‘Does it get easier? Please tell me it gets easier?’. I’m frantically asking this of almost anyone with more than one child at the moment… I feel as though I’m merely existing with a rambunctious (polite description) three year old and a gorgeous but naturally demanding eight week old. For context the first five weeks were bliss, genuinely lovely, then the newborn bubble burst and real life had to start. I’m overall happy and content but today is a BAD day…some days are. My husband works most afternoons and evenings so bedtime, otherwise known as deviltime, is my time. Thus some days are bad.
I’m tired. More tired than I’ve ever been. I feel as though I’m floundering – a tummy bug here, a cold there, a growth spurt here, a wonder week there. Too much CBeebies, guilt about how the big one is coping with everything, piles of washing – washed and unwashed – looming ever higher about the house. I’m a bit lonely – there isn’t the same network of fellow new mothers as there is first time. I’ve got cold feet – literally, someone pooed on my slippers. I don’t go out much yet – thank goodness for online shopping (I’ve even bought my Christmas cards online ). I miss the freedom being the parent of a lone toddler had afforded me. And some days (nights) at the moment if I hear ‘mummy I need you’ either shouted by the three year old or in wailing form from the newborn I feel as though I’m going to combust from the overwhelming feelings of concern, exhaustion, duty, love and frustration.
But then the answers from kind friends come flooding in:
‘yes, it definitely does get easier’
‘they 1984 you – eventually you come to believe there have always been two and it was never any other way!’
‘surviving is awesome at this stage’.
And I read this blog post from Tammymum who, without argument, had it far harder than me and it gives me hope. Then this article pops up in my Facebook newsfeed that reminds me that I am a new mum despite being a mum already, and it all makes me stop and think that maybe this is all fine and all normal and all new mums are feeling at least some degree of this however many children they have.
Because actually every time anyone asks me if things are easier second time round I say emphatically and truthfully ‘yes’. Which sort of makes me wonder how bloody hard I found things first time round, but it also makes me realise that we’re doing ok. It IS easier second time round, it’s less worrying, the sleep deprivation is easier to cope with and there’s the knowledge (and sadness) that it all passes so quickly.
I’m also doing far more in this ‘fourth trimester’ than I did in my firstborn’s first twelve weeks. I’m writing this for one thing. I’m also baking and crafting and nature trailing in the garden like a fiend with the big one. Yes it’s partly to alleviate the ‘too much CBeebies & not going out’ guilt, but hey at least we’re doing it. I shower everyday – get me. I’m definitely cooking more than I did with my first newborn – we are eating proper food, hurray! As a four we’ve had to attend a few big events and we’re trying to get in the odd lunch or walk or family trip. There have even been tiny little flashes of how fun life could be, of how we might start thriving one day as a family of four.
So when I’m dizzy wth tiredness, at the end of my tether with the three year old, bemused by the eight week old and I want to clonk my husband for having the audacity to leave the house to go to an enjoyable and childfree job, I’m going to try to remember these small daily achievements, how maybe I’m a notch up from survival afterall.
But also that survival in these early months regardless of how many children is ok, better than ok actually…it’s new parenthood – often a better memory than experience – but a privilege nonetheless.