Later this week, on January 18th, we will be celebrating Josephine's first birthday. Celebrating the complete joy she has bought to our lives, celebrating the incredible little person she is now and is becoming, and celebrating our first year as three; our first year as parents.

No matter what people tell you, the advice you're given, nothing can prepare you for being a parent. The overwhelming love and happiness that fill your heart every second of every day; the changes such a tiny being can bring; the awesome highs and the exhausting lows.

This time last year we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of our baby. We didn't know if it was a boy or girl growing in my belly (we thought boy!!) and we were going to bed each day wondering if tonight would be the night our baby would start its journey to be with us (baby was already 5 days late by this point). We had chosen the names, washed all the clothes, set up the baby's corner in our bedroom. Our plans had been made.

But not everything goes exactly to plan when you have a baby.

When I was pregnant I remember seeing Claire's post on the ten commandments she'd set herself when she was pregnant. Reading through them I realised that Ben and I had almost exactly the same ideas. I wondered how, on reflection in the months after our baby was born, we'd have done in obeying our own commandments. So here goes...

1. We will birth our baby naturally and calmly, together as three at home. PASSish. Josephine's birth was beautiful. The most wonderful experience. It was calm and natural, but sadly not at home. These babies of ours have their own plans when it comes to making their way into the world and so Phiney was born in hospital. You can read our full birth story here.
2. I will breastfeed our baby, absolutely without doubt. FAIL. Wow, that seems so harsh on myself given everything we went through. But it's the truth. In all honestly I'm not sure I'll get complete closure on the issue until we have another baby and (keeping all fingers and toes crossed) I breastfeed with success. I could write a whole post regarding my feelings about breastfeeding, one year on. Maybe I will. In the meantime, read the whole story here. I just re-read it and my heart broke a little. And then I read all your amazing, supportive comments and it mended a bit. You guys are just awesome.
3. We will use cloth nappies as much as possible. PASSish. At home we use them a lot, but the truth is, for us, disposables are just so much easier when you're out and about. And in the depths of winter, when it takes 3 days for nappies to dry, it's hard. But our plan was to use reuseables as much as possible and I believe we do that. Most of the time.
4. Vintage stores and the charity shop will be the main source of clothing and toys for our little one. PASS. With flying colours, I might add. Apart from gifts and the odd bargain sale piece, the only things that aren't vintage, secondhand or handmade in Josephine's wardrobe are basics. Tights, vests, t-shirts and leggings. Go me.
5. All food will be made with our own fair hands. PASSish. I would say 98% of the food Phiney eats is handmade. It is with great pride I write this, especially given that until around 5 months ago, I could barely boil an egg (Ben's the cook - and a bloody good one - in this house). Now I am the maker of most of her meals.
6. Baby will fit in with our routine, not the other way round. FAIL. Ha! This may have worked until Phiney was around 5 months old, but when we implemented a more structured nap and bedtime routine, it went completely out the window.
7. There will be no TV watching, especially children's channels. Instead we will read and play games. PASS/FAIL. In those first few months, when Josephine would feed then sleep, feed then sleep, I watched a lot of TV. Seriously, a lot. Thank goodness for Netflix. But as she started to play games and be more aware, I was pretty good at keeping the TV off. Today, I'd say the TV is mostly off but sometimes, when we've had a bad night, early morning or a grumpy baby I need a bit of adult company in the day. And Jamie's 15/30 Minute Meals is pure research ;)
8. We will go for a walk at least once a day. PASS. We love our walks. To the park, along the canal, to the shops. Everyday, at least once. It is always a joy to walk and talk to our little bird.
9. We will not clear shelves or move fragile pieces from easily accessible places. PASS. Sure there are days, when I've said 'no' a thousand times, that it is tempting to move picture frames and ceramic pots and cds and game consoles onto higher ground, but ultimately Phiney is doing really well at understanding there are some things she's just not allowed to play with. I'm particularly pleased with passing this one.  
10. We will not use a dummy. PASS/FAIL. Although I feel saying 'pass' is a total cheat. We bought a whole host of dummies when Phiney was born and we discovered that she very loudly made her dislike of being put down known to us. Unfortunately she refused every. Single. One. Now I see it as a blessing (no difficult weaning needed) but at the time we would have loved it if she'd happily kept one in her mouth! 

On the whole I think we've done rather well. Sure, there are a lot pass/fails but heck, I'll take that. High fives to us.

ps. There will be a whole lot more on the subject of my learning to cook and our love of secondhand fashion in a new series I'm going to start next week.

Picture by Tori


  1. My one commandment I had for toddlerhood was no tv, and then the tantrums came ..an hour of Peppa Pig won't hurt ;) (or two!) Though in my defence she doesn't stare she plays and chalks while it appeases her.

    Don't be too down on yourself about feeding, think of the positives like the fact that you didn't have to go through the heartbreak of weaning, molly weaned in a week and it still broke me. And the sleepless nights (formula fed babies DO sleep better) and the soaked clothes all day everyday. Your bond is just as strong xxxx

  2. Oh Nell, don't use the word FAIL for breastfeeding. You didn't fail. You did your best and it just didn't work, plus Phiney is so happy and contented - how would breastfeeding have made her any happier or healthier than she is now? So change the word. Also, being at home all day every day with a baby is full on so TV is our friend when it gets to late in the day and everyone needs down time. B gets to watch some with his milk at about 5pm - a little chill out time. And he's learnt so much from Something Special that I don't even class is as TV. I think of it as a free Baby Sign class!! xx

  3. Nell you have done so well, the first year is about discovering and finding what is right for you as a family. If/when you do have another hold on as everything you thought you knew goes out the window! My boys are 5 and 3.5 now and life is amazing, they are such beautiful little men, they give me more hugs and kisses than I could have ever asked for.
    Re breast feeding. It was not until I had jasper (3.5) that I got over what had happened to Asa (must blog about that one day) I now realise looking at my boys who are never ill that feeding them well everyday has meant more than my non existant break milk. xxx

  4. Beautiful words, much love Jo xx

  5. Every single one of those sounds so familiar! I've found that on your second, it'll be a whole new set of passes and fails. Sounds like you've followed your baby. Happy Birthday xxx

  6. I love this post, Josephine looks so much bigger already since I first started reading your blog, a little person rather than a baby! And to read about your parenting this first year has been very enjoyable! I bet you will organise the perfect 1st birthday day for her! /maria x

  7. This is a lovely post, and I hope one day to, at least attempt, to follow some of your commandments too...though I agree, there must always be room in your life for Jamie Oliver, he is the second man in mine. One of my only fears about having a baby (apart from messing up being father Christmas and the tooth fairy) is not being able to breast feed, but it's silly really the amount of pressure we put on ourselves when really, it's not the end of the world! Now going to read your story on it. Happy Birthday to little Josephine! xxx

  8. what is a dummy? i'm thinking a pacifier?

    this is a topic that my husband and i laugh about...there are so many "ideals" that we were certain about before our little girl came that went totally out the window! AND we don't feel bad about any of them! live and learn!!

  9. I began reading your blog a few months ago- and I really loved this post :) We have two little boys (15 months & 3 months) and our expectations/ideals don't often work out how we imagine they will...but the important part is being flexible and adapting to what's best for you and your babe. Phiney is gorgeous and you seem like a wonderful Mama! Also- just read the breastfeeding post, and can totally relate to the crushing disappointment. I haven't been able to fully nurse either one of mine, and the hardest part has been overcoming my own feelings of failure. Although I still struggle with it (daily), it is a comfort to know that my boys are happy and healthy, and that we have an entire childhood to teach them to eat well! Happy happy first year to your girl!xx