Welcome back to Meet the Parents, my weekly blog series where a blogger and parent shares their advice for first-time and expectant parents. This week we welcome Kerry, who blogs at Kerry Shaw Mummy of Four.
Tell me a bit about you, your blog and your family.
My blog, Kerry Shaw Mummy of Four, is predominantly a light-hearted view of the journey through life as a family of six and how I juggle motherhood and being a full-time university student. I am a mum to four children, Leo who is nine, Millie who’s four, and our twin boys Max and Bobby who are coming up to two and a half.
Falling pregnant with Max and Bobby was a huge surprise and even bigger surprise when we discovered there was two of them in there. They are two crazy little beings that took our lives and our ‘two point four children’ status and flipped us all out to space. We’re still all floating around up there and haven’t made it back to Earth yet. It was after Max and Bobby were born that I started the blog. They took us all, but especially me, out of our comfort zone, and made me realise if I have the strength and ability to struggle through a twin pregnancy and get four children ready for the school run on time, then I can do pretty much anything I really want to. I love nothing more than sharing the stories of our achievements (mostly the children’s) and our failings (always mine) on our blog.
What one essential item would you insist on putting in your hospital bag (for you)?
Drinks – Gas and Air was a really effective pain-relief for me during all three of my labours, but I found that after a couple of hours, I would get a dry mouth. There is just something about hospital water; it’s not quite the refreshing experience you want half way through a twenty-four-hour labour. Pack lots of delicious fruit juice, bottled water and cordials. The sugar kick is also a welcome side effect.
Was there anything unexpected that happened during labour, that you think first-time mums should be prepared for?
My labour with Leo was induced because I went two weeks over my due date, I did not cope well with the contractions at all and had to have an epidural for pain-relief which slowed down labour making Leo’s heat rate drop. Fortunately he made his entrance into the world at the perfect time and all was well.
When I fell pregnant with Millie, I was determined not to have an epidural because of the experience with Leo, but the labour was long. I started having contractions on the Thursday afternoon and at one o clock on the Sunday morning, I was still in labour, determined to do it without an epidural. Unfortunately Millie got stuck and I was rushed down to theatre where I was given a spinal injection before they delivered her using forceps.
I managed to get my epidural-free birth when I gave birth to the twins; it was a relatively quick twelve-hour labour and they were born within twenty minutes of each other without a single spinal injection in sight. If I was offering advice to a first-time mum, I would say be prepared for your birth plan to change. Once your baby is in your arms it doesn’t matter how they arrived as long as they arrived safely.
What would be your one essential product for a newborn that no new parent should live without?
A nappy bin. Nappy bins are a godsend. They save you from deciding to either make twenty plus trips a day to the outside bin to dispose of stinky nappies (it doesn’t sound like much of a chore but believe me it gets tedious), or having a home that smells like a public toilet.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given before your first child was born?
The best piece of advice that I was given, and it’s advice that I still try and live by now, is enjoy every moment because it goes so fast. It sounds like a cliché and you will probably hear it at least a hundred times in the first couple of weeks of parenthood, but it really is true. We feel so much pressure after the birth of our babies to get back into a routine or get back into shape or to get them to sleep, that we forget to enjoy them. The first weeks of our newborn’s life are so unbelievably precious, so forget the ironing, the washing and the housework and just enjoy making a million photographic memories of the most perfect thing in the world.
What’s the worst piece of advice you were given?
The worst advice is any advice on how to get your baby to sleep through the night. Most of it questionable on health and safety grounds! What works for one baby doesn’t for another; some babies sleep through and some don’t. That’s just how it is. So, stock up on coffee, share the night-feeds and beg someone close to baby-sit when it all gets a bit too much.
What would be your top tip for a first time parent-to-be?
My top tip would be to leave the house as much as possible. Leaving the house with a new-born is always daunting, but getting out and about does wonders for your own sanity in the early days, even if it’s just a walk around the park or a trip to the shops. I always felt so much better and had more energy to cope with the late nights and early mornings after getting some fresh air.
What’s the hardest thing about being a new parent?
The hardest thing about being a new parent by a clear mile is the lack of sleep. The first few nights you seem to run on adrenaline but as the days turn into weeks, the lack of sleep really is tough. Just know that it doesn’t last forever and you will become a pro at napping on demand.
What’s the best thing about being a new parent?
What’s the best thing? That’s a tough question there are so many amazing things about being a new parent. The one that stands out is all of my children’s very first night at home; waking up and looking at this tiny, beautiful baby lying in a crib next to our bed, picking them up and embracing their new baby smell. Cuddling them into the early hours. That’s the best thing. The moment of realisation, when you realise that you’re the mummy of a perfect little human.