Honest guest post from my amazing wife, Rosie.
I’m such a worrier. Before we had our second baby, Hugh, I spent nine months worrying. Worrying about whether our big house renovation project would be ready in time. Worrying that the baby might come early. Worrying whether or not the home birth we had planned would all work out. Worrying about how much I was worrying!
All I can say is thank God for Giles and thank God for hypnobirthing; both of which just about kept me going and able to get through the build, the birth and the baby blues.
Hugh was born at home in the early hours of the morning with the amazing support of Giles and the Surrey home birth team (if you haven’t considered a home birth yourself, please do). It hadn’t even crossed my mind but a friend who had recently had one encouraged me to have a chat with our local community midwives (no need to go to the hospital for this…they come to your home! All your midwife appointments are at home when you opt for a homebirth). I can safely say, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Just prepare yourself for all the shocked looks and worried replies you’ll get when you tell people your plans.
Hugh arrived a couple of days early (and a couple of pounds heavier than expected – nine pounds, nine ounces!), with the same gorgeous soft hair that Teddy had when he was born and a content happy look on his face (which I’m pleased to say hasn’t really left him).
Although the birth was quick and straightforward, on our sofa with not a whiff of a complication, I experienced the most unexpectedly excruciating after-pains for at least two hours following the birth. I breastfed Hugh through them (just) and managed to get upstairs to have a shower and fall into my bed with my gorgeous babe all cozied up next to me. Giles made it up about an hour later having sorted the birthing pool and all the gross sheets and towels downstairs.
The next morning, we had that amazing/terrifying/emotional moment when we first introduced Teddy to Hugh. He was amazing and just wanted to hold him; blissfully unaware of how big an impact this baby was going to have on his world. He was easily distracted and went downstairs to have breakfast with Daddy. And that was it! The beginning of our lives as a family of four.
For the next week I was in ‘feed & sleep mode’, with a very light trickle of visitors and my Mum coming to stay for a few nights to help out. Thanks to her and Giles’ support, I was virtually able to stay in bed for a week, which was just what I needed.
Between feeds I would eat, sleep or wash. But just as importantly, I wanted to spend time with Teddy. He still went to nursery a few mornings a week and to his cousin’s house for a play date every so often, but what he really needed was for me and Giles to give him all the attention and love that we could muster. I felt constantly guilty about how (in the short term) I had really screwed things up for him. I kept telling myself, and still do, that they are going to have so much fun together and how it is going to be so lovely watching them become friends…I hope!
For that first week though, Teddy was not much fun to be around, unless he was outside with Giles, kicking a ball or digging in the mud. His boat had been well and truly rocked.
I was dealing with a relatively easy baby, in that he fed pretty consistently every three to four hours and slept in-between. Plus, thankfully he was quite easy to settle, my milk had come in (much quicker than the first time) and Hugh was doing just fine.
But then the severe after-pains reared their ugly head again, and everything turned to horrendous. 20-40mins of non-stop abdominal pain, similar to contractions but with no let up. I was unable to leave the bed. Bent double. In tears. In excruciating pain. There was nothing that could be done. Giles called the midwife, who said I’d just have to ride it out but that heat helped ease the pain.
So, Giles would make me a hot water bottle and sit with me until they passed. He’d run me a hot bath, to recover in after each attack. This went on for 10 days, virtually every day, always hitting me just after a feed. It was horrendous.
It turned out there were some retained membranes left inside me from the birth, and my body had been trying to get them out naturally (hence the contraction like pains as my uterus contracted).
Thankfully I managed to pass them naturally. But it was seriously grim and something you aren’t really warned about during pregnancy. Apparently, even if you haven’t retained anything, you still get these pains (just not for as long) and they get more severe the more children you have. Since then, I’ve spoken to lots of second time mums, and nearly every one of them has expressed the same shock at the extent of pain you get after your second and subsequent children. One to watch out for!
