I was very laid back , the only book I read was ‘Expecting Better – why the conventional pregnancy wisdom is wrong and what you really need to know ‘ by Emily Oster. I would highly recommend this as an honest read (it cuts through all the BS and generally gives you the facts – good or bad).
I pretty much kept my personality, shunning a baby shower for a small gathering in a cheese shop (don’t ask but my idea of heaven!) and didn’t become obsessed with all things baby .
However once Sonny arrived my world changed. To be fair I was still quite laid back (or maybe shell shocked) for the first few weeks. I had an elective c-section due to previous hip operations which all went relatively smoothly. We were discharged after 2 days in hospital and started getting back into life (probably a bit too soon).
Once we got feeding established (more about Breastfeeding to come – ye gods that is not something I had prepared for!) we even found ourselves getting into a routine and I thought I was doing really well – feeding Sonny before he got too hungry, settling him to sleep before he got too tired. We had a routine and it pretty much stayed the same each day.
At just under 3 weeks old things went downhill, Sonny caught a cold, or so we thought. My other half who is the complete opposite of me in that he worries about EVERYTHING demanded we go to the Dr – who insisted Sonny was fine. Still unsure we returned again that evening – another Dr said he was fine. I think deep down I knew that something was wrong but I was hormonal, emotional and ended up shouting at my other half for over reacting. We went home – the next day Sonny seemed to pick up a little – I had bought a snot sucker and began using that on him, he seemed more ‘himself’ but still not 100%. The following day we had the health visitor appointment– again Sonny was more sleepy than usual and his breathing seemed laboured but we were assured he was fine – my partner was adamant that he wasn’t and in the evening we rushed down to the DR and were referred straight to paediatrics –the poor little man had severe bronchiolitis. My heart broke in two – no matter how many children I had looked after, or how laid back I thought I was, there is nothing on earth that prepared me to see my little tiny 3 week old baby hooked up to oxygen. We ended up staying in hospital for 8 days as Sonny’s oxygen levels were low for a long time. I was a complete wreck when we came out. I now know in the grand scheme of things he wasn’t as ill as a lot of children get, and I know we are exceedingly lucky but nothing on earth prepared me for the guilt, worry, love and helplessness I felt for my little man.
We had a few more visits to paediatrics over the coming weeks including with reflux (read more about that later) a vomiting blood episode (scary – more in the breastfeeding post) and I was extremely over protective and scared about other people handling Sonny for at least another two months .
I would say that the whole experience taught me that you really need to listen and to trust your gut instincts being a Mother – you can read a whole library worth of books and have all the experience in the world but essentially you have never looked after THIS baby before. Trust that you know your own baby better than any doctor, midwife or health visitor. Although generally our GP surgery is pretty amazing and I can’t really fault the care we received when Sonny was ill, I do feel like I was treated like an over- reactive Mother to start with. I had experience with children and babies and I still felt I was fobbed off and made to feel that I didn’t know what I was talking about. It did knock my confidence somewhat.
Anyway I am hoping that this blog will be a one stop shop for all things baby and child related – I started writing up a book or diary when I was a Nanny with lots of little nuggets of advice – when I read some of it now I laugh out loud – other bits I wish I had listened to in my own head during those early months when I was constantly googling, comparing and doubting. Hopefully it will tell things ‘how they are’ from both a Mum and Nanny perspective – obviously not everything that works for me will for you and vice versa . I also hope to include some ‘guest bloggers’ – specialists in their field and friends who I have the pleasure of knowing from Nannying and running the agency.
I would love to hear what you think.