They say the second baby is easier because you know what you are doing. And to some degree that’s true. Things like how to hold him when burping, breastfeeding, bathing and when to rush over to him (and when you can acquire a more leisurely pace) are all simplified through second time knowledge. And then there are also the things I’m doing better this time because I didn’t do them the last time. This includes the old mantra of ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, which is being taken as gospel right now on the days when small fry is in nursery. And on the days when she’s not my aim is to wear her out with swimming or gym and then play her to distraction with friends or at soft play until she’s too knackered to create too much mayhem.
So, as my brain is only working in bite-sized chunks at the moment, here is a bite-sized list of things which would have been handy to do the first time round, but which can possibly only be learned in time for a second baby (the power of hindsight is a wonderful thing):
1. Stop cleaning the damn house.
Yes, there’s plates piled up, food on the floor (and baby) and a pile of nappies in bags in the corner of your bedroom. That’s ok. When you are sleeping you can’t see the crap because your eyes are closed. When you are awake you can’t do much about it as you are feeding/changing/adding to the mess. If you get a min and it’s driving you mad then have a little tidy up, but don’t despair if you can’t. The mess won’t kill you and your baby doesn’t care. Even if his eyes could see more than 25cms, he won’t be looking for mess, he’ll be looking for boobs. If you are fussed about friends seeing the shit tip why not get out of the house to meet them – then you can have tea and cake made for you and you don’t have to tidy up. Winner!
2. Your body is not gross, it’s bloody amazing!
Yes, it looks like a hessian sack which stored baking potatoes all winter and has recently been emptied. But it’s not. It’s an impressively Rubenesque self-healing machine which grew a baby and a brand new organ to provide life support for that baby. Your uterus might be capable of saving you 5p and carrying the supermarket shopping home. That’s ok. It will shrink. And honestly, you will eventually find time and resource to get into better shape. In the meantime just be in awe of what your body has done and don’t spend too long naval gazing (literally).
3. Following on from the previous point; don’t try to squeeze back into pre-pregnancy clothes too soon.
Unless you are one of these elastic-mums who snap back into shape by doing two pelvic floor squeezes it’ll just depress you. If you want to lose weight and tone up then hold off buying new clothes. Instead invest in new footwear, haircuts and cosmetics if you want to treat yourself. It will make you feel pampered and lovely rather than feeling like a prize heifer trying to put on a pair of calf-skin trousers. And if you do go clothes shopping DON’T look in the changing room mirror until you are dressed. Those things are harsh and do not compliment unflattering post-birth underwear or our beautiful-but-slightly-baggy postpartum bodies.
4. It’s ok not to look lovingly at your baby for every minute of feeding.
Last time I felt guilty for otherwise occupying myself while small fry fed. This time round I’ve come to accept that while this is sometimes an opportunity to bond, it is also a lot of time sitting down looking at the profile of a child much more engrossed in scoffing than staring into my eyes. As a result I have sometimes just sat and watched the bairn feed (it is lovely), but I have also already watched a series of the Good Wife (thank chuff for Netflix and iPads), read three detective novels and written this blog/messed around on the Internet. This is ok.
5. Savour your time.
This is probably my last baby and, therefore, last maternity leave. Last time I packed my days with activities. Baby massage, swimming, pramercise and parent and baby groups meant I had very little down time at home. It was action packed. And knackering. This time I intend to be less frenzied and more relaxed. I’m sure I’ll do some activities, but I don’t feel the need to have a rigid weekly schedule. Instead I’ll take small fry to gym and swimming on her days with us and I’ll play it by ear the rest of the time. After all, there’s still a lot of the Good Wife to get through.