After settling my almost four year old back to sleep at 3am this morning I found myself lying awake staring into the darkness. I could hear my child’s soft snores and feel this new life wriggling around inside my belly. And it hit me: how the hell will I cope with two?!
Have you ever noticed how everything seems worse in the middle of the night?
My mind raced. My breathing grew shallow. I could feel myself on the verge of a full blown panic attack – I haven’t suffered one of these in the last seven years.
What if I’m not enough?
I’m already one of those mums who’s regularly in a flap. It’s rare I’m the first to drop Frog off at pre-school. I nearly took her this morning in slippers. I forget things. I sometimes shout. I try my very, very best all the time, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough.
So how will I find the extra bit of myself to give when our new addition to the family arrives?
I already feel bonded to this baby. Every little kick (and boy, there are a LOT of kicks) is a reminder that I’m growing a human being. I look forward to breastfeeding again and breathing in the sweet smell of a newborn’s head.
But I’m also more than aware of how hard babies are. I rarely managed to get dressed before 10am most mornings until Frog was a good couple of months old. I’d fluster around in milk-stained pyjamas, bundling washing into the machine while trying to latch a baby to my breast. I’d lose the Infacol and regularly run up and down the stairs chanting “nappy nappy nappy” just to remind myself what I was actually going into the next room for.
Babies are beautiful. And joyful. And precious. They have the ability to tear love from you, leaving you winded. But they’re also noisy (especially at 2am). And demanding. And impatient. It’s like living with a 7 pound dictator who makes you jump at their every whim. I already live with a 3 stone dictator, how will I manage with another little one under the same roof?!
In September Frog will start school. I won’t have the luxury of faffing around in my PJs with this new baby. I’ll have to arrange my mornings with military precision, getting everyone up, dressed and out of the house by 8.30am. And that includes me.
When Frog was a newborn it would sometimes take me two whole hours to leave the house, once I’d changed the umpteenth dirty nappy, breastfed her for the millionth time or finally found my car keys. And then I’d regularly get to where I was going and realise I was still in my slippers.
How will I continue to show Frog how much I love her, listen to her stories, make time to do things with her, while giving enough love to this new little one too? How will I keep enough of myself for me, so I don’t go slowly mad? Will there be anything left for my husband, so we’re actually enjoying each day rather than merely surviving it? And don’t even get started on work. I’m planning a fairly short maternity leave, so that will be another ball to juggle.
These were all the thoughts swimming round my head at 3am this morning. And, if I’m honest, they haven’t completely evaporated.
I want to be one of those mums who moves effortlessly through the days, artfully juggling the demands of mothering multiple children with work, remaining happy and continuing to look great. I want to be like my friends Emma and Jane, who make motherhood of three look so easy.
But while they make three kids look like a breeze, I’m worried I won’t even be able to cope with two. Will I be the mum who always turns up for school drop-off late, with a child who hasn’t brushed her teeth or combed her hair, wearing slippers and a top encrusted with baby sick?
Will there be enough of me? How will I do it?