When I became a mum for the first time, I was quite blissfully naive. None of my friends had children and while I knew that this would be a life changing thing, nothing could have prepared me for the total turnaround that my life was about to take. It took a lot of adjusting to really feel like I had found my feet as a mum and just when I got to that point – we decided to have another one! Second time around I knew more of what I was letting myself in for, I knew that my baby would cry (a lot) and I knew that they (probably) wouldn’t sleep very well. But the one thing that I felt completely ignorant to was just how life would be with two children. How would I cope at home with them both by myself? Would Darcie be mad at me for having another baby? Would they get on? The list went on!
Now here we are, one year down the line, and I thought it would be a great time to look back to all those thoughts, hopes and fears that I had before becoming a mum of two. Adding a new child to your family can be a very emotional time and I think most mums carry a lot of worry and guilt about how it will all turn out, hopefully by reading my experiences I can help to put some of those fears to rest and also get across just how wonderful being a mum of two really is.
Let’s be honest I wasn’t getting much time to myself even as a mum of one. Darcie still wasn’t sleeping well at this point in time but she was napping, and so any hours that I could get to myself throughout the day were like gold dust to me. As Darcie hadn’t slept well as a newborn I felt certain that my second baby wouldn’t either and that the amount of time I got to myself would go from ‘needs improvement’ to ‘not applicable’. As it turns out, my second baby was a much better sleeper and when he was first born and Darcie was still napping, I used to regularly get time to myself throughout the day. It has to be said that the blissful newborn bubble didn’t last very long, and over time he has struggled more with sleep. The time I get to myself is much more limited these days, just as I feared it would be. But for one reason or another, it’s okay. I am blessed with two wonderful children and my perspective has changed. From talking to a few other mums who also have two children, they said the same thing. It’s expected that you will have less time to yourself, so you just kind of deal with it and then appreciate any time you do get even more. I’ve become much better at taking small pockets of time for myself throughout the day. The kids play together quite often so if they are happy then I take the time to sit down for five minutes or enjoy a hot drink. These little moments keep me going. I’m not sure how reassuring that will be to anyone currently expecting number two, but all I can do is share my experience. I’m currently writing this blog post whilst drinking a glass of wine so clearly it’s not all bad!
Darcie and I were always like two peas in a pod. I never really went anywhere without her, mainly because I didn’t want to because I just loved being around her so much. On weekdays, while Dan was at work, we were just a little duo. We saw lots of people and did lots of things but the one constant thing was that we were always together. I would say that this fear of my relationship with Darcie changing was the biggest one for me. Of course, as a parent, you love your child more than life itself so the thought of anything changing for the worse between you is heartbreaking. I knew I was also going to want to have one on one time with Ernie once he was born, but the thought of Darcie going off with anyone without me just broke my heart. Truthfully it was hard when Ernie was born. The few weeks recovery after giving birth were the worst, I so badly wanted to run around soft play with her and be the ‘fun mum’ that she had always had by her side, but I couldn’t. I sat watching her go around with her dad, with tears in my eyes feeding her baby brother. I remember vividly crying and trying to explain to Dan just why my heart was breaking so much – especially when I didn’t even like soft play anyway! (Hormones probably had a large part to play but shhhh, we must never admit to that!). Anyway, over time it has got easier and a year on I would say that mine and Darcie’s relationship is stronger than ever. Ernie has never taken a bottle which has meant that time just with Darcie has been close to non existent. However, he does nap consistently which means that every day Darcie and I get one or two chunks of time to spend one on one and do things that she really wants to do. I also found that once I was fully recovered from giving birth (to a ten pound baby) I was able to basically put him in a baby carrier and carry on with Darcie as normal. I can hand on heart say that our relationship has changed for the better not the other way round. It is stronger, partly because a year has passed and she becomes more of a ‘person’ every day and also because we have bonded in other ways now. She loved ‘helping’ me look after her brother when he was a baby and even now she still loves getting to be ‘the big girl’ and having small privileges that ‘babies’ don’t get. All of our relationships will keep evolving over time and I’m sure that over the next year we will face even more highs and lows, but adding a new member to the family, took nothing away from what was there before. Her relationships with her dad and the rest of our family have also really become a lot stronger over the last year, which has been lovely to see.
This was a totally irrational fear of mine. But are you even a mum if you don’t have irrational fears? From the word ‘go’ she was so excited for me to have another baby. She got really into playing with her toy babies around the time I was heavily pregnant, but even then there was still a part of me that was worried she wouldn’t like the real thing. I was scared she would hold a grudge against me for having less time for her, but I couldn’t have been more wrong! One thing that is quite bittersweet for me is that Darcie doesn’t remember life before Ernie, and while on the one hand that is totally devastating, it is also really lovely that as far as she is concerned he has always been around. Even if there is a day that I don’t have much time for her, or I’m tired from being up all night with him, or just generally stressed from mum life, she doesn’t have the capacity or the inclination to blame that on me, nor on him. She might be annoyed that we’re not having a good day, but she’s too young to assign blame. Life changes so fast for babies and toddlers anyway that there’s really no such thing as a bad day for them anyway, they are more likely to have a bad five minutes and then get distracted by something and forget they were even annoyed in the first place. Long story short is – no, she loves being a big sister! She loves bringing him on adventures with us, they are always laughing together and they are honestly the best of friends. I already feel like they have their own little inside jokes that I’m not a part of, and while that kind of makes me want to cry, it also makes me insanely happy that I am so lucky to have babies who love each other so much.
