Firstly I have to apologise for taking a huge 6 weeks to write this. I did manage to jumble together a blog about 3 weeks ago and as I went to proof read it discovered that it had deleted itself so I will try to make sense whilst being completely distracted by new born cuddles and maltesers!
Secondly, I am very excited to announce that my little Mr is here - Reuben Jordan Gerard, 8lb 5.5oz, at 20:49, on 19th February. I don't really have an awful lot of wisdom to pass on so instead I'll let you know how it all happened and how I have coped now that I am out numbered in the daytime!
So, whilst wandering around our local theme park/ zoo with a 2 year old in toe (why wouldn't you at 38 weeks pregnant?!) we decided to venture into the dreaded gift shop to see how much damage one little girl could do to daddy's bank card when my phone started to ring with an 'unknown' number. At that exact moment I knew the chaos was well and truly about to begin. Throughout this pregnancy I had had symptoms for choleostasis, a condition which was likely to return after suffering from it in my first pregnancy. I already had an induction booked. We had the 29th of Feb as THE date in our minds. We started planning the future birthday of a leap year baby whilst continuing to have weekly tests for the condition..... Anyway as soon as I saw 'unknown' I knew it was the midwife. Some results had come back abnormal so I was sent for further tests however was told to be prepared to be induced straight away. We all rushed home and scrambled our bits together trying to explain to a 2 year old why we never made it to the lemurs or sea lions. The tests were all OK so we were went home and asked to come back the next morning to see a consultant. The next morning was quite emotional with lots if decisions to be made and lots if different people giving different advice. We were finally told it was in our best interest to be induced and sent straight to the induction suite where we met the most patient midwife who answered all of our questions countless times. I won't go into all the gory details but everything went very smoothly and we moved to the labour ward quite quickly where again we met some really lovely midwives. One was a student which is something I'd always been skeptical of, in my head I thought that I'd rather have the most experienced staff possible but actually having a student meant that everything done was extremely thorough and explained, that and there was an experienced midwife there the whole time. So I would say if given the option always say yes to a student! Again I was extremely lucky and everything went like textbook and our little man joined us at 20:49.
We had all of our special moments captured in those first few hours, took photos and I had my tea and toast before moving to the postnatal ward where I could barely sleep through excitement of the 4 of us meeting for the first time. I counted down the hours to being discharged and luckily didn't have to wait too long. I heard my daughters little footsteps running up the corridor and knew instantly she was there before her little head poked round the curtain. And prepare yourself if you're having a second, she looked like a giant now! I can't emphasise that enough. She had gone from my little girl with ringlet curls to a grown up little diva. At this point we were official now a family of four.
The first few days were a bit if a blur, lots of cuddles a few visitors and the transition to our new roles. There were tears and tantrums - and that was just from me! And with this came the biggest shock to me. Nothing really changed. My new normal was relatively.... normal.
Over the first two or three weeks it was in no way what I expected. With my first we had so many visitors, my husband and I barely saw each other. We felt so special to everyone who brought cards, gifts and mountains of chocolate.This time we barely had a text and phone call. We hardly saw family and saw very few friends. At first this made everything, well, almost an anti climax. For me certainly at the end of pregnancy I could barely waddle anywhere without being asked about the impending arrival. All the attention made me (and I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way) feel special and important. So when it went from strangers approaching me to family and friends NOT nearly suffocating us with attention it was a huge surprise. There were positives to it and we focused on spending time with just each other but it did feel quite strange that life just went on like normal. The first time around our lives were tipped upside down and literally everything changed where as Reuben just kind if fitted into our routines. And this wasn't as exciting for the people around us. We adjusted to this though and appreciated not having to worry about the house or our hair being presentable!
And then came the biggest test so far - my husband went to work and I had to keep 2 children alive, fed and entertained. YIKES! I discovered very quickly that having 2 is basically a constant battle between feeling stressed and feeling guilty. I either feel guilty I'm spending time with one and not the other or stressed that something needs doing, like mopping the floors, washing the clothes or making fruit more appealing than chocolate! Rationally I am aware of how ridiculous this is and don't get me wrong it is truly the best time of my life but it's far from easy. Also when I've described this balance to other parents of 2 or more they all laugh, give my an understanding nod and smile.
I have learned quickly that getting out of the house makes the day much easier. My toddler is happier, I'm more relaxed and there's a lot less mess after the end of the day. I genuinely felt like a goddess the first day my husband went to work. I managed to dress both children, set up the double pushchair, walk to the park, play in the park, wall back and bring 2 children home. That was a definite success! It does take me about 3 hours from waking up to actually get out of the house but I put this down to my ever more demanding, head strong 2 year old who also decided she wanted to potty train once Reuben was 11 days old (I swear she just wants to see how stressed she can make me!)
The other trick I've learnt very quickly is ALWAYS carry a snack that can be used as bribery - I'm sure it's not model parenting but in all honesty at this stage I'm not trying to be perfect I'm merely trying to survive and keep some sanity. When it comes down to a park full of people and a toddler who won't get in her pushchair a cereal bar biscuit isn't the end of the world!
Also make as many friends with other mums who have children around the same age as possible. This has been my absolute saving grace. Days where I have needed to moan, ask advice and most importantly have adult conversations these friends have kept me sane! I also make as many plans as possible so that we can get up, ready and out or else we wouldn't be dressed come lunchtime!
There are many hilarious stories from just 6 weeks that I could share, mainly the one that led to my bathroom being smeared with toddler poo but I wouldn't know where to start! This really is what makes the time so special.
And what I would say (I also keep telling myself this!) is try not to focus on the guilt - you can't help feeling it when they're crying for a cuddle from you and you physically can't go for one reason or another but one day the love the children will (hopefully) feel for each other will be so worth it. And definitely don't stress about things like house work - I've found out you can tidy for hours on end and the toddler will still find a way to make a mess so you may as well just not tidy, especially in the daytime - if visitors don't understand then they're also going to be judging the streaks of dry shampoo in your hair, the fact your tops inside out and the fact your letting your 2 year old watch the same film 3 times a day.
Bar this there is little wisdom that I can share - I'm willing to take any advice though! For now I'm going to carry on winging it, constantly count to check I still have 2 children and continue to discover every local attraction possible!