Chaos Continues…

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Life is back to normal…HA! Let me clarify what I mean by normal. We don’t spend 80% of our time at the hospital anymore, midwives aren’t dropping in and out of our home these days. And we’re back working (on a very part time basis in April) while making the most of some family days together getting out and about as much as we can before our work schedules get back to full speed.
The big difference is we’re now a family of four. Which brings with it the obvious new challenges that having two children brings. We also have a couple of unanticipated changes; mainly that our little girl is now in a big girls bed, that is to say that we’ve removed the side of her cot so when we put her to bed, there’s nothing stopping her getting out of it. Luckily, she’s taken to it very well. Bedtimes and nap times haven’t been particularly affected. We explained to Scarlett that she must stay in bed and she has done. We’ve been extremely proud of her. 
The disruption of a new sleeping arrangement and a new baby sister has definitely had its impact. She’s definitely a bit unsettled by the big change in family situation, and she has been playing up slightly more. It’s a natural attention thing, and it’s luckily not affecting how she is when she gets looked after by other people. After all, the attention she gets is unaltered when she’s looked after by other people. Baby Holly is too little to be babysat, or to stay at Nana’s so Scarlett’s time there is unchanged.
At home however, her otherwise unshared attention has been compromised. We are putting a lot of effort into that not being an issue, but she is inevitably aware that suddenly playtime is, ‘when Holly’s changed’ or ‘just let Mummy finish feeding baby Holly’. We’ve avoided the common ‘must be quiet when baby’s sleeping’ as we never kept the noise down when Scarlett was a baby, the result of which seems to have been that she’s a very good sleeper. Frankly, with our lifestyle, it makes things much easier that both our kids can sleep well in a variety of places! All in all, I can’t pretend we have a particularly difficult situation. Holly is a very content and happy baby, and Scarlett is getting used to a huge change in a very adept way considering. 
As is inevitable, we’re more confident second time round, and so we’re able to put our energy and patience into helping Scarlett adapt to the new state of affairs. We want her to be a part of things, as we’ve always wanted our kids to be an active part of the lives we were already leading. We let her help hold a bottle when Holly’s feeding (a real privilege as that’s otherwise precious bonding time between one or other parent and baby, no-one else but Scarlett is allowed to get involved in that!), we get her to help pick out Holly’s outfit, and we generally include her in activities and conversations about the baby. It’s not a perfect system, we’re just doing what works best for us; a method that adapts and changes each day! It comes with its bad times, after a lovely lunch out with friends today, our charming eldest wanted to walk in town without holding our hands. As we don’t trust a 21 month old to walk along roads by herself, she was not allowed and a major strop followed, kicking, shouting, crying, you know the drill. She played up in a much bigger way than she ever has before. Now in some ways this is just because she’s 21 months old and tantrums is their thing. But we can also sense a feeling of unsettlement, a distinct although subtle change which gives away that she’s not completely used to the new setup at home yet. 
I’ve spoken to a few friends about it, and they all have varying levels of the same story. We were prepared for much worse. It’s very natural, and so we haven’t been stressed out by it. 
After all, once our newest addition is no longer a baby (which will happen in the blink of an eye), that’s it, our time having a little baby around is done. The end of those beautiful, precious moments with a tiny being, totally dependant on us…over! And in the same way, our funny, clever little toddler will soon not be singing half a phrase over and over whilst splashing about happily in the bath. She’ll no longer play silly games with us both and she’ll start to want to just do things with her friends or think our corny made up family songs are silly and way too uncool to be joining in with. And our days with her as a toddler will be gone forever. So as hard as each tantrum and screaming fit can be, we’ll forget those moments and long for these days back. A fact we remind ourselves of when we’ve tried all our normal tricks and she’s still kicking on the floor! 
In the last week, we’ve had some picture perfect times. I will forever remember going for milkshakes as a family and sitting opposite Scarlett while we all danced in our seats to the songs on the jukebox in the restaurant. Watching her laugh and smile at us both, we were like a sickening scene from a freaking Disney film. In contrast, at home the other day, when not getting her own way in a minor way, she threw herself on the floor screaming, crying, and saying no to every suggestion made! It’s all part of the joys of parenthood! And for every time you sit at a restaurant with a beautifully behaved child listening to another parents bad day, you’re just as quickly on the other side feeling like every other child on the planet has come straight out of an Enid Blyton book, when yours has been sent from the devil himself! So comrades, just remember that no child is perfect, including yours! So both smugness and despair are not emotions we need to include in the hundreds of emotions every parent goes through every day! 
We both work in theatre, and working with actors can sometimes be a lot like working with a toddler..! There’s tantrums, you can come up with ideas till you’re blue in the mouth and they’ll still scream no at you, and they expect to be your sole focus of attention! So we’re used to dealing with this sort of behaviour. (I say all of this of course with my tongue firmly in my cheek!) But my point is, with Scarlett, we at least know it’s a state (as is every stage, some are just more fun than others!) and this kind of chaos we can deal with. We suit this sort of madness! 
Our lives are back to normal. That is to say, chaos has continued, and our lives are back to busy, hectic and filled with madness, just how we like it! Now I best go before the toddler throws her toast at the baby…

