Ben and I have been at home three and a half weeks now. It feels like he’s always been here and yet we’re still learning how to be a family of four.
I’ve been wanting to write a post about the changes to our family and our lives but every time I think I know what I want to say it all changes again.
The first few days at home were great. BabyDaddy was working so it meant the boys & I had a chance to get ourselves into a routine. Well, we may not have worked out a routine but we did get to know each other. Ted started to pay a bit more attention to Ben and even gave him kisses. Ben was chilled out, slept well and comforted easily. I spent time playing with Ted whenever Ben was asleep and playing with Ben when Ted was asleep. I slept if both slept at the same time. Then Ted’s first post-Ben tantrum coincided with me & Ben coming down with a really nasty cold and my worst baby blues day. Unfortunately these things also coincided with BabyDaddy working late and I spent hours crying, convincing myself I wasn’t cut out to be a mum after all, and feeling more isolated and alone than I can remember ever feeling before. I didn’t feel that I had anyone to turn to who would understand or who had time for me, and all I could think of was getting out on my own. I just wanted to go for a walk without anyone crying or demanding anything of me. I planned to do it when BabyDaddy got home but I was exhausted and cried myself to sleep.
The next morning I broke down and told BabyDaddy I was worried I might need to see the doctor. He told me he’d take me if I needed it but that I’d been through a similar experience with Ted and come through the other side after 24 hours. He was right. In that time I’d also told my brother how I was feeling and he’d also reassured me that it was normal to feel down when you’ve had a baby, suffered sleep deprivation, come down with a cold and had to wrestle with a moody toddler. Just talking to people who loved me made me feel more secure.
I started out thinking “I can do this! This isn’t as hard as I expected!” and quickly found myself sobbing “I can’t do this! It’s too hard!” but since then, although there have been plenty of ups and downs, I think we’re muddling through somewhere in the middle.
It’s true that it’s easier second time round. How I wish I’d known what I know now when I had Ted. But it can also be really hard to balance everything, to stay calm when both boys are in simultaneous meltdown, and when I haven’t had enough sleep. I know how to look after a baby but I’m still learning how to look after a toddler and how to do both at the same time. It also seems that other people don’t care so much second time round. When I had Ted I got so many texts, visits and offers of help. It meant a lot to me and often saved my sanity. With Ben I feel as though it’s assumed that I know what I’m doing and that I don’t need any help. I do, though.
But some people have helped. I’ve had daily texts from a friend who tells me I’m doing a good job when I feel like I’m ruining my boys’ lives. I’ve had cake and flowers and chocolates. I’ve had cups of tea and tales of childbirth and photos of vagina-inspired cakes. I’ve had cards and presents and balloons. I’ve had projects and excitement and plans and dreams. And I’ve had my boys.
Having Ben has changed not only my life but the lives of my husband and son and the family we’d created. All of a sudden Ted seems grown up, independent, incredibly loving and quietly knowing. BabyDaddy, self-confessed worrier and prior panic-merchant, has become such a confident and chilled out dad. He’s also an amazingly supportive husband who takes my hormonal outbursts in his stride and wipes my tears whilst letting my temper bounce off him. I’m incredibly happy. Even when Ben’s screaming and Ted’s shouting and BabyDaddy won’t wake up. I might want to run away but I know I’d run straight back.
I’m very proud to have created these boys and to have formed this little family. There were times I never thought this would happen for me and I couldn’t be happier that my body has done this amazing thing. Twice.