Life With 2 Kids

There’s a reason it’s taken me 10 weeks to write this post. When Carter was a newborn I was oh-so-smug about churning out blog posts like confetti. It’s been a whole different ball game this time around. I took a whopping 29 days off before I went back to photography, shooting an 11 hour wedding when she was less than a month old. Not earning a full salary on maternity leaves means maternity leave is less cuddle and more hustle, and to be honest I.Am.Exhausted. I’m also dreading 1 July when I leave my awesome edit-from-home-in-slippers vibe and head back to my corporate job. I hope the dress code allows for fat pants and maternity bras.

So, busy-ness aside, what is it like to have a second child?

  1. It’s busy. I think I kinda alluded to that earlier, but it is. It’s amazing – I roll my eyes into my brain when twenty-something people moan about how constantly exhausted they are, because I had one kid and realised what the term ‘busy’ really meant. Well, moms of two or more, I totally get how you must have rolled your eyes at us moms of one. The first few days were so easy that I had another moment of (very short lived) smugness. Husband was on paternity leave (ya, let’s discuss that flash in a pan allowance hey government?) and that mean I could totally enjoy the snuggles and chill out time as I had a set of hands to help clean and cook and just chill with. The second he went back to work real life set in. Newborns, as teeny and tiny as they are, are are really very time consuming. From feeds to burps to nappy changes and everything in between. When they do sleep you are met with life altering decisions. Do I grocery shop, do I do some work, do I wash her clothes, do I clean bottles or do I blog? And then before you can even make a decision, the baby wakes up and all your plans for the day are long forgotten.
  2. It takes a toll on your marriage. Suddenly, two parents means one kid each which means zero down time. Our evenings are run with military precision as one spouse cleans kids while the other starts cooking. Bedtimes are managed with tears and screaming. Sometimes the kids also cry. A shit ton of wine is consumed and in between the grunts of ‘your turn‘ when the monitor goes off and downing carb laden easy food for meals, you barely have one ounce to even look at each other. We realised recently that we haven’t had a date, just the two of us, in over a year and a half. So yes, it’s safe to say that our marriage is basically in survival mode for the next few months while we try to keep two little people alive.
  3. The sibling will suffer. You can prep them until they are blue with boredom, but once that baby comes, someone is going to suffer. Carter adores his sister so much that my heart sometimes feels like it will explode with custard, and while this makes me smile sunbeams out my face, it also means that he’s taking ‘the change’ out on someone. And that someone is me. My kid, my crazy kind sweet beautiful boy has been a little dick to me since the day I fell pregnant. There are fleeting moments of adoration or hugs or loves, but I can tell you that 80% of the time I am his punching bag. And its Ok, because I know it wont last forever, but while it does, it’s still very hard. After a particularly stressful morning last week I sat, sobbing while googling ‘Aspergers in toddlers’ and telling my husband that we had to take him to a child psychologist. Thankfully, a hundred moms spoke me off my cliff and told me that acting out is totally normal, and no, I shouldn’t run to the adoption agency just yet. Little arseholes that they are though, these threenagers know just how to drive you to the brink of insanity before doing something totally adorable to remind you not to drop them off at the orphanage for the night.
  4. No one cares. First kids are exciting man, people wish you and praise you and come visit and bring food. Second time around, only your family really give two hoots. In a way it was quite nice not having 59 people in my hospital room at once, but in a way I’m pretty sad that Piper s arrival wasnt met with the same amount of joy as Carter was. I have friends who still haven’t even met her, and friends who haven’t even wished us congratulations. In a way its a good thing, as it’s reminded me who my real tribe are. I’m still sad no ones brought carbs food though.
  5. You will be more tired that you ever thought possible. I think, to allow conception of another baby, your body purposely forgets just how hard sleep deprivation is. I genuinely don’t remember it being so hard with #1. I am tired all the time, and my face looks like the before ad for botox. if one more person tells me how tired I look I might stab them in the face with a wine bottle.
  6. You are more flexible. With the realisation of this being your ‘last kid’ you change your approach somewhat. I hold her a bit longer and let her sleep me on me a bit more than I did Carter. I’m more flexible with her feeding and routine and I’m trying to enjoy and appreciate her as much as I can. She’s already nearly 2 and a half months and my heart is heavy at the thought of her growing up too fast.So, on that…
  7. It’s too fast. 10 weeks in and I’ve yet to go back to gym, update my blog, make photo books of their lives or clean out that draw that’s been collecting crap since 2016. Your day is broken up into 3 hour stretches during which 100 more important things need to be done. Working throughout has also added a new dimension to my ‘leave’ and every free minute I get is spent editing or shooting or invoicing or doing admin.
  8. It’s just as exciting. The novelty does not wear off the second time around. The first smile will melt your ovaries (I know, because mine are currently very much melted) and every milestone thereafter will be treated as if she were your first. Don’t think that this baby will be relegated to the backseat just because it’s not the first time. Each and every thing my Baby Piper does feels like the first time, because she is not her brother, she is her. She is different. She is unique. And every thing she ever does will be exciting because of that.
  9. It’s just how it should be. I never had those feelings of “how I’m I going to love another human as much as I do my first”. I always knew that I wanted two kids and always knew I had room in my heart for another. If anything, it’s taught me to love Carter even more (if that’s even possible). In a way I can’t wait to see who she grows into and what kind of person she’s going to be, but for the time being I am so content just sitting with her and touching her and breathing her all in (girls smell much nicer than boys, even when they’re babies).
  10. It is so, so worth it. So worth the weight gain, the breast-feeding hormones that make me fat, the lack of sleep, the mum dum, the stretch marks, the 10cm scar, the bags under my eyes and the exhausted skin, the tired eyes and the 8 pm bedtimes, the 2 am insomnia and the debt. It is so worth it, because I am so happy and so deeply in love with my two children. Motherhood may not be for everyone, but it’s one of the greatest achievements of my life.

