The Difficulty Of The Second Child

The Difficulty Of The Second Child

I wrote a post, about a year a go actually about how we all need to take our time to heal. To heal from whatever difficulty we feel is worthy of recovery. For me that was the premature birth of my son. I didn’t realise the effect it had on me until I started writing about it. My blog was never meant to be a form of ‘therapy’ but it has turned out to be just that. I am not sorry.

Writing about his early arrival and the following difficulties really helped me process and move on from something that was actually incredible tough. I thought I was done. I thought I had moved on once and for all. However in the last 12 months there has been one more thing on my mind.  One of those things that keep you awake at 3am. I have held off writing about it as I have been unsure of it’s reception and the judgment that may ensue. That said 3am is a shite time to be awake so perhaps you’ll humour me one more time in my bid to put this time in our life behind me once and for all.

When my daughter was born she was placed on me and there she stayed, for the next 11 months. She fed from me, she was next to me in her cot in the hospital for the three days we stayed and then at home, she was in my bed, she was always there. Always. You couldn’t separate us.

Conversely when my boy was born, he was waived in front of me for what seemed like 0.01 seconds and whisked away for medical attention. Make no mistake, I am forever glad that he was. Had he not there is no doubt he would not be here today. It is a price I would pay every time. Every time.

I do believe though we paid a price for this. 

There was no skin to skin, no trying to feed from me, no togetherness, no closeness. I couldn’t sit in my bed staring at this beautiful being I’d made. He wasn’t there.

I couldn’t hold him. I couldn’t cuddle him. I couldn’t smell his fresh baby smell and neither could he get to know me.

I watched nurses drip millilitres of colostrum into his feeding tube. I watched nurses do his ‘daily cares’. I could just about touch him.

There is no bed for mum in the NICU. I had a hospital bed the other end of the maternity unit on a ward with expectant mothers. My baby’s cot was not there. The hospital staff were good, they didn’t put me on the ward with the new mothers but they were in the next room and I could hear them. They also allowed me to stay for 2 nights so I could be close to him even though medically I should have gone home the same day.

toby the day he was born

But go home I must. I had an 11 month old at home. Mr Tammy had a business to run and for 1 of the 5 weeks my boy was in hospital my girl and Mr T both had a sick bug. Getting to spend time with my newborn boy was a very real challenge over the following weeks. It was a case of beg, borrow or steal peoples’ time and help to look after my daughter or come with me to the hospital so that I would get a few precious hours with my son a day. Just to be with him, to try to feed. I went into a sheer panic on my daughter’s first birthday when I didn’t think I would make it to the hospital before the 8 o’clock kick out rule kicked in.

In those first 5 weeks of his life, after my discharge  I stayed over night at the hospital on 2 occasions. They were the only nights I spent with my son. Now I don’t know about you but I did most of my bonding with my daughter during the nights. The first 5 weeks of her life she was up every 2 hours, as was I. We were together. To this day certain TV theme tunes, suits, take me back to sitting on my nursing chair eating sympathy minstrels at 4am because we were still awake.

Those first five weeks of having at most 4 hours a day with my boy and at worst 1.5 hours felt like a heavy price to pay. I didn’t know my son that came home. He had been on this earth a whole 5 weeks and our time together had been so limited.

Toby sleeping

Even once home, he was so poorly, he slept lots. He was picked up for feeds, and to change his clothes from the vomit that inevitably followed and he was put back down until the next cycle. There was no sitting on my chest for hours on end as I watched Gossip Girl, I had a newly walking one year old to contend with. He did not, as we say, ‘wake up’ until he was a good 4 months old, at which point he still only weighed 8lbs. I didn’t realise it then but I do now, we lost so much time together. As the time has passed since his birth I have realised the price we paid. My parental instinct of utter devotion was always there, my love for him absolutely never in question but something was missing. We took a lot longer to get to know one another, to really bond. I had a conversation with someone recently and she suggested it may have been a self preservation thing. Keeping myself slightly at arms length out of fear, fear over the health of something so precious, given how poorly he was and started out. Perhaps there is something in this too, I remember just how worried I was about him. I remember the day he stopped breathing at home and was rushed into hospital. I spent a long time hating myself. I had all the guilt. Truth be told, at 3am I believe I still do.

