Introducing rabbits to a baby

introducing rabbits to a baby

When I was pregnant, I was really worried about introducing rabbits and baby to each other. I needn’t have been, because it’s gone really well. They love each other!

The three rabbits absolutely adore the baby, and we’ve not had any trouble yet. She really enjoys them too and squeals happily when she sees them. She’s learning to stroke them and loves how soft their fur is.

They knew that I was pregnant. Barbara fussed around me a lot. Gingee used to enjoy putting his ear to my stomach. Ned just wanted extra cuddles!

Preparing during pregnancy

Before we even started to think about preparing them to meet the baby, we wanted to give them the chance to have a support network. They used to all live in separate rooms, but over the spring (baby was due in November), we worked hard at bonding them and getting them to share one bedroom. We knew this was going to be important both while I was in hospital, so they weren’t alone for too long, and when baby arrived and we had a bit less time.

Before the baby was born, we got them each a little plastic baby doll. It gave them a chance to sniff at something new, nuzzle it and chin it, and for us to remind them to be gentle.

I spent time with them in early labour, before I went to the hospital. I was on all fours on the floor, and Gingee kept stretching up to nuzzle the bump. They knew something momentous was happening, I think.

I had a long labour (38 hours!), so my husband and I were in hospital for a while. Fortunately, our hospital is walking distance from our house, so he was able to pop home a couple of times to check on them. We left them with lots of extra water and hay.

Actually introducing rabbits to the baby

We introduced them on the day she came home from the hospital.

She was in her bouncer and the rabbits got extra fuss and food. They ignored her for the most part. We had to pick them up to even get them to look at her!

She was so new but wanted to stare at them.

Introducing rabbits to the baby

(She was so tiny! She’s grown a lot even in six weeks!)

But, if you know about bonding rabbits, you’ll know that it’s a good sign when they ignore someone.

Their growing relationship

Since then, we’ve just brought her into our routine.

Three times a day, we say to the baby, “Shall we go and play with our friends the rabbits?” She responds happily to that now!

We bring her with us whenever we feed them so they associate her with good things. She usually gets to lie on the floor with them while they eat and they’ve started leaving pieces of food for her, which is adorable.

Gingee has put his head down to ask for grooming from her a couple of times. She’s not quite got the hang of how to do it, but I’m sure she will!

When she cries, our leader bunny, Gingee, goes to patrol the area while Barbara comes to nuzzle and check she’s okay. (Ned is deaf, so doesn’t really respond to crying!) 

We worried a bit about Gingee at first. He is so attached to my husband, and has been known to be jealous. We’ve been careful to make sure that my husband treats Gingee like the special bunny he is, and I often get to hold the baby a bit more while Gingee gets extra fuss. If anything, he seems happier than before!

They all like to get attention from each other. Baby loves it when they come up and nuzzle at her, and sometimes she cries when they move away. They like it when she touches them – Ned in particular. He’ll sit and look really proud, as if he’s saying, “Look, the baby is playing with me! Me! I’m the chosen one right now!”

The rabbits have their own bedroom, so they have somewhere to escape to where baby doesn’t go. They have their door shut most of the day, but we have three long sessions of food and playtime each day, so they don’t feel neglected.

I was really worried about how it would work out, but while they were a bit wary at first, I’ve never seen them binky as much as they have in the past few weeks!

She’s only seven weeks old and they’re already all so close. I’m so excited to see how their relationship develops as she gets older.

I miss my friends

I miss my friends

What a melodramatic title, right? I have friends, still, so it’s not entirely accurate.

It’s just that I miss some specific friends.

(Just as a note, this post has been a bit tricky to write. I’ve been trying to keep it vague so that I don’t actually identify anyone, but obviously that means I can’t go into as much detail.)

Going back a few years, say to 2012 or so, I was so incredibly lucky. I had so many friends. I’d lost touch with some of my uni friends a bit, but I saw girls from school, whom I’d known since the eighties or nineties, all the time. We were totally going to be friends forever, right? (What a weirdly naive view to have as an adult!)

And then I got engaged.

I was the first one of that group to get engaged/get married/have a baby. And from the reactions I got from some people, you’d have thought I’d personally betrayed them.

It wasn’t a surprise when I got married. My now-husband and I had been together for six years. He moved to a different city to be close to me. We were clearly on the marriage track.

The friends who reacted particularly badly were not in relationships at the time. I don’t know if that’s a factor.

One of them made it very clear to me that she did not want to talk about the wedding. She did not want to think about it. It upset her. In the end, she refused to attend. I tried to be understanding but that hurt. We haven’t seen each other since then. She doesn’t even know about the baby, because we’re not in touch. Over 25 years of friendship, gone just like that.

