I Get By…

…with a little help from my friends.

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On this blog, I talk a lot about parenting-related things which make me happy or sad, I talk about progress in Alexandra’s life, way back when I was pregnant I even spoke a little about the NCT course we started at around six months gone. But since then I’ve hardly mentioned the group (apart from maybe in passing when they’re referred to as my ‘mommy friends’ or as Alexandra’s tiny pals) which seems odd when I think about how much of an influence they’ve had on my first nine months of motherhood. I’m going to change that right now with a special post all about my lovely chums and why having people who pushed a human out at about the same time to share tales about your nipples, tears and poonamis (baby’s poos, not our own) with is really quite top notch.

When we first walked into a fairly boring looking meeting room to learn about breastfeeding, labour and the early days of parenthood, we didn’t quite know what to expect. When we learned there were six others couples also on the course, I guess we expected to like a few of them and we hoped we might remain in touch. As it is, pretty much a year on from that first session we’re all still friends – the men don’t see each other as much but the moms and babies are regular fixtures in our weekly schedule.

I’m pretty astounded that six other women and I were thrown together in a group with nothing in common except we live fairly close to each other and we all got pregnant at the same time – and that I genuinely really like all of them.

When we were having a pretty tough time of it (well, Dylan really, I was just having a long lie down), the girls pulled together and cooked food, sent parcels of everything he might need, looked after Alex and took her to baby groups – which is even more brilliant when you think about the fact they all had tiny babies, cluster feeding, the small matter of post-birth healing, crying, breastfeeding etc to deal with. They were absolute superstars and I feel I can’t ever really repay them for what they did. Even if we lose touch, which I genuinely hope doesn’t happen, we’ll always remember them and love them for their help during that horrible time.

It has been a genuine pleasure to get to know them and to watch as one by one their bumps transformed into babies, and then to watch as those babies grow week by week and learn how to do new things. The little ones all interact with each other now (mine mostly does that by stealing their socks and trying to bat them in the face, clearly she’s trying out for the role of group bully!) which is just delightful to see and I can’t wait to find out what they’re all going to be like when they’re older, as they’re all such different personalities already.

I really haven’t ever thanked this ladies enough for their constant support, for letting us come on this journey we call parenting with them and for answering a whole lot of questions I’ve had along the way.

So now I’m saying it in a slightly slushy post: thank you! I can’t think of six people I would rather sit and eat cupcakes with, send ridiculous parenting memes to and discuss boobs, bits, bottles and everything in between with.

I love you all immensely!
As we’ve said before: here’s to the best friends I’ve ever bought.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Antenatal Classes Part 2

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about starting our NCT antenatal classes and how they were going (available here) – we’ve now finished them so I thought it was about time for an update.

Our fourth session looked at the possibility of having to have a caesarean section and what this would entail. Although I know people who’ve had them and I thought I had a pretty good idea what went on in the operating theatre, I’d never really thought about what happened between ‘you need a c-section’ and actually getting the baby out – the whole process of prepping mom (and birth partner) for the operation. We did this through a role play which, despite descending a little bit into farce at times!, was actually really helpful and brought the whole thing to life. It also illustrated just how many people might be in theatre with you to help you through the process so I think I’d be a bit less overwhelmed if I was in that situation to find there was a whole crowd around me!

The fifth session was a women’s only one so we descended on course leader Bridget’s house for coffee, cake and a chat about life with a newborn. We got two meet two new moms who’d been on a previous course and they brought along their adorable sons to talk about their experiences of labour, breastfeeding and adjusting to the big changes in their lives. We also got the chance to have more of an in-depth chat about how we were feeling ahead of the birth.

Lastly, we met up again joined by the husbands/partners to focus on some of the practicalities – just how do you change a nappy, is it safe for the baby to sleep on their front (no!) and how often should you bath them? Once our plastic dolls had been washed and changed it was a whistle-stop tour through how the very early days can have an impact on the child’s life for a long time going forward. Essentially the gist of it was if you can lay down good foundations by spending a lot of time interacting with your child, nurturing them and teaching them positive things from a very early age then you’re more likely to come to the end of the ‘growing up’ process with a happy and healthy son or daughter.

The only official part of the course left to go now is the meet up once the babies are all born – ours happens to fall on Halloween so I’m sure that’ll be a lot of fun and involve a cute costume or two! But in between we’re all planning on keeping in touch with I think is one of the main benefits of the NCT course – not only have Dylan and I learned a lot but we’ve also met some lovely people and it feels like baby has a ready-made set of friends before even making her arrival!

To conclude, I would hugely recommend the course, it’s really good value for money and especially if you get a great facilitator like we did you can learn lots and meet people in the same situation as you!

Harriet and bump x

Antenatal Classes Part 1

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As part of our preparation for parenthood together, we decided to enrol in the local NCT antenatal classes, which we’re now halfway through. The format of the classes is you have four regular sessions, a breastfeeding session and then one ‘women’s only’ (the rest are both partners) with a catch-up organised after all the couples have had their babies. Generally you group up with people expecting around the same time as you, so in my class everyone’s currently between 27 and 36 weeks, and in total there are seven couples.

We didn’t really know what to expect but thought it would be a good way of getting to know some other couples in the same position as us and also learning some new things (or refreshing in Dylan’s case). The first session we had involved all the couples sharing how the pregnancy had been for them so far and how far along they were before getting into groups and talking about what topics particularly interested us. Anything we weren’t going to cover during the course was answered there and then by the leader Bridget and it also gave us an insight into what we’d know by the end.

Then it was a talk about the process of labour – we all know the baby’s going to come out, but how exactly does the baby position itself for labour, the stages, how far apart contractions are likely to be at each point etc.

Second time round, we were looking again at labour but this time much more about different types of pain relief (gas and air, epidural, water birth, TENS machine, pethidine) and about how to create as relaxing an atmosphere as possible in the hospital (and also have things to occupy you if you go in to be induced, which can take a LONG time). Basically the aim is not to panic and to have plenty of support off your birth partner!

The third session was a focus on all things breastfeeding. I was a bit unsure about this one in advance as it could seem it would be a little dull talking about it for two and a half hours – what is there to say? But it turns out I was wrong! We learned all about how much milk the baby actually needs, positions you can breastfeed in and much much more. Also the dynamic of the group was well established by then so we still had lots of fun and laughs during the evening.

We’ve been really impressed so far by the amount of new stuff we’ve learned, with handy lists and information to take home as well. Bridget’s been amazing at answering everyone’s questions and giving us information backed up by experts. It’s the little things which you don’t think of which have been the most helpful – like buying a different size birth ball if you’re taller, at what stage to go to hospital etc.

Mostly though it’s been much more fun than I thought it was going to be and we’re both really looking forward to the second half!

Harriet and bump x

Shout out to baby’s Aunty Henrietta who’s coming to visit us today!