On Motherhood: My Fears About Having a Second Baby
I'm having a second baby. Here's what I'm scared about.
All being well, in November this year, I will be holding my second son in my arms. How he will get there, I don't know, What he will look like, I don't know. What kind of baby he will be, I am clueless. What I do know is that with him will come a lot of love, a lot of emotions and a lot of challenges.
I've never thought that birthing and looking after a baby is easy. I may have once thought it was easier than what I now know it to be, but I've never been naive enough to think it was only easy, and after becoming a mother for the first time just over three years ago, I maintain that it's one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life, and I'm not talking about the effort of labour and childbirth; I'm really talking about everything that happens afterwards.
What motherhood was life for me first time round...
Everyone's experience of motherhood is different and for some pregnancy is a real challenge (for many valid reasons), while for others having a newborn is relatively easy going compared to the toddler years. For me, having a baby is the part of motherhood I found the hardest. From his earliest weeks to maybe eighteen months of age, I was challenged in ways I never really imagined from parenthood. Yes, two huge parts of the struggle during this time was firstly sleep deprivation (my son would wake every 1-2 hours every single night until around 14 months old and he didn't sleep through the night regularly until 17 months) and secondly, I was suffering from post-natal depression and anxiety. I was very poorly during this time and found not only looking after a baby hard but I also found the simplest and most special parts of life a real challenge; washing my hair, choosing what to wear, cooking meals for my family, finding jokes funny... I was the world's most serious person.... with eye bags and terrible hair.
It's also fair to say - and I've been told by many other mothers - that my first son was a difficult baby. There were times when I searched for a label - high needs baby, sensitive child - to give the struggle a cause, but with hindsight I see that on the spectrum of easy to difficult babies, my son was simply just towards the difficult end, not least because of the sleep, but because as my own mother put it very accurately, "he just didn't enjoy being a baby much". Yes, we got smiles and giggles and moments of pure joy as he learned to roll over, grab hold of things, crawl, try solid foods... but we had to work really bloody hard for these moments. From day one our son cried a lot, and needed near constant holding. He was also one of those babies that hated being held sitting down so for nearly a whole year my partner and I would juggle eating a meal with standing up and bobbing up and down with him. He didn't sleep by himself until he was nearly one (and co-sleeping was never part of our plan, nor did it help with my anxiety, and frankly our relationship could have done without it too!) and he was a very curious and adventurous baby and walker; he had no fear while his parents' blood pressure rose through the roof with nothing but fear. We had to constantly watch him and had to baby-proof our house to extremes even other parents found surprising. He refused to even try solids until eight or nine months and even then it was serious hard work to just get a scrap of food past his lips, and his journey with food has continued to be a frustrating and unpredictable one.
Maybe this is actually all normal. Maybe you even consider this an easy baby. I know for sure that many parents will be reading this and thinking, "Wow, you had it easy really if these were your biggest worries!" and I'm not going to argue with them because in the grand scheme of things our baby boy was normal. Better than normal, relatively speaking, as no, not everything was hard; our boy grew and gained weight well from day one, we had virtually no problems with breastfeeding and my supply was excellent, and he gave up the dummy by himself (!!!) when he was ten months old. He hit most of his so-called milestones ahead of or on time, and he has always loved books and cuddles and playing with us. We were still able to travel with him and the fact he apparently needs a lot less sleep than the average baby has played to our advantage on flights, crossing time zones, and staying up late for social occasions.
But I have only ever raised one baby and it was hard. Really, really hard.
Yes, I'm happy to say that things got considerably easier and a whole lot more fun after eighteen months both because my son turned into the busiest, most inquisitive, excited for life toddler, but also because the help I'd sought for my anxiety and depression finally started to work.
