When two could be THREE?

Sometimes, this rare occasion occurs where I manage to actually think that perhaps I have managed to find SOME balance in juggling the life of motherhood with two small humans (now aged 3.5 and 1.5 years) and working woman + running a household and keeping a hubby happy PLUS finding my feet with a mum who is being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s…

All this and I hubby will still ask me “what’s for dessert tonight?”

So just as I am thinking that “I got this!” and I am silently high-fiving myself and thanking God for my little angels (lil girl & boy) hubby decides to throw a spanner in the works:

“Hon – you know, I think we should have another baby”

Me: *look on face is (strangely) not shocked – I have managed to pull off a poker face in this instance*

BUT on the inside I am thinking: WHAT THE HELL? ARE YOU CRAZY????

On the outside I am the epitome of calm – I got this – I’ve got the lists, the night-time schedules and plan everything in advance. Underneath I am that crazy paddling duck, ferociously trying to keep above water as I keep us ALL above water!

He continues on by saying that he thinks I am doing a brilliant job with the current two kiddies (thank you) and that really he feels we could handle another one!

OH MY GOD! Does he not realise that this is one more child we need to send to day care when I have to go back to work?

That I can only stay up so long after the kids are asleep to arrange their bags for tomorrow, iron and fold laundry, plan the next day’s meals, wash and colour my hair – because let’s face it: going to the hairdresser is a luxury – dying my roots is a necessity and hence a box dye job is more than sufficient (my theory is you can’t really f%&k up

But with this statement I got to thinking about how poorly divided our tasks are a mother/father unit. I have begun to seriously think about the disparity of tasks when I hear women who have partners that work away (on rosters) will complain that they are “just like a single mother”

I should first put out there: my husband is a fantastic help. He certainly does TRY to get involved. He loves to cook and enjoys to help out where he can… but let’s call a spade a spade here:

When we run out of milk, meat or any household item, 99.99% of the time it is ME that must replace it (and hence why I have created the “box of spares” but I’ll explain that another time)

When the kids want to play outside or rough play, then it’s him they run to… BUT when said play results in tears or a disagreement or dad has had enough it is ME that has to get involved… no matter what else I am doing.

When I am in the shower or toilet there are usually 2 other sets of eyes on me. When he goes to the toilet he can shut the door and have “space”

When the kids go to sleep he gets to pour himself a drink, put his feet up and flip the channel onto Sports… I make another bottle for the late night/just before bed feed, pack the bags for both children for the next day and organise their snacks. I then arrange their outfits for the following day so that when he dresses them he doesn’t have to pick out anything (because let’s face it, he still doesn’t understand why there are ‘day-care clothes’ and regular clothes).

And that’s just to name a few – I am not even getting into what each of their favourite snacks are, what Amira (miss 3.5) really means when she says “remember how yesterday I went see the princesses with Yaya and yesterday before that I went with mummy?” or that I take then to their doctors’ appointments and remember how many ml’s of Neurofen each of them are allowed to have or how many nappies are packed in the day care bag… or that I have already started to think about and put aside money and s

I remember reading a story a while ago about the “default parent” – that is me… and in most cases it is the mother that is the “one responsible for the emotional, physical and logistical needs of the children” … So forgive me for internally rolling my eyes when he makes a comment about how “we” can handle another child.

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Baby number 2: Dear Rocco

How is it that (nearly) ten months have passed? Where did that time go? How is it that you’re turning 1 so soon and your sister is going to be 3? It seems like only yesterday I was staring at you in your hospital crib worried about what was to come – scared about how things would be between us all whilst at the same time in awe of what was happening: I was now a mum of TWO! I remember wondering how Amira would be with you now; hopeful that she’d take this new role now that you’d entered our lives as a real, breathing and needing human rather than just this big belly protrusion.

I remember enjoying the silence; of the fact that because you were the second one, you and I were actually able to enjoy some one on one time before everyone else arrived. I remember eating breakfast whilst holding you that first morning just staring at you with pure wonderment and being amazed that I was a mum again… to a boy this time! I hoped that I would be able to give you the attention you deserved but still give Amira the attention she’d been receiving; I remember being so scared that you might miss out on the time and affection I gave to missy when she was a newborn that I might not have with you.

