Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Oskar's 1st Birthday

Well that was the quickest, most exhausting, but most beautiful year of our lives! This time last year we were still in hospital, me recovering from my c-section, Oskar being treated for jaundice and us desperately trying to learn how to breastfeed! Fast forward to this year and we have just celebrated our wonderful son's first birthday. And what a celebration it was!

On Saturday we spent the day preparing for the following day, but it felt like the start of his birthday celebrations really. We drove over to my parents, where we would have a small family party the following day, and took with us all of our decorations and what felt like enough food to feed an army. It had a simple theme - rainbows,  somethig which reflects not only our beautiful colourful boy, but also our outlook on life.. when you see a rainbow you are happy, peaceful, and grateful for such a beautiful world, just like when we see our boy! We, well in fact Sarah, has been planning his first birthday since just after he was born, so to actually get it all together and start the celebrations was really really wonderful. We put a lot of thought and effort in to making most things ourselves, choosing the right things, and bringing it all together. I have to say though, I'm so glad we did, a lot of people commented on how beautiful it all looked and how much it was worth our efforts. This included a huge number one made up of the pictures we have taken of him every week since he was born, a board showing all of his "firsts" and milestones this year, cloud pom poms with rainbow heart raindrops falling from them, and a banner showing him at each month.

We returned home on Saturday evening tired but excited, and I couldn't help but feel very emotional. Here was the baby we had longed for for years, been through IVF and a frozen embryo transfer for, battled through a difficult and exhausting pregnancy for, and finally, finally gotten to hold in our arms. And then, as quick as a flash, his first year was gone! Thinking back over the beautiful year I couldn't believe it was over, but at the same time feel so incredibly proud. I think everyone has an idea in their heads of how they will parent, and I'm so proud that we have achieved it. It has been hard work, exhausting, and has often left little time for just the two of us, but Oskar has only ever known love, and the safety of our arms. We have been gentle, attached parents since the moment he was born, and that isn't about to change. And as a result he is the most beautiful, kindest, happiest soul in the whole world. But alas, we couldn't stay emotional for too long, for after he had fallen asleep with a tummy full of milk, we still had his cake to ice and decorate!

On Sunday 4th June, his birthday, Oskar decided he was really very excited and so would sing to his Mummies until they woke up. It was 5am. Luckily we still have the magic trick of breastfeeding, guaranteed to make Oskar sleep again if he is still tired, so he fell back to sleep until a very reasonable 7:30! At which point we were all very excited, and a little less tired! 

We had spent a long time choosing his presents, to not only suit the games he likes to play now (sorting things, and pushing things on wheels), but that will last him a long time too whilst holding their play value. We prefer wooden toys, usually fairly open ended and fitting with a Montessori approach. So we spent the morning opening a couple of presents, with the rest opened at intervals over the weekend, cue Oskar immediately wanting to play with everything. We were excited to decorate our celebration ring with a rainbow candle, number 1, and mini versions of his whale and rainbow presents! Oskar also has his favourite breakfast of croissants, berries and coconut milk yoghurt.

His party was at 1pm, so we drove over to my parents with enough time to finish off the last few things like blowing up the balloons and putting out all of the food (rainbow themed and vegetarian, of course!) before his guests started to arrive. We had invited both of our families as just wanted a small party this year, we wondered if we might get a little overwhelmed with having lots of people around him and all of the attention being on him, but Oskar handled it like an absolute superstar! He took it all in, being his usual smiley, giggly self, and enjoyed all of the attention that was lavished upon him. His favourite part of the party was definitely the confetti filled balloons that Sarah had made, he spent ages playing with them...cue more giggles! 

It was lovely having our families around us, sharing memories over the past year, enjoying the food and the sunshine. The children had a lot of fun racing round the garden and the adults just enjoyed spending time together and enjoying the day. It all went so fast! Before we knew it it was 7pm and the whole day had been a blur of happiness, opening presents and eating birthday cake! It was time to head home again and put the very tired birthday boy to bed.

Once he was safely tucked up in bed we decided to have a little celebration all of our own, and opened a bottle of Moet to share. It was beautiful, sitting and talking over the past year with a glass of bubbles. We have given everything to being parents but we are still wives too, and this moment at the end of his birthday was true testament to that.

Sarah took the Monday off work so that we would spend another day together, but this time just the 3 of us. After the business of the day before we wanted a quieter day, of just us, a day that we could look back on and remember. We had a few ideas of where we might take Oskar, but as usual in this country it depended on the weather! Sadly we woke up to pretty torrential rain, so our plans of a long walk in the woods was quickly replaced with a trip to the sea life centre!

In the safety of his sling Oskar was able to see and enjoy so much more of the Sealife Centre than I imagined he would. The first thing we were treated to was a huge area full of penguins! He watched and pointed as they swam through the water, dived off their icy rocks and danced about. "Ooh" he said, followed by "Weeeoooo" it wasn't Willow, but never mind.

Onwards we went, seeing fish and octopus and seahorses and rays and eels and more. He loved looking at all the different sea life and watching the colours change as we walked through. Finally we came to the shark tunnel, where we saw sharks and turtles and more, it was amazing.