But I also have to be honest and say I couldn't even think about having a second child until long after he'd turned two years old and I was feeling happier, healthier - and with much better hair - and like motherhood wasn't such a huge mistake. I still have a strange relationship with sleep and worry a lot about not getting enough, which ironically then results in bouts of insomnia. As I mention in this post about why I go to bed early, my therapist likens this to a minor case of PTSD and we have been working on how coping mechanisms for when sleep deprivation happens again as it almost certainly will with a newborn. But more than these fears are some very real ones about what having a second baby is going to be like for my family and I.
What I'm worried about as a second-time mother
Before we go any further, let me be clear and say that I know worries about having another baby are normal. I know this is a healthy thing to think about and maybe plan for a little bit. My partner and I have been talking about our concerns since before I got pregnant and we've extended that conversation to include our son once my belly started to grown. As it happens, our first-born has been surprisingly positive about Mummy's growing tum, and he asks to talk and cuddle with the baby nearly daily. He's loved the books about babies and siblings I bought for him more than I expected, and his daycare tell me he talks about the baby regularly. Of course, I don't expect his enthusiasm or interest to stay at such a level once the baby is here - unless the baby brings him two trains and a truck (his current demand) - but I think it's fair to say for the purposes of this post that actually how my son will react isn't the biggest worry on my mind at the moment. At the risk of sounding (even more) self-indulgent, my worries are more about me!
I have forgotten what it's really like to have a newborn baby...
The introduction to this post may make you think that those early months of having a restless, sleepless newborn baby are etched in my mind like the scariest scenes from a horror movie. And you wouldn't be far from wrong except I'm not very good at remembering the exact day-to-day details of that time. I suspect it's because of the depression and growing anxiety that I don't really remember much about the earliest months. My brain is kindly or perversely trying to block out those hard times. We suppress the memories of really hard times and when we look back on them they feel blurred and indistinct. Furthermore, I hardly took any photos or videos of our son (or anything) during the first three months of his life. I suspect it was because I was so very tired and so very busy tending to his needs, but I also know it's because I wasn't really enjoying life and didn't feel any of it was Instagram-worthy, or even family-WhatsApp-group worthy.
I remember feeling like having a newborn baby was hard, draining, round the clock work, but I have forgotten or maybe blurred the finer details. What was breastfeeding like in those earliest weeks? How often did he really poop? I know I bled for weeks and my breasts felt like they were on fire for the first month of nursing, but how what other physical sensations were there? How long did I feel sore down below? What was walking like in those first few weeks? I vaguely remember my arms and upper body hurting just as much as my lower half, but why? I know I would lay awake when he did sleep, listening to his strange and inconsistent breathing patterns, but what did they actually sound like? At what point did we give in and just bring him into bed with us as that was the only way we all slept? I know the baby blues came on the fourth or fifth day after giving birth, and I cried my way through a whole box of tissues in one miserable sitting, but how long did they last?
I don't have answers to these questions, and of course, they will all be different because this is a different baby, and we already have another human in our charge to think about. But am I not remembering because it was really so so so so terrible that I shouldn't do this again? Is my brain actually trying to tell me that I shouldn't be doing this? This is something I'm a little worried about...
But I haven't forgotten everything about giving birth!
I know I've forgotten much of the exact pain of childbirth in that it's not possible to physically recall what the aches, sharpness, hotness, stretching and pressure all felt like at varying stages - because quite frankly that would be the biggest failing of the human body yet if you could summon that pain on demand! - but what I do know is that it was the biggest, worst pain of my life. I don't say this lightly because I know that it contributes to the "childbirth is scary and unbearable" narrative that causes so much unnecessary and damaging fear and panic among new mothers. Yet to say anything else would be a lie. There were moments during my labour and during the pushing stage where I thought I was going to die from the pain, or that my body would be split in two by him as he left my body. Of course, neither of those things happened because here I am breathing and blogging away in only one body (although at 33 weeks pregnant it's possibly the size of tw0), but I'm not naive enough to tell myself that this time will be easier, that I won't have similar feelings, that the pain won't be overwhelming. And this, of course, is about as exciting as doing your tax return in a foreign language or embarking on a long-haul flight with a toddler with a migraine, though of course I'd rather do all these things over experience childbirth.
