Being a mum of two, or how to develop a stretchy heart

Going from one to two children is a big step for most parents. Certainly during my pregnancy with Alexander people seemed to like to tell me horror stories of their lives with two children and how difficult/stressful/tiring it is. Some even looked at my growing bump and said “ooh, you’ll wish you’d stuck with one!”

We had been so lucky with Elliot, he was a relatively easy baby, and slept, ate and grew well, seemed to hit all development milestones pretty much when he was meant to (though was late walking, and don’t even ask about potty training!) He is now an easy going toddler, and is (mostly!) a joy to be around.

As we got closer to Alexander’s birth, I did start to wonder about whether we had made the right decision. Elliot was going through a really cute phase of coming in to our room in the mornings, to climb in to the middle of the bed and cuddle/play with the iPad. It was a lovely way to wake up and I just knew that was going to be difficult with a newborn.

I worried about how I would cope with the two of them on the days I’d have both on my own. Elliot had developed the three year old whine (for the uninitiated this is a very specific, monotone whine, which seems to go on for ages prompted by the smallest of incidents!) and I couldn’t fathom how I’d be able to rationally persuade him to stop whilst keeping a newborn asleep. How would I occupy a three year old during those long feeds that a newborn needs? And more importantly, how could I ever love another child as much as I loved my firstborn?

It turns out, like with many things, there was no need to worry at all. It really hasn’t been that difficult. We’re 11 weeks in, that’s nearly 3 months, and I can’t think of a single incident where we’ve felt like it’s all too much *touches wood*

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What I’ve realised is to a large extent newborns are rather dull. Ours is anyway (sorry Alexander!) Until recently his routine tended to follow the sleep, feed, poo, sleep circle. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had more awake time, where he loves playing on his playmat, watching Elliot/whoever is around or staring at his hands!

Newborns can be left waiting (within reason) which is something that first time mums rarely attempt. Alexander often has to wait if we’re trying to get Elliot to finish his tea, or if Elliot wants to have help with building a “fantastic track”, and do you know what, he really doesn’t seem to mind. I tend to vocalise this to Elliot “Alexander has to wait while mummy helps you Elliot, isn’t he doing well?” so that he realises that Alexander isn’t taking first priority all the time.

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We’ve had no tantrums from Elliot relating to Alexander, he genuinely seems to like him, and though the whining is still there and occasionally gets pretty loud and high pitched, Alexander seems to have been born with an ability to sleep through anything (again something that as a first time mum I don’t think I realised!) and I don’t get as cross as I had imagined I would.

I’ve also learnt that I am able to survive on less sleep than I thought possible. There are many nights where, between them, the boys wake us every hour or two, but this doesn’t seem too difficult. Certainly not as tough as the first few weeks with Elliot. (That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the weekend lie in when it comes!)

The main difference I’ve found is a lack of “me time”, I used to enjoy a few minutes peace while Chris bathed Elliot, but I’m now occupied with putting Alexander to bed. We’re also honing our super-organised skills to make sure we have everything that both children need whenever we go out.

Of course I really needn’t have worried at all about how I would find space in my heart to love another baby. Literally the moment Alexander was placed in my arms my heart stretched to fit him in, and to my delight I found that somewhere in there resides a whole other pot of love dedicated to him. This doesn’t detract from the love I have for Elliot, if anything I love my amazing three year old even more as he’s coped so well with being a big brother. My heart swells when I see him playing with Alexander. Being a mum to two is not a walk in the park, but it really is the most amazing thing.

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3 thoughts on “Being a mum of two, or how to develop a stretchy heart

  1. Pingback: An open letter to my sons, on sleeping

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