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Sacred small steps…

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(NB.Post written last Thursday)
We did it! We ventured out! The four have started to explore! For the first time today, Holly at 12 days old; Mummy, Daddy, Scarlett and Holly bundled into the car, and headed off in a great adventure!
As it’s less than two weeks since the csection, I’m still a bit uncomfortable moving about too much, and can’t lift things. And as it was our first trip out, we didn’t want to do anything too crazy. BUT, we were off! It felt like a world tour I was so excited! Recovery from a csection is long and slow, so all progress is quite exciting (I’m yet to have a bath post birth, and am very excited for it!). 
Anyway, the four of us went to Over Farm where they were hosting all sorts of Easter activities, including puppet shows performed by a good friend of ours. Each show was ten minutes and we knew Scarlett would love it, which was why we chose that particular venue. Fresh air, see some animals, watch a show, off home!
And that’s exactly what we did! We were incredibly lucky. We had no temper tantrums from either, our excitement seemed to rub off on Scarlett and I think she was just happy to be out and about with both Mummy and Daddy, something that hasn’t happened outside of a hospital for a long time. 
We were only out for about an hour to ensure we didn’t push it on our first adventure! When we got home, I was shattered! But funny how the small things can feel like such a triumph. And especially when recovering from a csection, or when feeling even more like an amateur than usual; it’s important to concentrate on those little moments comrades! Managed to shower today for the first time with a new baby on your own? Awesome! I’m not being patronising, becoming a new Mum is having a constant, full time, life lasting job. When I had my first shower when on my own with Scarlett after she was born, it felt like a breakthrough, and it was! The first time you get through a day without being consciously unaware (that is to say without having to actively concentrate on every single thing you do, when normal daily activities start to become something you’re able to do almost on autopilot), that’s also a big triumph. It means you’re slowly but very surely getting the hang of things! And as a parent, none of us ever really ‘excel’ at it, we remain amateurs for life, so getting the hang of each stage is pretty much the big goal.
So a day out as a four piece was very exciting for us! And I for one enjoy celebrating the small triumphs, after all, as parents; we definitely spend enough beating ourselves up over the small mishaps or parts we haven’t quite mastered yet! The least we can do for ourselves (and remind each other of) is the victories we amass each day! 
I haven’t had the two girls on my own yet, that’s one of my big milestones, and one I’m nervous about. Csection recovery has delayed it even being attempted as I’m not supposed to lift our oldest for another week or so, and we’re in the lucky enough that my husband has been able to take enough time off work to cover the first month of Holly’s life! But when I do, I’m going to be sure to appreciate how far I’ve come. 
So fellow Mums, for every time you beat yourself up for forgetting to pack a spare outfit, or leaving an older child sitting waiting for food because you’ve been distracted with cleaning up the newborn. Or for every time you’ve panicked over what turned out to be the sniffles, or felt like people were staring at you when one, both or all kids are acting up. Please remember to also give yourself credit for all the things you’ve newly learnt how to do. All the fresh ways of living life as a parent that you’ve mastered. Having a shower, or leaving the house without incident may seem like small things but they are in fact the things that prove you can do it. It’s one hell of a learning curve and it comes without a manual but you CAN do it. Two weeks ago I couldn’t sit up without help, and I had a premature baby who I spent every second worrying about. We’re her lungs developed enough? Had her digestive system advanced as far as it needed to? Was she losing too much weight? And now only two weeks later, I’m walking around, and have been out to an Easter event with both kids and my husband! Don’t get me wrong I’m still worrying a lot but it’s not so all encompassing I can barely hold a conversation anymore! 
So if you’ve had a bad day or if you’re beating yourself up over having one of those days (especially when everyone else seems to know what they’re doing!), remind yourself of all the little victories you’ve achieved (and rest assured no-one ever really knows what they’re doing!) give yourself a smile and hold your head up high. We’re all getting there comrades!