A year on
It’s been a year this week since I was sent to work from home, having been placed in the ‘clinically vulnerable’ category. It’s been a year since it took me three attempts to get baked beans and loo roll, the big supermarkets nearby having succumbed to panic buying. It’s been a year since we found out that we were having a little girl. What a year! The daffodils are in full bloom - spring, the season of renewal, birth and hope is well and truly upon us. With that in mind, I thought I’d reflect upon the essentials that we relied on when Cassie was fresh to the world. .
- Moses basket/bassinet - it’s vital to have somewhere safe to lay a newborn down. A rocking bassinet takes up a lot of room, but it gave my arms a bit of a break and reminded me to put Cassie down before having a nap - the temptation to fall asleep, babe in arms, is strong, and isn’t recommended by safe sleep advice
- A next-to-me crib - this was a real back saver. With Cassie taking three, if not four, night feeds, having a sidecar crib next to the bed with a dropped side meant I could easily lift and put her down without twisting too much. Having her sleeping next to me also ensured I could quickly respond to her needs, avoiding her becoming too upset in the early hours.
- Dummies - these are controversial, as some recommend that dummies aren’t used in the early days on the basis of them interfering with breastfeeding, but these were so useful for Cassie - they soothed her instantly. We phased them out a few months ago as she was started to wake for them, but in the early days, we found them a useful tool.
- Perfect Prep machine - again, controversial - there are a few horror stories about, when people haven’t cleaned or looked after them properly, and some regard them as a contributing factor to colic and reflux, but in the middle of the night, having the facility to make a bottle in two minutes was a real life-saver for us. We used ready-made formula a few times when we stayed with relatives overnight (in the few short weeks we have been allowed to travel!) but this gets expensive very quickly.
- Swaddle sacks - trying to wrap Cassie in a swaddle muslin was akin to trying to swaddle a bad-tempered octopus. Having a swaddle-sack, a hybrid swaddle/sleeping bag, was a great solution. It made her look like a cute little worm and kept her warm and cosy.
- Freezer dinners - in those tough early weeks, having a freshly cooked meal seemed like an unattainable goal. I had a baby stuck to me, Scott was drained having spent the day either at work or looking after me. Thank goodness for frozen chilli con carnie and spag bol!
- Sound machine - there are multiple sound machines on the market, to suit all budgets. We started with one, but it timed out after twenty minutes, meaning that if Cassie woke, we had to bash it on again. After a few months, we invested in one that stays on all night. She knows it’s nap time as we play the same lullaby as we read to her, then the white noise goes on when she goes in her cot. It mimics the sounds she heard in the womb and drowns out dogs, door slamming and other noises.
- Baby bath - Cassie is generally a good sleeper, and I put this down to having a strong bedtime routine that has been in place since she was about three weeks old. Having a bath each night is part of our routine - she loves it. She is now in quite a large toddler bath and loves playing with her bath toys and splashing around, but when she was smaller, a baby bath was great - it supported her head and saved us a lot of water as we didn't need to run a full bath.
- Suitable clothes - for Scott, this included lots of old tops and shorts (she was born in the scorching August heat). A newborn’s digestive system is undeveloped to say the least, so wearing old clothes during the season of frequent nappy changes and spit-ups saved a lot of white t-shirts! For me, having tops that were soft and easy to breastfeed in made life a little easier and meant that I could remain decent. For Cassie, we made the mistake of thinking that 0-3 months were suitable for newborns her size - she spent the first few days of her life wearing just a nappy as it was so hot, but we then had to do a quick order for newborn size as the 0-3 drowned her.
- Chocolate, snacks and other goodies - morale was pretty low at times, having cereal bars by the bed meant that we could have a quick snack in the middle of the night, and chocolate was my go-to pick-me-up.
It goes without saying that nappies, wipes, cotton wool etc are all essential too. Now that Cassie is older, we are using toys, her highchair and changing table on a daily basis. It’s amazing how quickly those newborn days pass - the crib and bassinet have long gone to friends and the few newborn clothes I've kept look comically small now. Chocolate and snacks are staying for me at the moment though, especially as she's getting some more teeth in!