She’s two months old now, but better late than never!
Marnie Rowan Mint Drever was born on the 11th March 2019, at 10.36pm.
Even two moths on, I find it hard to believe she’s actually here. Knowing she’s likely to be our last baby, I wanted a girl very much, but I didn’t let myself hope that we’d have one. I was so afraid of feeling disappointed with a boy (though in reality I think any disappointment would have been extremely short lived!) that I just convinced myself she was a boy, thinking that if I was happy with a boy, anything else would be a bonus.
And what a bonus. From the moment I picked her up out of the water (still thinking she was a boy) and saw her face, I was in love. Her birth was quite quick in the end, after a long, drawn out pre-labour, and I had her in the pool (just!). I’m hoping to write about her birth in more detail, but for now, remembering those first moments of her arrival, when she was blue and not breathing, for what felt like the longest time; after a brisk rub down with a towel she came to life, and holding her little body in the pool and realising she was a girl, she was ok, she was here, labour was over, I’d done it… I’ll never forget it.
It amazed me how quickly any fears I had about not loving a second child as much as I love Soren completely disappeared. I know its’s not always like that – it wasn’t actually like that with Soren: I loved him, completely and with all my heart, but I didn’t feel that immediate rush of love you hear of so often. But somehow it was different with Marnie. It was like she was made for me. And she was. Made by me (with a little help…), for me.
The past two months have been a cliched blur of loveliness and hard, hard work: it’s a whole new thing, having a newborn with a pre-schooler around, and managing the guilt that comes with dividing up your time and your heart is another thing altogether. On the whole I’ve learned there are many, many “things” to get your head around, but navigating it all is also like learning a whole new part of myself: feeling out the new boundaries – of my patience (with my children and myself), my capacity for love, settling in to a new hectic pattern of life that leaves you wondering when there will ever be time for anything, ever again. But like anything that challenges you, I’m all the richer for it.
Perhaps the most important thing to learn as a new mother – regardless of how many kids in you are – is to be kind to yourself. For me, there have been bits that are easier second time around: it’s all slightly less of a shock in that you know what’s coming. Physically, I was less freaked out by my postpartum body (for example this time I knew I would get massive boobs on the third day…) and the shock of labour felt less visceral. I already had a little person who relied on me, so there wasn’t the same loss of independence, or not to the same extent. The whirlwind of emotions wasn’t less extreme (I think, in part, due to requesting no visitors for the first two weeks). Somehow, I felt more relaxed, and more able to enjoy this new tiny person.
But there are other things that are no different, and no easier. The feeling that you should be able to soothe the baby more easily, that you should be able to get more done around the house. Days being both much too long and much too short. The lack of sleep. (Oh, the lack of sleep). Getting to grips with feeling different, all over again, mentally and physically.
I feel incredibly lucky that this time around breastfeeding has been a lot easier, but even with a baby that painlessly latches on it’s hard work. The relentlessness of looking after two small people is exhausting, and just as going from no babies to one is a shock to your system, going from one to two is a massive adjustment. So it’s hugely important to cut yourself some slack. Know that the hard times will pass, and that all of your feelings are valid. I’ll say that again: ALL of your feelings are valid.
We need to just stop pretending that all of motherhood is enjoyable. It’s not, and it’s ok – and important – to admit that. We don’t put this kind of unrealistic expectation on any other job or relationship, but with parenting (and parenting new babies in particular) there still seems to be the assumption that we should enjoy every aspect of it.
But there are lots of lovely bits, for sure. Two months in and I’m still head over heels for this little girl: her sweet face and glorious little smiles and soft head and that inimitable new baby smell. She’s delicious, even if she is also growing much too fast. I’d say that as things go, we’ve adjusted pretty well.
This new normal is a lovely one.