I have a theory that when you have a baby, it’s natural to wonder SWEET JESUS WHAT WAS I THINKING repeatedly during the labour and birth, directly after the labour and birth, the first week when you’ve had about one hour sleep in total and can’t really move without pain…in fact pretty much all the time for the first six weeks or so. Yes, of course, the good far outweighs the bad – the moment you first see the baby and get to hold them – two moments of my life that make me so unbelievably proud and grateful, and teary just remembering them. The first time the Toddler met the Newborn.. heart melted! But getting back to my theory – somehow your brain makes you forget why you kept repeating that line. Was it really that bad/painful/tiring? (YES.) But it’s a good thing really cos otherwise we’d probably be extinct by now.
But, sweetness and light aside, it is really kind of hard! And that was just with one. I’ll admit it, I was petrified of how I was going to cope with the toddler with a newborn thrown into the mix. Terrified! It was beyond me how people had 3 or 4 or even more kids! It still is. Or twins!! Just, how??
Our beautiful little Alex was born 12 weeks ago today, making Rian a Big Brother. A role he takes very seriously by administering as many ‘Ayxx kiss’ kisses and ‘Ayxx huggy’ hugs as often as possible. It’s very sweet. A thought I need to think a lot during a typical day with a Toddler and a Newborn.
Now, thankfully, I get paid for a good chunk of my maternity leave so we can still afford to have Rian with the (amazing) childminders. This gives me time to spend and bond with Alex and also keeps Rian in his own routine, which works for us all. However, for the days when I’m manning the ship alone with them both…well lets just say there are more relaxing days you could have.
It’s interesting how your brain sort of divides into two. One half stays in toddler mode and the other develops a newborn mode. Things like – is it feed time? Have you had your tummy time today? Did I give you that vitamin D dose yet today? While on team toddler you’re trying to keep them endlessly entertained and you’re saying things like ‘No you cannot play with that sharp knife. Because you could take your eye out. Because knives are not for playing with. Where did you even get that knife anyway?!’ Before finally managing to distract him into making you more wooden fried eggs on little wooden slices of toast from his little wooden toaster.
Distraction is key and it’s a skill you need to learn with a toddler – pronto. Toddlers basically spend their days finding new ways to maybe kill themselves, such as finding the knife drawer, trying to swing out of the stair gate, and launching themselves off couches. Maybe that’s just my toddler but I suspect not. And when you try and make them see that these are perhaps not wise choices, well, good luck. Cue the meltdowns. So it is essential to have distraction backups at all times on standby.
And as for going anywhere..! Remember the day you had to go somewhere and you just got up, put on your jacket, and went? Me too. Now it’s a military operation of lining up bottles and non spill toddler cups, snacks and bibs, spare baby grows and spare clothes, nappies for kid 1 and nappies for kid 2. Now, how shall one transport kid 1 and kid 2? Commence buggy packing into car, then buggy assembling out of car. Honestly you’re wrecked before you even get to wherever you are going.
Things I think in a typical day of Toddler and Newborn management include things like:
- How did that get there?
- What the hell is that smell?
- Why is this wet?
- What did you just do?
- Why did you just do that?
- Pick that up/Put that down
- Where the hell are the wipes?
- What the hell is this on my nice clean jeans?
That last point brings me onto another highlight of this experience. Bodily fluids. There’s nothing that I can’t face now. I can confirm that within the last 12 weeks I have been covered in puke, pee and poo ALL AT THE SAME TIME. The 3 P’s. Fun! But now I barely bat an eyelid. Somehow I’m programmed to still gaze into the culprit’s eyes lovingly and wonder how they got to be so perfect. It’s a very clever trick when you think about it.
And the guilts just double really. If I have Rian here all day, I have no time for Alex. When Rian goes to his childminders, I spend the day thinking about him and wishing he was here. I also spend a good chunk of my days wondering am I doing it all right. I thought I’d be a pro this time around seeing as I already produced the toddler, but not so. He’s so different that I may as well be a newbie again. Sometimes it’s a bit like I’m starring in my own show of Spinning Plates… just as you get one up and spinning steadily, the other one wobbles and you spend your day running back and forth between them keeping the show going.
I used to wonder and worry a bit in case I didn’t love this baby as much as the last. That sounds ridiculous I know, but honestly, Rian means absolutely everything, I just couldn’t see how it was possible to love anything as much. But what happens is amazing – the love I have for him just basically doubled up the minute we knew Alex existed, like a blanket big enough to wrap them both up in. I used to secretly wonder if every parent secretly preferred their first born – although I am a first born so you can see why this would be the case, clearly I am amazing… – but for me, no, they’re both as amazing as each other. Two very different babies so far, two different little people both amazing in their own right. How lucky we are to have them! They’re our little miracles, that’s all there is to it.
So yes, some days make me cry with frustration and tiredness, and shout at Gavin (sorry Gavin), and I doubt myself at least 80% of the day but what a fun adventure we’re on! I know it will go too fast and some day I’ll be begging them to take their old decrepit mother out for the day and spoon feed me stuff and you never know, I might get my revenge in the bodily fluid department too.
For lots of fantastic advice and inspiration for dealing with your own toddler and newborn, why not check out this amazing blog run by the lovely Zoe Withers at ThinkBaby.org. You could start here by reading this great post about finding the safest co sleeping baby beds – here