The first 12 weeks: real talk!
Well well well here we are. I did a poll on Instagram, asking what to write about next, either ‘becoming a mum of two’ OR ‘breast feeding’. This won the votes by a mile. So here I am.. I’ve been writing it, editing for the whole 12 weeks, so I didn’t forget how I felt at that exact moment in time.
I’ve actually found it really difficult at times to write this. Partly because there’s been some really low points. But once i’ve reflected, the high points have out- weigh the low ones – that’s always the case isn’t it?
And truthfully I’ve also felt a bit silly at times reading back through this about how I felt. I think because we have come out of that stage now and it’s in the past, it’s almost like it wasn’t that bad once you’ve been through it. Oh how the mind works. Like child birth. Hell at the time but you do it again!
I could of obviously edited parts out and write a bullshit blog about the first 12 weeks being a breeze. But Let’s be honest I think you would much rather read something truthful and relatable wouldn’t you? Because guess what, It was a really difficult time for me and I’m not ashamed to admit that. Weirdly bringing a newborn home wasn’t the difficult part, it was the adjustment of becoming a Mum of two. So here I go..
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I already couldnt wait for the day when Adeline would meet her baby sister. How would she react? What will she do? Will she be bothered? So many questions going around in mind. And also everyone would always ask me ‘How do you think Adeline will be.’ It was hard to ever know/guess!
Obviously we told Adeline what was happening, but we didn’t want to talk about it constantly for the next 9 months. It was about making the most out of the next 9 months with each other and gently introducing the idea of having another little person moving in!
In the last few months of my pregnancy we did however crank up the baby talk more, just so she was more mentally prepared.
Adeline is really clever & was always aware of what was going on around her. She understood I had a baby in my tummy and loved helping me sort through her clothes & her bedroom, ready for her arrival. It all was very sweet.
We bought and were bought, story books which focused on becoming a big sister, Peppa pig even has an episode where Rebecca rabbits Mummy has twins (Is it sad that I know that? Who am I kidding I think all parents with a 2 year old know that.. right?). Adeline did seem excited about the idea & always expressed how she couldn’t wait to cuddle her.
FYI See below for book & Peppa series for those who are interested!
As I mentioned in my previous blog I found it so hard being away from Adeline whilst in Hospital, so when I walked through the door with Thom and baby Camilla, Adeline came running down the stairs holding my Mums hand, a few things went through my mind;
1. OMG how big is Adeline
2. OMG how much I missed her
3.OMG I’m going to cry. I was hit with a sudden rush of emotions which were dying to escape.
Adeline was so excited- in her own little Adeline way. We gave Adeline a present from Camilla to Adeline (a baby & pram) and cuddled a lot as a three, for the next hour or so. I was in my element and in that moment I couldn’t believe how lucky I was and also how well Adeline was coping.. initially!
THE NEXT 4 DAYS.. of HELL
Yep I said it.. hell. Now I didn’t get the emotions with my first pregnancy. You know, the 4th day depression the ‘blue day’.
Well I did this time. Not helped with the fact that I hasn’t slept in about 4 days and Adeline pretty much hated me. Ok ok, hate is strong, but she just wanted Thom all the time for things that usually she would turn to me for- comfort, bedtime, cuddles. The rejection was tough to take. I felt like I had done something wrong. I felt alone.
Adeline decided to have a regression in sleep and potty training. Not ideal obviously but very common and expected. She started waking up extremely upset, getting out of bed (she’s NEVER EVER done that) and was suddenly afraid of the dark and talking about monsters in her bedroom (to be fair she’s still afraid of the dark and refuses to have the lights off.)
The worst part for me was, one night she got out of her bed and came in our room crying her eyes out wanting us and we (me, Thom, Camilla and even Bonnie) were all together in our bedroom. I felt terrible. Oh the guilt. Kills ya! Thom spent a lot of time in Adeline’s room over the next few weeks. I had to stay with Camilla as I was the feeding machine and that made me feel helpless and guilty.
