While it's been lovely and they are both giving me lots of joy, I have never worked so hard in my life on a 24/7 basis. Worked mentally, emotionally, and physically. The demands are constant and immediate. Sit down with a cup of tea? Don't make me laugh - I count myself lucky if I get to brush my teeth in the morning and showers have become a twice-a-week occasion (how's that for openness??)
So how do I cope - how do we make it work? A few things we've learned...
- I learned how to feed both at the same time, while lying down in bed. The secret - big girl lies on the side and feeds from that side, and little boy lies on me on his belly and feeds there. Practice made perfect!
- When my milk came in, big girl thought it was great. Too much so! She woke up more often in the night to feed than the newborn did! And I just couldn't do that for long - so we night weaned her pretty rapidly. For the first three or four months therefore, Mr was sharing a bed with big girl and I was in a separate room sharing a bed with baby. She cried for three days but Mr was there to cuddle her and she eventually accepted that nights were for sleeping. Within a week or two she was reliably sleeping through.
- I gave big girl only one side to feed on, whereas little boy fed from both sides. That way, one side was reserved for the baby at all times. Now we've pretty much come to a point where one side is his and the other is hers.
- We go out every day, morning and then again in the afternoon. Staying at home, without outside space, just doesn't work. Going out can be something as little as going grocery shopping, but mostly it's playdates and playgroups.
- This has taught me that somehow most families seem to only go out in the morning but in the afternoon all the family activities cease! No playgroups in the afternoons, even the play cafe closes at 3pm. It's an ongoing challenge finding things to do now that playgrounds aren't much of an option with the winter weather.
- Big girl had settled into a routine of one big nap in the middle of the day even before the boy was born, and I made sure she continued that way. There have been a few occasions where she wouldn't sleep - sleep regressions at 18months and 2 years - but she's always settled back into the mid-day sleep. Which both the boy and myself join her for. This keeps me going when the nights are long with hourly feeding!
- Oh, and grandparents. Twice a week they take big girl away for a couple of hours to give me breathing space. And when things get on top of me they're there too. Grandparents are the best.
We're getting to a point, baby being 7 months old, where they're actually interacting with each other occasionally and it's so cute to see them laughing together! I cannot wait to see their relationship blossom as they grow older. 19 months is a great gap to have.