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Introducing Piper Grey. Our Daughter.

I’m writing this from a very loved up cocoon. 13 days ago we met our precious daughter, Piper Grey. She was born via planned C section but came wide eyed and screaming into this world, just as I had hoped. She is perfection, All 3.42 kilograms and 50 cm of her. Just like her oder brother she was born with a mop of dark hair which I’m almost certain will, like his as well, fade, fall out, grow back blonde and then settle into a dark blonde. She has large almond eyes that currently, are a deep blue and a little rosebud mouth. Her character is simply delicious – soft and sweet with a ferocious crossness that comes every 3-4 hours when she’s hungry and needs boob. Her features are delicate and dainty but her hands, man those hands, those were made for something great. In fact, her hands were the first thing the gynae saw as he pulled her out, and as he did he said ‘she’s gonna be a 4 kilo’er’. I’m kinda glad she’s not.

Alot of people have been asking me about her name, and no, it didn’t derive from ‘Pip’. We were calling her Pip in the tummy because ‘It’ sounded too weird, and when we chose the name Piper it was simply a coincidence that it was 2 letters longer than her nickname 🙂

The whole C section and hospital experience was amazing – even better than the first. I had her at a different hospital to Carter and cannot tell you just how welcome, special and important all the nursing staff made me feel. The only downfall was the limited visiting hours for Barry and Carter and the broken aircon – she was born in one of the hottest weeks and I was uncomfortable for 4 days. It was like staying in a sauna.

And the boys? Well, they are simply besotted. Barry has been given 10 days paternity – which is great but in my opinion about 2 months too little – so has been with me for 2 weeks helping and bonding and being my rock. He goes back to work tomorrow and Im somewhat devastated. Carter is simply obsessed – I always knew he would be loving and nurturing but to see him with her, it can actually make your ovaries do the Macarena. She is his little light and he gravitates towards her like a beacon – he smothers her with kisses and soft touchers and whispers her name when he’s crying. I am the luckiest mom in the world.

Piper was born with several ‘stork bites’ on her face – a ‘V’ on her forehead, on her eyelids and under her nose. At first I was really upset – her perfect face felt flawed, and I gave myself a full day to mourn a little bit of her perfection. And then I sucked it up and told myself I was being ridiculous – she has 10 fingers and toes and is a perfect human in every other way. The docs said the marks will fade in a few years, and I’ve learnt to embrace them as part of her and who she is. I don’t edit them out in all my pics as I want her to look back at photos and see her for exactly who she was.

I have been loving my time at home with her. Not being able/allowed to drive is a tiny blessing. I’m trying this time do do less and be more. She is my last baby and so I want my waking hours to be spent gazing, touching and smelling this little bundle. Because I know all too well just how fast they grow up.

r-Grey

It hasn’t all been roses and custard, I did too much too soon and suffered a small bout of mastitis, afterbirth pains (we need to talk about that, people!) and threw in a dose of food poisoning for good measure.

She is 2 weeks tomorrow, and I actually don’t remember a time before she was here. Yes, the lack of sleep and 2 am feeds and constant soiled nappies and saggy tummy and exhausted eyes are leaving me more mombie than anything, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. She’s here, she’s ours and she has completed our little family.

 

 

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I Don't Love You.

I love wine, but I don’t wake up thinking about it (well, not every morning). I love a good book, I love carbohydrates and I love a traffic free route to work. But love you? It’s not enough. The feeling I have for you is so all consuming, so large and so overwhelming, that it scares me to death.

When you were born and placed in my arms, my life changed, yes. I loved you then because I had been loving you for 9 months already. But then, something shifted. I commented to someone the other day that I wasn’t sure how I could ever love you more. That newborns were my favourite of all the baby brands. That nothing could, or would, beat having a teeny tiny thing in my arms. But then you grew, and smiled, and laughed, and rolled, and grasped and connected, and my heart felt like it might explode.

