Hannah turned one last week, a whole year has just raced by and it’s left me slightly emotional.
I tried to write lots of posts about the milestone but kept hitting an emotional wall. I definitely wasn't this emotional about my first born's first birthday, I think the sense of relief of surviving the first year overrode the emotional side.
I wrote here about the weeks that followed Oisín birth. It was terrifying and overwhelming, but Hannah’s first year was a whole new level.
I remember in the few weeks before Hannah was born, I was fairly smug at the prospect of my new arrival, I’d survived the terror of Oisín's arrival. I was somehow convinced that l’d be writing baby advice books by the time the new arrival would be a few months old. I can only presume it was my high sugar diet at the time affecting my sense of reality, as you can see I was clearly delusional.
On the eve of Hannah’s birthday this year I posted a picture of Myself, Joey and Oisín having a cuddle. I brought back a flood of emotions about the day before Hannah arrived.
Nothing prepared me for the emotional mess I was that day and night.
I had such a sense of guilt, I felt so sorry for Oisín. We had a fairly hectic few days ahead, and I was so concerned about my little baby boy and all the changes.
In the next 48 hours, Ois would be without his Mammy, which at that time, I was the proud title holder of Mammy and ‘best friend’. He would become a big brother and if that wasn’t enough change for a nearly two-year-old, we would packing up his whole life and moving house while I was in the hospital.
This was not the picture perfect nesting I’d hope for. I didn’t get to nest before Hannah arrived. As I left for the hospital, her crib was in a box under plastic in the new house, while the walls were still being plastered & painted.
At around 5am on the morning I was going in to have Hannah, I found myself sitting in Oisín's room, watching him sleep. I wanted to capture as much of him as I could before I headed off to, basically, turn his tiny world upside down. He snored, I cried, quietly mind, there’s no point both of us being awake.
As I said, I was a bit smug about another baby. I knew, sorry, I thought I knew what to expect, and although the contents of all of our lives were packed in boxes as I toddled off to the hospital, I was fairly confident we’d be okay.
Hannah arrived at 7.50pm, unlike Oisín’s delivery, Hannah’s had been, well, gentle. There was no panic, it was very calm and I was surrounded by amazing women bringing my baby into the world. Karen my midwife was a breath of fresh air, calm and confident. She along with two other midwives and my consultant guided me gently along. You’ll hear a million horror stories when you’re pregnant, you rarely hear the positive birth ones, but I’d have a million babies if all the births were like Hannah’s.
I was convinced I was having a boy. So as my consultant lifted baby up to me I had to look twice to realise it was a baby girl.
”IT'S A GIRL, JOEY, IT'S A GIRL!”
Hannah was put straight into my chest, she wriggled about, found her spot and drifted back off to sleep.
“Welcome to the world baby girl, we’re very excited to meet you.”
In the days following Hannah’s birth, I didn’t have the pain or more importantly shock to the system that I had when Ois was born. But my smug idea that I was amazing left me by about 11.30pm the night she was born, and the “oh shit, I’ve a newborn” fear crept back in.
We both settled into the next few days, Oisín moved into his new house, and on a Sunday afternoon in November we, all four of us headed home from the hospital. New house, new family member and a whole new set of emotions.
The first year of Hannah’s life has literally whizzed by. With Oisín, it felt like a survival. Everything the first time around is new and daunting, so we didn’t have that same overwhelming fear but Hannah decided to bring a whole new set of challenges, the likes that Oisín had never treated us to.
Feeding - if and when she choose at her leisure, as much as took her fancy, whenever it took her fancy. The sleep/feed rule didn’t apply to Hannah. The ability to make herself gag and projectile vomit. I have never seen fluids move or travel at such speed or distances. A few weeks in, I binned - I blame the sleep deprivation - we decided to do a full bottle overhaul. About €100 later and a full set of bottles, that the company were about to discontinue, we were confident we had it sorted. Two bottles in, same old story.
Next, was new formula, the anti-reflux kind. The vomit was thicker but picked up less momentum. That’s the only bonus I’ll take from the milk change.
Then the two, sometimes three trips a week to the baby whisperer in Mullingar. “Trauma at birth, we’ll get her sorted”. I’ll be honest, exhaustion took over at about four weeks in and I couldn’t face the hour and a half round trip.
When she was six weeks old, the day after St.Stephens Day, we’d a trip to the hospital. She was there with bronchitis, but they ended up finding she had a stridor which explained the feeding and the struggles. It explained so much about her feeding pattern or lack thereof to date.
Sleeping - I wrote about that here. I called in Lucy Wolfe for advice. I cried when she cried, Hannah that is, not Lucy. I had a headache most days and frequently found random household objects in the fridge. I was truly exhausted. Word of note, she’s still a bad sleeper, but like her dad, she excels at her daytime naps. I take that as the bonus. I will never take a night away for granted again, we’ve had two this year. Heaven. Never underestimate the gift of sleep for parents.
Over the year was another bottle change, we went back to our old bottles after that hospital trip. We’ve literally convinced ourselves nightly, weekly, monthly, that she would find her rhythm and be sleeping the full night by whichever month. I've since given up. Weaning, tonsillitis, start weaning again, some bumps and WWE wrestling moves from her ever-growing big brother. She’s small but made of some tough stuff and Oisín is in for a rude awakening sooner rather than later.
There is so much emphasis on the big milestones, but in reality, for me, it’s all about the little pebbles. The little captured moments that ease the madness around you. They’re exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure. There are days when for a moment I think, I could totally have another baby, followed quickly by the shop is shut, these two are going to kill me.
I find myself on the harder days of which there can be a fairly good few, reminding myself, sometimes out loud “this is temporary, take a breath”. It did absolutely f**k all at times but still, I live in hope. You take the wins where you can get them. See above.
Time marched on and at ten months, she decided the art of crawling wasn’t enough for her so she took to walking. There’s nothing like a teeny tiny person sidling up along side you when your washing bottles to scare the bejesus out of you.
Somewhere in the blur, we arrived at November 10th 2017. I can't believe our baby girl is one. Hannah, unlike me, isn’t a fan of rules, sleep schedules, weaning plans or generally anything the wonder weeks told me. It’s taken awhile, but I now realise she does things at her own speed and on her own terms. The teenage years should be a thrill.
Oh, and just to add to the already emotional turmoil. Oisín turns three in two weeks. I’m not able.
- Stridor is a high-pitched, wheezing sound caused by disrupted airflow. Stridor may also be called musical breathing or extrathoracic airway obstruction. Airflow is usually disrupted by a blockage in the larynx (voice box) or trachea (windpipe)