Parents of babies and toddlers don’t often get a break from the daily grind; this is especially true when you have a newborn AND a toddler.
So this week, after bringing our new baby boy home from five long days and four nights in hospital, we decided we needed to have ‘an in-between day’; a day in-between the worry and anticipation of the birth, the event itself, and our new life to come.
A day to take stock, take a breath, and allow ourselves to shut out the world.
Having a baby is a major emotional life thingamajig. And it can be a traumatic one. Our first time was, this one was much better. Although just when we thought we were home and dry our baby had some minor health issues so the homecoming was delayed.
Suffice to say we hadn’t come down to earth when we got home and were reunited with one very boisterous toddler who woke up to find mummy and daddy back – after four days with his grandparents – and cradling an interloper.
After some initial fascination the boredom set in, swiftly followed by a combination of jealousy, separation anxiety, confusion, and generally being hacked off with the whole turning his life upside down thing.
I don’t think I saw much of our new baby as I was mainly doing one of these things repeatedly throughout the day:
- Looking at the back of a Thomas the Tank Engine book (yes, the back cover) naming ALL the engines. There are 50 (they added some new ones).
- Doing an alphabet jigsaw. Educational at least you’d think. Except I have to put the pieces in. “Dadda do it!”
- Sitting in the shed while Little B opened and closed the door like a gentle-natured hostage taker. Me: “Can we go back to the house now?” “No dadda. Stay there. Sit down.”
- Being made to ride a tiny trike alongside his Little Tikes pedal car. “Come on! Keep up!” *Well, I’d love to but I can’t see over my knees.*
- Watching Room On The Broom.
I’m sure all parents of toddlers will recognise a few of these hobbies.
The thing is, I don’t blame him for wanting to be attached to me all day. And I’d missed his sticky hands and slobbery dog-like kisses. But the next day I waved our first-born off to his childminder, ran back home and collapsed back into bed to relax with our baby all day.
At this point you might be thinking, “Relax?! RELAX? How can you relax with a new baby?”
But here’s the thing. We now know second time around that you CAN relax for the first couple of weeks. Because, unless they’ve got colic or some other upsetting health problem, newborn babies are a doddle.
Yes, a doddle, and this isn’t smugness by the way. Honestly, enjoy the calm before the storm. If your new baby is feeding, pooing and going back to sleep you’re sorted.
One or both of you will be getting up three to four times in the night to feed your baby, but if you’re not going to work you can catch up on sleep during the day. And after this initial fortnight of calm you have several months of knackered chaos. Make the most of it.
So what did we do on our in-between mum and dad day?
We lay and listened to our tiny boy breathing.
We watched the sunlight move across the bedroom ceiling.
We made pots of tea and ate crumpets with jam in bed.
We read books and magazines.
We only got out of bed to change, feed, cuddle our syrupy bundle.
We dozed. (I’d forgotten about how blissful dozing is.)
We laughed. We shed some tears. We hugged each other and said it was going to be ok.
Eventually it was time to return to real life and I reluctantly set off up to bring our toddler home. As I walked through the spring evening drizzle I wondered what we’d been so worried about the first time around.
It had been just the two of us, so we were scared of what to do with a baby. But this time it felt easier. I realised that this time we weren’t in shock from the birth. It helped that our second baby wasn’t traumatised, with a beaten up face from his rough entry to the world.
When I arrived at our childminder’s house our first-born greeted me with a squeal and his latest favourite toy car and I remembered how much I miss him once I’ve had a breather.
“What’s baby doing?” he asked as we walked back down the hill hand in hand.
“He’s sleeping. But he’s been asking about his big brother all day,” I fibbed.
Little B mulled this over, staring at his shoes as they scuffed along the pavement. We arrived at our gate and our first-born son ran to the front door.
“Go see Baby now Dadda,” he said and toddled upstairs.
So we went to see our new Baby.
Little B looked at him VERY CLOSE UP. Baby looked at his brother and yawn-burped.
“My baby” said Little B decisively, patting him a bit too hard on the tummy.
And then he went to play with his trains.
Yes, I think it’s going to be ok.
New parents sometimes need a bit of extra help. If that might be you here’s some useful links: