Alike, But Different.

On Wednesday night I woke around 1am to find myself being sick on and off through until 8am. It goes without saying that Thursday was not a great day for me. Thankfully Ted worked from home and my children offered me plastic cups of “medicine” and gave me hugs and kisses (that I should have fought off due to my potential contagiousness!), they also whined a lot and ran around arguing. Being ill as a grown-up with kids is the worst. The best time to be ill is when you are a kid and a parent looks after you.

Brighton Pride 2018

Anyway, I felt a lot better on Friday and we had a good day with the kids (some top secret modelling, but will share more about that at some point!), we took them to the park in the afternoon and met a lady with a 4 year old son who has special needs. We got chatting and we found ourselves in a position we’ve been in before – struggling to empathise with someone who thinks you can. She sees another “special needs family” and shares her story, but we feel, well, like we occupy a different space; Audrey isn’t “severely” special needs, but she’s not typical either. She sits in a space in between the two. I’m not denying Audrey has special needs, she definitely does and you only have to spend time with other 4-5 year olds to know that she is “different”. However we often find ourselves chatting to someone who is offloading about their child (with some form of special needs) constantly waking in the night, struggling to communicate, challenging behaviour, interacting with other children (hitting, tantrums)… for the most part I can only really apply some of these challenges to Rex!

This lady said she was surprised we had chosen to have another child after our first had special needs! Ha! How we laughed about that one on the way home. All children are hard work and of course, children with special needs present a different set of challenges, but Audrey made us feel very comfortable about doing it all again. Rex, however, well and truly scuppered plans for any more kids!

That evening I was very much looking forward to a decent sleep (as even Thursday night I was restless). As discussed with the lady in the park, Audrey is a good sleeper, but Rex sometimes shouts in his sleep.

Around 2am the dreaded sound of Audrey retching reached my ears – I was out of bed like a shot. There she was, sat upright, sick in her bed and bright and chatty “Sorry Mummy” she said as I wiped up the sick. And after vomiting in the bucket I held for her, “Phew! That’s a lot of sick!” She said, brushing her hair back.

She literally couldn’t get any better. After returning to bed and several more leaps back out to her aid with the bucket, I decided it would make more sense for Audrey and I to sleep in the spare bedroom together. So I scooped her up and laid next to her in the double bed, bucket at the ready.

As soon as I laid in the dark with her, I felt around to find her face and gently stroke it. She did exactly the same and stroked my face. She whispered that we were in “Uncle Graeme’s bed” (because he stayed in our spare room for a week during his chemo this year). She has a snotty nose at the moment, so within minutes she was asleep but snoring like, well, like her Uncle Graeme. I realised that I was really going to struggle to sleep, but do you know what? I strangely didn’t care. I could smell her sicky breath, but I could also feel her warm body right next to me and I felt so lucky to be her mummy. To be her protector.

In the morning I was awoken by many things (Audrey’s feet kicking me, the light coming through the half-closed blind, Rex thrashing about in his cot), but it was magical to wake to the sound of Rex saying “I want Audrey back!”.

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Stuff! And Things!

Hello! Yet again real life and raising children somewhat takes over from blogging. So here’s another quick update on anything and everything I can think of.

They both had haircuts and behaved so well:

The other week Audrey was feeling poorly with a high temperature, laying on the sofa under a leopard print blanket. I came down having got dressed and she said “Mummy, you’re the same as the blanket!” I was initially confused, I explained I was wearing a cardigan, not a blanket… when I realised my t shirt was leopard print! How proud I am of Audrey and these simple moments.

The winter has already meant a steady stream of germs, but there is no escaping it when they both go to nursery and we spend our lives at play groups and music groups with dirty toys.

Audrey’s current favourite song is ‘Hocus Pocus’ by Focus. It’s worth noting as we’ve been through various favourites;

‘Black Magic’ by Little Mix

‘Ice Ice Baby’ by Vanilla Ice

‘Sorry’ by Justin Bieber

‘We Built this City’ by Starship

They both currently respond well to Hot Chip.

We watch ‘Trolls’ at least three times a week, but just a month ago it was ‘Moana’ a go go, so who knows what they’ll be onto next?

Rex is currently obsessed by cars, lorries and fire engines. Audrey is very keen on books and dolls. They both love handbags.

I am starting to appreciate them both more and more. Just looking and listening and seeing how wonderful they are. This is when they are not fighting over a toy or throwing a tantrum over something incredibly minor.

They both love Christmas (the build up) so far and I’m excited to enjoy it with them.

Audrey was recently a poster girl for a local charity (Amaze), which we were thrilled to see.

Will try not to leave it too long before my next blog post, we have a lot going on (Down’s Syndrome Awareness wise and in general).