Well that’s a hard one to admit, but I think every second time mum to be can relate. The love we experience when we become a mother for the first time is intense. It’s nothing we have ever known before and every day it just keeps growing. They smile at you for the first time and your love increases by a million percent, they say ‘mummy’ for the first time and you basically need to be resuscitated because of how much they take your breath away! I was totally defeated by the thought that I could love another child as much as I love Darcie. I didn’t think it was possible. But for all you pregnant ladies holding your breath right now, I am pleased to tell you that everyone is right. You can love your second child in exactly the same way, and you will. I’ll be honest I’ve found it a much simpler kind of love the second time around because it has been totally untainted by all the feelings that came with being a mum for the first time. I felt a whole range of emotions in Darcie’s first year, everything from fear to guilt, to resentment, to just total overwhelm. But second time around I was already a mum (obvs) and I didn’t have to go through that process again. I didn’t have to adjust to having less time for Dan and for myself. I wasn’t shocked by sleepless nights and relentless crying. I knew being a mum was hard, I accepted it and the love I have for Ernie just blossomed. That’s not to say that becoming a mum of two doesn’t come with it’s own complex set of emotions, but for me it was a much easier transition that becoming a mum the first time.
Darcie developed this habit of wandering into our room at around 1am while I was pregnant. She climbed out of her cot at 18 months old so we transitioned her from her cot to a floor bed, and then let’s just say she transitioned herself from her floor bed to our bed… We fought it for a little while and tried to encourage her back to her own bed, but in the end we gave in. We all got a decent nights sleep just allowing her in with us – it was definitely much better than spending hours sat on her floor whilst pregnant trying to get her to go back to sleep. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, warned us that this was a habit we needed to break before Ernie arrived but something just didn’t sit right with me about pushing her out of our bed to make room for her baby brother. We had no intention of co sleeping with him regardless so I really, really hoped it would be okay to have Darcie still coming in with us (if she still wanted to) whilst Ernie snoozed in his Moses Basket. And it was fine! They used to wake each other up in the night for the first week or so, but then they just adapted to it. I’m so glad I stuck with my gut and my heart on this one. I actually really loved it in the early days of life with two children. I missed Darcie a lot during the day and I physically missed having my arms free to give her cuddles. So at night it was lovely to have her cuddled up with us while Ernie was asleep, we could have a cuddle to make up for the ones we’d missed in the daytime.
This was what everyone had told be about second children – ‘they just slot in’. I was sceptical to say the least! Darcie had been a – let’s just say ‘tricky’ – baby, I’m sure now that she had colic and un diagnosed silent reflux. She would cry the second she was laid down flat and fed from me sometimes for eight hours at a time. The thought of any baby ‘just slotting in’ was laughable to me. I’m going to go ahead and say that this point is going to vary hugely depending on the baby, but for us Ernie truly did slot in. He was a very relaxed, content baby, and spent the majority of his first few weeks happy as can be in his Moses Basket in the middle of the lounge, while all sorts of toddler chaos went on around him. He would feed often but then go straight to sleep, as long as he was fed and swaddled he was happy. If he had been an unsettled baby, this would have been totally different! As he’s got older he has also been more than happy to just go along with whatever is going on around him. He loves playing with Darcie’s toys and trying to copy her, and all of her little buddies have been more than happy to befriend her little brother too. Like I said, it will of course depend on the baby, but I’ve been lucky. Ernie is a total dream and he really has just slotted in. He’s the perfect missing piece to our family jigsaw. (I know that’s soppy but I’m two glasses of wine down at this point…)
Another one that I can put firmly in my ‘correct’ category. Life as a family of four has been wonderful so far. Yes, there is less time and always way more things that need to be done. I’m drowning in dirty laundry and my house has so many tripping hazards that it’s basically become an obstacle course, but it has been better in so many ways. There is more love, more laughter, more joy. More of all of the good stuff, that far outweighs the extra laundry and occasional argument between two small children. Everything we do as a family is better, because there are more pairs of eyes watching, more hearts beating, more faces smiling. Being a family of four has been my favourite chapter of motherhood so far. Yes, I’m more stretched, yes, Dan and I get less time as a couple, but the increase in joyful, wonderful family time has been utterly wonderful.
That seems like a good place to leave this post. I had so many small and big fears, worries, hopes and dreams for becoming a mum of two that it would be impossible to cover them all in one post. I feel like I’ve ticked off the main ones though! To any second time mums to be out there, reading this post – you are about to embark on the most amazing chapter of your life. It will be tough, it will test you. You will have moments when you feel outnumbered and overwhelmed. But the joy, and the love and all of the beautiful moments in between will make it more than worth it. If I could relive the last year of my life over and over again, I would. It’s been amazing. It’s taught me that motherhood is tough, but so am I. I’ve watched my babies, the two people I love most in the world, fall in love with each other. Everyday their relationship grows. So soak it in mama! Enjoy the moments as they come!
What fears and hopes do you have for adding a new member to your family? I’d love to know!