Another came to the wedding but has made excuses about spending time together since. She knows about the baby, but I can’t imagine she’ll want to meet her.

I was excited and supportive for phases they reached in their lives before me: buying a property, getting a job, first boyfriend, doing postgraduate study, etc. I’ve been the shoulder to cry on, driving to different cities after work to listen when they needed to talk, spending hours doing hospital visiting, etc.

But it seems there’s something about marriage and babies.

And it makes me so sad, because I wish I could share this exciting new stage of my life with these ladies who’ve been there for so long.

It’s been on my mind a lot lately. I think I’m thinking more about this as we’re nearing Christmas. We had traditions – it hurts not to have those any more. I want to send a text and ask how they’re doing, but I know the inevitable rejection would hurt more. When the health visitor asked how my mental health was today, all of this nearly came flowing out.

Of course, my husband hasn’t had any of this reaction from his mates. He was also the first of his friendship group to get married and have a baby, but everyone was just really happy for him. I think that says something about men and women.

Ladies, why can’t we just be happy for each other?

So you want to breastfeed…?

so you want to breastfeed

I’ve written before about my decision to breastfeed and our journey with feeding.

I’m ever so lucky when it comes to breastfeeding. All of my friends with small children breastfeed, and my mum fed me for nearly a year. They’re all happy to give advice, but aren’t overbearing with it – the best kind!

They told me lots about breastfeeding before I started. I didn’t really think there would be any surprises. Turns out I was wrong!

Some things you only learn when you breastfeed…

No matter how comfortable your nursing bra is, there are times you will hate it. Mine is this lovely stretchy thing, but right now I’m just wearing a vest with a button down shirt over it because I cannot cope with the fact that it keeps on riding up in the back. I don’t even know if it actually is riding up or not. But when you wear something for 23 and a half hours a day (I’m being generous and giving myself a half hour window for showering!), you start to go crazy.

It is possible to be too engorged for baby to be able to feed.

You might love feeding and love spending time with baby but sometimes just be absolutely desperate to hand her over to someone else and beg them to give her a bottle of formula.

Half of your photos of baby will be from the top down, and will include at least one of your nipples.

Feeding is a fabulous excuse to get out of being polite and spending time with people. We’ve obviously had quite a few visitors lately, and I’ve tried to make it a real priority to only surround myself with people I’m happy to feed around. Basically, that’s my husband and my parents. But there are some visitors I’ve needed a break from, and it’s been great, because I could hide in our bedroom to “feed the baby” every so often!

You may find yourself saying things like, “No, you can’t latch onto my elbow.”

Nipples are surprisingly stretchy. If you sneeze or baby decides to have a look around while feeding, you’ll find out just how stretchy. And it can hurt!

Also, your nipples somehow get longer. That’s odd. They’re also going to feel really visible, even through breast pads.

Breast pads are allegedly one size fits all. Yeah, they’re not. Also, it’s possible to leak right through them.

You will develop a fabulous taste in weird daytime or overnight TV. Did you know that UKTV Drama shows old episodes of The Bill from 1998?

There will be days you leak and get drooled on so much that you’ll be surprised your bras don’t develop mildew. Also, milk can make the inside of the bra stiff and scratchy. And painful.

Breast pads are like socks. You put an even number in the wash and an odd number comes out. How? I have no idea.

It’s possible for someone without teeth to still give a very good impression of biting!

Baby will try and latch on to your non-lactating partner. This amuses me so I try and encourage it. She’s not had any luck with him yet, but maybe one day!

The look your baby gives you just before a feed is the best thing in the world.

The look from baby just before a breastfeed

Unless it’s the look you get just after. Milk drunk is a rather lovely thing.

Milk drunk baby!

Christmas cards – why I don’t send them

Christmas cards

Despite loving Christmas, I don’t send Christmas cards.

It’s not that I hate sharing festive cheer and good wishes with my loved ones. I love the holiday spirit. Selecting the right gifts to give to people, spending time with family and friends during the winter, the message of love and joy… I love all of these.

But there are things I don’t love about Christmas cards.

Writing them takes forever!

I can’t be the only one who remembers long evenings in primary school sitting at the kitchen table writing out cards for everyone in school, can I? It took forever. And at least you didn’t have to address envelopes then. And you probably had a class list you could work from, whereas now it’s much harder. You have to try and remember whether your husband’s cousin Liz is married to Mark or Michael or Matthew. If you’re doing them for everyone in the office, was the new guy in IT Jake or Jack?

And all of this is on top of all of the other extra work Christmas brings for you. Yeah, that’s not happening.

Most people don’t really appreciate them.

I don’t mean that everyone is ungrateful. But how much can you really appreciate “Dear Mary, Merry Christmas, from John”? Especially knowing that John sent the exact same message to everyone else in the office?

