One year. 365 days. 525,600 minutes. And two girls.
One year ago, on a night that was similarly dark and similarly cold and similarly crackled with the sound of fireworks leftover from Bonfire Night, my husband Matt and I took a taxi home from the hospital with our baby. Our new baby. Our daughter Lizzie’s little sister — our daughter Juliet.
What is it like, to do it all over again, to have another baby? This time around I felt more prepared. I knew how to breastfeed. Nappies? No problem! Bathing? A cinch. And yet, now there were two. Two little people who wanted my attention. Two little people who sometimes needed two completely different things now — this minute. I couldn’t devote my full attention to the baby and marvel at her every movement. I couldn’t devote my full attention to my two-year-old and play all the games, read all the books, do all the things.
Juliet has fewer blog entries, less in her baby book. But she is no less loved than her older sister.
The first few times I took the girls out all by myself, I felt like some sort of hero. “Look at me, world!” I wanted to shout, “Look at me braving the unknown, with not one but TWO children. See this baby? She could cry at any moment! See this toddler? She could cry, too. There might be diaper changes! They might want to eat! They might both fall asleep in the stroller on the way home, eliminating any chance of naptime!”
I marveled at other parents, thinking that they made it look so easy. Did they feel as exhausted as I did? Did their house look like a rubbish tip, too? Look at that mom, she has four kids. My mom had six. How?
And then time passed. We started to develop a rhythm to our days. I’d read books to Lizzie when Juliet wanted to breastfeed. We’d stop off at the library or Mothercare whenever we went to city centre to give the baby a top up before we came home. I felt like I healed physically much quicker after this birth. I felt tired, yes, but not the deep, tearfully mind-numbing exhaustion of the first few weeks with Elizabeth.
I had to get over the guilt of not being able to tailor my days to Juliet’s every whim. When Lizzie was a baby, her needs defined our schedule. Juliet was born into a ready-made family, without, for example, the luxury of a morning nap every day in her crib. She came along to the toddler groups because it’s easier to slot a baby into a toddler session than it is to fit an active two-year-old in with a big group of babies. Sometimes she napped in the stroller or in the wrap.
And you know what? She survived. She thrived. She’s happy and funny and cheeky and sweet. Maybe she’s more adaptable because of it.
Maybe we all are.