I fell pregnant with my second child just over two months before my daughter turned two. We had wanted to add another little one to our family, and it seemed as good a time as any. The age gap when my son was born worked out to be 29 months. Seems decent, right? People always say it’s nice to have your children close together in age.
We announced my pregnancy to family and friends at Amy’s second birthday party. She was only two and already I had another bun in the oven! I began to panic a little that we hadn’t quite thought this through. I took strain looking after a demanding toddler while being pregnant again. I also felt a tremendous amount of guilt that I couldn’t always do what I wanted to do with her, and that she started school a lot earlier than she would have had I not been pregnant and about to have a newborn to look after.
Ethan was born, and as expected my life turned upside down. The groove that we had found with Amy was gone, and we were back to square one again with three hourly feeds and trying to cope with a colicky baby. We knew the pressures and demands that a newborn would bring, but we hadn’t done this before with a toddler as well, and it seemed that all those folks who had told us it was easy the second time around had not been honest. It was damn hard, it still is.
I felt overwhelmed while trying to put a cranky two year old to sleep while rocking a baby to sleep on my shoulder at the same time. Trying to soothe the crying baby before he woke his sister, a new level of terror, one only beaten by trying to keep the now school attending child germ-free or at least using her hand to cover her mouth when she coughed.
I felt frustrated trying to read a story to the three year old while the now one year old got bored and wanted a different book, or vice versa, the one year old enjoyed the story while the three year old rolled her eyes. Building towers with the older one when the younger one just wanted to knock them down, working on 36 piece puzzles and peg puzzles at the same time, colouring-in time with the older while checking the younger didn’t eat the crayons.
I often felt overwhelmed in those early days, and if I’m honest I still do. Striking a balance between looking after a one year old and a three year old is so tricky. And while I’m getting better at it, I still work at it every day, to have both of my kids happy with their mom.
My mom sees me struggling and says “this will pass soon, not long now before they are 2 and 4 and it will be easier then.” Her precious words of encouragement fall heavy on my heart. For I know that it will pass soon, and that it will be easier then. Yet as much as I want it to pass, for life to be even a little bit easier, it is this very same thought which terrifies me. I want more sleep, no more nappies, less tantrums, more freedom.
But this will mean that little feet will stop pattering to my bed in the middle of the night, that little arms won’t wrap quite so tightly around my neck or stroke my hair as they once did, that singing to sleep and bedtime stories may soon be a thing of the past. Before long there will only be echoes of bubble splashes at bath time, whispers of hard hugs where I was the last to let go, shadows of laughing over a silly word, and memories of dancing together to a new favourite pop song.
And it will be easier…but it will also be so much harder that those times have passed. So for now I will just try to enjoy the snuggles and cuddles and just being the whole world to these two special little people. Because before long it will pass, it will be easier, and my heart will be both a little bit happier and a little bit sadder at the same time.