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!