I think most people would far rather have a nice chat with John where you talk about each other’s Christmas plans and maybe eat a mince pie or two. Obviously the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but if Mary is just going to look briefly at the card after John spent three hours writing them to everyone he’s ever met, then the effect seems disproportionate to the effort.

(I’m going to add in here that I do enjoy receiving Christmas cards. I like to know that people are thinking of us, and I appreciate the time taken to write them. But, as you can probably tell from this list, I’m also very much not offended if we don’t receive cards from people.)

What happens to all that paper and card?

In a lot of areas, “shiny” card and paper still can’t be recycled. While there are loads of craft opportunities to be had with old Christmas cards, I’m willing to bet that most people just throw them in the bin when they’re done. I know I’m guilty of this – except I usually keep them in a cupboard for weeks before doing this, promising myself that “this year, I will do something with them.”

Choosing the “right” cards can be a minefield.

I think this is a bigger issue across the pond. The “Merry Christmas”/”Happy Holidays” controversy is largely overstated, in my opinion. I’ve had (and given!) Merry Christmas cards to friends who are Sikh or Hindu and I’ve had Muslim friends wish me Eid Mubarak, and no one has been hideously offended.

But apparently the risk is there.

So how do you pick the “right” card? Do you go for something religious? I’m Catholic. Will that offend my atheist colleague, and will he think I’m trying to push my religion on him? Should I pick something funny? Well, my friend who’s a nun might prefer the religious card. Something that just talks about generic winter holidays so that my non-Christian friends don’t get offended? Do I have to buy different cards for each of these subgroups? Do I need to poll everyone in the office to find out who subscribes to what religion?

I suppose I could just take the “easy” way out and get photo cards made of the baby or the rabbits. The first year we were married, we did that with Ned and Gingee. But getting photo cards done is so expensive, and then you have to pay to post them all on top of that. It doesn’t seem worth it.

 

The money can be better spent elsewhere.

So I’m choosing not to spend anywhere between £50 and £100 (a rough guess) on pieces of folded paper, and putting it somewhere where it’ll make a difference instead.

In the past, we’ve donated to the Alzheimer’s SocietyGuide Dogs (we donate to them year round and sponsor a puppy) and Support Adoption for Pets (who looked after Barbara before she came to us). We’ve also given the money to people we see regularly who are homeless.

I haven’t yet decided where a donation would be best placed this year.

When we can spare more, I’d like to be able to set up a fund at either our vets or Ned’s specialist to help bunnies whose owners are struggling to afford necessary treatment. However, that can get pricey very quickly, so £50 is a drop in the ocean. But it’s on my ten-year plan!

Do you send Christmas cards? Why or why not?

Baby’s first snow

baby's first snow

Baby is just over four weeks old now, and we’ve woken up today to find that the world is covered in snow!

We’re getting to the stage now where she’s starting to take an interest in the world around us. She loves the Christmas tree lights, for example. We have her nappy changing station set up just next to the tree, and she stares at it happily during changes. (With the occasional howl, obviously.)

So when I saw the amazing snowfall we’d had here, I thought we had to show it to the baby!

We wandered around the house from window to window, and she was absolutely in awe. She couldn’t take her eyes off this weird new white world she lived in!

The next step was going outside.

Fortunately, my aunt had recently bought her a snowsuit. We’d bought some before she was born, but we got them in 0-3 and 3-6 month sizes. However, my little baby is still (at over a month!) in “Tiny Baby” and “First Size” clothes. We’ve not even really graduated into newborn sizes. She weighs 7lb now, but I’m not sure where she puts it!

So we wrapped her in the lovely cosy snowsuit…

She was very confused by the whole process. “I’m in the house. I’ve never worn one of these big duvet things before. Why are we doing this?! Also, you know I don’t like hats.”

We decided not to go far – just into the back garden. I stood on the back step with her, while my husband made a little snow sculpture on the garden table.

Then we posed her with it. She’d gone to sleep by this point.

We staged a snowball fight photo…

And let her have the rest of her nap in a tiny baby igloo my husband made!

Okay, that last bit is a lie. We let her lie in it for approximately six seconds while we took the photo, then we picked her up and went inside to sit in front of the nice warm fire. Snow is great, but a bit too cold!

(As an end note, we didn’t even consider taking the rabbits out in it. Ned and Barbara both hate the outside and Gingee doesn’t like being cold. As they’re house rabbits, I also don’t think it’s a good idea to expose them to extremes of temperature that they’re not used to – it would probably stress them out far too much. On days like this, I’m very very glad that they are house rabbits. I know how much they love being cosy and comfortable and warm, and I can’t imagine how I’d feel, having three of my family members living out in the cold!)

How are you enjoying the snow?