A diary of the life of a first-time mum
From fertility worries to the first feed in public, Susan Lynch reveals what it's really like being a new mother
What can you really expect when you're expecting for the very first time? We asked new parent Susan Lynch (31) from Dublin to share her baby diary, from fertility fears and full-time employment to first birthdays and full-time parenting, to find out what life's really like for a first-time mum.
* OCTOBER 6, 2011
I can't believe this time last month I was getting married! Paul and I have already started trying for a baby. I had blood tests done a while ago because I had symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It turns out I haven't PCOS, but my PSH (reproductive hormone) levels are off and the GP thinks I might have issues getting pregnant. I'm devastated, all I've ever wanted to be is a mum. I've to go back next month and do more tests to find out what more can be done to help the process.
* OCTOBER 27, 2011
I'm pregnant! After all the worry, we were really lucky and it happened straight away, I didn't even have to do more blood tests. I felt really weird last night and had really itchy gums (?!), I took a pregnancy test and couldn't believe my eyes when the second line came up. I took a photo of it and texted a friend to check I wasn't imagining it -- I wasn't! We're over the moon.
* CHRISTMAS DAY, DECEMBER 25, 2011
It was really special finally being able to tell our families today. I'd really bad pains a few days after finding out I was pregnant. Doctors thought it might have been ectopic so we decided not to tell anyone, just in case. But the 12-week scan shows everything's fine.
* APRIL 3, 2012
The baby's kicking now and I can tell what's an elbow and what's a heel. It's incredible that something is growing inside me. I've been doing hypno-birthing CDs, to help manage the pain at childbirth, and I'm doing the Domino Scheme at Holles street -- it's about midwifery-led care and heading straight home after having the baby. I had Braxton Hicks contractions recently and they had me in and hooked up in just eight minutes, which really reassured me.
* JUNE 30, 2012
Next Friday's my due date. . . supposedly. I'm now a stone and three quarters heavier and feel like a heffalump.
* JULY 3, 2012
Penny Saffron arrived yesterday at 8.46am weighing six pounds -- and four days early.
I woke at 2.30am and my waters had broken. When we got to the hospital, her heart rate went down and the doctor said we'd to get her out sooner rather than later. I was put on an oxytocin drip, so there was no easing into the contractions -- they started really, really strong.
My hypnobirthing CDs worked up to a point, but I was on my hands and knees at the back of the bed at one stage, the pain was so awful. At 7am, the nurse told me it could take another 10 hours so I said I'd get the epidural. The midwife was amazing. She explained the baby had actually been in transition -- the bit of labour just before starting to push -- when I had the epidural. But it worked out well, the drugs hadn't completely kicked in, so I was a bit numb but could still feel her coming out. They put her on my chest and she had these big wide open eyes. I can't believe she's here!
* 10 JULY, 2012
Despite an episiotomy and a night in labour, I felt really euphoric after the birth. But this last week I've felt a bit overwhelmed and anxious. I know logically nothing is wrong but I burst into tears yesterday just because I couldn't get Penny's arm into a babygrow.
The house has gone to hell and I've spent most of the week in bed with Paul bringing me meals and hugs.
Needless to say, my Davina exercise DVD is still in its box.
* SEPTEMBER 5, 2012
Penny was diagnosed with tongue tie and had to have an operation at Tipperary General Hospital. In a way it was a relief to get the diagnosis -- at least I'm not doing the breastfeeding wrong -- now she can latch on correctly. She's also had reflux and it's been stressful and worrying having to get her weighed two or three times a week. With all the hospital appointments there's not been time to join any baby groups except a breast feeding support group.
I did my first public feed at five days to get it out of the way. Now I feed everywhere and actually get lots of nice comments.
Paul's back at work and I miss him like mad but, after working as a full-time childminder for years, I love being alone with Penny. We'd always planned that one of us would stay home and financially it was more realistic for me to stop working.
Luckily he works for himself (as a sound engineer) so the first few weeks he went in a little later and came home a bit earlier. He's really involved with Penny. It's not always easy, there's been a lot of sitting on the couch nursing her and watching endless box-sets, but I feel fortunate that I'm able to be with her. Just when I think I'm getting to the stage of exhaustion, she does something new.
* DECEMBER 9, 2012
Left Penny for the first time to go to a wedding. We'd been preparing ourselves mentally, I'd expressed lots of milk and my mum came and stayed in our house. I was anxious at first but ended up having a great night away!
* JANUARY 4, 2013
Decided to do baby-led weaning and started Penny on solids this week. I'd read that once she can pinch a little piece of apple or broccoli between her thumb and finger and bring it to her mouth, it's a sign that she's ready. We've also joined baby massage, baby singing, clap hands to music and breast feeding support. I miss the family I child-minded for, and still pop round to see them, but I don't miss the schedule of work.
* MARCH 17, 2013
I used to be a burlesque dancer and would love to have been doing a St Patrick's Day routine today because I really miss performing, but there just isn't the time.
* APRIL 5, 2013
Aaah! Where has my easy-going baby gone?? Every time I leave the room she bawls and she's stopped sleeping.
It's like she's gone back to being a newborn.
I have her in my arms all the time and I've gone back to napping with her. Wonder Weeks (a baby development guide) assures me 'everything is a stage', but sometimes it's exhausting ...
* JUNE 2, 2013
One of the best classes I signed up for was SuperHands Baby Sign Language (superhands.ie). Penny's got so good at signing and it's a useful skill because I know what she's asking me for so we never have big meltdowns.
* JULY 2, 2013
First birthday! I can't believe it's been a year. We had a little party with our family and at her playcentre in Ballsbridge. I made an Elmo cake and we had an Elmo themed party (she LOVES Elmo). I thought I would be really emotional but actually it was just a really lovely day.
Last month she said 'mamma' for the first time and it was the loveliest thing.
Being a mum was my life ambition but actually being one has exceeded my expectations. I didn't know how much you could love someone.
Paul and I bring her everywhere and it hasn't stopped us doing anything.
There are little things, like I guess I expected her to sleep better because my mum always said I was an amazing sleeper, but even with the tiredness I can't imagine life without her.
* NOVEMBER 25, 2013
Starting to get really excited about Christmas. Penny doesn't really understand it but she loves our Christmas decorations. Her personality is always evolving. She loves painting, walking her pram in the park and she loves getting Paul to play her songs on the ukulele.
She still uses baby signing but has added in lots of words too saying 'hiiii' to everyone she meets and can say 'this side' and 'that side' when choosing which boob to have milk from.
Since taking her first steps at 14 months she's graduated to running everywhere.
We can't work out how she can manage on eight or nine hours' sleep when we spend a lot of the time knackered! She's just full of fun.