One of the most common questions that I have been getting since Baby Rae came along is “How are you adjusting to having two?” I guess because I had six years of just one child (and as a, god forbid, single Mum) there was an expectation that having two children would be difficult.
Before I had Rae I thought it would be hard and was prepared to be challenged, what I wasn’t prepared for was the reality… that this baby would just slot right into our family like she had always been here. There have been times where I have been so grateful to have my Dad, Mum or Brother walk through the door so that I could get one of them to hold the baby or help LJ with something or let me do the dishes, but that’s only natural.
I think one thing that has made the adjustment easier has been lowering my expectations of myself, allowing the house to be messier than it usually would be and having hair that is greasier than it has ever been.
I was lucky (in one respect) that Rae arrived three weeks before school holidays, that allowed me to have three weeks of days spent just me and her and every morning, once LJ had been delivered safely to school (either by me or one of my parents), I would climb back into bed, next to a sleeping Rae and just soak her in, watch her, smell her, snuggle her and just get to know her. By the time LJ was finished school I would be well rested (and in a love bubble) enough to give him almost as much mummy attention as he was used to.
In the early days (which feels somewhat silly to say, given that as I write this Rae is only seven weeks old) the biggest struggle was when I had to express breastmilk, due to her being a late preemie, we had some struggles feeding and every three hours I would need to be on the pump for twenty minutes, nine times out of ten LJ was understanding of this and would come into my bed with us while I pumped, busying himself on his iPad. There were also a lot of times when I would have to remind him not to smother the baby with two many kisses or not to put his fingers in her mouth unless he had washed them first.
The other struggle was when Rae had to go back to hospital to be treated for jaundice at four days old. LJ had spent two nights at my parents when Rae was born and then we spent our first night as a family of three at home together, only for him to have to spend the next night at my parents again while Rae and I were back in the hospital. Being a school day my parents were able to keep him in his normal day routine and he was hardly bothered, but for me as a Mum (and a mum who had only spent those three nights away from him in six years… and a mum who was on day four post partum and filled with hormones) it hurt. It was my first (and probably not my last) experience of being torn between my children.
The night Rae was discharged from the hospital (after the jaundice treatment) LJ and my dad came to pick us up from the hospital, My dad stayed with Rae (and a handful of midwives who were only too happy to help) and gave her a feed while LJ and I ducked down to Bacchus marsh McDonald’s (just down the road from the hospital) and had a “date” We ate macaroons, I had a coffee while he played on the playground and then, forty minutes later, we returned to the hospital with big smiles on our faces. Since then we have stolen moments or hours here and there to duck off and have “dates” together. And, as much as he enjoys his time with just Mummy, LJ usually asks me sooner than I expect if we can go home to Rae.
As much as LJ loves Rae, Rae loves LJ. Every morning he has to be the one to unzip her out of her swaddle and then they have their cuddles. One morning LJ was still fast asleep so I took Rae out of her swaddle, you should have seen the confusion and disappointment on her face! And when we had our family photos done last weekend Rae was not a happy girl, after trying to settle her for a while I was surprised by how quickly she settled when LJ held her… and saved the photo shoot! Sam, the photographer, was quick to ask LJ to stand right next to her and to keep talking to her so she could get the shots. He felt so special, being the one who made Rae happy. (Cue another heart explosion from me)
I have been so lucky in this first seven weeks to have two kids who just love each other so much. I have been so lucky in this first seven weeks to have a Son who understands when he has to entertain himself for a little while. I really am a lucky Mum.
So how am I adjusting to life with two? Right now, in this season of our lives, I am adjusting really well, effortlessly even. I know that it probably won’t be like this forever and that there will probably be challenges and bad days down the track, but right now life is good!