So almost a month with two under two. WE ARE ALL ALIVE. And still sober. Miracles do happen.
Can’t quite believe it's been a month already. Where does the time go? With the conveyor belt of nappy changes, constant changing of clothes, poo explosions EVERYWHERE, baby and toddler tears, mum tears and guilt, cluster feeding, no sleep, exhaustion, husband rage, eating mountains of biscuits, drinking cold cups of tea, eating boiling hot food at rapid speeds, I have blinked and we are four weeks in. Going through stages of - it's bloody hard – but not as hard as I thought it would be. To, Christ on a bike, this is fucking hard. (Last night's cluster feeding session was brutal). So some good, amazing moments vs. hold onto your giant kickers, in for a rough ride moments. What has made it 'easier' is my husband has been home and because of the c-section I haven’t been able to do much apart from whack the old boobs out. I haven’t even been able to hoover. SAY WHAT?! So my husband has been my bitch for four weeks and loved being asked politely to do something every second of the day. So once husband goes back to work next week (shitballs) I think the shit may hit the fan and I will be saying THIS IS FUCKING HARD while swinging from the ceiling shouting 'let's eyeball vodka'.
I do feel so different second time round though. Calmer would you believe? Well for now! Just taking each day as it comes. With Rafe, looking back I was totally neurotic during those first few weeks - and beyond. Worried, nervous, scared. Just totally blindsided and overwhelmed. Must get into a routine, must tidy the house, must get out everyday, need to go to a baby class, no time to rest...I just didn’t stop to breathe. And breastfeeding was such a struggle early on that didn’t help. And I didn’t know it at time but obviously his birth was affecting my behaviour too and we were miles and miles away from family. But I think becoming a first time mum was just a complete tornado and shock to the system and I felt quite lost. I wish I could go back and tell me to chill the fuck out. To just try and rest in the early weeks. To try and savour these newborn moments, even though they’re exhausting and bloody hard, emotionally and physically - they fly by. To just stop trying to get to every milestone so quickly. It has been hard not being able to do much, but it had also been a blessing. Actually having to stop, rest and let someone look after me makes me realise how much I never sit still. And this rest period has been much needed. Granted now I can hoover it is out at least twice a day but know I still need to try and take it easy. As easy as you can with a baby and a toddler! I think second time round too, although I’m not an expert, at least I kind of know what to expect. And changing a nappy isn't terrifying like it felt with Rafe. Ok, he is cluster feeding for hours, don’t panic – it’s normal. Up all night? Relentless but I know it doesn’t last forever. (Until four month sleep regression – excited to hit that one again). Can't leave house as he will need to feed in an hour – tough cookie pet, you have a toddler who needs entertained so get out the house and you will have to get your tits out in public. Feel like I have an essay to write but also not quite sure where to start but have wrote some ramblings down about the first four weeks! So here it goes....
You forget how unbelievably exhausting the early weeks are. I think you must block it out. The sand in your eyes kind of exhausting where you can't lift your head off the pillow and when you hear baby stir for what feels like the 100th time, all you can mutter is 'fucking hell'. At least (I hope!) I know it gets easier, although I will never sleep again – a two hour stretch will feel like a dream. Just got to keep swimming...
Fuck routine (ok not quite)
So anyone who has read my blog for a while knows I'm a bit routine obsessed but have been far more relaxed this time round. Well relaxed for me! I wouldn’t say we have one (well a strict one!) but I would say we have changed nothing about Rafe's routine, Elijah is just fitting in with him for now. We didn’t want to disrupt Rafe even more so we have kept his routine the same. So he still goes to nursery one day a week (though stops through summer) and grandparents have him on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. So know we are so very, very lucky to have family support. And means when Chris is back to work, I can still have just time with me and Elijah for those four days (between 8-4), or have them both all day, every day - I have the option, though inclined to take what help I can for now! Slightly apprehensive about the days on my own, the mornings, bath and night-time fun – but know of other military wives who do it on their own all day every day so know I just need to get on with it and once I get over the first few days, it should be a breeze...
Netflix and chill
Husband and I are changing the meaning of Netflix and chill to mean: husband sits on one sofa. I lie on the other breastfeeding until we go to bed, shovelling biscuits and chocolate into my face. Honestly the amount of chocolate I eat every night is record breaking. But got to do what you go to do. Cluster feeding is some serious shit.
Breastfeeding – tough but easier
Although I had a week of sore nipples and a few milk blisters which were horrendous, second time breastfeeding compared to the early weeks and huge struggle feeding Rafe , is so so different. Getting over the struggle with Rafe and then the 17-months feeding him has given me more confidence than I thought – so although it is exhausting, we have clicked and Elijah is feeding so well. Still playing around with different positions but not pulling my hair out in frustration this time round. And because I know how tiring these early weeks are – rather than losing more sleep over it, just trying to remind myself it is not forever. Two hourly feeds and mammoth cluster feeding sessions do end. I never used to really feed in public with Rafe, the odd time when he was older but I’ve been braver this time round. I can’t hide in the house all day – I have to get out and about and entertain a toddler so breastfeeding while out and about has to be done. I do worry when it is just the three of us as Rafe is on the go constantly so not sure how to get him to sit still/keep him entertained while I feed Elijah, as I think he does get a bit jealous. Well, he just wants attention off me too. Any tips to keep Rafe happy while I breastfeed, I’d be really grateful??!!