Nursery times 2

Today I went back to work after 18 months of maternity leave (well, the cold, hard fact is, I was made redundant whilst on maternity leave, but let’s ignore that). 

As I walked home (that’s right, no dodgy commute, just a meander through leafy Hove), I felt so incredibly emotional. I’m a cry baby anyway (I’m sure I’ve mentioned my tearful John Lewis advert moments/sniffles at people dying on Neighbours/sobbing to La La Land?), but this felt like such a mix of feelings. Rex spent an entire day cared for by nursery staff! – You see he’s only spent time with friends and family before, this was a big deal. 

Audrey is a nursery pro – she started at 10 months and save a few tears at pick up (when she realised we left her!), she’s always been an easy-going sort; she took to it like a rubber ducky to kids’ bath time and we never looked back.

Rex has been a bit more clingy in general and at 16 months he’s at a trickier age than she was, but, nursery settling sessions went well. So I wasn’t crazy-nervous about him starting and to be honest second time around you’re much more willing for your kids to fly or fall. But when lunchtime arrived I realised I was keen to check in and hear from nursery that he was having a good time (which he was).

Once the day came to an end I was excited to get home to see my family. It was a good feeling because it is so rare that I get to miss Rex. Audrey has been going to nursery twice a week and on those days I get very excited for her to come home… clearly every day I cannot wait for my husband to get home, but for Rex… well we just don’t get very long breaks from one another to miss each other. What a novelty. I missed him. Amazing.

In many ways I’m one of those mums that complains about how I’m always with my kids and that I have no time for me, but then doesn’t let others look after them. I fear leaving them, it’s a control thing and I’m working on it. Walking down the street alone on a mild summer evening was pretty awesome. I started daydreaming about dates with Ted, maybe going for a run; just time without kids that I haven’t “allowed” myself before.

Getting home (5 minutes before my crew), I really got the “sight for sore eyes” phrase. Wow. My beautiful children arrived home with their Daddy, full of smiles and lots of shouting “Mummy!!”, it was wonderful. Rex was very clingy, but in such a lovely way and I got lots of cuddles and kisses.

For anyone wondering if working (and this is only part time to be clear) after having children is a good idea… thinking; will you feel guilty? Will it be difficult to do something other than wipe bums and faces? Will my children suffer? Well, in my experience, working or just having a regular activity away from your children is a great idea (insert thumbs up emoji here). I just feel like I’ve had a boost and that both my children seemed lovelier because I didn’t spend the day with them! Ha. 

Check them out in pics below – Rexy got for a balloon on his first day and he loves balloons!

When it sucks to have two children…

It really sucks to have two children when you spend 25 mins patting a baby to sleep (because then you’ll be free to focus attention on your toddler) and 10 mins into the nap the toddler wakes the baby up. And then you snap at the toddler for doing this. And then you cry and your toddler says “Y’ok Mummy?”. And then you can’t get the baby back to sleep, so the baby is crying and the toddler wants to play ball, but you snap; “Well we can’t play ball now because YOU woke him up, now Mummy has to see to him and we can’t play together, well done”.

And then you cry some more, because this is just a stupid thing to say to your toddler and actually you’re just so damn tired and now have no idea what to do with the baby. He won’t sleep. But if you feed him he probably will fall asleep on you. Which means you definitely can’t do anything with the toddler and will spend at least 45 minutes telling the toddler to be quiet and play on their own and not wake the baby. But the toddler may go out into the hall and make banging noises and play with things they’re not supposed to and you’ll prioritise the baby’s sleep.

Annnnd breathe. 

Two non-walkers are bloody hard work. Especially when one wakes up a lot at night and naps best in a sling when out and about. It is exhausting and upsetting and at times I have questioned my mental health! And I feel pathetic for this. How many woman have had two kids with this age gap? Or even three kids to look after or more. It feels like… It can’t really be this hard, can it? 

I’m also amazed at how much guilt I feel when having a “moment” with one and not the other. It’s weird sharing love. Audrey was such a total focus for us and now she’s lost some of that focus because we’ve added a baby brother into the mix. I feel bad about it, even though in the long run everyone will be happier for it.

But in this heatwave it sucks to have a baby strapped to your front and another to push up one of Brighton’s many hills in the buggy. 

It sucks when one needs to be awake and the other needs to be asleep (and they often get this the wrong way around).

Or in the middle of the night when the baby has (finally) slept for a decent stretch but the toddler wakes up crying.

There are so many reasons that dealing with these two feels like a giant challenge at the moment, an uphill climb (with one kid attached to you and the other pushed in a buggy!!), but what will it be like once we reach the top? Only time will tell, but I am banking on this struggle having a happy ending. And I’m pretty sure it will. Hey, just look at the way Rex looks at his big sister…

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.