Just a few days after M was born, a very wise friend told me that the first six weeks after having a new baby are the hardest, but after that, it does get easier. I’m not entirely sure where the time has gone, but B is six weeks old today. So I thought I’d reflect on this milestone and the first six weeks of parenting two under two.
After a rather eventful C-section delivery, B spent the first five days of her life in NICU, then we spent a further two days on the postnatal ward establishing feeding, so B was already one week old before we were home.
I do think that this has made a real difference to how I’ve coped with the early weeks of parenting two under two. While it was horrible having B in NICU, she was where she needed to be and not having a baby on the ward provided me with some enforced rest after what turned out to be rather extensive surgery. So by the time we got home, I was already feeling well on the way to recovery.
I was also very lucky that hubby was off work for a whole month following B’s birth. His occupation as a teacher coupled by her birth falling almost exactly two weeks before Easter weekend meant that he had two weeks of parenting leave followed by two weeks of holiday. We couldn’t have timed it better, really!
Breastfeeding has worked out for us much better this time, too. I was really worried about getting breastfeeding established after exclusively expressing for seven and a half months with M. Fortunately, B and I seem to have got the hang of it (with some help from the wonderfully dedicated MCAs in hospital) and feeding is still going well six weeks in.
The lack of need to express or prepare bottles has made a huge difference to the amount of sleep that we’ve been able to get. B only wakes a couple of times during the night now. I can just lift her out of the Snüzpod, feed her and pop her back in again. I’m aware that we’re due a developmental leap soon and her sleep will likely go to pot, but for now, I’m feeling okay tiredness-wise.
M is adjusting to being a big sister. She obviously loves B and is keen to hold, kiss, cuddle and play with her. Unfortunately at 23 months she doesn’t quite understand how her actions can hurt B, so I’ve had to intervene when she’s tried to feed her rice cake/give her a drink/pour play sand in her carrycot. There’s also been a fair bit of hitting and attempts to bite B. I don’t think that’s necessarily because she has a problem with B, though, as she seems to be going through a phase of hitting and biting me and her daddy, which started before B arrived.
When we first came home from hospital, M’s sleep was majorly disrupted. This was a bit of a worry as since we did gentle sleep training at nine months, M has slept through from 7:30pm until at least 7am every night. However, once B arrived, M was massively reluctant to go down to sleep (on one night hubby ended up sleeping on her bedroom floor) and was waking really early (by really early I mean 4am) and insisting on coming into our bed, where she then didn’t sleep anyway. She was also refusing her naps. Fortunately this has improved on an almost nightly basis and for around three weeks now she has gone to bed without any trouble but woken at around 6am every morning. Even better, for the last few mornings she’s slept until at least 7:30am, which has been amazing!
The hardest thing that I have found is that generally both children need something at the same time, so invariably one of them has to wait and be upset about it. I think this is the hardest thing about the small age gap; neither of them quite has the emotional capacity to understand the concept of waiting! I have found my AmaWrap sling to be invaluable, especially at breakfast time, as it means that B can be close to me while I still have two hands free to sort out M and her needs.
The AmaWrap is also useful for getting out and about. M loves to walk, but I don’t feel brave enough to manage a pram and a toddler on foot. Mainly because M has no concept of danger and my poor blood pressure can’t take her being anywhere near a road (and that includes being on pavements!). We have a set of reins for M though, which makes a winning combination when coupled with the sling! It means M can have some freedom to walk without me trying to clutch her hand (something she wilfully resists!) but I know that I can stop her from running off or into the road.
When we do need to use a pram, though, I’ve been using both our Hybrid Tandem Stroller and Uppababy Vista. We’re spoilt having two tandem prams and keep the Hybrid in the boot of the car (it takes up a bit less space) and the Vista in the house for if we want to walk to the park, shops, or community centre for a class. Speaking of classes, we’ve been trying some new ones as since hubby has returned to work, I’ve found that the key to managing two under two is definitely keeping the toddler busy and getting out of the house! Not only do we enjoy the activities, it means that M is always ready for her nap and she’s less likely to slap/punch/bite if we’re busy in the afternoon. I don’t think I’m alone in experiencing the ‘witching hour(s)’ between around 4pm and dinner time!
Overall, I’m really enjoying being a mum to two under two. It does have its challenges, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.