Baby Wearing & Baby Shark
Wowee. What a ride. What a minute. Everyone’s alive. Everyone seems well. No ones done a force quit for longer than a few minutes. We’ve all had our temper tantrums. But we’ve all been in an absolute bliss bubble and we don’t want to come out. Okay, maybe I want to come out a little. It’s scary in the bliss bubble but it’s also safe in here.
Let’s start with the beautiful stuff. I have found going from 1-2 a lot easier than 0-1. 0-1 was a complete identity shift and it had a momentous impact on our relationship. We really had to mourn our life with no kids and we struggled with that. No more spontaneous movies after work. No more sleep ins (for Josh anyway – sorry babe). Freedom was severely cut back. 1-2 felt more familiar. I was already a mum and we were already parents, so as much as it’s busier and more chaotic and the washing is just stupid and ridiculous, the change to me wasn’t as momentous. We also knew about looking after a baby this time around, and we knew about awake times, how tough breastfeeding may be and what baby sleep realistically looks like. We weren’t stressed about breaking the rules, and as much as we had to get to know Thea personally, we knew what babies truly need most: milk and cuddles, namely!
2 kids is busy though. I kind of want to go back and punch myself in the face when I complained about being busy with 1. But it’s all valid! I didn’t know any better and one kid is in fact very busy compared to no kids at all. But my hat goes off to women with 3+ – I have so many questions. Do they all just merge into a ‘class’ at one point? How do you keep a hold of them all in a shopping centre? Do you live in the laundry? How many squeeze yoghurts do you go through each day? Do you make lunches in bulk? Do you ever hide from them all? Asking for a friend who is never falling pregnant again.
I’ve played a bit smarter this time around. I know some cheat codes and I have not been afraid to use them. Baby wearing has honestly been my saving Grace. Josh and I love to procreate little possums who love to be held so the baby wearing suits us. Thea has a 100% success rate in falling asleep in the wrap which means I can cuddle her, keep her warm and get shiz done while she has a super settled sleep. It’s been a game changer. It’s also helped with our bond majorly.
But it’s been hard. It was always going to be hard at many points. I think you can probably guess where Baby Shark comes from. Some days I’ve learnt you just have to put on the 50 minute YouTube clip so you can breastfeed in peace or shower in peace or cook dinner in peace. But you only get to choose one of those so choose carefully. My best looks vastly different on different days. Some days like today I am in complete hustle mode: baking stuff, making dinner early, folding the laundry before it collects dust, labeling the crap out of my pantry and bathroom toiletries and going all The Home Edit. Then other days, all I can focus on is keeping as calm as possibly and remembering to take deep breaths. To let the frustration and guilt tears flow. To not yell out of stress and helplessness and frustration.
Oh let’s have a chat about the mum rage though – it’s real. I remember having moments of pure exhausted rage with Henry, but I feel like I’m more ragey now. Even though I actually find Thea a slightly easier baby (not easy, just easier! And slightly, not hugely!) I feel my mum tether is shorter. It’s harder to keep calm for a newborn when you hear the duplo being tipped out at 5:30pm. It’s harder to process newborn crying AND toddler whining at the same time. It’s harder to get things done when the demand has doubled. The mental load has multipled, so for me personally my mind just feels like it’s being stretched in 19 different directions at the same time. Too many tabs and decisions to manage.
It sounds dramatic, but it’s my reality and the reality of many many mothers. I’m not as anxious as I was with Henry, but I still am anxious. I’m anxious about missing her grow. I’m anxious about missing Henry grow. I’m anxious about making the days at home fun. I’m anxious about her getting enough milk. I’m anxious about Henry feeling like he is still loved and included. I’m anxious about Henry being unintentionally rough with Thea. I’m anxious about dinner going cold if Josh gets home a little later than usual. I’m anxious about Thea crying in the car (majorly – leave tips in the comments!). I’m anxious about them both trusting me that I love them so so much. I’m anxious about my children growing up unhappy.
It’s actually a lot when I write it all out. I don’t find any of the above stuff debilitates me but it’s common stuff I think about each day. I have superb support, but it’s a lot. Don’t even get me started on the mum guilt (another blog another time!). I’ve learnt to not get frightened of it like I did with Henry, because it robbed me joy. I wished too much away. I’m trying to be curious about my anxieties this time, and reminding myself of the mother I already am, not the one I should be. I remind myself that my babies came specifically to me, to be mothered by me. Not to be mothered by how a book tells it to be, or how my friends mother their kids – but to be mothered by my heart, and by my instincts.
I think that’s the beauty of being a mum the second time around. It’s harder to be tricked into believing and falling for shiny Instagram marketing or ‘settle-baby-fast’ schemes. You also realise everyone is battling similar things to you. Even if their baby was fussier, more chilled, non sleeper, sleep monster, wriggler, mover, night owl, refluxy, premature or on time – all mums feel a very similar set of emotions. No one is ever alone, ever.
Even if we don’t know for sure, so many of us are probably feeling the same emotion at the same time. Feeding at the same time. Rocking at the same time. Crying at the same time. Putting a baby in the bassinet feeling as though a bomb is about to detonate at the same time. We are a divine, universal army doing the most important work. Yes, it’s messy, it’s tiring, it’s never ending and most of all can feel so damn lonely – but we are in it together. No sleep solution or baby led weaning recipe book is going to fix all the sleep deprivation and big emotions we face daily. I think we need to lean on each other. Speak up. Say ‘me too’. We need to stop being ashamed of our big emotions and shine a light to help others and help ourselves. I’m learning to be comfortable doing all of this stuff this time. There are no prizes for being stoic. I’m writing it this blog to remind myself I need to seek these things more now than I’ve ever had to in the past.
I’m also learning that it’s okay to feel all the feels. My toxic trait is that I am such a big supporter for others to communicate when they are tired or angry or stressed or exhausted or feeling utterly crappy, but I’m soooooooo hard on myself when those feeling pop up for me. I go all ‘move on Caitlin and stop being dramatic’ and I hold no space for myself. Anyone else? Can I stop that? Can we all stop that? Can we just let ourselves feel all the things while we are learning and growing? If we are advocating and accepting big feelings in our girlfriends, sisters, daughters, husbands, boyfriends – lets also advocate for and accept ourselves as we are navigating parenthood.
It’s hard. It’s messy. My mind and my heart is growing exponentially. It is lonely. The type of lonely where you convince yourself everyone has got it easier than you right now. There isn’t a start and finish which is overwhelming to say the least. It’s improvisation at every turn. It’s being so planned each day with plans A through to Z with categories off of each plan to allow for missed naps, spews, roadworks, colds, tantrums, random guests and rain. It’s a silly mental load. I wouldn’t trade it. Obviously. But it’s a lot. And I’m a very chilled person so it’s a lot for me to say somethings a lot. But you’re not alone if you feel like it’s a lot, too.