Put Isla down for a nap and forgot I’d left some toilet rolls on the bed. Heard a rustling on the baby monitor and figured Isla had woken from her nap – went in to get her and found she’d helped herself to a little snack lol! Couldn’t stop laughing! (And don’t worry, I didn’t let her swallow any – she was just having such fun I had to get a couple of pictures!)
It was almost a month ago now but I decided it was well past time I wrote a little post about Scarlett’s first birthday!
Her actual birthday is August 12. But it all started on Friday, August 10 – baking day!!
I made two batches of cupcakes and one decadant chocolate cake, and somehow it managed to take me ALLLLL day!! Bubba helped out by sleeping while I did most of the baking, and then licking the spoon when she woke up 🙂 By the end of the day I was exhausted and the kitchen was somewhat the worse for wear…
…but I had done it!! It wasn’t the beautiful shiny cake I saw so many other friends making… but it was made with love and I was proud of my efforts.
The next day was Scarlett’s birthday BBQ (held the day before her actual birthday because Saturday is just more convenient for people when you live 40 minutes from the CBD). We don’t really have close friends with children here in Perth yet, so it was more an adult celebration – but hey, Scarlett didn’t mind being the sole centre of attention!
We invited people over for midday in the hope Scarlett would have just woken up from a morning nap… of course she didn’t sleep all morning and was ready for a nap as people were arriving! The joy of an adult party was that it didn’t matter – she napped and we watched the footy and caught up with everyone for a while.
Once she had woken up, she indulged in her favourite food – strawberries!! – and stunned everyone with her ability to eat a whole strawberry in one mouthful!
Then we headed to the park for cake and cupcakes. Scarlett absolutely DEMOLISHED her piece of cake!! She loved it! She also enjoyed opening all her presents… although she seemed more fascinated by the cards!
After all that sugar, she wriggled off to use off some of that energy!
She had a great day and the adults enjoyed some chats and bevvies after she had konked out for the night, exhausted 🙂
The next day, Saturday 12 August, was her actual birthday. We just had a quiet day at home, but we saved the pressies from Mum and Dad until her actual birthday to make it a bit special. She wasn’t quite sure about the dolly, but she loved the name puzzle and especially loved the Bop N Pop lion! Both the puzzle and the musical lion toy are still some of her favourite things to play with.
Sometimes I wish I was one of those mums that made perfect cakes and made lovely themed decorations and let millions of babies and children run rampant through my house… but I figure I just have to accept that’s not really my style and just make the best of the mum I am. I think she enjoyed her days and I know she enjoyed her cake! haha! I think she knows how special she is to us, and I guess that’s what counts, at the end of the day.
Happy birthday once again, my little monkey! I can’t believe you’re turning into a real little girl now!
This is a little ode to Scarlett – a compilation of photos from the first year of her life that I have been working on. I’ve watched it about a million times and it makes me teary every time!
This has been such a rollercoaster year. It hasn’t always been easy. I didn’t take to motherhood as instantly as I had always thought I would. There have been hard times and dark days. But she has always been amazing. She is such a good, happy, funny little girl. She has such a nutty personality and watching it unfold and grow is just amazing.
I would say that things have gotten steadily more enjoyable for me as a mum since about 7 months old, when she started being able to move around on her own. Since then, I have found myself enjoying her more and more. I genuinely love hanging out with her, she makes me laugh constantly, even when I’m grumpy. I love the way she chats and babbles and giggles and dances and squeals. I love that big cheeky grin.
Becoming a mum has been a challenge and a struggle and a massive learning curve for me. But it has also opened me up to a level of love that I never knew was possible. My heart bursts at the seams with how much I adore her. Even when I’m struggling, I know that it’s me that’s the problem, me that has a lesson to learn – she is always perfect. She is my teacher, not the other way around.
She has changed so much in just one year – I can’t imagine what life will be like in another year’s time, who she will become. But I’m just so goddamn blessed that I get to go along for the ride 😀
In the past couple of months, I feel bubba’s main development has been in her language. She’s more confident in pulling herself to standing and scooting along the edge of the couch, and then crouching back down to the ground again. But her strongest steps forward have been in her talking.
Not that she’s “talking” in the sense of using words with meaning yet. A silly little pet peeve of mine is when people claim their child’s “first word” when actually they are still babbling. Sounds like “dadadad” and “mummmmm” are just babies playing with their mouths and voices for a long time. I personally consider a “first word” to be the first word a child uses with intent – consciously knowing that making this mixture of sounds is semantically linked with a specific object, person or meaning.
