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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Dear Daughter.

Daughter. Daughter. Daughter.

I can say it a hundred times and yet it doesn’t feel real. I am so used to being a boy mom. I buy shorts and dinosaur t-shirts and endless spades and diggers and trucks. We spend our time peeing in the garden and our bath time ritual consists of ‘bum and ball cleaning’. Boys are easy and laid back and get on with it. Girls? Well, they terrify me.

I’ve been referring to this baby as ‘Pip’ since conception and up until Wednesday as ‘it’. Even though doc has confirmed multiple times (Kate, see no penis) I’m still in denial that I will be bringing a female into this world, and just what that means.

I don’t know if you’ve seen this ‘Rules for my daughter’ post that has been circulating the Internet lately – it’s a list of 35 ‘instructions’ for girls, from their moms. I’ve read a few and whilst some are sweet (“Reserve I’m sorry for when you truly are” and “Question everything except your own intuition.”) there are some that are just so bullshitty. Like ‘always wear good underwear’. Please, I’m not even wearing a bra today (sorry, colleagues) and I can promise you that doesn’t make me less smart or womanly than someone in a R1000 boulder holder from La Senza.

So, whilst you may not be nearly ready to enter the world, your turns and flops and kicks remind me that, ready or not, in 3.5 months you will be here and I need to chat to you about the kind of person I want you to be, and the kind of girl mom that I want to be.

My Rules Advice, For My Daughter. 

  1. Don’t let them take advantage of you. Ever. Take this from someone who, for 33 years, has been a people pleaser. It gets you nowhere
  2. That being said, be generous. Not with money alone, with time and character and kindness.
  3. Don’t let the sexist win. Again, from experience and something I am still dealing with daily. Do you know that I got this in an email last week:

Bad of him, right? Even worse of me. I have done nothing about it. Remember this when your turn comes, as it will. Do not let people bully you on account of you having a vagina, a pretty face or double x chromosomes. Do not accept discrimination, lesser pay or lesser respect. Only you, and your peers, can change inequality around.

4. Lunch with me, call me, Let’s hang out. Sure – I am and will always be your mom but I want us – at a reasonable age – to be friends as well. I want us to talk and laugh and do stuff together, not for any occasion, just because. I am going to love your company.

5. You are not a princess. Don’t let people treat you softer because you are a girl. If you start it, finish it. if you fall down, pick yourself up. I will treat you the same way I do your bother – with a fierce sternness and love. I vow to not go soft on you just because you are pink and he is blue. Don’t lessen yourself because of your gender.

6. Work really hard. Please don’t go by the ‘marry rich’ mantra that some may.

7. Learn how to manage money. I was never taught and at the tender age of 21 plus some I am now finindg myself drenched in sweat on sleeless nights as I worry about my financial future.

8. That being said – treat yourself and buy nice things. I will try to not berate these decisions, but will try respect and encourage your financial independence.

9. Be polite, always.

10. Be interested. Learn. Explore, Be inquisitive. Check your facts and do your research and don’t just let a question linger. be so hungry for information that you feel like you will never be satiated.

11. Eat healthily. Enjoy your food. Splurge on junk but long for balance. It’s all about the 80/20

12. Hug me. All the time

13. Never ever let yourself be in a position where you feel like you are being a bully or are amongst bullies. These people are not good for you, despite what you may think or feel at the time. Be fair to everyone. Support the underdog. Always take the position of empathy.

14. If you are ever being bullied, tell me. I want you to talk openly and freely with me without fear of feeling judged.

15. If you want to play with trucks and diggers and spades, I encourage that. If you want to dress in pink tutus for 8 days in a row, I also encourage that (slighly less ;)). Try not to be defined by gender – your brother has a doll that he adores and I am so proud of him.

16. Use your wit and brain and character to get ahead.

17. Enjoy being a kid. Dont rush to grow up too fast. Adulthood is a no return purchase that really isn’t as fun as they all make it out to be.

18. Look after yourself but don’t feel bad about your weight, your looks or your figure. There are much bigger things to worry about – like which country to explore, which book to read or which retirement village to put me in when I’m old and crazy.

19. You are amazing, And fiercely loved. And you always will be.

I get to see you every 4 weeks, and it is the romantic date of my life. I can’t wait to be able to see you daily, for the rest of our lives. You are going to be the perfect addition to this little triangle-turned-square.

 

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We’re Having A…

At our 12 week scan I asked the doc to whisper in my ear what he thought we were having. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous as when I opened the folded pice of paper he handed me after the appointment. I waited until Barry and I had parted ways and then opened it…

I was ecstatic! I have always dreamed of a little pigeon pair and was so excited (and terrified, because girls frighten the bejeesus out of me) that Carter would be getting a little sister. I wanted to surprise Barry so I pulled a typical Pinterest move and had some helium balloons hidden in a box. I arrived unannounced at his office and even though the ‘70%’ uncertainty was there, I revealed to him (and 13 inquisitive colleagues) the big news. The reveal itself was a bit of a dud. Barry was too busy talking and the balloons were too stubborn, but just one little ‘pinkie’ was enough to announce.

But, then I started thinking, and worrying. I mean – 70% is a pass mark, but it’s not exactly 100 is it? I began to wonder if I had put the gender cart before the horse, so upon the suggestion of a friend I went and bought a kit from Dischem promising accurate gender results. And whaddya know, it told me I was having a boy. Ha!

Don’t try this at home, kids.

So, it was with much relief and joy this morning (and not that I was at all stressing, or woke up at 4 am riddled with anxiety or anything) when my Doc confidently told me if it wasn’t  girl then he would wear the pink clothes I bought for her.

So, there you have it, Pip Rankin will be a little sister to big brother Carter.

Also, if anyone wants to give me girl-rearing tips I would be eternally grateful. Boys are simple man. Girls are complex creatures and I feel like we are in for a wild ride. Buckle your seat belts kids, this blog is about to become a lot more curse-filled.

 

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We Have Some News!

It has been so so hard keeping this big (little) news from everyone for the past 12 weeks. You forget just how all consuming growing a little human can be, especially in the beginning. And middle… and end. And then for 21 years after 😉

Anyway, I digress. Barry, Carter and I are so excited to tell the world that we are expecting a new little Rankin in early March 2018.

The concept of having 2 kids has always been on the agenda, so we are thrilled that it’s going to become a reality. Carter is as excited as a 2-year-old can be and keeps telling us that ‘Pip’ as we have fondly nicknamed the baby, will be a ‘girl sister’.

This time round, the first trimester was not as easy going as it was with #1. I have felt nauseous pretty much every day. My skin has gone for a ball of shit (pimples on the lips, anyone?). I even have eczema on my eyes and neck, and the exhaustion has been truly humbling. I had to tell my boss really early on when, after sitting in a meeting that had gone on for several hours, I thought I was going to vomit from the hungernausea (patent pending). It’s also been really frustrating dealing with people stealing my (patentpending) hungernausea snacks in said meetings.

I’ve been keeping a little diary of Pips journey thus far. All 11 weeks and 4 days of it. I wonder if you would be interested in reading them? It’s a lot of swearing and venting about food-thiefs and general assholes (my god, you forget how much you hate everyone when you’re pregnant), but may be a fun way for me to recap this journey years down the line.

I’ll save the deets for how Pip came to be for another time, because it’s 12:26, and naturally, lunch trumps all right now.

But yay, I’m having a bay, and couldn’t be ill’er happier.

 

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