The one key advantage, however, of this not being my first time is that there is less fear of the unknown, although there are more than one hundred ways this birth could differ from my first, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't still have worries about how this baby is going to leave my body, because apparently it has to...
Babies are hard work
As mentioned above, I may have forgotten the finer details of what having a newborn and young infant is like, but I know that in those early months of motherhood, I was exhausted, drained and stretched in ways I've never experienced before. I would cry because my bones ached with tiredness. I would find the sweetest, strangest joy in just sitting on the loo by myself scrolling through Instagram on my phone long after I'd finished peeing, waiting until my baby's cries would pull me away. Every day, I relied on coffee and sugary treats to summon enough energy just to leave the house and walk around the block, just because I needed to get out of the house. I spent many restless nights walking up and down our corridor holding my screaming baby who wouldn't feed, wouldn't settle, wouldn't sleep, (wouldn't really do anything but cry and poop) and I would let my tears fall on his head. I sobbed for half an hour in the hot bubble bath my partner ran for me after one particularly hard day, needing the time alone so desperately, but also feeling like I just couldn't relax my mind or body enough to enjoy it because I knew I'd eventually have to get out, dry off and jump back on the treadmill again. I would hear my son's cries every time I took a shower, even when he was not in the house at the same time.
The hard work of looking after my baby when he was really little definitely made it harder to form a bond with him, something I'm ashamed to admit but it's very true - especially when I think about how I feel about him now - and I am again scared this will happen again with my second.
Will it dilute how good a mother I am?
In the same vein of thought, if I'm finding the early months so hard and draining, how will this impact my relationship with my older son? Will I still be the same mother I am to him now? I already know that I won't be, can't be (because they didn't invent cloning in time, dammit!) and in some ways I have made some kind of peace with that. There will be less time just the two of us. I will be more tired, less patient and a lot more distracted and preoccupied. I take a lot of pride in being a mother, however, this is mainly because it really doesn't come naturally or easily to me so I work hard for it, but I sadly also feel like this will then mean I'm quick to judge and punish myself if I can no longer be the same kind of mother to my first born who still requires a lot of energy and effort to parent.
As my eldest son is now three years old there is a near conscious effort in communicating effectively with him, managing his tantrums and doing meaningful discipline. That's on a good day. On a bad day when he's unwell (or just being extra awkward), or I'm tired or preoccupied by something else it all feels much harder. The patience required to simply get him out the door some mornings leaves me with a noticeably higher body temperature, faster heart rate and a ticker-tape narrative of swear words being muttered under my breath. I don't necessarily think this is abnormal, of course, but I do think that it takes its toll on me more than maybe other mothers and I'm scared what these trying moments will look like when I'm also trying to shepherd a newborn or small baby out of the house. After working so hard to be a mother I'm proud of - not a perfect mum by any stretch - but one that strives to be patient and calm and understanding most of the time, I can't help but feel worried that I won't have the energy, or sense of calm to maintain this.
I really, really, really like sleep...
Yes. I really like sleep. Sleep makes me a healthier, happier person. Sleep helps things make sense in my head. Sleep helps me make sure I put my underwear on the right way round and it helps ensure I turn off electrical devices when I leave the house. When I wasn't sleeping enough in my son's first year (and a bit!) of life, everything felt harder from sitting upright to cooking a meal to laughing at jokes. It took me a year to recover from 18 months of bad sleep. I'm petrified of heading back to that place, and yet I know I will have to for a certain amount of time. It's like facing a jail sentence you can't run from... not that I know exactly what that's like, and hope I never do.
And I like my clean house, washed hair, social life, making home-cooked meals etc.
