It seems as though everyone around me is having babies, every day I see a new squishy face appear on Facebook or a 12 week scan photo and the seemingly mandatory announcement. My bestie in fact welcomed in a ball of gorgeous loveliness the other night, I was up feeding my baby and the announcement came on our What’s App group chat along with some essential photos of the new family, I must say it made me a bit emotional, it was 2 am though. But it brought back all those feelings of responsibility and uncharted love that come with that life you are now responsible. It got me thinking about the journey they are about to embark on, the trauma of feeding, the hours on end spent awake willing for sleep, the hormonal rush and doubtless tears that will follow as a result. Even still it is the best journey you will embark on.
In the grand scheme of things I guess I would be considered a ‘new mum’ I have after all only been on the job for 20 months, but in that time I have been lucky enough to become the proud owner of two tiny humans. I have without doubt learnt a whole new skill set in that time, a skill set that I don’t believe you are even aware of before the little people come crashing into your life.
When my first, my baby girl, landed on my chest I think I was in shock (being a month early probably didn’t help but its not like I didn’t know she was coming!) I was now responsible for this life, this person relied solely on me and her dad for absolutely everything and boy did I feel the weight of that responsibility. I was responsible for her well-being, her happiness, her life, I had an overwhelming sense of responsibility not to fuck it up. I felt I became a different person, I was previous very laid back and I now felt I boarded on neurotic. I was the typical ‘new mum’ I obsessed about everything, I stood to attention at every cry and beat myself up about every decision I made. In hindsight I have come to accept that this was normal.
Together with that normality was how I dealt with the arrival of our second child, despite the initial worry over his prematurity (2 months this time) and his subsequent health problems, I was, I am for the most part notably more chilled out, thankfully!
It is true, you approach your second born differently and it is absolutely not a result of any less love. You are just a little less worried, it is no longer the unknown and your are perhaps a little busier than the first time around. It is also true you don’t change the sleep suit at the first sight of spit up nor do you stress about the strict 2 hour time limit in the car seat or the lack of poo for 10 hours but there are so many bigger things that make the second time round easier and less worrying.
With my first I was OBSESSED about her temperature, especially at night. I was petrified she would over heat and die, it didn’t help that during our three day hospital stay she couldn’t regulate her temperature too well and it was taken every hour. I was constantly feeling her chest, adding blankets, taking blankets off. I would get out of bed ‘just to check’ she wasn’t too hot or too cold, it wasn’t just her keeping me up at night but myself. I eventually got a room thermometer so I could monitor the room temp and make sure she was dressed appropriately – accordingly to Google anyway… Baby 2, well I have allowed my instinct to dress him and the room thermometer has made a brief and short lived appearance in the room but it is by no means part of the furniture.
Coupled with temperature stress at night was the sleeping position stress, I think I had a small heart attack when baby 1 rolled over in her sleep for the first time. What if she lies on her face and can’t breath? Will she roll back? Perhaps I should put her on her back..just in case? For a week I think I would go in and put her back on to her back. Obsessive much? Baby 2, OK so I did have a bit of panic seeing him sleeping on his front but I have resisted the urge to put him on his back (OK I may have done it once) but on the whole, he is comfy, he sleeps better and I let him sleep how he wants.
Feeding, oh my god this was horrendous. I exclusively expressed milk for baby 1 every 3 hours for 12 weeks. I didn’t sleep for more than 40-60 minutes in any one go. I beat myself up over our struggles to breastfeed, the tears, the anxiety, the feeling of guilt, feeling like you are failing your baby for not being able to do what is the most natural thing was truly awful. With baby 2, we had similar feeding problems, he had breast milk for as long as I could give it but I sure as hell did not give myself the punishing ordeal second time around. I knew I was doing what was best for me and my baby regardless of how he was fed.
When I was faced with leaving my first with someone else for the first time this was a HUGE deal. Mr TM fought tooth and nail to prise me apart from the little ‘un to go to the cinema, the cinema! We’re talking a few hours in the day, whilst my mother in law looked after her. Ya know a women who has had two of her own children, and now 4 grandchildren – it’s fair to say she had a few hours baby sitting down. Nonetheless, getting out the house away from my additional limb felt traumatic. NOW as soon as Mr TM and I get a whiff of the words ‘we’ll look after the babies if you fancy getting out for a bit’ our shoes are on and we are out the door before you can say ‘be back for 8’.
So to any new mums reading this, it’s not just you, we all obsess over the little and big things, worry to much, over think, over react, over do the guilt and second guess ourselves but we do it for the right reasons. This mum thing is a learning curve and the only way we do learn is to be submerged in at the deep end. But, if there is a second time around, chances are your time at the school of mum will stand you in good stead.