Well, our second little one is now six months old. She’s smiling and laughing away, rolling over, sitting, eating and becoming more of a little girl every day. She looks up to her big sister, who is the only person who can make her really laugh.
I thought this would be a good time to reflect on the experience of a new baby the second time around. It’s been surprising. The parts I thought would be easy this time haven’t, but other parts have been ridiculously easy compared to the first (“Weaning? Just hand me the spoon and bowl and let me get on with it, woman!”).
I was going to do this in one post, but realised that there’s just so much to write that I’m going to have to do this in parts. A series, if you like! So here’s Part 1..
The early weeks
What. A. Shocker.
This is an example of me thinking it would be ‘easier’. I wouldn’t obsessively keep note on my iPhone of how much milk the baby was drinking this time around? In fact, breast feeding would go like a breeze this time, so bottle feeding wouldn’t be necessary at all, surely? I wouldn’t be so neurotic about sleep patterns? Second babies just ‘fit in’.
Oh boy, did we get a shock there. Breastfeeding was frequent and painful, just like the first time. As with my first, I turned to health visitors and midwives for help, determined that it would work. As always, they gave me the usual tosh advice of “keep going- it will get better”. It never did, and after 5 painful weeks I had to concede that bottle was best for all the family, not just baby and me.
And so ensued the constant record-keeping of how many ounces of milk baby had drunk, with careful comparison to various googled articles entitled “how much milk should my baby be drinking?”.
Sleep. Well – I thought I was knackered the first time round, but nothing compared to this! This time, I had a toddler who was feeling just a little bit unsettled at baby’s arrival. I remember one night when partner and I were like a tag team, shuttling between toddler and baby.
I also missed the ending of the most recent series of Downton Abbey, due to simply falling asleep during the last few minutes. This whole sentence must be italicised, to emphasise how wrong this is!!! In fact, I’m so traumatised, I can’t write anymore about it.
Moses baskets. Good for piling washing in. That’s what number two thought, anyway. She was not for going in it – no way. We tried everything- used breast pads, t- shirts which smelled of me, a warm lamb skin fleece bought especially from John Lewis, hot water bottles, tilting the mattress, a special mattress which supports the head and neck..nothing worked. We would get her off to sleep, place her in, two minutes later and, hey presto!, awake again and looking mightily angry.
For many nights, she slept with me in our double bed, as this was the only way I could get any sleep myself. Obviously, we were acutely aware that this couldn’t carry on due to safety issues.
Eventually, we bought a co-sleeping cot. This is one of the best things I have ever bought! Number two obviously felt safer and more secure being so close to us. From our point of view, she would wake and (combined with a benefit of bottle feeding), we would just have to reach over to give her the bottle (even better when she learned to hold it herself). To comfort her, we could just put an arm on her tummy or lie close to her.
What was so joyful about this time was seeing the ‘rebirth’ of our family unit. Number one now has a little sister. Watching her bring her toys, talk to her, ask me “can we bring my baby sister?”, or “one day, my baby sister’s gonna talk to me and bounce on my bed with me” (you’re going to have that bed till you’re 18, young lady!!) really is special.
Of course number two is developing a personality of her own now, and all of the above has settled down hugely. But I’ll save that for further postings…