With Oskar a little overwhelmed but all of us very happy, we went for a coffee so that Oskar could have some milk and a little snooze in my arms, before heading off for dinner. We have always agreed that we don't want a toddler or child glued to a phone or tablet as the only way of getting them to sit at a dinner table, so even at his young age we go out for dinner with Oskar and keep him entertained with little toys, or just sitting and listening to the conversation and watching others. We all very much enjoyed our pizza and polenta chips and headed home to relax for the rest of the day.

There was just one final piece of his birthday still left to fit in to the puzzle - birthday cake! We have avoided giving Oskar any kind of junk food or processed sugar until now, and it will still remain very much an occasional thing. But we had made the cake especially for him so it seemed only right he should try some. And of course he loved it!

Oskar, there is so much we could say about your birth and first year. We could write for pages and pages. But all we will say is this - you are the sun, the moon and all of the stars. You, our beautiful boy, are our everything. You will never know how much we love you. We hope your birthday was as magical as you are.

We have a video of Oskar's birthday up on our YouTube channel here!

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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Soon you are one; how we've grown

The blink of an eye, a whole new era, always. It's funny how the past year has gone in a flash, but anything before it seems a lifetime ago. Next week our son will turn one. We have all grown so much - he has grown from a hopeful dream, a speck under a microscope, a moving miracle on a scan screen, a tiny, sweet newborn, to a beautiful, clever toddler.

 We have grown too, into Mothers, adapting to this whole new world that motherhood has brought.

We remember May 2016 so clearly - it was scorching hot, Lauren had spent the first part of May in hospital with pre eclampsia, and I used to get a short local train ride to the hospital every day after work, holding a cold drink, carrying a gift for her - magazines, nice flip flops, pyjamas. Sometimes she would sit under one of the many blossom trees and wait for me, and now blossom always reminds us of that strangely happy time!
Then she came out of hospital, and we had an amazing couple of weeks; our Tiffany & Co themed baby shower, the sight of tiny baby grows hung on the washing line, our favourite music playing constantly for us and the bump, decorating his sky themed nursery in grey and white with our friends and family, the constant sunshine, waiting for the rose bush we had planted when we started ivf to bloom, the peace, the happiness, the excitement.

His birth story, told here, was the creation of us as Mothers, as much as our sons arrival into the world. 

Is it what we thought it would be? A definite no! We completely underestimated how exhausted broken sleep makes you, how time to yourself or as a couple becomes a rare luxury, how it completely takes over your life, and how it's more wonderful than words could ever, ever describe. We have become experts in multi tasking, and have learned to make the most of what little 'me time' or time as a couple we have. We have learned what's important, to let the little things go, learned to put someone other than ourselves first, making every parenting choice based on what's the very best for him. We have learnt a new kind of love, and with it our hearts became even fuller.


And Oskar? He now looks like a little boy, not a baby. He has big, bright blue, long lash framed eyes that strangers stop to comment on. He has wisps of wavy hair that look like spun gold - glinting copper in some lights and white blonde in others. Apart from each other, he is the most beautiful thing we have ever laid eyes on; we could stare at him for hours. And we do. He has the most adorable smile that lights up his features.

And the giggles - it sounds strange to say this about a baby, but he has an amazing sense of humour! From sudden, squealing peals of laughter, to a cheeky smile starting to spread across his features when you catch his eye. He is such a happy boy, and loves to laugh, and see others laugh.

He is very vocal, often using 'mom', 'doggy', 'yes' and 'no', he understands a lot of what we say, and constantly chatters away to anyone who will listen!
Movement wise he is less interested, and isn't crawling or walking - but can turn himself 360 and shuffle himself across a room!
His fine motor skills are the level of an 18 month old; scribbling with crayons, threading cotton through holes, picking up individual peas, turning pages of a book, clapping, throwing, pointing.

We baby led weaned him from 6 months old and now he has a smaller portion of anything we have, so he is vegetarian too. He feeds himself and drinks from a cup himself. He has a pincer grip perfected, and his favourite foods are broccoli and passion fruit! He has tried foods many adults haven't! He is also still breastfed, something I am infinetely proud of my wife for, considering their many obstacles.

 His favourite things right now haven't changed from when he was tiny, just his abilities and the way he enjoys them have. 

He adores singing and music - he will stop playing and watch intently if a live music performance is on tv, and joins in when people applaud - we think he has a career on the stage!
He also loves musical instruments, and sorting things from one pile to another is his favourite game.
We are lucky that baths are another favourite, hopefully this long continues!

Watching him grow and learn is one of our favourite things about parenting. It's incredible to watch something so tiny becoming a little person, with a personality, and quirks, seeing them learn things because you taught them.

So on Sunday 4th June, our baby is a baby no more, but officially a toddler. This day is bittersweet for us; on the one hand we are so sad to say goodbye to the days of him being a tiny scrunched up baby. There are so many little things he does, that we do, that will one day be the last time we do them. But on the other hand we are so proud of the boy he has become, that he is becoming. 

The first year of his life has given us countless memories more beautiful than we could ever have imagined. Those memories are some of our most cherished possessions, and although its a little sad to say goodbye to our firstborns babyhood, the excitement of the memories we are yet to create is magical.

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