We Can Do This

A friend came to visit Rex for the first time the other day. I was explaining how tough we were finding number two, how his nights were getting better, but still appalling, that he was so rarely chilled and happy, that breastfeeding had been a struggle, that the labour wasn’t great, recovery was a shock, that I never wanted to do this again… My usual rant! 

Now, I know this sounds like a depressive visit, but we had lunch and a laugh (promise) and Rex slept on her for over an hour and then fed and slept on me for over an hour, so he appeared to be quite easy.

Anyway, this friend has two grown up children and had easy births, easy breastfeeding experiences, easy babies… She maintains the teenage years are the hardest, so god help us!

Since her visit, something she said has stayed with me. It was along the lines of; “Well I remember visiting you after you had had Audrey and just thinking how amazingly you were coping – because you had a lot to deal with; the Down’s Syndrome, the oxygen, the emergency c-section… And you were taking it all in your stride. Now you have a more common situation and you’re freaking out! This is dealing with a newborn, you’ve handled a newborn with lots of other challenges, this should be the easy bit!” And I guess she’s right. We’ve forgetten what we went through; having a baby in the special care baby unit for 3 weeks and bringing her home attached to an oxygen canister for 6 months, that’s not a standard start. But I know most will consider the shock of a baby with Down’s Syndrome and how awful that must have been. I don’t want to trivialise this, it was like a grieving process, it was rough, but somewhere down the line Audrey became more than Down’s Syndrome. She became our daughter, the one we planned for and made with love and that period of confusion has become so insignificant in the scheme of things.

Having Audrey, learning from her, knowing her, it outweighs the initial upset a billion times over. As a cheesy social media motivational quote would say: You have to experience the dark to appreciate the light.

And so we come back to Rex; we’re in a dark time and hopefully we’ll appreciate him more once we get out into the light?!

In the meantime, I’ll try to remember this is what millions of people are experiencing right now – sleep deprivation and an unsettled baby. It will get better… But please let that be soon.

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Stuff and Things 10

  
Rex is finally 7 weeks old. That magical milestone you’re shooting for… “Everything gets better after 6 weeks” they say. We shall see. I didn’t expect an instant change, but I hoped!

Audrey had an audiology appointment last week, terrible timing as she is about as snotty as you could possibly be. So it wasn’t very productive. 

She’s been on good form lately though and is singing lots of songs really well just on her own.

We made it to a music class (something which had scared me), but Rex slept the whole time and I even managed to pick up Audrey for the Hokey Cokey with him strapped to my front. And we went to the group for people with pre-school age kids with Down’s Syndrome, which was great.

Rex is stretching some gaps between feeds out a little, but he’s still unsettled and suffering with wind. I feel he will be an expensive child as we keep buying things to fix the issues… The latest is a vibrating chair. He is not bothered by it, it doesn’t seem to make him any happier than lying still on a mat does. We’ve also got Infacol, a Sleepyhead (he’s not soothed by this either) and cranial osteopath appointments. Of course I want him “fixed” so I can sleep, but it would also be a nicer existence for him if he was happier.
I’m currently sat in my dressing gown with Rex asleep on me and Audrey shuffling about, entertaining herself. I’ve been trapped for 2 hours. I didn’t expect this, but after about 40 mins he woke up in pain and I spent some time massaging his tummy and lifting his legs before shushing and cuddling unti he fell asleep again. I’m regretting telling Ted I didn’t need anything when he left for work. I’ve finished my water and I’m crazy thirsty. I know what you’re thinking – just get up and get water! But he is asleep!!

Fast forward to a few days on and I’m now pacing the house with Rex in the sling. Audrey is again, entertaining herself, shouting various things (Alice! Oh look! Jump! Book!) which makes the sleepy man twitch from time to time. Being out and about is in some ways easier, because he sleeps better when I’ve got a genuine march on and you can sort two naps if you go somewhere , feed and then come home. Of course it’s insane to pace the house with him in a sling, but it’s spitting with rain and Audrey isn’t dressed yet. There’s only so much I can get done sometimes.

There’s just so much about this time that is a shame. Ignoring my daughter (or at least not giving her the level of attention I would like), doing lots of things to the soundtrack of Rex crying (because he has such a short window for happily being awake), only really enjoying Rex’s company for tiny periods of the day because he’s just so unsettled… God I sound like a broken record.

I just find all that newborn banter that people on the bus/in coffee shops give me hilarious… “They grow up too fast!”, “Enjoy this time while you can”, “Newborns always make me broody!” – I’d just like to say, he can never grow up fast enough at this stage, I cannot wait to get passed this and I will not be made broody by a newborn ever again.

Slap me if I ever change my mind on these points!

Yours, sleep deprived and grumpy.

The Calm After the Storm?

Newborns: wow.

Well little Rex arrived and turned me into a hormonal exhausted mess. 

I couldn’t handle not just the level of care he required, but also the way it took me away from activities with Audrey. Suddenly I can’t cuddle her on demand or sit with her playing all afternoon. I know she won’t remember, but I find it heart wrenching. I love her so much. I love cuddling her.

Having a second child hasn’t just rocked our world in terms of how tiring/stressful it is, it’s made me realise that much of what we went through having Audrey wasn’t about her having Down’s Syndrome. We always questioned it – we couldn’t decide if at the beginning we were reeling from the shock of the c-section or of her diagnosis. We’d never had a baby, so we didn’t know what it felt like, how you bond, how you love them. Film and TV would have you believe the baby comes out and is placed on the mother to immediate love and bliss. Both parents are instantly in love.

This is not our experience. Feelings for Audrey and Rex in the first weeks were quite functional. With both I felt quite shocked just to have a human suddenly on me – it’s quite something to get your head around – bump to baby. There’s relief that they are alive and then you just sort of numbly get on with things in a fog of “what on earth has happened??”.

The love part… Well we’ve found it takes time. You get to know them, their face, their smell. The bond grows slowly and then, when they become a little person who interacts and really shows some personality, wow, the love starts to peak – it’s like you’ve fallen for them after a romance.

It’s no secret I’m not a fan of the newborn stage. They are basically still a parasite but now live outside your body. You do everything for them and what do they give back? Ok, they are cute and cuddly, but they cry a lot. And poo a lot. They puke on you. They wake you up. And if you’re really lucky they might make your nipples bleed. Lovely.

But then they smile for the first time (Rex did last week, hurrah!) and they see you more and coo and almost play… And of course (please achieve this soon Rex!), they go longer between feeds. 

So of course I know this love grows and it gets better and better, but oh how hard it is to remember that with an unsettled baby to contend with. Every week gets better, but it’s still hard. Parenting is hard work.

I still remember chatting to a friend who doesn’t have kids, about how she’d like a nanny to just do all the hard stuff – the night feeds etc. And we had Audrey and I told her she wouldn’t feel like that once she had a baby – yes it’s tough losing out on sleep, but ultimately you want to be the one feeding your baby. It’s all part of how your bond grows. Going through the tough stuff together gets you to the fun part! And now I have to remind myself of that when Rex is wide awake for over an hour at 3am or when he’s screaming in pain from wind whilst on my shoulder. I need to do all this, no one else can – what’s the point of having kids? This is my job, my journey and at the end there is a big reward. We are already reaping the benefits with Audrey. 

Just think what these two crackers will be like together as best friends!