Something I’ve noticed as a parent is how much time you spend counting things. There’s the obvious things like how many days/weeks/months old your baby is but unbelievably you also count their bodily functions and other things:
- Age. This is an obvious one, you count their age in weeks and months, measuring every detail and development against their age. Does their weight, diet/feeding times, sleep pattern, eye contact, growth, sounds and movements all measure in line with where it is suggested they should be for their age. As a parent you know their age right down to the number of days they are.
- Weight/growth. This recently has become a little obsessive for me due to the concerns i had over my daughter’s growth. However, again this is a big topic for mums and the number ounces, grams and clothing sizes your baby is going up by features in many conversations.
- Feeding. Again I went a bit overkill monitoring this after the tongue tie and breastfeeding issues we had a few weeks in but it is perfectly normal to be counting how many feeds baby has within a day, the length of time between feeds and if bottle feeding the amount they are taking. Also if breastfeeding you count the amount of time on the breast to make sure they’re feeding right and are able to get enough from you adequately. I also clock how much and how often I express milk, how much and how long expressed has been in the fridge/freezer and how well or not well we have some stocked up (only just recently am I managing to get a little supply in for the times when daddy’s going solo!).
- Sleep. How many hours on a night are they getting? How many days have they had that many hours for? How many naps are they having in the day, how long do they nap for? How long since their last nap? How many hours did you sleep for and how many did you spend checking they were still breathing when they slept through the first few times?
- Adult conversation time. Yes I love being a mummy and I adore my daughter but sometimes on days where we’ve stayed in or just be out and about the two of us or on days where madam P has been tetchy and unsettled, I find myself (usually in the late afternoon ) counting the hours until Daddy gets home and mummy can have some adult conversation. Sometimes as well in the early stages when baby is breastfeeding a lot and in the clingy fourth trimester stage it’s nice to know daddy will be home so I can have 5 minutes where my body is my own and a child isn’t attached to me-yes I enjoy the cuddles and closeness but a woman has to pee!
- Dirty nappies. Yes! As a parent you clock the number of poos and wees, the amount of time your child has been wearing a nappy. Additionally you clock the colour, amount, smell and consistency of these excrements in order to monitor your baby’s health, ensuring feeding habits are going well and also because at any check up with a medical professional they will ask about your child’s toilet habits.
- Nappy bag contents. This is where the Monica from friends, organised teacher in me comes out! I carefully keep a watchful eye on each compartment in my nappy bag, ensuring it’s always well stocked with all (yes-I’ve practically the entire changing station and extra wardrobe in there) essentials and that anytime any item is removed or used up that it is replaced so that the spare packet/nappy/set of clothes remains as the spare one in the bag ready for emergencies. This way getting out of the house each day on my own with a newborn is a smoother operation as the bag can be a grab and go. My cavalier, fly by the seat of his pants, “your good at sorting that and make sure I’m ok” husband however doesn’t do this and I have once fallen short with only 1 nappy and change of clothes whilst out and about, fearing the onset of a second poonami that day!
- Who’s done what. Yes conversations (sometimes heated ones) with my husband often now focus on who got the most sleep (he always wins this one as I am the milking machine). Who’s changed the last/most dirty nappies, who’s turn it is rock Baby P off to sleep, I’m sure you can see a pattern here. It’s not a competition but believe me when sleep deprived, stressed and looking after a wee one, these things can become quite important!
- Milestones. Now this one is our favourite, as new parents we lovingly click every smile, gurgle, eye focus, reach out, new shriek/shout/sound, gesture, face pull and playtime from our daughter. She has always been very alert and nosey from day one and counting the little steps she takes in her development is so much fun, it’s wonderful to see how quickly she has developed a strong personality and how interactive she’s becoming. It also scares us how quickly she is growing up and learning new things everyday.
- Lucky. Finally, I count my blessings, we are so lucky to have a beautiful daughter that arrived safely with us and is healthy and happy. Not everyone can say that and knowing the difficulties and challenges some of my family and friends have gone through to have children or try and have children makes me feel lucky, very lucky.
It’s on that last point that I want to advise anyone reading this post; don’t get hung up on the numbers. Yes, we count and clock everything as parents, sleep, feeding and growth being the big ones but try not to get yourself worked up over them. After a recent referral to a consultant paediatrician the appointment finished with him telling us to enjoy our daughter and “not get hung up on numbers, charts and comparisons to other babies” which is true, a small concern had become a bigger issue for us (partly due to a sudden change of heart from our doctor) that we over thought about and became obsessed with. In reality, our daughter was fine, we were fine and just not following the “normal” trends and as the consultant said, “it’s nice to see a healthy, happy baby” we can count ourselves lucky.
Therefore tonight, instead of counting sleep (or anything else) I may count sheep and ensure I relax and sleep like my baby.