It was the worst time for me. I felt so unbelievably guilty on both parts. I wanted to cuddle and kiss Camilla constantly, our shiny new baby girl. But I was also very aware that I didn’t want to make Adeline jealous or hurt her feelings. But then I would feel bad on Camilla!
I did all the things people say, like for example when you are breastfeeding (which in the beginning is constant) involve your first born, perhaps offer to read a book together, do something where you don’t have to move. I found puzzles & drawing a winner too. Adeline never seemed bothered or jealous about me feeding Camilla and she seemed to actually hate seeing Camilla cry so much she would always say “I think she needs milk Mummy”.
The guilt was the worst…
I just felt so guilty that I had played such a big part in why Adeline was so upset & struggling with her feelings. At one point I wondered if we had made the right decision, having another child. That’s the gods honest truth. I wanted to go back in time so it was just us the three of us again. Obviously I don’t feel like that anymore! I can’t even imagine Camilla not being here now. She makes the team!
Anyway, In the end I suggested Thom set up camp in the spare room so he was closer to Adeline when she was upset in the night. Plus I was co-sleeping and feeding all night, having Thom snoring next to me just made me angry. So it was the best thing for everyone!
So I spent my evenings alone and would sit upstairs feeding Camilla constantly (the cluster feeding days, god help me) and watching Adeline downstairs via the baby cam upstairs.
Some evenings I just cried & cried & cried. That, in all honestly, is the lowest I have ever felt. That week I cried. A LOT. Thank god for my parents & Husband for all their support! And also my friends & the Instagram community. So many wonderful parents reaching out to me to offer support! They all made me feel less of a crazy person and actually explaining that it’s very normal, on all accounts. What a relief that was.
I didn’t mind co- sleeping (tbh I didn’t have a choice) what I found difficult was when I would see newborn babies sleeping on their own. What was I doing so wrong? I also always feel like people judge you when you explain you co-sleep. People who perhaps don’t have children or are of the older generation anyway. They didn’t mean to, but you could see what they were thinking.
I tried everything to try and get Camilla to sleep on her own. But do you know what it came down to… she’s a new baby, new to this scary big world. She didn’t want to be left alone or put down AND she had reflux, sometimes she would actually go down but would then wake up in pain. I just decided after a lot of anxiety to co- sleep safety, I checked out the safe sleep positions, had a team talk with myself where I said to myself that it wasn’t forever and it was the best thing for us because it meant I actually got some sleep and what’s better then snuggling your new baby all night? Nothing (well maybe sleep..)
I think after about a week in, Adeline let me put her to bed & read her stories and once she had fallen asleep I just stared at her, tears rolled down my face. I can’t even explain to you how awful I felt for her. The little pained look in her eyes. I just wanted her to feel safe & loved. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. She looked so grown up and innocent. I know this all sounds so mellow & dramatic but it’s just honestly how I felt at the time.
The turning point..
I would say week 4-6 was a real turning point for both myself & Adeline (and I guess Thom for his sleep.) We all started to get used to the ‘new norm.’ I think that’s what it is you know, it sounds obvious, but your routine is completely thrown up in the air and that’s what is so hard.. change. I hate change!
Anyway, yes things were looking up, Adeline began to take responsibility helping me with nappy changes & telling me if Camilla had thrown up (which was a lot- damn reflux) and leaving the house even started getting easier.
We enjoyed time together on the sofa, snuggling and watching tele and even leaving the house started to get easier!
It’s funny what you forget..
I thought, yep second time round will be a doddle. I mean it’s easier in someways. Thom is definitely more hands on as he is more confident with a newborn. I kind of know what I’m doing- again more confident. The sling is your saviour if you plan on getting anything done and even more so with a toddler demanding snacks every hour.
We have the Boba sling, so comfy and you can carry front and on your back up to nearly 3 years old I think! Anyway link is below if you are interested.
The witching hour has been horrendous, I mean the clue is in the name. Camilla had reflux which has just been horrific, co sleeping and lack of sleep, always a challenge. But I swear I’ve second guessed everything and worried even more; “Did I do this with Adeline?”, has been a regular question.
