Reflections on the first few months of parenthood

The newest addition to our family is a couple of months old now. It has been the wildest ride imaginable. I don’t think anything could have prepared us for what we have gone through…although that’s kind of the point of this post. We’ve thought about the things we have learned and are currently learning and condensed it into a post. Maybe it will help an expectant parent at some point in the future. Maybe it will just be a marker for us to remember in the future.

Things we thought

“Kids are expensive vs Kids are as expensive as you make them.”
We heard various versions of both of these statements. To be honest, neither really characterises our experience so far. What we have found is that the rationale decision making part of your brain goes right out the window following sleep deprivation and stress. We would have loved to have found the time to carefully consider all our purchases and spend time looking on second-hand marketplaces…but we didn’t have the time. Everything was done with a feeling of blind panic and, sometimes, we just needed things immediately with minimum fuss. Things are less crazy now, but we needed to throw every preconception about buying things out of the window for the first few months. All of them.

“Just breastfeed to save money on formula”
You might be able to breastfeed. You might eventually be able to breastfeed. You might not be able to breastfeed. We figured that we would be able to breastfeed Jnr. and that would be that. Boy were we in for a shock. It was a huge struggle at first and we needed formula to top up feeds. We were using the pre-filled bottles that are expensive because that’s what he was started on in the hospital. Then we ran into supply issues and so bulk ordered a huge amount at great expense. Then we found that Jnr actually has a milk intolerance and we needed to find a formula that worked for him. Multiple (pricey) paediatric appointments later and we think we’ve settled on something that works, but still are trying to move towards more exclusively breastfeeding. The saga continues.

Things we needed to buy

We initially thought breastfeeding was going to mean that we didn’t need to bother too much with bottles and other equipment…we were very wrong! The three things that have been absolutely worth every cent we spent on them have been our steriliser (a cheap model from Mothercare), a bottle warmer and a particular brand of bottles. We tried using Milton sterilising tablets at first, but after several weeks of fishing out bottle parts from icey cold water, shaking them off and then worrying about the acrid aftertaste just to make formula each time was very trying. The steriliser allows us to just drop the washed bottles into it, press a button and wait. It might not sound like much, but it’s been a game changer. Similarly the bottle warmer has been a revelation. You could heat milk under the tap, or by boiling a kettle and putting it in warm water. Then you have to wait for said kettle to boil and worry about the temperature the milk is at. Being able to just put a bottle into the warmer and wait is a convenience we didn’t realise how much we would appreciate.

A decent breast pump was also worth it. We spent a little more, but the whole process can be quite stressful so we didn’t want to have to deal with something that might be less quality. It’s something else that we were quite intentional about and chose to pay extra for convenience in this area.

More nappies/ diapers than you think
We were once all aboard the reusable nappies train. After dealing with digestive issues…we have gotten off that train. We chalked this up as a necessary expense to not think about because, frankly, we were too consumed by the stress of other worries. At least for the first few months, life is too short and too challenging to wash nappies. We may revisit this viewpoint later as we haven’t completely given up on it yet.

Things that saved us

Lots of baby clothes
This was probably exacerbated by the digestive issues, but Jnr needed a change of clothes pretty regularly. This was mainly from the baby sick and spit-up after every single feed. It was a bit stressful trying to get everything washed and dried, but we managed. We needed all of the clothes we had been given and the few we had bought for ourselves. We were given a lot of baby clothes and this is something that can be done well in advance of the birth. Look around for posts giving them away!

Muslin cloths
We started with a couple…now we have a lot! They have proven invaluable for catching sick and just generally being on hand to protect surfaces and wipe Jnr.

Somewhere to put the baby
We realised pretty quickly that an awful lot of time was taken up just holding Jnr. While we didn’t mind this too much (I mean, it’s probably not a great sign if you dislike holding your children…), it meant that simple tasks became much more difficult and took far longer. We found that lots of things marketed to put newborns in were not actually all that suitable as they can’t hold their head up on their own.The first thing we were recommended was a carrier. We were recommended the Boba wrap, which when new is seriously pricey. Luckily, we found a brand new wrap on a second hand site for a real bargain. It took quite a bit of practice, but Jnr eventually really liked it. We were also lucky enough to be given a Lille carrier, but we have only just started using this as his neck muscles are better able to support his head.

We were also gifted a travel cot. This has given us somewhere for Jnr. to nap during the day. Additionally, I got really ill the week before last, so the travel cot meant that Jnr and Shortbread could sleep in the other room to minimise the chances them catching it.

Lastly, we bought a cheap baby mat & baby gym. It’s quite small, but Jnr really likes the baby gym – it has a mirror and various dangly things for him to try and grab as he learns some control over his limbs.

Lessons learned

  1. Have a serious cash reserve. You simply don’t know and can’t assume your baby will be healthy and what you might need cash for.
  2. Be prepared to abandon some of your values; some hills are not worth dying on. You can revisit these when you regain some sanity after the first few manic months. When you have a newborn, convenience is king, and sometimes that will necessitate spending a little extra. Previously, we rarely felt that paying for convenience was worth it, but when you have a new baby it absolutely is.