A big part of my pregnancy was spent worrying about how I would know what to do when you were here, and how would I care for you. But when you have a baby an incredible thing happens, your instincts kick in, and although I may not always know why you are crying, I alone can make you stop. Sometimes, when someone is holding you and you are wailing louder than a fire truck, I know why. I know it’s because you prefer to be held in a certain way, that loud voices can startle you, and that you actually prefer a certain dummy over the other. I can’t tell people that obviously. I don’t ever want to be that helicopter parent, but it’s part comforting, and part terrifying that I alone am responsible for your happiness. At least for the time being.

Another big no no I had BC (Before Carrter) was the amount of you that I would share online. But then you burst into my life and everything excited me. Your triangle toenails, that tiny dent in your skull, the one eyelash on the bottom of your eye that grows at a 90 degree angle. And so I share these things, because to me you are perfection. You wont ever remember, but when I feed you at night I rest my neck against your forehead, because it’s a perfect fit, and I run my thumb over your tiny fingers, and massage your Michelin man thigh. I want to record every sigh and sound you make, and bottle them for future consumption. I have even, at times, held your tiny mouth to my ear when you are screaming, because I need to absorb every inch of you.

This afternoon you napped for 2 hours and 44 minutes. I crept into your nursery 6 times to stare at your face and kiss the top of your soft head. There’s a lot I can get done in 2 hours and 44 minutes, but at times I cannot tear myself away from you. When you sleep I yearn for you to wake up and give me that gummy smile. (to be fair, when you’re awake I kinda hope you’ll nap again soon).

This afternoon, when we were lying on the picnic blanket on the lawn, watching dad install a light, you would jolt in fright each time the drill went. I have to remind myself that everything is new to you. That finding your toes is possibly the highlight of your day. Watching you jolt with noises, and coo in delight with familiar objects brings me to my knees in the most humbling of ways.

Every day with you is a delight.

I am besotted, obsessed, enthralled, in awe and head over heels for you.

Carter James, I adore being your mom.

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How to grocery shop with a baby (and other handy hints)

Yesterday I started a baby massage class. I was disappointed to find out that it would be me massaging my baby, and not the other way round. Surely I deserve a little bit of deep tissue love? It should be payback for never having any time for myself.

Carter’s going through a growth spurt (well, that’s what the books say, as apparently ‘possessed by demons’ isn’t appropriate). This means that my days of having 3 hours in between feeds while he napped and I leisurely applied makeup, showered or pumped boobs are over – atleast for the next few days. Just yesterday I ate an omelette with my hands, like a sandwich.

I have the deepest amount of respect and sympathy for moms who have had niggly babies from day 1. It’s tough – you love them more than wine, but it’s near impossible to do anything if they don’t let you put them down for even a second. Short of drugging them, the only thing to do is wait for hubby to get home from work or wait for the growth spurt to be over.

With this in mind, I wanted to share a few handy shortcuts to motherhood that I heave learnt in the last 5 weeks.

Venturing out. When leaving the house for any reason at all, make sure you are always in gym clothes and are slightly disheveled. (Moms, I hear you laughing ‘cos how ELSE does one go out with a new born, right?). The reason for this, and no, it’s not to actually Go to gym, silly, is so should you bump into anyone you know, or even don’t know, they will automatically assume you’ve come from a 90 minute spin class, and will immediately think you Wonder Woman for exercising while looking after a baby. Extra points for smudged or no makeup and vomit on your top (people will just assume it’s  protein shake).

Cooking. When making anything, anything at all, make sure you make enough to feed a soup kitchen. Then freeze the leftovers and re-heat for breakfast, lunch and dinner the following week. Your husband will grow to love tofu noodles, promise.

Exercise. IF you ever get the inkling to actually do anything of the aerobic nature, then having a goal is key. And by goal I mean a fancy cappuccino or blueberry muffin. I like to take brisk walks to the local Seattle down the road and reward myself with a grande latte and a cheese sandwich. You may not ever lose weight, but it’s a lot more rewarding than going to the gym.

Wine. Is very important. I am not ashamed to admit that I now buy wine in boxes as its a lot easier to pour when you only have 1 hand. Just be careful you don’t drop the glass. I mean the baby, don’t drop the baby.

Makeup and personal hygiene. Invest in a deodorant that promises 48 hour protection, and you’ve saved yourself a day. Sleep with waterproof makeup on, and wear the sports bra to bed that you plan on wearing the next day. That pretty much leaves brushing your teeth and tying your hair in a mom bun, and you’re good to go.

Grocery shopping. I made the fatal error of going to the mall when my baby was asleep in his pram. Taking full advantage of this I thought it was a magnificent time to buy all new wine glasses, drinking glasses, soup bowls and blankets for the house. This left me walking back to my car pushing a pram, a trolley of breakables, a nappy bag a handbag and a 6 pack of milk. School girl error. If you need to do a grocery shop then leave the baby in the very capable hands of another adult and go alone. Although I can’t promise that you won’t dash out for sesame seeds and nipple cream and come back with a thousand rands worth of Woolies goodies and a new lounge suite.

Oh, and before you think “but the bitch has time to blog” please note that baby is with granny and I’m writing from the comfort of the hairdressers chair, while holding a dog named Leo. As you do.

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