Wednesday 26 January 2022

What I have Learned in the Past Two Months

I had my first four babies all so close together, that the newborn stage still felt like a recent memory when the next baby came along, but there has been a gap of over five years this time and there was so much I had forgotten over those years.  Rex is now two months (and a bit - first thing I remembered is how much longer it takes to get anything done with a newborn) and I thought I would share a few things I have learned (or re-learned) over the past two months

1. How easy it was to forget the sleep deprivation

We all know that new babies don't sleep through the night, but we don't really understand what that means or how it feels unless it is our reality.  I knew it of course, but I had forgot how the lack of real sleep affects my functions and how unrelenting it is as a breasfeeding mother who can't get anyone else to help with the night feeds.  I think what I find hardest is the not knowing, when some nights he can do a long stretch and others he seems to wake every twenty minutes.  Each night I go to bed with no idea how much sleep I am actually going to get and whether I will be able to function as a human in the morning!

2. How quickly the heart expands to fit another child

I worried that our hearts and lives were full already, that four children is so many without adding in a fifth, but I forgot how quickly our hearts expand to fit in one more.  I don't have to share my love between them, spreading it thinner with each new baby, it grows instead each time in ways I cannot explain.  The love I have for each child is unique and individual and as powerful as if there were only one.

3. The benefits of a bigger age gap

This is all new to me, previously I had four babies aged four and under so apart from the first, I navigated the baby days with another baby or toddler in tow.  Dylan got to attend baby massage and sensory groups but none of the others could do any baby centric activities.  I think they got so much from having siblings close in age, but it means I feel like a new mum again with Rex, having so many hours a day with just him to occupy me.  Having a bigger age gap also means the other children are much more independent, they don't need the same level of attention to keep them safe and they are able to help out with the baby, reading him stories, cuddling him and singing him songs.  They are more helpful and less of a liability!

4. The need to change a little boy's nappy quickly

Anyone who has a little boy will know what I mean by this.  I was brutally reminded when Rex weed all over my last pair of clean leggings!

5. How quickly newborns grow

He was born 7lb 13oz and in the past 2.5 months I have had to pack away three different sizes of clothes already, each with sadness about the stage left behind.  This newborn stage may well be my favourite but it is also the shortest and they grow so fast and learn so much every day.  Of course it is bittersweet because growing means they start sleeping better, they start responding more and those early smiles just make everything so much easier. 

6. How giant my other children are

I have referred to Cora as 'Tiny Girl' for so long, she is still one of the smallest in her class, with friends whose shoulders she only just reaches, but with a new baby around, she just seems giant.  She is so large, so capable and not tiny in the slightest.  Don't even get me started on the size of my ten year old whose feet are now the same size as mine - it is hard to believe he was ever that small! 

7. That I can do it all . . . but not for long

For the first week I was running on adrenaline.  I thought I could do it all and I was.  I was cooking, cleaning, doing school runs and taking things on with the belief I would always feel that great. Somewhere around day 8 the tiredness kicked in, the hormones started to balance and I just felt exhausted.  I regretted the fact that I had started doing it all as the expectation seemed to be that I was capable, but it is easy to burn out.  I needed to stop trying to be a martyr and accept the help I was offered and know my limits. 


8. The importance of my village

I know how privileged I am to have a village, to have friends and family locally and I realised that when Rex was born.  Friends helped with school runs as we worked out how to balance the two separate schools and clubs, they sent cakes and supplies, they helped entertain the bigger children and they were always there to listen and support.  Adjusting to a new baby was made so much easier knowing I was surrounded by people that wanted to help us.

This newborn stage is coming to an end, my tiny baby is growing daily, learning new skills, becoming more alert and reminding me of all that is to come. 

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