Poo. Sick. Wee.
It's constant and it is everywhere. I forgot when you take off a baby boy's nappy they decide that is the time to have a wee. And how it shoots across the room/all over you. Same with poo. And sick. I'm like a walking sewage pipe. Rafe was hardly ever sick but I’m not sure if Elijah has reflux as he does tend to be quite sick after some feeds. But not all. Any advice if it is reflux? He is feeding well, fussy sometimes. And he is putting on weight – a mighty 10Ib 6oz when he was weighed the other week. Had put on 20 ounces in one week! Knowing he is putting on weight and my boobs are doing that is a huge encouragement and gets you through the sand in eyes moments.
Husband rage – WHY ARE YOU CUTTING THE FUCKING GRASS NOW?
Chris has been amazing, pretty much taking care of Rafe (and me!) and making sure the house is clean before I have a nervous breakdown. So husband rage has been at a minimum apart from when I can hear him snoring while I’m awake for the 3445th time in the night and when he decides it is a good time to cut the grass as 4pm when both children need fed and then bathed. (Why do men , however helpful they are being, do things when it is the most inconvenient?)
Sleep when the baby sleeps
I used to laugh at this. Sleep?!! I need to walk the dog. Do the washing. Hoover. Cook...This time round however, I have been trying, while husband is here and still recovering, to get a nap in when I can. Although tough, having a section has meant I have had to pretty much do nothing for the first couple of weeks so I have been able to take the time to recover and to rest. Which I think I underestimated how important that was in the early weeks with Rafe. I feel well, have healed well and know what I feel comfortable doing (obviously back doing the housework! But feel fit to do so) but still taking it easy if get any pain. Just still not driving or lifting Rafe fully or anything too heavy. I guess it's just about knowing your limits and remembering I did have major surgery a month ago.
Caesarean – TAKE THE LAXATIVES
I totally underestimated how much pain I would be in and how difficult the first days after the section would be. Going to the loo, showering, moving out of bed was genuine agony to start with. Trying to get in to a good position to feed Elijah – Christ and having that first poo was fucking hard work I tell you. Thought I was dying. Take the bloody laxatives they give you in hospital!!
I haven’t really thought about the birth much at all to be honest. Don’t think it has quite hit me still. There is a birth reflection service I can use 6-weeks postpartum where I can talk to someone about what happened so I will be doing that. It’s so important for me to do that.
It's alive and kicking. Feeling like you’re being torn in two and not able to pay enough attention to one of your children is fucking horrendous and I know something I will have to live with for a long time. The first night home was so hard. I’ve always put Rafe to bed. Always. It was always our alone time for cuddles and a bedtime story. But because I can’t lift him, Chris was on bedtime patrol. Rafe screamed and I could hear him saying ‘mama' and broke my heart. He is used to his dad putting him to bed now but I still can’t really lift him up and I do feel like I haven’t spent much time with him though try and get some one on one with him when I can but when I can't pick him up, let him climb all over me, run after him it is hard. This I have found the hardest. Cried so much in the first couple of weeks. And I miss Rafe. I do miss our time together. And I can't believe how big he seems now! I do feel like he isn’t as cuddly with me and I don’t know whether that is because of Elijah and me not being able to be as ‘hands on' or he is just doesn’t want a cuddle. And I do feel guilty that he feels left out at times, especially when I am feeding Elijah and he is trying to cuddle him/nut him/poke him in the eye/pull his arm and I need to tell him to stop. And I’m sure it might be slightly harder when it is just me...but hey. That’s what my dad's homemade wine is for. But as I said, I know many other military wives who are doing it with far less support than me. And I will soon get into a routine I’m sure. Bath, bottle/boob, bed. Wine. Tequila. Done.
Bird lady from Home Alone 2
She is back!! With a vengeance. Hello beard. Sick in hair. Poo on clothes (Elijah's – not mine), wee everywhere. How women look so good in this early days is mind blowing.
Double the love
Seeing Rafe meet Elijah for the first time was one of the best moments of my life. Although Rafe might try and poke Elijah in the face daily – seeing them together makes my heart burst. I was worried I didn’t have enough love to go round, but it has doubled. And more. Oh and is there anything better than that newborn baby smell? And when they look up at you with their big eyes. Heaven.
So I’m no expert on two under two. Not even close and don’t think I ever will be. And to be fair, it is only four weeks in but for those about to go through those early newborn weeks with a toddler - I would just say – it will be ok. If I can do four weeks without telling husband to fuck off once, to stay sober – and be surprisingly positive when I am normally negative Nancy – well anyone can do it! May all change in a weeks time like but hey, it's going to be a fucking adventure and a half and isn’t that what life is all about?
Till next time,
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.