And when Amira very cautiously entered our hospital room and didn’t want to touch you as the rest of the family stared at you with love I remember being so excited to see my little angel, I walked with her down the hall and told her that I’d missed her and that Rocco was so excited to spend time her. I remember telling her that mummy loved her so much and that she would always be the person who turned me into a mummy and that my heart belonged to both of you. In the weeks to come I remember the challenges of you crying almost all the time when you weren’t sleeping or eating. Crying so never-endingly that Amira would say “put Rocco down and please play with me mummy” or “Rocco noisy”. Trying to explain to a 2 year old that her little brother had colic and that it wasn’t his fault and that I was so sorry I couldn’t put him down because he needed me. I remember how it broke my heart; it broke for you dear Rocco because all I wanted was for you to be ok; to stop being so red in the face and to be ok and know and understand that I loved you so very much. My heart hurt because I hated myself for not being able to play more with Amira when she asked; for wanting to cry even more than I did which was almost each and every day because this parenting caper with 2 under 2 seemed so hard mentally, physically and emotionally. I remember crying in the dark as I held you, crying as I’d lay with Amira and put her sleep and crying in the shower because this was HARD on levels that I couldn’t even begin to explain to your dad. Crying because I expected more of myself.

But things did get easier – Over the weeks I found my footing and the colic dwindled and then a new set of challenges came (as is the way with parenting): you my darling Rocco did not want to take a bottle, then didn’t want formula to not taking a bottle from anyone except me. You tested me and challenged in in a way that your sister never, ever did. With her, from the very beginning I felt this knowingness – like she was (and so far) so much a mini me that there comes this sense of innate understanding. But then there were other times; even during your colic, when I’d try and coincide your naps with Amira and I’d have us in bed all together; and as I’d lay there with one of you on either side of me I look at both your faces and felt my insides explode with such joy and happiness I knew that this was what I was created for; that nothing else prior to being the mum to both of you mattered. I’d take in your smells and how you’d both curl into me and how Amira’s little arm would be hugging me but she’d have her hand on your chest. I remember desperately hoping that I would never ever forget this feeling, taking a mental snapshot of us all; thanking God for this glorious gift.

With you dear Rocco, from the very first time your dad and I lay eyes on you; you seemed like this old soul – you’d look at me with such love and adoration and be so beyond excited to see me. Where Amira made us worked for smiles you throw them out at us; you included daddy in more things than Amira ever did at this stage and for that I am beyond grateful and you absolutely love and adore your big sister. Each morning I am amazed at how excited both of you are to see one another; it is the MOST heart-warming feeling to know that you both share this bond. I hope and pray that it never changes; that it is always this pure, honest and uncompetitive. I love knowing that when no one except mummy can console you there is actually only one other person who CAN: Amira… my little mini me.

The last four kilos

They say that the first step to change or acceptance is admitting you have a problem – so here it is:

I have a CRAZY sweet tooth

I also LOVE to bake

One would think that these 2 things coupled together would make for a beautiful marriage; and yet in a way it has. But at its core all is does is exacerbate the issue. This love of baking and sweet tooth has, in some ways served me well – it means I am usually the one to bring desert when invited to dinner, it means that it is usually assumed that I will be making cake (or something of the equivalent) for family gatherings and that when I go out with Amira (lil miss 2.5yr old) and she’s a cake or picture of something sweet she will look to me and say “mummy make this one for me?” where other children would probably ask “mummy buy this one for me”.

The flipside of this union is that it means the last four-ish kilos I desperately yearn to lose (so that I return to post pregnancy weight) allude me. It means that whilst I may have steamed veg for lunch (my lunch today) that I am resigned to the notion that I will probably give in to having some of that butterscotch self-saucing pudding that I have left over in the fridge. It means that in my mind, I can hear my tummy laughing at me and mocking me “haha – we’re here to stay! You’ll not get rid of us unwanted kilos now – we are now permanent residents; citizens of the belly domain!” and that when I walk into a store these days and they have started to stock their swimwear for the upcoming summer season (it’s still winter here in Australia) they too laugh at me saying “ooohh – remember us? You used to be able to wear us – you’re DREAMING now! Walk on muffin top!”

Hmm – am I sounding a lil crazy?