In becoming a mother I discovered many things about myself. I like tidy. It makes me feel calmer about not just my home environment but also my work, my writing, my sense of self. I like having a social life, even if it's just one coffee or one glass of wine with a friend once a week or two. (I'm a cheap date, honest.) I like having the time and energy to make home-cooked meals for my family either alone or with my partner. When I wasn't able to do these many things during the baby phase of my son's life, I found it really unsettling (though of course that was also thanks to sleep deprivation and anxiety/depression) and again I am dreading losing that one little piece of calm I can create (because I will lose it no matter the good intentions I may set myself). Though I'll be honest and say I'm also quite looking forward to a few weeks of take-away meals, but I know this will have to stop once the Deliveroo riders start calling me by my first name.... again.
Also noise levels. I'm dreading the noise that a three-year-old plus newborn baby is going to create in our small apartment. Can you get ear plugs permanently inserted into your ears? NOT asking for a friend.
Hello post-natal depression and anxiety, my old friends?
I suppose I should finally admit here that I am of course worried my old friends post-natal anxiety and depression will return. While I'm doing many things to prevent this from happening, from talking therapy with a psychologist through to making practical arrangements with a doula and babysitters for before, during and after the birth, it would be naive to think that I'm bulletproof from mental health complications following my second son's arrival. There will still be hormones. There will still be sleep deprivation. There will still be a real risk my brain will emit the same pesky chemical cocktail that led to my diagnosis before. I am somewhat accepting of this possibility, and again I will hopefully have the tools and team to help it get resolved quicker and easier than before, but of course, it isn't not frightening. Also, as I'm being quite honest and self-absorbed in this post, I'll just throw it out there that it would be very jolly lovely to avoid it completely, thank you very much.
I hate, hate, hate crying babies (when they're mine)
Can I just be honest with you about something I don't think many parents openly talk about? A crying baby, even when it's your own, heck, especially when it's your own, is a special kind of torture. I didn't expect to react to my crying child so physically, and I'm not just talking about leaking boobs or piercing headaches; I'm talking about an instant freeze in my body, an unshakable tightness in my chest and shoulders, a new heaviness everywhere as though I've just gained 10 kilograms or gravity has upped its force over me. I never imagined those cries could pop into my head even when the baby was silent, but they did nearly every single time I was away from him, even if just for two minutes to pee. They left me in such a heightened state of alert that sleep felt impossible, relaxing was laughable. I felt I always had to be ready to soothe him, and that sense of duty was completely overwhelming, and to be honest, uncomfortable and unpleasant. It also didn't help that invariably my attempts to soothe the tears didn't always work. If he wasn't hungry, I was pretty much out of options. Sometimes I would just hold him as he screamed for twenty, thirty minutes, until he exhausted himself. Moments like that left me feeling utterly useless at worst, inadequate at best. In other words, I would rather listen to homemade death metal techno on repeat than a baby of mine crying for more than ten minutes.
It did get easier, I remember, but even now, when my son is really crying in a state of distress (as opposed to being told it's bedtime or yes, you do have to wear trousers outside the house) I still physically recoil slightly and my maternal instincts to soothe, silence, reassure take over. The difference now is that the ssshing, stroking and holding I offer him normally work (eventually!), not so necessarily with a newborn baby and that is what I'm dreading experiencing again....
I'm not ready for the busy-ness of it all
While many people have told me that going from one to two children is not as huge a change as going from zero to one, not one person has said it was easy, or that it wasn't a very busy, very chaotic time of life. Because that's exactly what it's going to be; busy, chaotic, full-on. I recently heard someone describe the first years of parenting young children as the rush hour of your life, and I completely agree. I know some may not see it this way, but this is simply not a season in my life where I will have oodles and oodles of spare time. These are not years for taking up new hobbies, having an indulgent social life, or in my case, writing all the books I want to write. These are the years where my days are filled with caring, nurturing, feeding, cleaning, educating, wiping bottoms, hugging little bodies to my own, and playing games. These are the years when good, unbroken sleep is a rare commodity. These are the years I crave, nay obsess about more time to myself because it's in such short supply. These are the years I put certain things on hold, like hair removal, moisturising or organising ten years of photos in my Flickr account. These are the years that will feel hard and chaotic and busy and full, but they're arguably doing the most important work of my life. These are the years I will struggle through, because being that busy and that unbalanced isn't easy for me, but they are also the years I hope one day to be most proud of.
