So Little Z has been part of our lives for two whole months now – almost 2.5 by the time I actually post this! As millions have said before me, I can’t believe it’s been that long yet it’s also like she’s always been here. I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like to be pregnant and I finally feel like I’m getting control of my body again. Today I was nipping upstairs and I felt fairly light on my feet again and like my body is starting to strengthen up. Well, aside from my gammy knee which still likes to play up after going during pregnancy. But what surprises me the most is I am starting to feel in control of being a mum of two!
The biggest surprise to me is that motherhood the second time round has been incredibly liberating. When Little H was a baby, I would continually (albeit usually subconsciously) compare her progress and her behaviour with others. Was she sleeping enough? Why hadn’t she dropped a night feed yet? Shouldn’t she have rolled by now? Should I have got her in a proper bedtime routine by 8 weeks? With little Z it’s not like that at all. I let her do what she needs to do, when she needs to do it. Of course I encourage her and give her opportunities to develop. But there is no sense of competition or failure. If it works for our family then it’s all good and I know we’ll get to everything when we’re ready!
Looking after Little Z
My friends have often commented on my ability to remember everything. Sadly this is a skill which tends to extend to information which doesn’t prove overly helpful day-to-day or at work! However, finally it has played to my advantage though because it’s amazing how immediately I remembered how to look after a baby. Many pals said they had to learn everything again when they had their second child but I have really not felt that way. Little Z is also a really chilled out baby which has made it much easier. So far, when she gets upset it’s for a reason so I have quickly picked-up on her cues.
The early months with Little H were awesome but they were also incredibly tough; everything required learning and concentration. I also really struggled with my new role and felt I wasn’t adding value. There were times where I really missed work. With Little Z I have not yet felt that. I savour the days when it’s just the two of us. Life is simple and moves at a much slower pace compared to the thousand miles-per-hour we move at on days with Little H at home. Sure the inner busy-bee within me still gets itchy feet and a guilt feeling when I am sat on the sofa with Little Z asleep on me. But given this the last time I expect to experience this, I think I am trying to enjoy each moment.
Changing relationship with Little H
I was so anxious about how having a new baby in our lives would affected my relationship with Little H. For three whole years Little H had been my side-kick and partner-in-crime. We had our routines and favourite past times together and I knew that having another child would alter that in some way. I had read blog posts from other parents where their older child had resented them for having another baby and devoting so much attention to them. It scared me to think of Little H and I not being close. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened. But my relationship with Little H is definitely different now.
In many ways the thing that has changed is how I view Little H. She was always my little baby – the small person in my life. Then the morning after Little Z was born, Little H came running into our bedroom and climbed onto me. She was suddenly so big – all arms and legs. It hit me quite hard that she was so far from the baby she once was and I started to really see the independent streaks in her. Having to focus attention across two children forced me to step back a little and let Little H be the the girl she has become: little things like not always going with her to the toilet or not having the monitor with me at night so I could make sure she was okay.
I also made a real effort to keep to her routine from the very beginning. That included feeding Little Z wherever was necessary to try and keep things normal for Little H, especially at bedtimes. 36 hours after giving birth to Little Z I was breastfeeding Little Z whilst getting Little H ready for bed. I think, whilst it was a little tiring for me to do this, it was worth the effort. We haven’t had any significant bouts of jealousy and Little H’s relationship with Little Z is really blossoming.
Looking after them both on my own
Whilst everything is quite positive with Little H, she is still well into her third year and is exhibiting proper threenager behaviour. Some days she is a joy and delight from start to finish but most days there are at least a couple of ‘strops’. These have always required a lot of time and patience to deal with but it is so much harder to give that focus when I also have Little Z to look after. There have been countless occasions when I have had to leave Little H alone in her room shouting, or have almost felt like breaking down in tears after she’s hurled yet more abuse at me. I am well aware that it’s just a phase but that doesn’t make it much easier to bear, especially when I am tired.
Luckily so far Little Z has been a reasonable sleeper. I’m under no illusion that this cannot change – Little H had significant ups-and-downs until she was almost 2 – but I have been very appreciative of it so far. By also going to bed efficiently every night, I have had very few days of being truly sleep deprived so far. I do miss being able to have a little doze in the morning though as I did with Little H. Unfortunately I don’t have that luxury with Little H stomping in as soon as her ‘sun is up’. So I try to get out of bed ahead of Little H waking to have a shower and get dressed, shaking off the sluggish tiredness and ensuring I am ready to start the day.
The days where I look after both of them on my own (which ends up being 2.5 days since Sam is gone cycling for at least half a day every weekend), baby wearing have been my salvation! Even now Little Z is a bit older, I am still cautious about leaving the two of them together, just in case. Little Z also struggles to get to sleep when she has the erratic noise of Little H (and Sam at weekends) around her. So I invested in a decent sling very early on and keep Little Z in that for any nap she needs to have on these days. As she’s getting bigger, it’s giving me an incredible shoulder workout (I was physically aching and exhausted after the day she has a 2 hour then 3 hour nap!) but it means she doesn’t need watching.
And moving towards 3 months…
As I previously said, I’m really taking it as it comes with Little Z. However, something I will try during this third month is putting Little Z upstairs for her naps. We’re currently trying to settle into a bedtime routine so I will leave some clear weeks after that to avoid confusing her. Getting her to nap upstairs will definitely help on Little H days though – giving my back a break and allowing me to have some time with Little H where I don’t have to worry about us waking Little Z.
We’ve been out on excursions a bit over the last couple of months but taking them both out is still hard work. I want to practice that a little more and get used to going out with them both. I don’t want us to spend the summer shut-up inside or confined to the garden. Ironically this depends more on Little H’s threenager mood picking-up than my confidence with Little Z, so we’ll see how that one plays out!