So I guess, in a way, Scarlett has kind of said her first word – “ta” (for readers in the northern hemisphere, we use “ta” to mean thank you, or in the sense of “ta to Dad”, meaning “give it to Dad please”). She now says “ta” whenever she wants something, and that something is usually food! Whenever she sees the punnet of strawberries (or as I like to call them, Scarlett-crack), she cracks a huge smile and starts expectantly chanting “ta! ta! ta! ta!” The other day I was cooking her some fritters and I gave her a bit to taste. As soon as she finished it, she looked up at me and started going “ta! ta!” So while “ta” may not be a complicated word, and she may not be strictly using it in the sense of “thank you”, she has still figured out that a certain combination of sounds has a meaning that can be used to communicate her desires… so I guess her first word is “ta!”
She also likes to babble away in her own Scarlett language. I love to hear her chatting! She makes sounds I’ve never heard a baby make before – she really likes to explore all the noises her mouth can make. One of her favourites is “gud” (which sounds disconcertingly like “good”). “Gud gud gud gud gud” never fails to make me laugh.
I like it when she sits with her books, telling her own little stories. She is growing to really love her books. I am a bookworm to the core and I have always derived a great deal of enjoyment from books, so I would love to be able to share that with her. Her favourite book so far is Hairy Maclairy, a children’s book by a New Zealand author that reminds me of my own childhood. I love it how she sits there listening, turning the pages and pointing to the pictures.
She has her moments, but she really is, for the most part, a happy chatty little girl. I am incredibly blessed that most nights (touch wood!) she sleeps straight from about 8 pm to 7 am (sometime with the odd grizzle for the dummy back in, but resettling only takes a few minutes these days). She loves daycare – hanging out with the other kiddies, getting dirty in the sandpit and eating lots of yum food. She’s learning to give dad kisses on the cheek – well, they’re more like open mouthed slobbers, but still!
In two weeks it will be her birthday and I can’t believe it! Life has changed so much and yet in some ways the time has flown. I am so blessed to be mum to such a beautiful little girl.
I am clucky as a barnyard full of chickens at the moment.
It’s crazy, isn’t it?! After my painful, drawn out birth experience… after how incredibly hard I found the first few months… even with how I still struggle to learn patience and to give up my alone time… even though my brain is in full knowledge of all of that….
I want another one.
Two! Can you imagine me with two?! My brain says it’s a ridiculous idea. My brain says to wait at least one or two more years. But everything else – whether it’s hormones or maternal instinct or I don’t know what the hell it is – just wants to make another baby.
I think part of the reason I had such a tough time in the beginning with Scarlett is because I was mourning the life I lost. I was mourning sleep ins, quiet hours reading my book, uninterrupted cups of tea, nights out on the town without a second thought, doing what I want, when I want…. I was mourning a life which revolved around ME.
It was a hard transition for me to make. I really struggled in those first few months. If you had asked me then, I would have said Scarlett was going to be an only child and I was NEVER doing this again. Ah female hormones are wonders for handing out rose-coloured glasses 😛
And yet, I think one of the things that made it so hard for me was the fact that I didn’t realise how rewarding it would get. I had no idea how much I would really come to enjoy it. From about six months onwards, I have found bubba so much more fun. She moves around, she initiates laughter, her personality slowly becomes revealed, she smiles when she’s having fun, she chats. She’s fun to be around. She make me laugh all the time, even when I’m grumpy.
Seeing her amazing little personality begin to shine more and more each day, it just makes me think – we made a person! And… we could make another one! What would our next little person be like? What would his/her personality be like, what would make them laugh, what would they find fun?
I’m never going to be childless again, and I feel like I’ve already mourned for that and come to terms with it. In some ways, maybe that is the hardest part over for me. For the first few months, the words “mum” and “daughter” didn’t feel right in my mouth. I still didn’t identify with it – it sounded like someone else. Now I hear a baby cry and instantly move as if to react – even if Scarlett is not around. Now telling people I have a daughter is the most natural thing in the world. I have accepted my new role, my new identity – Mum.
Which is not to say I have lost who I was – rather that who I was has been expanded upon, added to… made better. Being a mum makes me a better person every day.
Life doesn’t revolve around me anymore – it revolves around her every second… and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She adds the dimension to my life that I had been missing all those years of lostness and searching. Even when it’s hard, I know my life is better for having her in it.
