Wednesday, August 17, 2016

having two children

I'm now over seven months into this experience of having two children and I wanted to write about it before my thoughts disappear and it becomes 100% routine.

The novelty of two car seats, two bedtimes, two different attention spans, extra clothes to wash, a new naptime to fit in with seeing Mostyn's friends etc is wearing off and the joy of their budding relationship is starting to take precedent in my life above the nitty gritty, military levels of organisation that life with two children demands.

Although Gruff is still so small I am constantly having moments of looking at both of them together doing things, eating strawberries next to each other at the table, forming a starfish of long and tiny limbs on the floor as Mostyn lies down to squeeze chubby cheeks, giggling together at some new way they have discovered to make each other laugh, and think: there are TWO of these little guys here, that I made, and they are buddies, WOW.

I feel like Mostyn was made to be a big brother. I don't know if it's the 4 and a half year age gap or what but his level of patience, understanding and love for the baby is beyond the wildest hopes I entertained when I was pregnant. He shows him things, kisses him all the time, runs in to see and hug him the mornings and Gruff responds with smiles and stares of adoration and worship. I'm lucky that it's all gone so smoothly in that regard, so far at least...

A second child is undoubtedly not as seismic as a first, your life changes immeasurably but in a completely different way to the first time. The shock of life with a second newborn is not as strong, you know what to expect, however the hard part is keeping up the facade of an ordinary life for your oldest in the sleepless, hormone riddled fog.

Very little chance to 'sleep when the baby sleeps', no lying in bed all day checking if they have cut any teeth, no forgetting to eat lunch, no planning a nice routine of walks or figuring out naps or feed times - your oldest must be taken to playgroup whether the baby is ready or not, a crucial nap must be cut short to pick them up, feed them whenever you get a chance inbetween chores and trips to the park, bedtime is some kind of crazed relay sport with your husband, passing children backwards and forwards doing baths and naps and feeding and stories, food must be cooked and appear at the right times. I felt like I was drowning a lot but as the months pass (so fast) it's all heading back to an even keel again as I knew it would.

How did I cope with having a new baby again? Last time I felt myself disappear into a haze of anxious exhaustion and didn't get anything done but this time it was different.

It sounds bizarre but now, my instinct when I feel out of control is not to step back, try to relax or let things go but immediately embark on the opposite - do anything I can to create control or 'progress' in some other area in my life.

If I'm struggling I clean, organise or start some new hobby or money making scheme. I'm not sure I recommend this as a stress busting strategy as although it creates an illusion of control as other areas of your life spiral into disarray (a newborn doesn't care about your physical or emotional needs), it does create a lot more things to do. Maybe that's the beauty of it. Days fly by and I fall into bed exhausted, too busy to wonder if I have the energy to carry on.

It says a lot about my state of mind that within weeks of having a second baby I had a bullet journal set up, an ambitious new weight loss/health related Instagram account (I reached 4lb from my pre-pregnancy weight and abandoned it), started learning matched betting to try and earn some of the money I won't be getting each winter on my new seasonal work contract, reorganised my food shopping, meal planned and sorted out various tedious admin tasks I'd been putting off for years. At night during the long hours of breastfeeding my newborn I wrote endless lists of things I needed to do and developed a strange obsession with watching YouTubed episodes of awful American reality TV shows featuring people utterly out of control of their lives (My 600lb Life, Hoarders..) and in the daytime I managed to organise and declutter so many neglected areas of my house.

I'm through that phase now and I feel like I am out the other side. The urge for control at all costs is not so strong but my bullet journal and matched betting is carrying on! My Instagram account is abandoned, I'm not anywhere near I want to be right now with my fitness and that's ok, it will come, my priority is getting Mostyn settled into a school routine and spending the remaining time before I have to start work again (next March) as wiselty as I can. I know in a couple of years I will get a bit of time back for myself - I just need to resign myself to this and use my energy for my children as much as I can.

I sold all my maternity clothes on eBay before I could even fit into my normal clothes, I have been ruthlessly sorting through baby things, giving away stuff the second Gruff grows out of it. After being birth obsessed for years I find I have absolutely no interest in it anymore, hearing about it, empathising with horror stories or beautiful stories (unless they are from people I know very well), I feel like that part of my life is over and I can't afford to spend any more headspace on it. I feel so relieved to have my two amazing boys, I am getting on with things, this is my life, my entire world now, onwards, upwards and outwards from now on.

At 7 months Gruff has two teeth, is crawling everywhere, pulling himself up and eating anything you put in front of him. He's just started going upstairs to sleep in the evenings (we had him down with us until the last couple of nights) so I might get more time to blog.. or I might not..

Otherwise this is a short phase in my life where, as much as I like to convince myself I have enough time to reflect/do anything significant for myself - I definitely don't, but that's the way I chose it and how it has to be.

I wouldn't realistically have it any other way although every day I do mourn all the delicious, luxurious, shimmering hours of beautiful spare time I have foolishly wasted in my life. What was I thinking? Did I reallly read enough books? Did I savour enough hot cups of tea? I don't think I did. I threw it all away and I want it back.