Annoyingly I just have to experience the icky bits first... I get they couldn't do cloning in time but time travel would have been nice.
I really want to make myself proud...
In the year that followed my first son's birth I would tell people I wanted another child so I could "do it right this time", with a masochistic twitch in my eye. I felt like I'd failed in so many ways as a mother of a newborn and baby. As though it was my A-Level French oral exam, I felt like I could do so, so much better if I could just do it again. I felt like so much had suffered in that first year - my bond with my son, my mental health, my relationship, my friendships, my work, my writing - and it was partly my fault, my failing.
As I got help for my depression and anxiety I realised very quickly that this was arguably the most ridiculous reason to have another child. And I'm glad I didn't get knocked up again until I'd seen sense. We now want another child because it will complete our family, not because this is a test and I have to pass this time around. (Besides, a B in A-Level French is still very respectable.)
And yet, I'd be lying if I said that there isn't part of me that still "wants to do it right" this time. I want to feel a bond with my second son earlier. I want to spend hours and hours and hours calmly holding him (and my other son if he stays still long enough) and feel full of love and hope and good stuff for them both, rather than rushing around doing things too soon, and trying to keep myself busy so I didn't have to face my new uncomfortable reality. I want to ask and accept help more willingly and without self-judgment (you can all still feel free to judge me!). I want to enjoy one small moment every day even if on the worst of the worst days; I don't want it to all feel bad, like so many days did last time. I want to make myself proud. I want to feel as proud of myself as a mother as I feel now.
So, how am I going to do that? I don't know because as far as I can tell there is no magic remedy for ensuring transition from one to two children - and just giving and recovering from birth - is a smooth, easy and possibly, maybe even enjoyable one, and believe me I've Googled the crap out of hundreds of different variations of this question!
But I've had enough therapy and enough bad parenting days to know that the best thing I can do right now is focus on the good, and I'm happy to say there's quite a bit of that, because there are also things that I'm not only not worried about, but I'm actually happy to be feeling right now as they're helping me see that maybe, just maybe, this time will be different...
What I'm not worried about having a second baby
So here we go. Let's think positively (or maybe blissfully naively - either way it works for me!) and just jump in with all the things I'm not worried about having my second baby.
I'm already a mother
Arguably the hardest thing about becoming a mother for the first time wasn't the physical toll of childbirth, sleep deprivation and being a round-the-clock carer for the first time in my life, but it was the mental shift from being an independent, young, child-free woman (with regularly washed and brushed hair) to being an on-call 24 hours a day mother (who didn't even have time to buy dry shampoo for her hair). It doesn't sound like a big deal, especially when it was a change we wished for and prepared for (not to mention those nine months of fairly obvious human growing while pregnant) but it was a change in my identity and an overbearing introduction of responsibility that I simply couldn't qualify in my own mind. It felt like such a never-ending burden. I didn't feel qualified or equipped or worthy. I felt completely out of my depth and honestly didn't think I'd ever comfortable with being a mother.
I can't honestly say that I now feel being a mum is a natural role for me. Hugging, kissing, loving, and being with my son is very natural to me now - and indeed when I'm apart from him for more than a day I feel a new sense of anxiety or restlessness, like a part of me is missing - but there are many sides of parenting that still feel foreign and overwhelming and too big for me to comprehend let alone execute. But I've gotten used to that. I've gotten used to be completely clueless and yet bumbling my way through it anyway. And this attitude will almost certainly be required when introducing a new son to our family,
The biggest difference is that now I am already a mother. It's already part of my identity. It's already something I've wrestled with and reconciled as my reality. When I think about the future I see myself as a mother of two boys and it makes me smile; it feels right. (Apart from when I think about the toilet seats constantly being up and the potential weekly food bill, then I shudder a bit.) However, in the months that followed my first son's birth, I couldn't even look an hour ahead and feel like a mother, nor feel that was a good thing. That has most definitely changed.