I would love to go through the whole thing again with the knowledge I have now – with less of the unknown, being able to enjoy each step a little more for knowing what comes after it. Savouring each bit a little more. Savouring that initial excitement of being pregnant. Savouring the big fat waddling stage. Savouring the birth – yes, even that. Savouring that newborn time when they are needy and teensy and just eat and drink and sleep. Savouring every bit in that bittersweet knowledge that it lasts just such a very short time in the scheme of things.
I would hope that I would cope better this time around, with the newborn stage, with all of it. But adding a toddler into the mix… well, that’s just a whole new ballgame isn’t it?! Who knows… but I really would like to find out.
But don’t go getting too excited, we’re certainly not trying yet, the timing isn’t quite right for us yet, and my IUD isn’t going to be letting in any “accidents”. So I will just sit and cluck a little longer and enjoy my mini munchkin as she grows.
As a first time mum, I try as much as possible to avoid falling into what I call The Milestone Trap.
At times it can seem like all around me there are babies who are rolling, crawling, walking, joining mensa… you know, reaching all those big milestones, while my own baby is nowhere near it. As a first timer, it can make you start to question… “Is something wrong with my baby?” “Why isn’t my bubba doing that yet?”
When I find myself falling into that trap of comparison, I have to remind myself that there is a huge range of “normal” when it comes to children, especially babies. Even physiotherapists have been known to say that “there is no abnormal under 1”. I’ve heard of babies walking at 7 months, and I’ve heard of babies that didn’t crawl until they were 11 months and then were off and walking two weeks later.
The most important point to remember is that neither way is better. Doing it earlier doesn’t mean the baby is cleverer or that the parent is somehow doing a better job. Doing it later doesn’t mean the baby is slow or dumb or that it’s due to slack parenting. All babies develop on their own schedule when it is right for them.
Some parents find themselves wanting to rush their baby along – to “teach” it how to crawl, to stand, to walk. I think, if you do this, you run two great risks. Firstly you risk pushing the baby out of alignment with its own natural line of development and pushing it into skills its not ready for. And secondly, by always looking ahead and wanting your baby to be doing the next thing, the next thing, the next thing… you risk not being able to stop and appreciate your baby just exactly as they are right now.
So your baby doesn’t crawl yet? Unless they’re over one or show other signs of developmental delay… who cares? There are lots of advantages to having a baby that can’t get into the kitchen drawers! Just enjoy it. Enjoy who your baby is. Enjoy watching your baby develop on its own timeframe. Don’t be in a hurry. Because the time will come when you look back on this age with a kind of aching nostalgia and wish you could go back and hold that sweet still infant on your lap again and smell their head… without being punched in the face.
This is a video I absolute love, of a baby called Liv as she develops the skills of rolling over and crawling in the first year of life. What I absolutely love about this video is how it shows all the tiny little steps that lead up to the bigger milestone – placing her feet together, kicking the floor… little things that may go unnoticed but are actually crucial stepping stones in the learning process that eventually end up in the big action you’ve been waiting for.
Another thing I love about it is the look of absolute pride on her face when she learns to roll over. Another risk of trying to teach a baby something it’s not ready for is that you deprive it of that proud feeling of acheivement babies get when they figure something out all by themselves.
At the moment, Scarlett has just learned to pull herself up to standing while holding onto the couch. Every time she does it, she gets the biggest grin and laughs. It’s the cutest thing ever! She’s so proud of herself and so amazed at what she just made her body do.
And so I try not to get caught up in the big milestones. They aren’t the only milestones anyway. I remember the day she smiled for the first time, without it being followed by a burp or a poo…
|Bubba’s first smile at 10 days old 🙂|
I remember the day she lay and examined each individual finger one by one, as if just discovering that they were separate from each other…
|Hrmmm, I found these little sausages on my hands…|
I remember the first time she laughed at something because she found it funny, not because I was trying to make her laugh (I sat her up in the bath for the first time instead of lying her down – she slapped the water and thought it was the most hilarious thing ever!)…
|Baths are fun!|
I remember so many little funny gorgeous things… things that aren’t in most baby books or developmental emails, things only a mumma would notice. And somehow that makes them all the more special to me, those little milestones, those tiny moments frozen in time. And they’re all part of the process, all part of her learning about herself and her world, just as much as the big, well known milestones like crawling and walking.
Whenever I catch myself comparing her to other babies, I just use it as a trigger thought to remind me to appreciate her for exactly who she is, as she is. She is my Scarlett, she is doing things her way (as is every baby), and why would I wish her any different? She is perfect just as she is.