Thursday 29 August 2019

Reflections of a mum of two - what's it really like having another baby?

For over eight months now, I have been a mum of two. In many ways, it feels like no time at all, and in others, it feels like our second son, Sullivan, has always been with us.

What does being a mum of two feel like?

Well, if you have a child yourself, do you remember thinking about what it would be like to have a child, before they were born? And do you remember how you felt afterwards, as life adjusted to being a parent? Second time around, it's almost exactly the same. For me, anyway.

Trying to picture myself with one child was really hard, so when we had Ethan and then tried to picture a second child, it was so hard to do. I remember this time last year, when I was around 25 weeks pregnant, finding it so difficult to believe we were having another baby and trying to think what it would be like, what it would feel like, how life would change.

And now, on the other side, I can't really remember what it was like before!

Until you become a parent, the first time or the second or any number of times after that, you don't really know what it'll be like. I think it's fair to say you have more of an idea of what to expect. You have been there and done it before, and you may even have the t-shirt or jumper to prove it (courtesy of Selfish Mother or Ada and Alfred), but that doesn't mean the next time around it'll be the same. Happen in the same way. Make you feel the same way.

In my experience, I've found motherhood to be a series of adjustments. Some are unavoidable, others are negotiable, and many are unpredictable.

Deciding to have a baby is often a decision you make on assessing the information, facts and your emotions and choosing that it's the right thing for you. You might have a good feeling, but I don't think you're ever sure it's the right time, you just know you're going for it and that, well, you have to prepare for the unexpected.

The second time around, the same applies. Yes, you know what pregnancy, birth and the first child has brought you, and on that basis you are more informed than the first time, but there's still a lot of unknowns and you can't know them fully until you've taken the plunge.

Here's a few of my thoughts, reflecting on being a mum of more than one now...

Knowing what to expect isn't always a good thing
During my pregnancy with Sullivan, I wanted to be more prepared so I could feel more in control and aware of options and techniques to get me through labour. I practised hypnobirthing techniques and attended midwife led pregnancy classes. I did more reading. I worked through my first labour experience to understand what had happened and why it left me feeling the way it did. I was more prepared, mentally and physically. I thought.

Then, as my due date came and went, and I had more tests to monitor my blood pressure, I felt myself lose composure and I started to panic and worry and got myself into a real state just before his birth. I had all these feelings and didn't know what to do with them. I think I felt like I had done the right things to prepare myself better, but rather than feeling more confident, it seemed that it was all out of my control anyway.

You do forget a lot of things from the first time around
From the feeling of sleep deprivation to appointments, measurements and even the simplest things, just because you've been there before doesn't mean you'll remember it the second time around!

I find it really hard to remember what babies should be doing by what stage, and struggle to recollect when it happened for Ethan. So, having had a baby before is almost useless to me, as I've had to pick up a lot of it as I have gone along. Again!

But, your mum instincts do kick in to help you
Having Sullivan has overall been a more chilled experience. He is a very content baby, by and large, but there's a real sense of reassurance underlining everything because we know we have been through certain phases before and survived, so we probably will this time too!

You might not realise it, but you do have more confidence and with this, I've found I am more relaxed and go with the flow. I don't tend to worry so much about certain things or how Sullivan is doing - whether this is because I have good mum instincts or because I just have to get on with things more this time around, I'm not sure...

It's hard not to compare the two children
Because having a baby and raising a child is such a huge thing and unlike anything else you've experienced, having another one come along means you're always going to be playing the comparison game, consciously or not. You actually have something to compare it to this time, so from nap schedules to nappy habits, your second is going to be compared to the first a zillion times. All the while, you're conscious that they are two different children, and you don't want the second to feel in the first's shadow at any point. I mean, if you took 473 photos a day of the first, you best be treating the second the same, or they'll be bringing it up one day!

You'll over-worry (and maybe over-compensate) that the first feels left out
Whilst you may feel more relaxed overall, there's this underlying concern that you don't want things to change for your first child too much. After all, they were here first! They are your first born and you don't want them to feel replaced or neglected. Of course, you know that this is something you'd never set out to do and in reality, is probably something you are far too anxious about, but it's still something you are aware of constantly, even when there's no signs that anything is wrong at all.

You know your children (and you know best)
You've had time to work out your first child and know what makes them tick, which helps you prepare for the change bringing another baby home might bring with it. And then you get to know the second baby, and discover their preferences and what works for them. You can listen to advice, and of course you should, but you do know then better than anyone and will make the most informed decisions as a result.

And it may be slightly controversial to say it, but babies can adjust. We've been very lucky in that Sullivan is quite chilled and very predictable routine wise, but then I do wonder if it's been more of a case that we had our family unit established, we knew what works for us and then he came and joined us and fit in with what we were doing.

Finding time to relax is hard - but you can steal moments to yourself
If you found your free time dwindle dramatically when you had one child, then don't be surprised if it happens again with a second! However, it doesn't have to be completely hopeless. Depending on the age gap between the children, your first can often help with the second, so you can steal a moment here and there to get things done or gather your thoughts - or maybe pee in peace. (Ok, that one might be a stretch). I try to find ways to have a moment of 'me time'; something like doing the washing up needs to be done and is a chore, but I've turned the time when I am preparing dinner and getting the washing up done whilst it cooks into a daily period where I catch up on my TV shows, whilst hubs keeps an eye on the little ones, and it's become something I actually look forward to now.

It all works out in the end
You are the parent you're meant to be. You don't know it at first, not for sure, but you do know what you're doing and find your way. You make it work. This is as true of the first baby as of the second, and I am sure it applies for larger families too.

Routines will adjust, expectations will shift and you find a way that works for you and everyone in the family.

We've been very lucky so far in that Sullivan has settled in well and Ethan adores his baby brother, never complaining and always wanting to help us with him. We are still sensitive to how he might feel a bit put out, but so far life as a four has been good and it hasn't been all that different.

However, I am back at work now and I fully realise that the start of two drop offs in the morning and pick ups in the evening, with work sandwiched in-between is going to be a new challenge and an adjustment for everyone. It might be then that I really feel the strain that a lot of people seem to experience when going from one to two children... and who knows what it's like if you go on to have even more!


No comments

Post a Comment

Blogger Template by pipdig