'Hector has become livelier and stronger'
Niamh and Hector Hughes
Niamh Hughes (37) is from Castlebar and lives in Carrick-on-Shannon with her secondary school teacher husband, Daithi Hughes, and nine-month-old son, Hector. She is currently on unpaid maternity leave from her local authority position.
Hector's development: "Hector has become really social, interacting with kids much more and wanting to be part of what's going on. He has become much livelier, with a limitless energy supply. He still isn't crawling forward, but he's close and spends a lot of time and effort working out how he's going to go places.
"He has become stronger, and if you don't have a tight grip he will wrench whatever you have away. He loves music, and enjoys taking part in dance at his mother and toddler group."
Schools and education: "We haven't really thought too much about schools yet. There are plenty of options locally, and because we live in a small town, there exists a real community approach to education.
"We would know many of the teachers in different schools and feel safe in the knowledge that Hector would be well educated by competent and passionate teachers. We feel that it is our responsibility to continue to be Hector's primary educators, and we'll endeavour to facilitate his development in all aspects over the years."
Classes: "Hector and I did a baby massage class when he was about four months old, and we really enjoyed the whole bonding experience. It was also a good way to meet other new mothers. I regret not doing it a little earlier as it would have been beneficial in helping him bring up wind, but I found it helpful from a digestive point of view. Massage now forms part of his bedtime routine most nights. He also took part in dance classes at the 'mother and toddler group,' and loved it so much that we signed him up for more. Once the music starts he can't sit still, and can be seen grooving it out with his friend Rose on Wednesday mornings. This should set him up nicely for a summer of festivals!"
Advice: "The most useful piece of advice I got was 'accept help when offered'. With plummeting hormone levels, it is so important to understand that these offers are there solely to help you and are not a reflection on how you're coping.
"In hindsight, I would accept a lot more cooked dinners and nappy changers!
"As a first-time breastfeeding mum, the 'blood sugars' subject is raised many times over the few days that you are waiting for your milk to come in.
"If not well-informed or focused on exclusively breastfeeding, the guilt that you may be starving your baby can set in.
"The focus on weight loss of your newborn baby can sometimes be attributed to you breastfeeding, rather than the fact that all babies lose weight. Fortunately, the majority of nurses in Mayo General were very supportive, and I credit them with my wonderful breastfeeding journey."
Worries: "I just hope that Hector will be content with his life, and that he enjoys the journey surrounded by good friends.
"We hope that we can facilitate his strength in character so that he will be able to meet life's challenges head on.
"We hope that there is a country here worth living in, and that the huge stress and monetary burden that was placed on our shoulders will not be carried on by Hector and his generation."
Health & Living