Honest Parenting | Leaving the Newborn Stage Behind

Newborn photoshoot wit Siobhan Watts, Bumpkin BettyIt’s official. We no longer have a ‘newborn’ baby.

Evie just turned 7 months old, she’s sleeping in her own room, in her big girl cot (albeit still in the sleepyhead), she’s moved out of her pram into a variety of buggy’s, she sits at the table with us at mealtimes and happily kicks around in her high chair, she’s started eating solid foods as well as milk, she sits up on her own in the big bath, and she has THE strongest personality.

Her pram, Moses basket, Snuzpod and bouncy chair have all been packed away in the garage, no longer needed and I have bags and bags full of sleepsuits, clothes, hats and grobags that she’s grown out of if I need any proof of how big she’s got. She seems to get a little taller every morning I reach for her to start a new day and every one of those days seems to bring with it a new skill mastered or a new sound made or a new game that suddenly she finds hilarious.

She chats and sings NON STOP (honestly everyone comments on how loud she is and I LOVE this about her) and her baby talk has started to form actual sounds and the beginnings of words. She’s began saying ‘Mama’ whenever I come into the room (usually just as she’s about to kick off and doesn’t stop until I pick her up ;-)) and owns her ‘ba ba ba’s’. She sits up all on her own (and I no longer feel the need to surround her with cushions and hover nearby in case she tips over) and has begun to pull herself up if given the chance. When we cuddle her on the sofa, she’s now wriggling and climbing all over us – so strong we can no longer pin her down. She’s learned to clap and wave (both of which were such a joy to watch her master as she was SO pleased with herself and now that she can clap everything gets a round of applause!). She gives us the biggest belly rolling laughs when we do something funny and has the most gorgeous wide smile waiting for us whenever either myself or Stu come into the room.

She still gets serious FOMO and loves to refuse sleep, and she 100% knows how to tell us when something isn’t going her way, but her daily antics and feisty personality bring us so much joy that (most days) we don’t hold that against her.

Yup. We’re no longer navigating #lifewithanewborn, we’re very much navigating life with an independent little lady!

Siobhan Watts photography, Bumpkin bettyNewborn baby family photoshoot, Bumpkin bettyI meant to sit down and write this post when she hit six months old as reaching that milestone felt rather monumental, but here we are at seven months, her first birthday now closer than the day she was born and I’m feeling emotional at just how fast time seems to be going, with thoughts of having a one year old ebbing closer and closer. I’m so SO conscious that I need to preserve these moments in time somehow, and hold onto these crazy days while she’s still small, rather than resent the fact I can’t get anything done, never get a moments peace and always have some form of stain on my jeans. It’s ridiculously difficult, because each day just flies by in a haze of feeding and entertaining and walking and willing to sleep and before you know it another week is behind you, then a month, then a ‘oh my gosh was she really that small a month ago’ moment when you look back at photos and you curse yourself for not capturing it all in more detail.

That’s why I was determined to get some form of newborn photo shoot, as honestly those days are a complete blur to me now, and I figured it was about time I shared a few of the snaps so as to get all gooey eyed reminiscing about how tiny she was before she’s all grown up. Because if the last seven months are anything to go by she’ll be a teenager in the blink of an eye! These photos were taken when Evie was 11 weeks old, so actually not all that ‘newborn’ but it took us that long to even figure out how on earth to get all three of us dressed in the morning so any sooner than this wouldn’t have been a pretty picture, believe me.

Life with a Newborn, Bumpkin BettyLeaving the newborn stage behind, Bumpkin betty6 months of parenting, Bumpkin bettyWe enlisted the help of Siobhan Watts as I’ve admired her photography style for years and loved how relaxed and natural her imagery always felt. I wanted someone to capture ‘us’ as were in that time, in our own home and with all the realness that comes with that. Siobhan came over to visit us one Sunday afternoon, and honestly it just felt like a friend popping round for coffee and cooing over our new baby. Most of the time I was barely even aware of the fact there was a camera in the mix, and aside from mentioning a few shots we’d like to try, we very much just went about our normal day and let Siobhan do her thing.

As someone who is rarely comfortable in front of the camera, and who rarely ever likes a photo of herself, I was very surprised at how relaxed I felt during this shoot (which is all credit to Siobhan) and knowing that we were doing it for Evie, to show her in years to come, gave me the confidence to just be myself, happy in the knowledge that it really wasn’t about me at all. The excitement waiting for the photos to come back was similar to how I felt after our wedding, and when we were very promptly treated to our gallery, we couldn’t have been more pleased with every single one and already have a number of them printed out and framed around the house.

parenting observations 6 months in, Bumpkin BettyEvie James newborn photoshoot, Bumpkin BettyAs it happened, Evie was your typical diva model and decided to be overly grumpy every time the camera came near her on this day, saving her smiles for the minute Siobhan walked out the door. But Stu and I both agreed that we love the photos even more for that, as we loved her ‘permanently startled’ wide eyed stance that she used to adopt in those early days. It really captures a time and a place for us.

Looking at these photos now, Evie is barely recognisable to the cheeky, sassy little thing she is now. It’s still her, and her expressions are all still there but she’s grown and changed SO MUCH since then that it’s scary. I can remember this time, but at the same time I can’t remember it if that makes sense? I don’t remember her being this small or fitting into my arms in quite that way, I don’t remember that jumpsuit being that big on her or her arms and legs being so dinky. But I remember the way she used to stare up at me, the way she nuzzled into my chest when she was tired and the way she’d wrap her hand around my finger. The details of individual days are hazy, but the overall feeling of love and family and cosiness is clear. I guess you grow and adapt and change along with your child. You’re always learning and each new phase brings with it new hurdles so there’s often no time to hark back, only time to concentrate on the present.

