Today has been my third Mother’s Day as a parent, but has been a bit of a watershed for me, my first as a mother of TWO!
Baby Claudia was born on 5th February, so has just turned 5 weeks old. Getting past those initial weeks was a real challenge – no surprise there – and now that we are a bit more settled into our daily routine it has been interesting to compare second time around with what I remember from the early days of motherhood the first time.
1. Clothes. I don’t remember this being too much of a problem with the toddler three years ago. We had a bundle of newborn babygros, mainly very utilitarian white terry towelling, and that’s what she lived in for her first month or so, then the weather warmed up and she was in little more than vests and leggings or shorts and sundresses after that.
This time it’s very different – two months earlier in the year, and seemingly a different shaped baby, suddenly we never have quite enough outfits to get to the end of the week, and we need more warm layers. I had to order vests in newborn size – and then order even more.
Cute little tops and cardigans just seem to swamp her at the moment, but a fleecy purple sleepsuit which the toddler probably never wore more than once or twice has now become an essential outerwear layer for going in the buggy on chilly days.
We are just getting to the point where newborn outfits are a bit snug – but she’s nowhere near ready for the next size up. I am really not sure what she is going to wear for the next month or so!
2. Morning Routine. I always knew this would be a toughie. Before, when I never had to rush out to get to playgroup or nursery, I could lie in bed with a newborn till 10am if I wanted, feeding her, drinking tea and catching up with life via social media on my phone (and I often did).
Now, there are two small humans to be wrangled into clean clothes and got downstairs and fed, and one will often be screaming herself hoarse whilst the other has just started toilet training. (On her own initiative and much to our delight, I must say, but an extra challenge to be dealing with on top of baby sister).
Plus to add into the mix, a round of expressing milk in the morning and again in the evening – as a not very competent but determined breastfeeder, it has to be factored in otherwise I risk affecting my supply. Things I swore I’d never bother with last time round which have made all the difference now – renting a hospital grade pump, even managing to pump both sides at once on occasion, and pumping at 4am when I could tell there was a surplus which needed to go *somewhere*.
I don’t quite have the commitment to do that every night, but even doing it as soon as I wake up (if the baby is still asleep and will give me a precious half hour) can really make a difference to the amount I can produce.
On the days when the toddler has to get to nursery, it works because the Mr does the nursery run whilst I’m feeding the baby and getting her ready for the day. This eats into his day and routine too, so I have to try and make sure I don’t encroach too much on his time apart from that (during working hours at least).
3. Guilt. Oh, I was expecting this and I got it in spades – I just didn’t expect it to hit me quite so hard, the realisation that my attention was suddenly, irrevocably divided, that I was torn in two. The first time I saw the disappointment in the toddler’s eyes and the slump in her shoulders as she turned away when I said, No I can’t read a story right now, I’m feeding baby sister, almost broke me.
And it goes the other way, too – baby sister will never get the one-on-one attention her big sister got, the golden hours lazing in bed just cooing over her, the baby rhyme time groups I now can’t go to as I have a toddler in tow – and that is heartbreaking too. Of course she’ll get the time to herself when the toddler goes to school, but that seems aeons away right now.
We took the toddler on several outings in recent months to try and make up for the impending upheaval, which does ease the guilt a bit – the Peppa Pig show and the Bear Hunt play put on by Little Angel puppet theatre were big hits, and we enjoyed days out at the Tower of London and the Olympic Park, though both are rather bracing for day trips in January, I must say – wrap up warm, is my advice.
But it is actually the little moments that are most memorable, in a way – the raucous round of the Hokey Cokey the toddler and I did one afternoon when I was determined to not just succumb straight to the sofa and Cbeebies, the drumming session we did with pencil drumsticks on shoe boxes, the table, or anything else that made a good noise, and the epic singalongs we have in the car, supplementing endless requests for Frozen with tunes from the Sound of Music, The Jungle Book, and Mary Poppins. I hope these are the moments that a fun childhood is made of. And what fun that we get to do it all over again. How lucky we are!
This Mother’s Day, I’m more aware than ever how fortunate we are to be parents, when so many struggle to do it once, let alone two times. I’m very thankful to get the chance to have this precious newborn time again – and even more thrilled at all the fun times still ahead, crawling, walking, talking and beyond.
So here’s to all the mothers, and those who should be mothers, but aren’t, or perhaps are mothers in ways they never anticipated – stepmums, foster mums, aunts, mentors, guardians and teachers. Here’s to you all.