We are quickly approaching my babys first birthday – where the hell did the last year go! Before she was born I was filled with a million questions;
How would I cope with two?
How would my son deal with the new competition for my time and affection?
How would I get anything done?
How would I manage going back to work?
I now have the answers to some of my questions, but have been filled with lots more!
For those of you getting ready to welcome a new member of you clan or thinking about adding to your brood then I can tell you some of what I have learnt.
1/ Don’t stress too much. (Easy for me to say now, eh?) It isn’t such a massive bomb like I thought it would be. You actually have a while to adjust. Babies really don’t do very much, apart from the obvious time taken to feed them. Don’t worry about everything that might happen – the shit will hit the fan! But every bad day is a day you will learn a massive lesson.
2/ You will have nights/days spent crying in those first few months. ‘What have I done to my firstborn?’ Was my only thought some nights. I kept thinking back to the days when he had me all to himself. Now he had to deal with being to told to wait – a lot. We had a rough first couple of months with a screaming, unsettled baby. I was knackered, I had forgotten just what lack of sleep does to you. I couldn’t be bothered with a hyper toddler when I was in the middle of a a code brown (poonami/exploding bum whatever you call a nappy leak of epic proportions!) When I finally got the baby to nap I wanted to sit down, but then I would be overcome with guilt and anguish that I was denying him my time and attention so I would put myself all out to be there for him, leaving me even more tired. I found it easier as long as you keep including your other children in whatever ways are appropriate for their age. My little boy was 2 when baby was born so he was able to bring me bibs and nappies and wipes, that was about the limit of his help, he loved – and still loves – being asked to help, sometimes it’s more of a hindrance!
3/ People will offer to take your other children – to give you time with the baby. This left me so upset. After the third week I broke down and explained to hubby that I didn’t want anymore time with the just the baby, but could I have a few hours alone with my son?! He hadn’t realised, neither had well meaning family and friends. So they started taking the baby for a walk in her pram for 30 min so I could take my toddler boy for a walk just me and him or to sit reading stories with no interuptions! It was so important for us to have that time and I’m very glad I did break down and admit how I felt. It’s hard splitting yourself in two and ultimately something has to give. Just try to be honest about how you feel, no one will judge you. It’s all about finding your feet.
4/ You will be amazed at what you can achieve – and just like when you had your first, wonder what the hell you did with all your time before! You have more washing than you can imagine, you will feel like you are constantly tidying up and doing dishes! How can there possibly be no clean towels or bedding?! Invest in a tumble dryer and get your other half on board. Washing needs sorted and put ON! Not jut stuck in the laundry basket! Dry stuff needs put away or ironed. I do a mass ironing night abut every three weeks and get enough clothes put away for the kids to last me a while. It’s taken a lot of nagging but we get there most weeks between us. And if you have nothing and the baby has to stay in a sleepsuit it’s not the end of the world. Don’t try and live up to any unrealistic expectations. If you have made it to the end of the day with happy (ok with alive) kids then your doing great!
5/ I started making new family quirky things. You know, like the song or story you might have that becomes your thing’? Everytime Calvin Harris’ My Way came on, me and my son would dance around like maniacs and make the baby laugh. When it comes on now my son still dances crazy with his sister and the giggles make me smile. Little habbits that start including the new sibling are important and make a new family unit. Just remember to keep up any old habits with your other child (when you can) so they don’t feel like too much is changing. I like to spend a bit of time with my eldest at bedtime just talking about our days.
6/ It does get easier. Or you become better at adapting. My son and daughter already have an incredible bond, she looks to him whenever she hears his voice. He is the only one who can raise a smile from her some days and if she isnt’t around he asks for her and wants to see her. Yes, she annoys the hell out of him now that she is moving and touching his stuff. Yes, we have a lot of fights coming up and probably periods where they won’t get on. But I also hope that they will grow back together when they are older and always be there for each other.
I will never regret our decision to have another as it has brought so much happiness to our lives. It has changed my son in ways I couldn’t imagine. Taught him patience ( well as much patience as he could ever have!), brought out an incredibly caring side of his character and made my heart ache for the man he is becoming. My daughter is growing up with a companion and ally. She will learn to share far better than my son did. She is learning to stand up for herself and fight her corner.
And for me, I have learnt that my heart has a relentless capacity to love. I worried how I could love someone else? But like when my first child came along my heart just expanded to make room for my love for him. I am suprised that I can love in different ways. I love them equally but differently. And I just love seeing my husband become a better person with every day that he is a father. It has changed him massively making him more generous, less selfish and bringing out the inner fun guy that sometimes got overshadowed by work and life in general. As a couple we are growing and learning everyday. Our relationship is so different to what it was 15 years ago but what we try to keep is the laughs. It’s what brought us together and what keeps us going.