In this exclusive blog post for Kiddicare, Dame Sarah Storey, Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian, describes in heartfelt detail her amazing first year of motherhood.
The parenting books don’t lie – the first year of a baby’s life is the year of the biggest changes. From a tiny newborn to a boisterous toddler, this journey has been incredible! Louisa is now 14 months old and it is hard to believe just how much has changed.
Barney and I are so lucky to be in a position where our lifestyle and jobs allow us to spend so much time with our daughter. We travel everywhere together, quite often with my parents too. Louisa’s first year has a been real family affair.
I have printed 100’s of photographs and put them in photo albums – how old fashioned?! I wanted to make sure that we had something to look back with Louisa in the future. They always bring a smile to my face!
Louisa’s likely spent as many nights away from home as she has at home in the last year! Our first trip away was to London when she was a few weeks old. She was 16 weeks when I returned to training and we spent two weeks at our Club La Santa base. We went to Mexico for Track World Championships in April and she travelled with us on the Tour of Brittany in July. We travel all over the UK for bike races and are rarely at home for longer than ten days at a time. As a result, Louisa loves the adventure of new places and is very sociable.
We focussed on establishing breastfeeding as I recovered from my emergency C section. Now, I feed Louisa if she asks for it. The power of Mother Nature continues to amaze me. I didn’t have any expectations of breastfeeding or know whether my body would cope doing it once I was back into full time training and racing, but if I could I would allow our baby to decide when enough was enough.
At 14 months, Louisa generally only feeds in the evening, during the night and in the morning, but will have a quick feed during the day if something has upset her. When she’s teething or feels unwell Louisa spends more time nursing. She is starting to be able to speak to us and tell us what she needs, but breastfeeding is without doubt a form of communication.
I’ve read articles that say the older the child gets the less benefit they get from breast milk and a GP Practice Nurse told me it was “a waste of time after they are eating properly”. I disagree. Breast milk actually gets more fatty as the feeds get fewer – the body condenses the goodness into the smaller amount of liquid – so there is a nutritional benefit but nursing and the comfort of nursing is an unquantifiable benefit. As a mother I know Louisa benefits from the calm of nursing; the way she looks at me and the noises she makes during a feed tell me so much.
We began Baby Led Weaning when Louisa was ready. From a messy yoghurt, which she can now feed herself with a spoon, to sucking spaghetti like a pro, Louisa has particularly loved to explore the food we eat!
Learning to walk without help has been a long time coming but we are nearly there now! From a six week old Louisa loved to feel her weight on her feet, at six months she was sitting up and at eight months she took a couple of steps on her own. We thought it wouldn’t be long before she sprinted off! Indeed, since, her walking has become a run, but it is sweet that she still prefers to walk holding on to us. We are making the most of it as it won’t be long before we can’t catch her!
Like all babies, our little girl has struggled with her teeth – teething is such a hard time for the whole family. Her first teeth arrived when she was seven months and a top tooth turned up about a month later. Her second top tooth was a really nasty one, gave her a temperature and actually made her sick. As a parent it is awful to see your child in pain. We got through it with extra cuddles.
The best piece of advice I got over the last year is “they are not little for long”. If someone is pushing you to wean your baby, to make them more independent or telling you they should be sleeping through the night, remember that advice. Your little one will tell you what they need next. Just enjoy the journey together.
I have loved every stage of this first year. I am so proud of our little girl and how she takes everything in her stride and is so funny with it. I don’t know what I am looking forward to next – at the moment she’s becoming a real water baby and loves jumping in, getting fully submerged and coming up laughing! I try not to look too far ahead because I don’t want to miss anything that is happening in the here and now.