When we found out that we were having Evelina, we decided to enrol in NCT ante-natal classes. Partly, this was because we had heard good thing about these classes from friends. I didn’t really know what to expect from the classes as I didn’t actually do much research into what the classes entailed. I was hoping for a lot of information on how to look after a baby once she was born. It turned out that the majority of the classes were geared around preparing for the birth and breastfeeding (if you wanted to formula feed, fuhgeddaboudit!). The after care bit – the bit I thought was going to be the most crucial – was not really covered past a quick nappy change practice and some other key points. I can understand now why it was this way: how on earth can you prepare yourself and learn it all when you don’t have the most important component – i.e. a baby – on which to practice?!
I remember at the beginning of the course, the facilitator asked us to say why we were there and at least a couple of people said it was because they were new to the area and they wanted to make some mum friends. I hadn’t really thought about this – at least consciously – but I realised that it was going to be useful to have this network of mums at the exact same stage as you. There are two reasons I think that our NCT experience was a success – our facilitator Sarah was amazing: down-to-earth, funny and honest; and the group of parents-to-be with whom we were grouped were brilliant.
After the last session, we went to The Waterman for a meal and some drinks (the men drank, the very pregnant women drove) and we watched our menfolk bond. They have since managed a couple of nights out together but us ladies are doing much better. Since the course, we have met almost every week for some kind of coffee / cake / walk / baby play / lunch and it has been so completely invaluable, I don’t know what I would have done without them.
Without wanting to be too soppy, these women have encouraged, laughed, sympathised, empathised and generally bucked me up when I needed it. I am lucky enough to have quite a few friends who are mothers already and they have all helped me in some way but to have a regular meetup where you can ask the most mundane questions about the smallest parts about being a mum (“Does she need a cardigan,” for example!). I can hardly phone my friends up every time I want to ask a silly small question – not matter how much I am sure they would say I can – so having these great girls around is superb. We even have our own Facebook group so we can talk about things privately there in between meetups. The best things is that, as well as the baby support, they are just really great people who I enjoy hanging out with so I can be Kate for a bit as well as Mama.
It is funny how as we get closer to the present, I find it harder to remember the details. Having you in our lives is becoming normal although those lives are by no means humdrum with you around – you are still a constant source of entertainment and joy.
This month, we had our first family holiday but decided to stay at home, exploring nearby attractions. We had an unseasonably warm spell and it was the first time I had to worry about how warm it was rather than how cold! I am sure I spend half my time worrying about whether you are wearing enough or too many clothes! The number of times I have said ‘Does she need a cardigan’ to Daddy, Grandma, Nanny and any other adult nearby is just silly!
You also had your first taste of proper food. During a barbeque, while you were sat on your daddy’s lap, you grabbed out for his food and he let you suck on a piece of tomato and you couldn’t get enough! We were so excited and saw that as your cue that you were ready to start eating some solid food.
We promptly rushed out to get you a high chair so we could feed you properly. Things have not progressed in that area as quickly as I had imagined given this early enthusiasm but we are getting there.
You are a lot happier on your front this month and rolling has just begun – you can get from your front to your back but are struggling to go from back to front – your arm keeps getting in your way! You did manage it once this month but I missed it – I came into the room to find you on your front looking very pleased with yourself! All I had to hand was my iPhone but at least I caught the moment:
I am still trying to catch all your milestones on Twitter but I am not always succeeding!:
It's hard keeping track of Evelina's developments. I noticed yesterday she can pass an object from hand to hand, no idea when she started.—
Mama Kate (@raisingevelina) April 14, 2011
You went on a swing with Daddy for the first time – you seemed to like it! We are amassing quite an archive of pictures and videos which I hope you will enjoy looking at in years to come.
This month flew by and it seems we were dashing all over the place. We finished the baby massage course in March – your reaction to baby massage fell somewhere between enjoyment and indifference and I am glad that we did this before you were really on the move as in your fourth month, you were still very much just lying on your back with no rolling. In fact you only just found you feet this month – a day before you turned four months old.
This month, we went swimming for the first time and I realised how much you had grown. There were several other babies there and you were the biggest of them all, even though some were as much as two months older than you. The days of worrying about you putting on enough weight are long behind us and it just goes to show how you should trust your instincts as a parent – I never was worried about your weight but health visitors and midwives were insistent that I should be making sure you ate more. This is the view I have when you are feeding!:
This month you saw your older cousins, Millie and Daisy along with other little friends like Gabe and of course, your NCT baby friends who we see most weeks. I am still keeping track of your progress using Twitter which can be very handy to help me remember when you started doing things:
Last week, Evelina mastered grabbing the dangly toys off her play gym. This week, she has raspberries down. I love seeing her learn stuff!—
Mama Kate (@raisingevelina) March 23, 2011
February saw more visits from friends and family – Steve, Ev and Charlotte came to see you (and us I suppose!) as did Ben and Jess, who were so taken with you.
In February, you found your thumb. Just like your mama, you are a bit of a thumper and although you don’t suck your thumb all the time, we often find you in your cot with your thumb in your mouth and your forefinger hooked over your nose.
You had your second set of jabs this month which was not the most fun either of us had ever had. You were very brave but couldn’t stop real tears appearing – since you don’t cry that much, we don’t see you cry real tears very much. I suppose two injections – one in each thigh – will do that!
You are still very much loving your milk and seeing you propped up on your daddy after your last feed of the day with a full tum is such a heart-warming sight. You are all drowsy and content!
Your main achievement this month is holding your head up which is pretty crucial and really made you look so much more grown up. Thanks to your Bumbo, photos of you no longer need to be with you just lying around (although you still did a lot of this – you are only a few weeks old after all! As well as holding up your head, you started blowing bubbles and most exciting of all, we heard your first giggles. Just thinking about you giggling is making me beam. You have a sensational laugh!
You are now sleeping in your big cot, in your own room. You went into your cot on 21 February 2011 without any complaints. I put you down for your daytime naps first to see how you would react – you slept happily. So that night, for the first time since you were born, we slept in our room without you. It was sooner than we had expected or planned – we had been advised to let you sleep in our room for 6 months – but you had already outgrown the moses basket and had started waking in the night again because you were being disturbed by hitting the side of the basket as well as by us coughing and snoring! As soon as you went into your own room, you slept through the night again and were clearly happy to have the room. When I checked on your that first night and for the following few nights, you were lying with your arms straight out at your sides!
Your great great auntie Joan turned 90 this month and it was lovely to see her hold you – you are four generations apart you but you still made each other smile.