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?
To start off it is hard, there’s no two ways about it, and the adjustment can be a bit of a learning curve, but then you suddenly realise one day that you’ve found your new normal and that being with just one feels odd and far too easy. Just keep telling yourself it will all be OK, and don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect and it will all be fine (I’m trying to convince myself I’ll be OK with three in much the same way!)
I’ve always said going from 1 to 2 is a much bigger step than 0 to 1.
On the other hand, when I had my 3rd there was almost 4 years between baby and middle child and I could feel how much easier it was: the older two already had a routine and a level of independence. They didn’t need me every waking moment.
I also asked and got a fair bit of help. For the first year oldest got a lift to school most mornings, that meant I only needed to get to nursery at a time that we could make it. Sometimes near lunchtime.
Trust yourself: You will master this mother to two job!
In the meantime, line your helpers up.
Make friends with all the school mums and dad that live around you. Know who you can ask when all best laid plans fall apart & you are left feeding the baby, changing a MASSIVE poonami and so on.
Better make myself uber friendly at the school gates in September then! Great advice, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. x
Adele @ Circus Queen says
Babies are SO much easier the second time around. I don’t know if it’s because they have to slot in or because you have to just get on with it or because you know what you’re doing this time but it really is easier going from one to two than it is going from zero to one. That’s certainly been my experience so far.
So far, the more challenging bit has been helping my toddler to adjust to the change in our family structure and trying to meet her ever changing needs (my goodness three-ness is HARD!) alongside the baby’s. Honestly, sometimes I am not enough. One of them has to cry for a bit and I have to make a quick decision about who it’s going to be. But that is part of life and we can only ever do our best.
It’s so comforting to know other mums struggle too sometimes. You’re right – three-ness IS hard. But also amazing and they just get better and better. I bet your girls will continue to develop a super special relationship. PS. Was going to come to you for sling advice. Do you have one you’d recommend I buy?
Jane Clarke says
Some of the mothers turn up in their Jim jams when I drop Maisie off at school, no one bats an eye lid. I’ve threatened to turn up in a indie to raise funds for a charity. Moo not too lean on that one. I will do it though.
I have absolutely no doubt you’ll do it in your onesie. You are SO like my mother. You sisters! xx
Oh and turning up to school with unbrushed teeth is fine, as is wearing PJ’s on the school run. *cough*
Always have some cool hats for when you are having a very bad hair day. I don’t bother with hats for simple bad hair days anymore.
Ha! I snorted when I saw the reference to me at the end! I have not got this cracked, I have just learnt to accept being rubbish!
I’m not going to lie, a baby with a school age is hard work, and you have to be kind to yourself. You will get it all done (no choice really) but you have to remember what you are doing is really hard and reward yourself for getting through a day!
You will adore every second and loathe some minutes.
You will see freya as huge and baby as small, you will die some moments of true love when you see Freya adore her sibling.
You will probably drink more.
You will sleep less.
You will be an amazing mum to two.
Love you. I like that you have faith in me. I will do my best to prove you right. I may need to come and stay for a weekend for some intensive motherhood juggling training pre-baby! x
Nanny Sophie says
You are looking fab!! I remember the first summer I met you with little frog still snuggle inside!
My advice would be to get a really cosy all in out outside wear for baby – no one needs to know they still have pjs on underneath 😉
Then you can return from school run and control your morning!
You will be fab 🙂 the youngest always slots in well!
Lots of love x
Ooh good advice! Wish I lived nearer to you so I could call on you for regular advice like the old days! xxx
Kate W says
There was a moment, when Small was 3 weeks old, when I was up in the night feeding her – we were mid feed & the Medium one threw up in her bed…..and then the Big one woke up after a nightmare and they were ALL crying!!!! I stood on the landing, boobs out, screaming baby tucked under my arm thinking “what the HELL do I do 1st?!?!” (I ought to point out that Mr W was unavoidably away overnight so I was home alone too……)
Somehow, some previously unknown instinct kicked in and before I knew it we were all tucked up in (clean) beds & fast asleep!!
I am possibly the least organised person I know, but we still get to school ok and what have you……you will find that things just seem to have a way of working themselves out – trust me, if I can manage that horror scenario then anyone can!!!
Oh gawd – that sounds HORRENDOUS! You are a super mum. If I can do half as good a job as you then I’ll be on the right track!
Kim Carberry says
When my youngest was born my eldest was just starting school…..It was madness to start with but you will manage!!….It’s so much easier when you get into a routine! Good luck x
I remember the first time i tried to take an 18 month old Z and a newborn S out for a walk. They were both crying before we got to the end of the road, I cried too, turned around and went home.
It is hard, but gets easier. When you have school runs there isn’t the option to turn around, you just have to get on with it, tears and all. It’s easier second time round, you don’t worry so much, you know that if the baby won’t feed, then you can just try again later. i think babies pick up on things too, both my girls were super fast feeders, perhaps realising that I didn’t have half an hour to sit watching TV while breastfeeding anymore.
My girls sort of fitted into our life, rather than the other way round.
You’ll be fine Molly, just make sure the packed lunch, book bags etc are done the night before. 🙂
Good tip – you are another mum I aspire to be like! I am in awe of how you managed with 3 so close together. I think I’d crumble!
Oof, this is a tough one. I want to tell that you will just manage all this stuff and generally you will. It’s so funny that newborns just don’t seem to hard after the first. Really, in some ways, everything baby related is easier, because you’ve done it before.
However, there will be moments when you feel there’s not enough of you to go round and they’re both not getting the best of you, but, you know, that’s OK. That’s being part of a family and they won’t be scarred because of it. Most of the time you do just find the time and manage though. It’s quite amazing really.
Also, I feel like I’m one of those flappy, disorganised mums, but I saw my cousin last week and she told me I make it look so easy. I bet you’re the same.
I don’t feel like it! I’d love to be like the proverbial swan, calm on the top but flapping frantically underneath so no one can see. Unfortunately I fear I’m more of the flustered chicken type…