This post is in honor of (Oh) Amanda, who was just blessed with her second little bundle (a boy whom she fabulously named Asa) and whose first full day alone with a toddler and a newborn went less than swimmingly. So, in the spirit of “We’ve all been there, hon, and someday you’ll be able to look back on it and laugh blog about it without crying too much”, I commend to you an honest memoir of my early days as a mother of two. (By the way, Shanna did it first, and I am totally stealing her idea.)
On the whole, I don’t look back at any of my postpartum periods as “difficult”. I know I have had a much easier time of it than some. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and He must know I have a pretty small plate, because I seem to keep having easy pregnancies and recoveries and low-maintenance babies.
BUT, the circumstances surrounding Romilly’s first weeks were, in hindsight, *insane*. She arrived 12 days late, which meant that the visit from Trevor’s family (mum, dad and two teenaged brothers) that was supposed to commence two weeks after she was born ended up happening two days after she was born. Let’s just say the hormonal fog was still pretty heavy, and I was not at my loveliest physically or emotionally.
Pippa, who was 17 months old at the time, had some sort of bug when Ro was born (we now know it was probably RSV, but more on that later). It was more or less just a cold, but since her babyhood, Pippa has had the unique talent of gagging on her food to the point of vomiting whenever she is congested. Charming.
One evening we had all sat down for a beautiful meal prepared for us by my mother-in-law. I believe I had already excused myself at the beginning of the meal to nurse the baby, so by the time I got back, I was *starving* and not a little bit (that’s British for *a lot*) grumpy about it. I sat down, and Pippa threw up about three days worth of food all over her high chair. I have never seen its equal. It was the kind of disaster that required nothing short of stripping her down and sticking her straight in the bath.
Naturally, I did the only thing a new mother of two can do less than a week after giving birth: I burst into tears right there in front of my (I’m sure traumatized) brothers-in-law, grabbed my daughter out of her high chair, dripping with partially digested food, and stormed into the bathroom in a fit of temper that my dinner was being delayed *again*. (I hope that Adrian and Nathan will have blocked this memory by now and will still go on to marry and have children of their own someday.)
My mother-in-law, bless her, assumed I was crying out of concern for Pippa’s well being. She followed me in to help with the bath and offer comforting words about Pippa’s health. But I knew she was fine. I was just hungry. And tired. And done.
A few days after our visitors went home, Romilly (aged 11 days) was diagnosed with RSV and its accompanying bronchiolitis and admitted to hospital for six nights. I stayed with her on a little cot by her bed every night but one. Trevor was home with a pukey Pippa, a tummy bug of his own, and latterly, my mother, who had travelled 3500 miles to spend *one week* with her new granddaughter (and more importantly, with me!) both of whom were stuck in the hospital for half of her visit. Oh, there were so many tears that week.
Eventually, the dust settled. I had two beautful little girls… And a dog. In a third storey apartment with no elevator. I had to master the precise protocol for getting dog-on-leash, baby-in-papoose, toddler-in-stroller (after stroller-out-of-basement-lock-up, of course) in order to leave home, which had to happen at least once a day (rain or shine) for the sake of the poor neglected dog. If anything happened out of sequence, it all fell apart. It was physically intense, but it became routine, and then normal, and gradually a cherished part of my day.
By the grace of God, the fog does lift, and life does become not only normal, but abundant again after each new little one upsets the delicate balance for a time. It gets easier, and better, and wonderful. (And harder, too, but in different ways that have been so far manageable when they’ve come. I’ll leave that for another post maybe. Probably down the line a ways, since I know I am only at the beginning of the road myself.)
Hang in there, Amanda: you have hard days and nights ahead, but amazing years to come!