And yet the quest continues

How easily we forget

I don’t know about you but I am astounded in how 2 years there seem to be both a lot of things I remember and yet a LOT of things I have (already) forgotten about newborns! It has astounded me in such a way that makes me wonder how on earth women who looked after their own newborns more than 10 years ago can feel so adamant about dispensing advice. In saying that, I have been very cautious when dispensing my own ‘anecdotes’ when asked what I did when Amira was a newborn and have tried to start with “I don’t know if it will work for you, but with Amira I think I…” because I’ve found that over time the mind forgets the ‘yuky’ part and has a way of ‘polishing’ the good parts. Perhaps this is nature or God’s way (whichever methodology you ascribe to) of continuing humanity or perhaps it’s just our own feeble, mummy brain affected minds playing tricks on us; whichever one it is, here are the things that I have found that I had forgotten about dealing with newborns:

They really are tiiinnnnyy! I remembered her being little – I remembered her being fragile – but then you have another little one and you are gobsmacked at just HOW teeny, tiny they really, really are! These little fragile, twiglike creatures that I’m scared I could break when changing a nappy.

How breast feeding hurts: when you’re putting a baby to the breast every couple hours and you haven’t breast fed for nearly a year you forget how traumatising it is on the nipples when he/she first latches on and gets going. I loved breast-feeding missy; even with all the attachment issues in the beginning, then her hating one breast to the point of exhaustive fits of crying (first her and then me!) when I’d put her on (to a point where I just gave up and destined myself to lopsided/uneven boobs) and me getting mastitis. I loved the closeness it brought us; the moments where she’d look up at me whilst feeding was like we were sharing our own little secret world that no one else was a part of. It’s not that breast feeding hurts each and every time or for the whole time you’re feeding; it’s just that initial phase when you’re needing to “toughen up” your nipples – that’s the part I’d forgotten about. Which brings me to:

How painful engorgement feels: I must admit that I did fully remember that feeling that came on the third morning post birth, when my milk came in. The shocking feeling as though I had an additional couple kilos on my chest only to be greeted with a Pamela Anderson-sized chest when I looked in the mirror. I remember them being hard (sorry for TMI), for them being even bigger than I thought they’d be and being totally amazed at the concept of child-birth and all that seemed to follow. This time around though my milk started coming in at day 2 and by day three I think I was seriously giving Pammie a damn good run for her money – really; Katie Price had nothing on me! by day 4 I was ready to be able to feed an army of babies! The hardness, the “hotness” – all those feelings came back… but worse this time. And then to have a little bubba who didn’t seem to eat as much as his sister did (though I will say that he did/does want to feed ALL THE TIME!) – well, by the end of night 4 I remember standing in the shower massaging my “mummy glands” as hubby walks in and catches me crying my eyes out of the sheer pain of it all.

How HUNGRY you get post birth and post (beast) feeding: I forgot how famished I’d be after feeding. Re-experiencing this has reminded me that perhaps this is why I never quite got back to pre-baby weight! Literally; I will finish popping Rocco on for a feed and then be thinking “Oooh, I could go a plate of scrambled eggs? or a slice of warmed chocolate cake with a good dollop of thickened cream please?” its profound that these yearnings are there even after the 2am feed when in reality the only thing I should be craving is a warm bed (don’t get me wrong, I am wanting that too, but the cake is outweighing this)

Exactly how tired you will be by the end of the night & the number of times you will get up through the night:  feel that that is pretty self-explanatory. After one baby you know that you will be sleep deprived, but you also know that you’ll survive it and be ok. That after some time, these night time wake ups will lessen and you will find sleep again. But then you have another one and you realise just HOW tired you were – how you are again and then it dawns on me: I will need to sleep train all OVER again!

I know this post sounds like a total rant; a series of complaints, issues and forgotten pitfalls of having babies… but it’s not really… because along with all the above comes the other things that I hadn’t forgotten at all but hadn’t quite remembered as true to what the reality is:

The absolute beauty of watching them sleep

The feeling of bliss of holding them in your arms and the overwhelming feeling of wanting to protect them from the world

The smell of them – the tops of their head smell amazing!

Watching them watching you… & that’s just to name a few!

So that even though I may be beyond tired and its only week 2 of having toddler + newborn and I know I have at least 3 night-time feeds ahead of me later on tonight I must admit… I wouldn’t change a thing. I am a mum of two now and I am amazed by it all.

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