I know it is no ones fault, it is a product of circumstance but as a parent it is a truly awful feeling to harbour, to bury until the small hours. I love my son, more than anything, I am a proud and unbelievably lucky mother. I would do absolutely anything for my little man. May nobody, or more importantly may he never question or doubt that. Just because our start was a little less conventional and we took a little longer than some, we got there.

Toby and me





  1. November 6, 2017 / 6:56 am

    What a beautiful and honest post. Such a brave mummy and a strong little boy! #familyfunlinky

  2. November 6, 2017 / 7:22 am

    Whilst it was a frustrating challenging frightening and emotional experience for you, I think he will grow up with no memory of those early weeks and will therefore know nothing other than all the love you’ve given him, and won’t be aware of any difference between the early relationship you had with him compared to his sister. He will only know the total love and devotion you show him. Very brave of you to share the powerful emotions that those early days can create. #FamilyFunLinky

  3. November 6, 2017 / 8:06 am

    I can relate to this having had a prem baby too. At that time Ella was just 5 and it was a real balancing act of being there for both of them. A beautifully written post #familyfun

  4. November 6, 2017 / 8:14 am

    Wow, what a whirlwind of an experience, sounds really tough to go through X #familyfunlinky

  5. November 6, 2017 / 8:34 am

    What a beautifully written and heartfelt post. I was quite ill after having Molly and while I was only away from her for a matter of hours, I still felt like we missed out on some bonding time so I totally understand where you’re coming from. X #FamilyFunLinky

  6. November 6, 2017 / 11:10 am

    What a honest, scary, touching and love filled post. We want thing to go so well and be so easy. You’ve done so well will the change of circumstances. #FamilyFunLinky

  7. What a powerfully honest story! It is incredible what you and your little man have been through, and for that alone, you should feel very proud. Having a second child (or third or more) when your oldest is still a toddler takes a huge toll on us mums even when they’re full term and healthy, let alone premature and poorly. You are incredibly strong, and I hope writing this post has had the therapeutic effect you were hoping for.

  8. November 6, 2017 / 3:56 pm

    Such a lovely post. It’s a hard way to start your lives together and you have done amazingly to get through the intial part of being apart. It was my biggest concern when I had my twins, but at 35 weeks, we made it home together after 48 hours, and for that I know I was lucky #familyfun

  9. November 6, 2017 / 7:25 pm

    My eldest was prem too, I was terrified having my second but she surprised us arriving on her due date. #familyfunlinky

  10. November 6, 2017 / 7:43 pm

    This is so beautiful. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must have been in those first few months, especially when he was still in hospital. I had bonding issues with my first in the initial weeks and the guilt still weighs on me now. Is there nothing we mothers won’t beat ourselves up about?! The way I see it, the guilt just shows how deeply we care xx

  11. Mother of 3
    November 6, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    What a beautiful and heart wrenching post.

  12. November 6, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    A beautiful honest post and I don’t think you should ever feel guilty about how you feel. Its completely understandable, and perhaps harder because this was your second . I think your friend may have a point about the self preservation thing. Hopefully writing it down has helped get some things off your chest. I’m so glad your beautiful boy was ok, Be kind to yourself xx

  13. November 7, 2017 / 1:39 pm

    This is an amazing post! I was fortunate that both of my boys were full term but my niece and nephew were both preemies and I saw the toll it took on my brother and sister-in-law. The bond is there though and he won’t remember those early days. You love him and he loves you. That is such a gift:) Thanks so much for hosting #FamilyFunLinky

  14. November 7, 2017 / 3:32 pm

    What a lovely writing. Of course you wouldn’t change that for a world. It’s perfect, it’s yours. This is your story and it’s different from other’s stories. That’s the way it is. #familyfunlinky

  15. November 7, 2017 / 8:09 pm

    It is a hard balance but it sounds like you did the best for all involved. I can imagine the heartbreak. #MMBH

  16. November 12, 2017 / 10:46 am

    It’s true that writing things out is like therapy. I hope that in writing out your connection with your son that you feel better. #FamilyFunLinky

  17. November 12, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    This is just beautiful. I suppose we often take for granted the time we get to get to know our baby and they us! I think this will really help anyone in this situation now to know you’ll get there in the end #FamilyFunLinky

  18. November 13, 2017 / 6:54 pm

    This is so sad – I can’t imagine not having had my babies with me. I hope you can make up for it now #familyfunlinky