It’s the weekend. The day begins at 4.38am with the gentle babbling of baby Henry from his cot at the bottom of our bed. We drift in and out of sleepiness until 5.56am when Molly’s face appears inches from mine. “Mornin’ Mummy,” she says climbing into the bed with her entourage of teddies. Bleary eyes are rubbed, a poo filled nappy changed and bottle dispensed, until half an hour later we’re up and raring to go. (Ok, ‘raring’ might be just a slight overstatement here.)
The setting is Dublin Airport. A toddler is having a full on meltdown over a bag of Haribos. Lying on the floor, arms flailing, legs kicking – screaming: “I WANT the SWEEEETIEEEES!! Give me the SWEEETIEEEES!!!!!” The father is quickly stashing the fodder in question in his pocket while the mother crouches down with a small baby strapped to her chest. She’s trying calmly to reason with the screeching child so as not to cause even more of a scene.
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.
“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.
“It’s time for your check up,” says Molly brandishing her Doc Mc Stuffin doctor’s kit. “Yes Mummy. It’s a crocodile,” she concludes as she listens intently, waving her ‘stetta-scoop’ over my basketball belly. “Now. We make it POP out. Here’s your medicine,” she says gleefully, shoving the sparkly pink dispenser in my mouth.
Ah, if only it were that easy! With less than two weeks to go until my so called D Day (14th June), the reality that what goes in must come out is dawning big time. Maybe this one will just pop out. Maybe the bean will be a little smaller than the 10 pound 8 ouncer Molly was. Maybe my labour will be half what it was. Maybe my body will bounce back a little more easily.