Your life goes through a rather dramatic change when you have a baby. It’s a change in a good way, naturally. But a bit of a bad way too. The whole world and life as you know it is forever uprooted. And there’s no going back…
There’s the awesome bit. The wild, primal love for your little person. Love and happiness. The total awe in what you just created. Your smiles alongside their drunken milk smiles. The sheer beauty of those teeny-tiny little toes and that kissable little tummy.
But then there’s the raw explosion of parenthood too. The delirium of sleep deprivation. The nappies…so so many nappies! The sore boobs. The crying. The sudden realization that you’re now in complete control of this small person’s wellbeing and happiness.
As time goes on, however, you come to learn your ways and your baby’s ways. Your new world soon becomes just your world. The new norm as the pieces all start to slot together. You find your parenting groove. Its fine and dandy.
Until you have another one!
Its fine, you’ve got this. You’ve done it all before of course. Of course?!
But what you didn’t have first time around was another child. A child that has been brought up, so far, at the centre of your little world. It’s a shock for them, and for you, as you come to understand the complexities of going from one to two babies, and the fallout that this brings.
Since Millie arrived a few weeks ago, we’ve been living in the eye of a storm. A storm in a good way, of course – the freshness and excitement of having a new little love in our life. But a scary storm too as we try to keep our heads above water while simultaneously keeping afloat these two very young and very vocal little humans.
This is our experience so far…
Absolute Adoration Of The New One
It’s no secret that I had my concerns that I wouldn’t – couldn’t possibly – love another child as much as my Zachy.
I really didn’t feel as bonded with little Millie while she was in my tummy, quite simply because my world as a mother revolved mainly around my firstborn. Keeping Zachy happy, fed, entertained, healthy – that has been my daily duty his whole life. Being pregnant while doing all of this meant there was little time to just lay down, relax, and enjoy the happy kicks of baby-girl from within!
From the day she was born, though, I have loved LOVED adored her. Your second child just explodes into your world and steals your heart. And as I was assured by friends, my capability to love just grew.
For a while, however, this love has the capability to outshine the love for all others in your life. I remember this happening with my firstborn. And this time around, my firstborn (as bad as it sounds) suddenly became ousted from the centre of my world. It’s only temporary, I know, but it’s had some repercussions…
Oh, The Tantrums
At the time of Millie’s birth, Zachy was 2 years 9 months old – a big-boy, but a baby still. And as with most 2-year-olds, he communicates mainly via a tantrum when his frustrations are rife.
We’re almost 4 weeks into Millie’s little life, and it has been 4 weeks of mediating explosive tantrums from Zachy. It’s getting better and easier for sure, but the attention-seeking behavior, back-chat, refusal to listen, and general renegade toddler behaviour has been a huge challenge.
Indeed having a newborn suddenly seems like the easy aspect…it’s the toddler that is causing all the worry. But that’s his goal – to fight and remain at the centre of our world even if it’s by demanding mine and his Daddy’s attention through anger and disobedience. This reaction is common apparently…and it works for sure!
Dislike Of Beloved Firstborn
I know this sounds awful (and I’m sure the perfect parenting police will be onto me for saying this), but there have been instances over these last few weeks where I have severely disliked my firstborn. Yes, yes, I love him to the moon and back of course, but there are times when he is acting like the devil, threatening to throw things or harm his baby-sister, that I just deeply dislike the little sod.
On many occasions it has felt like his demanding behavior has overshadowed the newborn days of bliss with Millie. Through his behaviour I have sometimes felt like he has taken away many of the perfect moments of calm I was able to enjoy with him as a newborn. I just can’t seem to sit and nurse or have lovely peaceful snuggles with my new baby without having to berate my big baby for something.
Toddlers throws things, they are rough, they endanger your sweet little newborn with their elephant-like agility. It’s really stressful. Add to that the fact you’re physically and emotionally tired after giving birth, your nipples are sore, and you’ve got a banging headache, it’s really no surprise that you snap, scream and yell at them. The problem is they snap, scream and yell back. It’s a vicious, escalating cycle unless you can find your calm place.