I’m annoyed at how much energy I have wasted worrying about co sleeping because now she will sleep on her own just fine, she sometimes falls asleep without any rocking or shushing as well which Adeline NEVER did. Top tip: do not buy sleep aid books. They panic you, make you think you’re failing and if you have anxiety it sets that off too!
We had our first smile at 6-7 weeks which I couldn’t wait for. Even more so this time. I knew Adeline would be excited and it so happens she got the first smile! I mean from all the sleepless nights & witching hour hell, I think I deserved the first smile but hey! All was forgiven when I did get one. Those dancing eyes. Best feeling ever!
By Week 11
I’m in a much happier place right now, lockdown restrictions have eased- at a pretty perfect time. I loved the newborn bubble & not being able to have constant visitors (sorry not sorry). I think because it was such a big deal (to us & especially Adeline!) having another baby. It meant we could all just try and survive those first few weeks together as a family. I think having tonnes of visitors would have made it even worse for Adeline. So thank you lockdown? Jesus I never though I’d be saying that!
Camilla is in a really good routine at the moment *touchwood*and sometimes I just put her down with the white noise machine on and she falls asleep. Her reflux is better, colic is still around most evenings and acid dump during the night usually 3-4am is a pain.
She is feeding about every 3 hours, but I can live with that. I’m a lot more confident breastfeeding this time and pretty much whip it out anywhere. I was NOT like that the first time. I dunno why the sudden ‘ I don’t care who sees my burger nips’ attitude, but I love it! Makes it easier for everyone! And we want BF to be normalised don’t we!
I’m still finding it hard to have any time for myself however. Baths are a distant memory, dry shampoo is my best friend and thank god for my cleaner Magda. Ideally I’d have her everyday but once a month is better than nothing!
We made it!!!!!!! The fourth trimester done! It’s true what they say about babies being more settled. What a difference two weeks make. I am loving this stage. I’ve felt mean wishing away the first few weeks BUT my god it was hard.
We bet so many smiles, her little personality is coming out and the best thing is Adeline loves her! No kidding though, when Camilla see’s Adeline she smiles & coo’s so much! It’s adorable.
I’m still breast feeding so she’s waking every 3-4 hours still, but like I said I can live with that now she sleeps in the next to me after (if I haven’t fallen asleep). She also loves the bottle so I can have a break if I feel I need one.
We have been on loads of days out recently. Making the most out of lockdown restrictions easing and Camilla loves it as much as we do.
She is so chilled and now she’s more alert she’s taking in everything. I remember with Adeline I always found the best thing for me was to get out and keep busy. My bestie even said to me yesterday “I feel like your never home”. I mean I think after over a year of lockdown we are all desperate to be let out!
These past 12 weeks have been a journey. Something I’ll never forget. I was lucky enough to have my Husband with me the whole time (as we have taken shared parental leave). Truthfully I needed him. We needed each other. We have achieved so much as a team and it’s made us better parents for both Camilla and Adeline.
Things I’ve learnt.
1) Try not to overthink everything (you will anyway but it’s not really helpful for anybody!). Take 1 day at a time.
2) MumGuilt hurts. A lot. But you do get through it and you’ll feel close with the firstborn again.
3) it’s often actually easier to get out the house – go for a walk / to the park… generally just get out of the house if you can.
4) related to 3) just getting out the house with two kids is an achievement in itself
5) extractor fans make fantastic white noise machines to soothe your hysterical baby
6) don’t be afraid to just hold your baby and enjoy the snuggles. they’ll always be jobs to do, but they really do change so quickly
7) your partner should be more skilled with newborns. A baby cries and it’s chuffing loud – that’s just how they communicate give them a chance!
8) you CAN survive the first 12 weeks. It can be horrific at times but before you know it it’ll be over and suddenly ‘issues’ really do settle down quickly
9) having a 2nd baby doesn’t mean you have less love for the 1st – it actually makes you love them even more and realise how far they’ve come
10) share it all with your partner / loved ones (where appropriate) – the frustrations, the worries, the craziness. It really is good to talk.