Even though Aasiya is only 18 months I had forgotten how hard life with a newborn can be. My husband and I had a very candid conversation before the baby was born about how we’d cope with two children under 2, hoping to avoid the tears and tantrums from the first time. I suffered from the baby blues with Aasiya and that feeling of hopelessness and failure kept me from bonding with her in the early weeks of her life. Depression and anxiety are often experienced by first time mums as nothing can truly prepare you for motherhood. Your whole life turns upside down for a while, your expectations of parenthood verse that of everyone around you (often with the best of intentions) can leave you feeling judged or worse, a failure. Adjusting to a babies routine is HARD, throw in sleep deprivation and your own labour/birth scars and you can be in for a tough time for the first couple of weeks, that’s why it’s really important to make the most of all the help that’s offered to you, starting with your partner.
My husband had very little experience with children, so Aasiya was a massive learning curve for him. He’d never changed a nappy, never bathed a baby, never really held one for longer than a few minutes. Of course all of this might have been mitigated if he’d payed more attention in our parenting classes, but his learning style is more kinesthetic, so when the time came to putting the things we’d learnt into practise he wasn’t prepared at all. Actually handling a newborn really freaked him out because he was scared he’d “break” her or hurt her in some way. Aasiya was just over 6lbs so she was quite small and to be fair to my husband even I was scared when handling her and I have a background in Early Years! In the earlier weeks I did the bulk of the baby work and because I was breastfeeding and he was working, I just got up in the nights and did all the nappies as well. I told myself I was being considerate of his needs, but actually I’d wake up cranky, we’d argue all the time and I’d end up resenting how much of the work I did, so this time around we spoke about the distribution of labour and he was happy to take on a lot more of the work.
With Idris, Jay has taken the lead on all the nappy changes (including Aasiya’s) and all the baths. In the first two weeks I had a really bad back (which I think was from my labour positions) and mobility issues due to my stitches. I was advised to avoid going up and down stairs and carrying heavy loads, which basically meant I spent much of my time sitting while Jay passed me the baby every time he needed a feed. Jay took care of all the cooking, shopping, cleaning, everything! It’s made such a difference to my post baby healing and also to our relationship in this difficult period. There are so many points post-birth that you can feel really down; about yourself, your abilities as a mother/wife/partner, about your children, to have someone be there to support you, and take away many of the other pressures and allow you time to heal is amazing. Even though it’s only been 3 weeks I haven’t had a single moment of “I can’t do this” because I haven’t felt alone or unsupported. My friends have also been great, bringing over dinner, helping me and looking after Aasiya, I’ve really felt nurtured and protected which has allowed me to pass on those feelings to my babies.
I know it’s only early days, and Jay has gone back to work this week, but this experience has really helped me settle and prepare for life with two under 2. They both have so many needs, Idris is entirely dependent upon me but Aasiya at 18 months is going through a crucial developmental stage which we can’t afford to neglect. Having my husband around for the first two weeks has meant that we can be there for both of them and that I’m not stressed or worried about looking after one over the other. It’s also meant that one of us is always attending to one of the children, which is particularly important for Aasiya’s sake as neither of us want her to feel rejected or jealous of the new baby. Jay and I have very different personalities and very different approaches, he is laid back and calm (or chilled out as he likes to refer to himself!) while I’m a worrier and teetering on the brink of panic at all times and in every situation! It’s such a shame that we have such crappy paternity allowance in the UK! I won’t rant about that now, but I feel some kind of way about dads only getting two weeks of paternity leave as it’s nowhere near enough time. I know there’s an option to share my leave, but really BOTH parents need more time together with their children. The first two weeks have been really good mostly because he’s been around to reassure me and stop me from panicking or overly worrying about everything. He has been my voice of reason, while listening to my concerns and helping me manage through them. I honestly could not have made it through the last 3 weeks, without some kind of a breakdown, had it not been for him.
I’m now staying at my dads as Jay is back to work. He also takes on the cooking and cleaning chores but doesn’t go as far as the nappies! Jay comes around after work to give the babies their baths and we’re trying our best to get them into bed by 8pm. Idris still doesn’t sleep until after 10pm and usually wakes up every 2 hours for a feed or a nappy change 😬. This coming week will be interesting as my sister is visiting from Pakistan and my brother from Scotland, so our routine will be completely out of whack, but hopefully I’ll be able to get some rest as they’ll be so many aunts and uncles to look after the kids!
A quick update on me, I’m 10.4 stones still, unfortunately I’m not one of those mama’s who sheds her pregnancy weight by breastfeeding, if anything I feel like I gain weight as I eat more! My mobility is much better as my back pain has subsided but my stitches are still occasionally painful. I’m still bleeding, for a while it did reduce but I find when I’m a little more active than usual it starts up again. For some reason my skin is really dry all over but it’s especially irritating on my face! I’m guessing it’s all related to hormones so other than use my usual oil moisturiser there’s not much else I can do. I’m going to wait until my 6 weeks DRs check before I start doing any exercise, I’m especially looking forward to starting up yoga again, I’m sure I could probably do some gentle yoga but I’m too afraid of anything happening to my stitches so I’ve decided the best course of action is to wait!
I’m hoping I’ll be able to get out a bit more next week, especially with all my siblings in town, but I’m also worried about doing things with the two of them and no Jay. Let me know if you have any tips on how to go out and about with two small children. Also, I’m not planning on buying a double buggy, just using a sling and the pushchair, let me know if you think that’s a good or crazy idea as I’m so confused about what to do.