Despite all the tantrums, it’s the moments when my son is being sweet that brings me to tears. The moments when the tender baby in him comes through and he says things like “can you help me, mama?” while trying his best to be independent. The moments when he comes over and asks if he – “baby-rabbit” – can have a cuddle with “mummy rabbit”. The moments when he asks for his favourite story to be read when we’re waking up or going to sleep.
I’ve sat and cried at the fact that I am no longer the mummy he is used to. I don’t have all the time in the world for him anymore. I don’t have the patience. And right now, I really don’t have the energy to keep up with his energy. The fact that I’ve yelled and physically pushed him away in his crazier moments to keep his sister safe kills me.
He has had a rubbish deal in us welcoming his baby-sister, and the guilt can really get me, because I know he is trying his best to adjust, and despite what I said above, I am actually incredibly proud of him. His behaviour is completely warranted to be honest.
But the guilt is there for baby-girl too. She has been brought into a world of commotion. There is little calm, a lot of shouting, a lot of tears and very little rest. I don’t have all the time in the world for her like I did with her brother…and I am aware I never will.
But she is chilled and beautiful and lovely. My little baby-bird. I guess, ironically, she is the calm in the middle of the storm of her arrival.
Little Time To Recover
There was a bit of a cock-up at the hospital where I delivered Millie, and they almost discharged me a day early citing that my insurance didn’t cover two nights. I was upset, not because I so much felt like I needed to be in hospital physically, but because I really wanted that second night to rest my mind with my new baby in our happy peaceful bubble.
I really really needed this before heading home to the insanity of everyday life. I knew it would be hard to rest with a toddler at home. I knew because I had very little rest throughout my pregnancy…and Millie being on the outside was not going to make things any easier!
Luckily my insurance confirmed I had a second night and I took it. Luckily too, my parents came over to help out with Zachy, so I was able to slip in an afternoon nap most days for the first couple of weeks of Millie’s life.
But the long days and weeks of rest and recovery that I enjoyed with Zachy were gone. When Millie sleeps, I give attention to Zachy. When Zachy naps, Millie is usually awake (and wakes him early!) In between the naps and the breastfeeds, there are breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks to make. Oh and a house to keep moderately tidy (ok it’s impossible to keep tidy with a turbo-tot, it really is!)
At weekends when my husband is off, it’s still a case of “what to do to entertain the toddler”. I’ve been to Malls, softplay, the park, his toddler sensory class, lunch – all sorts. I sometimes sit and think – “Wow, I gave birth a few weeks ago, shouldn’t I be resting?!” The thing is, life pretty much HAS TO resume to normal when you’ve got more than one kid.
Our New “Norm”
Like welcoming our first baby with that strange period of “wow, this is our life now”, the same feeling prevails when welcoming a second. But having done all of this before, I know it’ll all fit together somehow. This is our “new norm” and it’ll constantly change and we’ll constantly adapt as the little ones grow.
Despite Zachy’s challenging behaviour, he is definitely settling down. My flashes of anger towards him are waning. And despite not having the same amount of quality time with him, my love and adoration of him remains – I love nothing more than snuggling up in those stolen moments and breathe him in.
The epicenter of my world has undergone a seismic shift with the arrival of Millie. But I know that as things settle, both she and Zachy will find the equal balance together at the centre of it all. Zachy is gradually accepting Millie as a permanent fixture in our lives – in fact he doesn’t particularly blink an eyelid when she is there in the morning anymore. The first thing he asked me when he woke the other day was “Is baby Millie ok?” – it was a small sentence, but it brought so much relief knowing that his kind and caring side is starting to come out. I know he’ll love her eventually, especially when she becomes more interactive and playful.
I guess to sum up then, yes, its been a hard few weeks. Hard but lovely with our new little darling. But it was never not going to be hard, and I kind of knew that. But I know too that it can only get better and only get easier as the dust settles. It has to, right?
Knackered, concerned, uprooted, stressed, yep.
And very happy too.