The last seven months have brought so many challenges, and the worries never stop they simply change tact. I’m no longer in tears at 3am because her latch is painful or because I’m worrying she isn’t feeding properly or hasn’t put on enough weight but instead I’m panicking she isn’t taking to weaning quick enough or feeling guilty that I’m ready to stop breastfeeding. I no longer worry that she isn’t doing enough tummy time or her development isn’t on track, but instead panic about her being on the move and me not being quick enough to spot her falling off the bed/couch/ going head first into the brick fireplace. I’m no longer scared to fall asleep in case she suddenly stops breathing but instead I’m lying awake thinking about how she might choke on that piece of toast I’m planning for breakfast or whether she’ll accidentally swallow too much water during her swimming lesson.

It morphs and adapts, but the desire to protect them from the world and everything bad in it, is permanently there.

11 weeks newborn photoshoot, Bumpkin BettyNewborn photoshoot, Bumpkin bettyI can remember a health visitor telling me early on, that there are certain brain cells that if not stimulated within the first two months of life, will simply never be in use for the rest of ones days… so as you can imagine I’ve spent much of the last seven months frantically trying to ensure that I do everything I can to stimulate every one of Evie’s brain cells. Whether I’ve succeeded or not, well only time will tell.

But aside from that fear, I’ve made a few key observations in my half a year of Mum duties that I thought I’d share with you as conclusion to this post;

– I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a parenting style, or equally whether you can be a ‘good’ parent or a ‘bad’ parent (obviously talking about the majority of well meaning adults here of course), I think your parenting just evolves with your child, and, for us anyway, most days it’s just about making it through to bedtime without too much drama and too many tears.

– Evie gets so many different inputs from every adult she comes into contact with and they each bring out very different aspects of her personality which I find SO interesting! Stu and I absolutely unlock different personality traits in her and I find myself musing often about how different a child she would be if for instance I was a single parent or Stu was. There was around a month or so where Stu was working away and it was probably the longest stint so far that it had just been me and her. I really noticed that the silly streak that she seems to reserve for fun times with her Dad just wasn’t as apparent, while her quiet contemplative moments really shone. We had fun of course, but as soon as Stu came back he brought out the crazy laughter, proper belly ache giggles and huge open mouthed excitement and it’s just so lovely to see.

– All babies are different and they all take to different things at different paces… but ultimately they all get to the same place in the end regardless of the route. Evie was early to the talking game and has always had plenty to say, she learned to clap and wave a lot sooner than many other babies her age and her levels of concentration are excellent (she can sit and play with her toys, or a wooden spoon, for hours without getting bored or tired and explores every part of anything new she gets her hands on) BUT on the flip side she’s not moving around nearly as much as her NCT baby pals, still doesn’t like being on her tummy or rolling over and is perfectly content sitting for the most part without wanting to move much unless it’s to reach for that toy in front of her or climb up Mum’s chest to grab my hair! She’s also been pretty slow on the uptake of solid foods but I’m learning along the way to be patient, let her do things in her own time and not worry too much about what happens when. It’s also a pretty good idea not to compare your baby to others, as they really are all completely different individuals.

– Raising a baby without any family nearby to help, is a LOT harder than we ever anticipated it would be. In my adult life I’ve always been very independent, and have never really missed living close to my parents as I knew I could hop on a plane at any time if I needed to. But since having Evie, I’ve honestly never wanted to pack my whole life up and move into their spare room quite as much, if even for a week just to get some sleep and be able to drink a cup of tea while its hot.

– Sleep really does make the world go round, and is often the only factor to determine a good day from a bad one.

– Being a parent is undoubtedly the hardest job in the world. And the difference to every other job I’ve ever had, is that I can’t just opt out of it’s not going well. I can’t quit, or start over or try something new. I’m a Mum now, and I will be until the day I die – it’s a job for life. Seven months in and I’m still not sure we’re doing it right. There are days where it seems impossible and I worry we’re not doing enough, giving her enough, teaching her enough, being enough. And then there are other days where I’m immensely proud of the little girl we’ve raised up to this point and how far we’ve come.

– Each troublesome stage feels like it might go on forever, feels like it’s ten times harder than the last, and feels like it might just break you. But then at some point you realise you’re through it, and you find yourself looking back and wondering how on earth you survived. Somehow you always do, they never last forever and you’re onto the next hurdle before you’ve even had a chance to debrief from the last.

– Watching your child grow, learn and become a person is the greatest joy of all and you spend your days simultaneously wanting to press pause on each moment, while being excited for them to reach the next. It’s the most wonderful of adventures.

Siobhan Watts photoshoot, Bumpkin bettyHappy 7 months Evie, thanks for teaching us so much and being the most interesting, clever, funny, beautiful and strong individual we could have ever dreamed of!

A huge thanks to Siobhan Watts for capturing our little one in such a gorgeous way – if you’re looking for someone to help with a newborn/family photoshoot I can’t recommend her enough.

 

Linda ·

A great read as always! You perfectly describe the confounding, challenging, overwhelming but altogether wonderful experience of a new little person in the family. Looking forward to the next instalment!

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