Paradox: (Noun) a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth
A common question for parents who have just had a second baby is, “How is it different?”
It is often quickly followed by the question’s first cousin, “how do you cope?”
But then the sneaky second-cousin chimes in with, “I don’t know how you do it.”
In truth – I don’t know how we have managed the first month. We do it (parenting, mothering, running a little business) but we also don’t do it (we have had our share of ‘fall over’ and holy f*** moments and our expectations of ourselves have been vastly scaled down) but somehow ‘it’ still happened. The first month has been a successful series of ‘fails’ that we have learned a lot from.
Some days I foolishly think that I have things under control before things quickly turn to custard. I am beginning to live by a mantra that it is important to plan ahead – yet the greatest plan I can put in place is to simply live in the moment.
Absurdly, I am planning to do less planning.
How is it different?
With the first child, you respond to their every cry in a heartbeat. With the second, the heart beats a few more times while you ensure the first child can’t reach anything dangerous/climb into anything/ swish his hands in the toilet/run outside. Only then can you respond to the cries of the new baby.
It means I am less attentive yet more attentive at the same time.
In a lot of ways we are more relaxed about the needs of the new baby. I can recognise the different cries, use a sling to feed on the go, recognise over-tired signs and know a few sleep solutions. Despite this, we are all much more stressed because at any given moment you may suddenly have two crying babies to attend to, two nappies to change, two baths to organise and, for a reason I am yet to figure out, five times the amount of laundry to process.
We are relaxing into a more stressful pace of life.
We ‘had’ celebrated my son sleeping all the way through the night in his own big boy bed prior to his little sister arriving. We anticipated getting a lot less sleep with a newborn in the house BUT we had not anticipated a series of sleep regressions in our toddler.
They seem to have developed a little tag-team crying sequence that has managed to frazzle us to the core.
One baby cries, they both cry. The babies respond to sensors on our pillows that are activated as soon as we lay our heads down. Then one or the other starts up again.
Thankfully that madness is or at least seems to be behind us (after four weeks…)
Where’s the paradox? We have had to unite more in order to tackle the divides. We are more together despite our madness – and amidst the madness of high-pitched mega-tantrum scream-fests, we have somehow found a reasoned way to deal with it.
I have to say there have been more than a few moments when a little shoulder-ghost has asked, ‘who told us this was a good idea again?’
‘Have them close together’ they said.
‘We will start trying when Beau turns one’ I said.
‘It’s easier when you haven’t adjusted to life past the baby stage’ they said.
‘Two years is a great age gap’ they said.
I have hated ‘they’ a few times in the last four weeks.
Luckily for them, ‘they’ are all outside of slapping range in those moments.
It will get easier, I’m sure. But it has been a very trying time with regards to sleep and lack of it.
Trying times give cause for trying more. (We will not be ‘trying’ again for a while…)
The long and the short of it?
Having a second baby has been transformative. Our son has become a big brother, the car has become a family wagon and the reality is soaking in that we are now a family of four.
There is a bit more chaos but we are handling it. There are loads of cuddles between the cries and we are all learning together.
It takes us a lot longer to go anywhere.
Sleep is ‘actually’ sacred.
Things get done in a more piecemeal way – but I love the way the little pieces are beginning to fit together.
I still don’t know how we do it but we are doing it one day at a time.
“When Love Is Not Madness It Is Not Love” – Pedro Calderon de la Barca
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