I am the mother of two lovely little girls, Audrey (three) and Minnie-Jane aka MJ (one-month-old) and to say these last few weeks as a second-time “new mum” has been tough would be a gross understatement.
It has brought a whole new set of challenges that differ significantly to the much talked about “first-time mum” experience.
I went into this second pregnancy feeling a lot more confident, particularly in terms of my parenting ability and how I would cope with the onset of “newborndom”.
I thought I knew what to expect
You see, this time around I knew what to expect: I was all over the little to next-to-no sleep situation, the constant feeding, sore vag (too much info?), entourage of visitors and the wobbly, post-pregnancy jelly-belly.
All of these things I knew I could handle and with time would subside.
What I didn’t expect
I didn’t expect to feel completely vulnerable and overwhelmed by the sudden reality of having to juggle all that, plus the demands of a strong-willed, three-year old little human.
The first couple of weeks went by pretty smoothly – MJ was sleeping well during the night, I was nailing breastfeeding and all of my bits and pieces were healing nicely. I was in control and I felt awesome.
Just when you thought it was safe…
It wasn’t until my partner, Jade, had to return to work after two weeks of domestic bliss, that reality came crashing down and the anxiety and enormity of having to care for two small children finally sank in.
I have to note here (aka try to justify my feelings of overwhelm) that the nature of Jade’s work means he is away from midday through to midnight during the week and most of Sunday due to band commitments, so basically I am a single mother, with the benefits of a partner for a couple of hours during the week and most Saturdays.
I must also confess that I need to feel that I’m in control, so having a baby that won’t sleep or settle unless being held smashed all illusions that I was capable of making dinner, showering or even going to the toilet without the assistance of another adult.
Needless to say the first day Jade went back to work saw me pretty much have a complete meltdown and made me question whether or not I was really cut out for this thing called motherhood and if I wanted to do it anymore (oops, too late!).
Luckily for me (and everyone’s sanity) things have somewhat settled since that week and I can now manage to sneak in mini-victories here and there i.e. the other day MJ slept for an entire hour and I almost danced a victory dance after managing to not only feed myself and Audrey, but also unload the dishwasher, clean the kitchen and put on two loads of washing! It’s the little things…
So yes, the onslaught of life with two children, let alone two young children is something that not many people warn you about (or at least nobody thought to enlighten me about). I suppose, as with all things related to childrearing, it’s not something you can really fathom until you are in that moment, in the trenches, knee deep in all sorts of crazy.
Why didn’t I know?
I often wonder why no one told me how hard all of this would be- maybe it’s because:
a) no one thought to share this little gem of wisdom with me;
b) they have forgotten; or,
c) because all the women I know with two + children have their shit together and don’t feel that juggling multiple children is hard at all.
Unspoken taboo amongst mothers
I have a sneaky feeling that it’s not actually because of any of these reasons and more because there is this unspoken taboo amongst mothers—particularly new mothers—that despite the struggles and tidal wave of emotions, nobody is willing to share these thoughts and feelings in fear of being judged as “weak” or (god forbid!) seen as “not coping”.
I know that I can attest to this feeling, but thankfully there are more and more brave women such as the brilliant Constance Hall and popular writer and comedian, Emma Rusciano, speaking up and writing honestly and openly about their struggles with motherhood and consequently paving the way for other women to open up about their own experiences.
Share – share with me, share with others
I hope that through this column I can create a similar space for women to share their stories navigating the challenges and joys of motherhood and can be a reminder for all of us of the importance of building each other up and supporting our fellow sisters.