I’ll confess to being a bit grumpy over the past few weeks. Ok, you’ve got me. That’s not the full truth. I’ve been tearful, snappy and at times at the end of my tether. Blame it on the hormones, blame it on Henry’s growth spurts, blame it on Molly’s at times challenging and naughty behaviour – whatever the reason – I’ve been feeling out of sorts. Constant feeding combined with sleepless nights have been draining my energy, making me wonder if I will ever find a rhythm that I can comfortably handle again.
Lately I’ve been doing exactly what I told myself I wouldn’t do this time around. I’ve been tormenting myself by looking for answers to questions that don’t seem to want to be answered just yet. My late night google-ing sessions in particular have been driving me mad! “When will my baby sleep through the night?” “Should I be stretching out my feedings by now?” “Why won’t my baby nap during the day?” “Why hasn’t he done a poo for 3 days?”
“I thought you said you wouldn’t analyse things so much this time,” said the well-meaning husband as he listened to me rant about the fact that I thought Henry should be taking a nap. “Didn’t we say we’d go with the flow a bit more? Just watch and see how things pan out?” However, going with the flow is easy when you’ve had 10 hours sleep, a long uninterrupted shower and a peaceful cup of coffee. Cue the reality of sleepless nights, the loss of your free time and a second small child to deal with and you’ve got a recipe for going slightly crazy!
“You need to calm down mummy. You need to calm down,” Molly tells me, patting my back as I stand bouncing Henry in one arm, while wiping my tears away with the other hand. It’s not the picture of perfect parenting: in fact, it’s a complete role reversal. Unruly post tantrum toddler comforts sobbing mum, whose patience (held together that day by a single very frayed thread) has finally given way. It’s the moment when there are no more buttons left to push. The moment you think: “To heck with motherly composure. My child has seriously p@£$ed me off. Now it’s my turn to have a meltdown!”
It’s 4am and Henry’s little eyes are wide and alert, while mine are fighting to stay propped open. Three weeks after his birth and the adrenalin and haze of the early days are beginning to clear, only to be replaced by good old sleep depravation, which has really started to take its toll. It’s in these wee small hours that I’m starting to question whether I’m able to handle all this. Whether I’ll ever feel properly rested again. Whether I’ll ever sleep more than a maximum of 2 hours at a stretch. Whether my eyes will ever be without the dark purple under circles that even my trusty touche éclat can’t shift!
Already armed with at least some knowledge of what to expect from a brand new baby, being a new mother is somewhat easier the second time around. I use the word ‘easier’ loosely as those of you who are mums out there will probably agree with the old cliché: it’s the best, yet the hardest job in the world! For the first timers, the pressure of not knowing what to do and not being able to have full control of the situation can be all consuming – I know I certainly felt so when I had my first. This time, however, I’ve vowed to trust my instincts a bit more instead of sweating over the parenting books (which would probably prove more useful if every baby was the same and played by the rules. Which they definitely don’t!)
We’re just over two weeks into the blur of adapting to life as a family of four. As I’ve had my hands a little tied, this week’s blog comes courtesy of the (ever patient) husband, who shares his thoughts from a man’s perspective on the birth, fatherhood and ever increasing responsibility…
The last two weeks have been….interesting. The two weeks before the birth of my new son Henry were spent on my own in Dubai, working and enjoying the visit of one of my best friends. It also gave me time to reflect and somewhat prepare for the weeks to come, when my family would swell from my wonderful wife and nearly 3 year old daughter to welcome a fourth member – who we had left as a surprise until the big day!!
(A letter from baby no. 2 about what we could do differently this time around)
First up, I must say, I’m really looking forward to meeting you. You seem like a pretty cool Mummy and I think you’re doing a fab job, even if you don’t think so yourself most of the time. I want to tell you not to worry about my arrival – it really doesn’t matter how I get into this world. I see how you still sometimes feel a little tearful about the birth of my big sister Molly. I know it wasn’t easy on your body or your mind, but all that doesn’t matter now – Molly doesn’t seem fazed at all – in fact she seems pretty cool too.
I know that you’ll be really tired in the weeks to come and I want you not to be so hard on yourself this time. I don’t mind if we cry a bit together, get things off our chest. I don’t want you to bottle things in at all like you sometimes did when Molly was little. Ask for help when you need it. Hand me over to Daddy. Tell Granny to give you a break. I’ll give you a shout when I need you again as I know it’s not easy caring for a tiny one like me, so don’t take it all on yourself.
“Think of the gypsies who just head out and drop theirs in the field,” says my mum cheerfully, in an attempt to reassure me following a bout of pre-labour jitters. “Or your nana. After all, she had seven boys and me, and remember – I was a 12 pounder.” Hmmm, I wonder what poor Nana, bless her soul, would have to say about all that now?
The day that I am posting this also turns out to be the magical day that my big sister gives birth to her second baby – a little boy, my nephew! Our due dates have only been 8 days apart, and she has ended up going two days over hers. From the information I’ve gained so far, her labour was only 3 hours this time around. The happy news is all a little surreal, with the knowledge that I might not be too far behind her!
“You only want to join for a month?” says the young girl behind the Virgin gym counter, warily eyeing up my rapidly approaching 36 week sized bump. “Yes, just to keep up my swimming,” I tell her. “I think a month is all I’ll be able to squeeze in.” Membership formalities aside and I’m dropping my ball like self gingerly into the pool, while the 20 something lifeguard looks as though he’s weighing up whether he’d actually know what to do in the event of an emergency.
Yes, I’m back home in Northern for the birth of bean number 2, and swimming is my attempt at holding on to some semblance of my normal routine. A chance to keep my sanity when my mind tries to continuously remind me: “Routine? You’ve got to be joking! Be prepared for all that to go completely t*ts up in a few weeks!”