I know I can love them both enough (time is a different matter)
I've heard other mothers approaching the birth of their second child as saying they don't know how they will be able to love the second the same way. While I can relate to this, I actually don't feel that way. I already feel like I love both of them madly, and equally, and the love I have for each of them will continue to grow and intensify. I am peculiarly confident in knowing love is not something you ever run out of, nor does its allocation have to be complicated or compared. I will love both these boys abundantly. I already feel I do, and my bond with my second child is already so much deeper and stronger compared with the hesitant love and connection I nurtured in my first pregnancy.
Will I have enough time and energy to show both these boys just how much I love them? That I don't know, though I certainly hope so.
I have support, and I'm not afraid to ask for it
When my first son was born we didn't even know anybody else with children in Amsterdam. We didn't know any babysitters. All our families lived abroad. My partner didn't even plan to take any more than a few days off work (he runs his own business). We knew we'd have a maternity nurse for the first week (thank you Dutch government!) and we already had our boy registered for a couple days of daycare starting at 3-4 months. We both worked from home. I was going to take at least four months off. We thought that together we'd survive.
And we did, but not without putting our relationship under a great strain and also leaving me with depression and anxiety.
I'm no expert but I strongly believe not asking, planning or accepting outside help was a direct contributing factor to my poor mental health after my son was born.
That is not going to happen again. I am basically going to lie on my backside for three months and let everyone else do the hard work. I'm joking, of course, except compared to what last time looked like, this may be closer to what happens, and that's a good thing! Now we have an army of friends and babysitters ready to help us out if we need it. I will potentially have extended time with a maternity nurse and we're already working with a doula to offer support before, during and after the birth. I will continue working with a therapist. My partner will take more time off work. My parents are available to visit if we really need them.
And if you happen to be in Amsterdam at the end of the year, I can add you to the list too? (Joking, not joking!)
I am not the only one responsible for this new life
As an extension of the point above, my mindset going into this birth is very different. Yes, as the mother, I have a number of special responsibilities and duties only I can and should do for my second son (because my partner has failed to show signs of being able to lactate dammit), but I'm not solely responsible for his safe arrival and well-being in those early months, and I certainly don't have to do all the physical labour myself (apart from maybe the initial pushing part!). Arguably, just as important as making sure he's okay, is also making sure I am too, which will mean stepping away occasionally and trusting others to take good care of him while I look after myself.
I have the best entertainment system already set up for this new baby
At first, thinking about having a new baby AND a toddler seemed like such a lot of hard work (and of course it will be) but our second son brings so much to our life that was missing the first time. He is a constant source of love, laughter, and entertainment. And tantrums, let's not forget those, but even they have their comedy moments that my partner and I will enjoy discussing over the little one's head while drinking copious amounts of wine. I often said that when he was a baby, my firstborn would have loved an older sibling as some of the very few times he would just sit or lie calmly would be when he was watching bigger children play. His little brother is going to get that! And let's be honest, this is a win-win situation because my eldest boy loves a captive audience!
And with my first son hanging around, I also get my little light at the end of the tunnel...
I know now there is light at the end of the tunnel
No matter how hard it is after my second son is born I will look at my first boy and I will see light at the end of the tunnel.
When I look at him I see how much he has grown in three years.
When I look at him I see how much I have grown in three years.
When I look at him I will see just how much my second son is going to grow, and change, and reveal about himself in the next three years, and beyond. And how this is all something to look forward to.
And also, I will remember how I never have to live the same crappy day again once it's gone. The kicker is that I also don't get a repeat of the good days.
