Amélie’s First Birthday

How time flies, the second update in just over a week celebrates the fact that our second child is now one year old.  It doesn’t seem five minutes since we were in the car heading to St. Peter’s, managed to lay claim to the last bed in the labour ward and after a relatively short labour, we held her in our arms for the first time.

In some ways the second child is easier: you know what you are doing (OK that is never true – you are just a little less paranoid about what you may be doing wrong); the skills that you had trouble mastering are now old hat (nappy changing, maintaining a semblance of normality on 3 hours sleep and making up bottles at 03:00!) and you have all the paraphernalia (or at least the ones that you have found to be useful).

Then in other ways it is more difficult: Adults may understand and forgive you your grumpiness or lack of attention due to weeks of disturbed sleep, a 2 year old doesn’t; adults may understand that a new born needs love and affection and a feed every few hours, a 2 year old doesn’t and adults more easily accommodate the fact that there is another member of the family, a 2 year old doesn’t.

In fairness to Éowyn, she has actually accommodated to the new arrival that is her little sister extremely well.  Although it probably helps that Amélie has yet to invade her last bastion of refuge: her bedroom.  Amélie still sleeps in our bedroom, mainly because she still wakes at 0530 every day for her first bottle of the day.  Hopefully this will not last much longer and then we will be able to move the girls in together, for as it currently stands it would not be fair on Éowyn not only to move her sister into her room, but also to move a sister that is also an alarm clock that cannot be set for a later time!

So, in addition to the above, what have we learned this year?  I think the major lesson we can take from 2011 is the fact that no two children are the same.  Amélie is far more laid back than Éowyn.  Without wishing to compare, Éowyn was a lot more advanced than Amélie at the same age.  This is partly due to Amélie’s milk protein intolerance, which must have made her life hell for the first few months, which meant that there was not as much time for play in those early weeks and partly because we have has so much work done to the house that there has not been the space for her to practise and exercise those muscles.  I also think this laid back nature also comes from the fact that because she always has a big sister vying for attention so she is not as precious about being the centre of attention, for unlike Éowyn, she never has been (not in a nasty way, simply because Éowyn was the only child and therefore had the undivided attention of two parents through her formative years).

We also have learned the benefit and strength that can be taken from a supportive and understanding health visitor.  Amélie’s milk protein intolerance would not have been diagnosed so quickly without her support and I think that Lucinda and I would have gone insane with the powerlessness that we were experiencing with her over those first few months.  To have some fighting the system from the inside and not just insisting that it was colic or wind or ‘just get on with it that is what babies do’ was a huge boon.  So thank you Kate!

And what have we lost this year?   The ability to have a lie in.  As mentioned above Amélie is like clockwork waking up for her first feed at 0530 (if you are lucky) and sometimes she will not settle afterwards.  Lucinda has done the vast majority of those for she has been on maternity leave and I have been working (usually getting up not long after), however now Lucinda has returned to work then this will be shared more evenly especially when some of Lucinda’s shifts start at 0500!  If she would only sleep for another hour she would be the perfect baby, but I suppose those don’t exist – or grow into terrible toddlers!

The only other thing that we have lost this year is weight.  Both myself and Lucinda have been dieting since May and I now weigh (a lady never reveals her weight so Lucinda’s goals can remain secret) 4 stone (for Americans: 56lbs for everybody else: 25.4kgs) less than when Amélie was born and 3 stone (42lbs, 19kgs) less than in May!  As, I am sure you can appreciate, I am very pleased with this and now the real challenge begins of maintaining that weight loss.  Scarily I am 5 stone (60lbs/31.75kgs) lighter than my peak weight in April 2009.  I will no longer be the fat dad at the school gate!

The weekend before Amélie’s birthday, Nanny Fran, Auntie Liz and Auntie Mary came down to visit.  It was going to be a good chance for me to meet up with them too, since the last time they came down I was working.  Unfortunately due to the issues we have been having at work I had to work that day also, so once again I missed them.  However, it was nice for the girls to see the Bagnall side of the family and they will all be coming down in a couple of weeks to see Éowyn on her birthday!  So I will catch up then.

So what did we do to celebrate Amélie’s first birthday?  As the weather was unseasonably warm on her birthday (28°C – in fact the 1st October was the warmest day ever recorded in the UK (29.9°C) even though that was followed by the first snowfall on the mountains of Scotland less than a week later!) we decided to head to Peppa Pig World.  Fortunately we decided to book our tickets on line.  What a stroke of luck that was for we discovered that Peppa Pig World is now closed on Tuesday and Wednesdays (Amélie’s birthday was on Wednesday).  No fear we thought we’ll go to Legoland and use our Merlin passes again.  While we were on line we thought that it was probably a good idea to check out the opening ties in case they have changed now the kids are back at school.  Foiled again.  Legoland is also closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays!  Where were we going to go?  We asked Éowyn where she would like to go.  ‘The Jungle to see some animals‘.  Was the reply.  So a zoo it was.  Lucinda suggested Whipsnade and the decision was made.

We were quite impressed with Whipsnade.  It is huge (the UK’s biggest zoo) over 600 acres and the animals have plenty of room to run about.  It was so big and the day was so nice that we didn’t managed to see all of it.  We did manage to see a quite impressive bird display, the sea lion display and the penguin feeding.  Éowyn wanted to see the lions (which were asleep about six feet from the viewing window which was fantastic) and tigers and bears (oh, my!) which we managed to do with the obligatory hike in between before she suddenly started to cry.  I asked her why she was crying, ‘I want to stroke something,‘  she said.  Lions and tigers and bears (Oh, my!) are not the kind of animals you can really stroke (however much I would like to) so we trotted off to the petting zoo where she happily chased after sheep, goats and llamas!  Amélie was rather nonplussed by it all, even though it was her birthday treat!  We returned from Whipsnade ahead of the rush hour to one of Nanny’s roast dinners which was the perfect ending to her birthday.

And so our littlest one has completed her first year and we prepare for Éowyn’s third birthday.  Yes, third birthday! Which seems a scary concept for again it doesn’t seem five minutes since we welcomed her into our world and this website began!

Also in the news: Lucinda has returned to work, so Amélie has begun to go to Jo’s (our childminder) and the real juggling of work, child minder, pre-school and the rest of life begins.  I have taken some days off work to help with this transition but we have no illusions that this is not going to be easy but hey, who said that life is easy?  Fortunately our uxorilocal residence means that we can take advantage of Nanny and Granddad and with Lucinda’s brother just round the corner, we have a very handy matrilocal support team.

Before I leave I’d just like to say congratulations to Ollie and his wife Callula on the birth of their daughter Lexi Annabel, welcome to the world Lexi.

Love and Peace


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