In typical Mum fashion, I was walking through the town the other day. My pushchair, laden with shopping above and below the seat was being precariously navigated with one hand whilst my other hand dragged a reluctant pre-schooler behind me. It started to rain, and we were five-minutes from the car. I looked down at my daughter, snug in her snowsuit and cosy toe, and figured that we would make it to the car without her getting too wet. There was no need to put the rain cover on, especially since the ridiculous thing required you to have a PhD in structural engineering in order to be able to attach it correctly.
How things have changed. With my son, my “precious first baby” (a delightful term coined by the users of Mumsnet to describe how irrational parents can be when it comes to firstborn children), I was determined that no raindrop would ever touch his delicate skin, lest the damp cause him to develop an illness. Even the slightest inkling of a raindrop would force me to stop whatever I was doing to ensure the rain cover (the same ridiculous rain cover) was in place to protect my darling son from the perils that a slight shower would bring.
There are so many of these incidents where I haven’t taken the same borderline neurotic approach with my second child that I did with my first that I have taken to (jokingly!) calling her the “neglected second child.” Here are just a few of them, and I hope that one day she will forgive me.
Sterilising Bottles and Dummies
For my precious first baby, every bottle, spoon, dummy, and even the scoops that are used to scoop out the formula powder were sterilised up until he was 12 months old. I would freak out if I saw my husband touching the teat when he made up the milk, and made sure I had a collection of sterilised, contained dummies on standby when we were out and about, just in case one ended up on the floor.
We stopped sterilising everything as soon as the neglected second child was able to put items in her mouth by herself. I don’t think we ever sterilised the scoops, and dummies that were dropped on the floor were carefully cleaned by me, using the age old method of putting it my own mouth and sucking it clean.
My precious first baby was given homemade organic broccoli puree as his first food. I carefully followed all of the weaning guidelines with him, determined to get it right. He had no refined sugar until he was one, and then had a low sugar birthday cake. Four years later and he will now only eat about ten different foods. Most of them sugar based.
My neglected second child had her first taste of food when a friend’s toddler shoved his melted chocolate covered fingers into her mouth when she was about six weeks old. Had this happened to my first, I would have been straight to A&E. This time I just asked her if she enjoyed it. Since then she has been weaned on whatever we were having for dinner at the time and will eat anything that’s put in front of her.
The Little Red Book
My precious first baby was taken to the health visitor every week for the first four months, his weight carefully tracked in his little red book – along with all of his other milestones. At which point, they kindly suggested that perhaps I come just once a month instead, which I dutifully did until he was 12 months old and they told me they really didn’t need to see him again.
I’m not even sure where my neglected second child’s little red book is, and I don’t think anything has been written in it since she was about three-months old.
For my precious first baby, I put all of those special items, such as the scan photos, our hospital wrist bands, and all of the congratulations cards into a big scrapbook to keep. It included newspapers from the day he was born, helpfully supplied by his grandparents, and various photos of his first few days. Each page was adorned with little embellishments I had found in my local craft shop. It took several days to complete.
My neglected second child has a scrap book, mainly compiled out of guilt. There are no newspapers, and certainly no embellishments. I did it in about two hours.
When I first dropped my precious first baby off at his childcare placement to return to work, I arrived at my office in floods of tears. “How will he cope without me”, I sobbed to my bewildered colleague. I physically ached for him that entire day, and on the days that followed. I wanted to know everything from the nursery, including what he had eaten and how much, how many wet and dirty nappies he had, and I panicked that he might somehow injure himself in their care.
When I first dropped of my neglected second child to her childcare placement, I’m more than a little ashamed to admit that I practically bounced out of the building, overjoyed with the idea of a “day off”, even if it was to go and work.
So, my poor, neglected daughter, if you ever do stumble across this when you are older, I am so sorry, please forgive me.