I know that the days are going to be long, but the years short
These early years of parenting really are the longest shortest time. The days can sometimes feel never-ending, but the months and years seem to fly by without me really getting a grip on them. This has already been my experience of this second pregnancy. While I took less than zero comfort in people telling me "it's just a phase" or "it will get easier" when things felt really hard after the birth of my first son, I do know this to be true... very annoying when you have less than no patience like myself, but true. And there is something so much more effective about being able to remind myself of this based on first-hand experience rather than blindly having to trust in someone else's passing and possibly slightly smug comment. And I can always roll my eyes at myself as well at them.
It's okay to put my life on hold for a while... (in some ways)
So this is what I'm in or rather about to enter again, that busy, rush hour season of my life. It's already speeding up now as I feel the days ebb away. Up ahead, I can already see that there will be lots and lots of congestion. I'm quite certain that the mental and emotional traffic will be overwhelming from time to time, and car horns, tempers and terrible music on the radio will fill my head with noise I don't want. Perhaps, I'll occasionally wish I'd taken a different route or wonder if another road would have been more scenic. I know I'll get tired. I will almost definitely eat too much sugar and consume too much caffeine just to keep eyes open and body moving. I fear I'll raise my voice at my co-passengers, will cry with my head resting on the steering wheel more days than I care to count, and I'll not always appreciate advice or feedback from backseat drivers.
But this is my rush hour of life and I am the driver. I may not enjoy every single second, and I will spend far too long wanting it all to slow down, be quieter, be calmer, be different, but I know the traffic and the losing my way and all the other bumps in the road will smooth out eventually, and until they do I intend to do what I can to make it all less chaotic and less rushed. I am incredibly privileged and fortunate to have a flexible work life and budget for childcare. I thank my lucky stars I can afford therapy and me-time activities like exercise classes, going out with friends and just sitting in a cafe and writing a book. I know the latter will be few and far between for a while, but I'm much more accepting of that this time around. I will still moan about not having enough me-time to anyone and everyone who happens to make the mistake of asking me how I am - you have been warned friends and family - but I also know this is also the season some things have to wait.
What this is the season for is having a baby, a gift I'm incredibly lucky to be given for a second time. It's a time for giving my second born all the care and attention a newborn needs. It's a time for being with both my kids while they're both still young and helping them get used to each other. It's a time for being patient with myself and them and their father as we figure out how we make being a family of four work. It's not going to click straight away - again I've learned this from last time - and it may not be an easy journey, but it will eventually become our new normal, our forever normal, in fact. And that's well worth putting many other parts of my life on hold for... although if you think I'm not going to grab any five or ten minutes chunk of time for writing, you've got another think coming. I've still got to stay sane and again last time taught me if all you do is look after a baby day after day after day, you start to feel like you're losing it a bit... or like you're also becoming a baby yourself - I vividly remember one low moment when I popped a dummy in my mouth to see if it soothed me (spoliler: it didn't) - so I guess while I'm okay about having less time to myself, I'm also actively going to fight to keep some time and some of my most treasured activities for myself. Doing so is not just about finding a balance because that word is going to drop magically out of my vocabulary and life for the next 12-18 months; it's more about reminding myself that while I'm giving love and giving time and giving myself to my kids, I also need to give myself some of those things too; I deserve it.... and not just when I'm grabbing five minutes to have a pee.
You can find out how all this goes, and what the next year looks like as I will start my Motherhood Diaries again after the birth of my second son. Watch this space!
If you'd like to read more posts about my honest experience of motherhood, here are some of my articles about parenting:
Life Lessons Learned from Pregnancy
My Experience of Post-natal Anxiety and Depression
The Best (and Easiest) Parenting Tip Ever
How to Survive Sleep Deprivation as a New Parent
In Defence of Screentime for Toddlers
Why (and When) You Should Travel with Kids
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Frances M. Thompson
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