Remember this famous line from a certain ground breaking movie?
“The first rule of Fight Club is: you don’t talk about Fight Club.”
Well, this can pretty much be applied to the first three months of coping with two children.
When we made the decision to try for baby number two, I clearly made a very naive assumption that by having kept one child alive for just under two years, it would be a breeze to do the same once more. I watched parents of two pounding the streets with their Lascal buggy boards and thought “Hell, that looks like loads of fun.”
I laugh at my foolish PTK-self (Pre-Two-Kids-self)
As with the truth regarding childbirth there seems to be a cone of silence amongst those who have a toddler and a baby. Prior to having Marni those already in the situation would smile sweetly when I asked about the logistics. Whereas now they smile knowingly, instead, whilst I stand in the queue of Sainsbury’s trying to placate the baby in need of feed, pack the shopping whilst calmly but firmly ensuring Lena doesn’t open and eat all of the chocolate sitting at the check-out.
I’m clearly not hiding my deer-in-the-headlights look. Gone are the traditional questions when we pop into our local M&S cafe with my two girls. It’s no longer; how old is she, how is she feeding etc. Instead I am being asked how I’m coping.
Coping? Ah! Now I would much rather use the word surviving.
I’m surviving the sleep deprivation. Oh how I long for the days when I could sleep when the baby sleeps. But, unfortunately, if I were to do that The Toddler would probably have schemed and started to execute her world domination plan number one. That or have drawn on all of my walls with crayons. Comparably frightening, I rightly feel.
I’m surviving the guilt. I’d forgotten how immediate everything is with a newborn. How shattering the screams are for a feed, or a burp, or a cuddle. No cot-mobile is distracting this little bundle, no matter how expensive. She needs me urgently, as does the older child who is wailing because she wants her shoes off, or has noticed that the Peppa Pig DVD has stopped.
I’m surviving the regression. I think poor Lena got the shock of her life when her sister didn’t stay in hospital. But instead came home with us and started to take an awful lot of attention. The five balloons and Frozen set of dolls just didn’t take the edge off it. All of a sudden the potty training went out of the window. Lena started launching herself onto the changing mat for one-on-one nappy changing time, whilst clutching armfuls of Lamaze toys that were once hers, but we are attempting to hand down to her sibling.
I’m surviving the chaos that precedes leaving the house. I mean I seriously want to go back in time and have a stern word with my one-child self and ask what on Earth took her so long to leave the house. I’m lucky if we can nail it within the hour nowadays.
Regardless of all of this I’m actually really enjoying it. Don’t get me wrong I end each day questioning whether I have been fair with my affection. I’m keeping Nespresso in business and I long for the day when the baby finally sleeps through the night.
Despite this, life with two is pretty excellent.
As we exit the newborn phase I am being given a glimpse of what it will be like.
Marni is becoming distracted by life and there’s nothing more exciting for a baby than an older child whizzing around them, roaring in their face and forcing them to play catch, even though they clearly have no reflex to help them participate.
As I watch Lena slowly warming to her sister (let’s bear in mind that she is only just referring to her as “My Baby Sister Marni” rather than “It”) I can see that this will also be great fun for her. Someone small and absolutely ripe to be bossed around. Someone else, other than me. Hurrah! Now that calls for a high five glass of Prosecco!