By this point, my worrying was back in full swing. In the back of my mind, from the moment I had Hugh, I worried about Giles going back to work (he could only get the standard two weeks off). I just couldn’t imagine how I was going to cope without him.
Since Hugh was born, I hardly did anything for myself. I didn’t make any of my own meals, let alone prepare anything for Teddy! I started to daydream about having a full-time live-in nanny. I’m still dreaming.
But as the end of Giles’ paternity leave drew ever closer, we started to do things. We all left the house for Hugh’s hearing test. I took Hugh across the road to see the neighbours. I even started to do the ironing!
I wanted to help out in the kitchen too (much to Giles’ annoyance, who said I should sit down and stop hovering!). But it was important for me. I needed to prove to myself that I could actually do stuff, other than just breastfeed and change Hugh’s nappies. Of course, I secretly needed to check that everything was OK. That the sink was clean. The cutlery draw was in order (I’m an absolute psycho in the kitchen).
At this stage, I did feel a bit more in control. But, jeez, it was full on. Teddy’s behaviour didn’t help. He was acting totally out of character (our gorgeous boy had turned evil!), which was clearly a direct reaction to seeing this new baby in my arms. Giles and I would look at each other in shock, unable to believe that he was the same child as two weeks’ ago.
The morning that Giles went back to work, I sobbed uncontrollably. Even writing about it makes me well up!
I was so sad. Sad that this time was over. Sad that we wouldn’t see him as much and sad that I was sad.
Obviously, my hormones were in overdrive, and crying was my go-to response. But the whole thing was so overwhelming. Fortunately, my fairy godmother (my Mum) was due later than same day, so I forced myself to get out of bed, get Teddy up, feed Hugh and do the nursery drop off, knowing that in a few hours’ time, I’d have back-up!
She stayed for the night and most of the following day, and boy was it necessary. Teddy was getting better, he wasn’t playing up as much and I was able to keep a hold on my emotions. And Hugh, bless him, was still doing great. I have never wanted a weekend to come quicker than I did that week.
When the next week arrived, I was up for it. I felt a million times better and in control. Teddy was being cute again and Hugh, well Hugh was still fine! I planned a playdate, did the nursery drop-offs and pick-ups no problem, and even made it to Sainsbury’s. I was smashing it! Well, sort of…
I was doing all the stuff I needed to around the house, staying on top of the washing, the ironing, cooking Teddy’s meals while making some for me and Giles, looking after both children, bath and bedtime etc. etc.
So, come 7pm, I was completely zonked. I couldn’t hack the night feeds. I was falling asleep with Hugh on the boob. I didn’t know how much he was drinking. Sometimes the feeds would last up to two hours, not including the time it took to change his nappy change and settle him down again. Because of all this, my rest time between feeds was less than an hour. I had a sore throat and was constantly grumpy. Something had to change.
Reluctantly, I got the breast pump out. I hated pumping first time around so was dreading it. It’s just not my bag. But I knew it was the only way I’d be able to have a break from breastfeeding and let Giles take over with a bottle for the 10/11pm dream feed.
Thanks to this, I was able to get a good chunk of rest before Hugh would wake up again at 2/3pm. I can’t tell you what a huge difference this made for my own sanity, plus it gave Giles some nice bonding time with Hugh every night, which I know he likes.
All in all, it’s been an exhausting, emotional, but amazing start to little Hugh’s life. We think he is just the cutest, most patient baby, not so dissimilar to his big brother (if a little easier).
Although life looking after two little people is not easy, there is something special about it.
You start to appreciate the tiny little things, like when Teddy tells Hugh not to worry and kisses him. Or when Giles and I get a couple of hours to ourselves in the evenings to watch crappy TV!
I don’t really have any tips I’m afraid, but what I would say is, DON’T WORRY! It will all be OK and you will surprise yourself by managing the seemingly unmanageable! Just make sure that you accept ANY help or food that is offered…you’ll need every ounce of it.