It was a cold winter morning. Luke had been up early preparing for work in the crisp dawn air while I slept on, exhausted from yet another big night of feeding and changing my newborn. Luke was greeted by our smiley 19 month old son with his head full of bouncy blonde curls. He graciously let me sleep while he made our toddler some warm toast with my mum’s homemade jam, changed his nappy and wiped his face and fingers. I was awoken by my husband with a kiss good-bye and groggily focused on little sons sweet eyes sitting on the end of my bed.
Just like that my husband Luke was gone. And I was alone. Well technically I wasn’t alone, but it sure did feel very lonely. My eyes glanced from my curly haired toddler to the bassinet beside my bed with my precious little new born son. His head covered with think black hair that spiked up in a tuft. How on earth was I supposed to care for two babies? There was only one of me, I was outnumbered and they both wanted me. It was overwhelming and I worried a lot about whether I could meet the needs of both a baby and a toddler. With a squirm my 3 week old opened his lungs and gave a familiar shriek that meant he was hungry. Right now! While I sat up in bed and breast fed him my toddler was trying to get off the bed and was stuck half way. With my baby still well attached I shimmied around the bed and used one arm to hold him up and the other arm to help my toddler to the ground.
I was starving from all the night time feedings and decided to make myself porridge. I carefully put my little son in his bouncy chair on the kitchen floor. As soon as I started stirring the pot he began to cry. I began to cry also. I was tired, overwhelmed, lonely, probably hormonal and had no idea what it was going to take to care for two babies. I just wanted a bowl of porridge.
I remember it well. A little while later a midwife came to our door for my littlest sons check up. She opened the door and asked me if I was okay because it looked as though I’d been crying. I replied that I was fine, but then burst out crying on the midwifes shoulder (almost a complete stranger to me) (also not like me – I never let people see me cry and don’t cry a lot) and said..
“I didn’t know having two kids would be this hard.”
Things did get a little better as my baby grew, though I did go through several months of postpartum depression after my second baby was born. I wasn’t on a ‘baby high’ like I was after my first baby. I unfortunately didn’t fully feel close to or really bond with him until he was six months old.
Looking back at this time brings back memories of how hard it was for me back then. Twenty two years old with two children under the age of two. Most of my friends didn’t have any children yet. I struggled with my self image, loneliness and I was stressed a lot from two little ones needing me constantly.
So how are things ‘easier’ now I have five children? My little newborn second born son is now almost seven years old and is a real delight.
Firstly I would say that I’ve learned a lot about children since then. Each child’s personality and needs are different though, and present to me new sets of challenges. However, overall I don’t worry as much any more about many things because usually the problem is just a passing phase.
When you have all little children and no older ones it can be physically harder because of all the lifting and changing you need to do. I would say that life became smoother and less intense once our children could physically dress themselves and go to the toilet. Even get themselves some water and a snack. Little things really do make a difference to the flow of the household. Right now I have five children yet four of them can dress themselves and use the toilet on their own. I only have one still fully dependent on us for nappy changes and getting dressed.
By the time I had my fifth baby I was well and truly used to splitting my attention between lots of people who all need me at once. When I only had two children I was so worried about whether I could give two children the attention they need. But I’ve learned now that our older children adjust well to a new sibling and over time their new sibling becomes a cherished play mate and companion. Giving multiple children the attention they require is still challenging but I have gotten used to it and learned some strategies along the way for making sure every individual’s needs are met. Getting ready for school this morning I had one child wanting me to tie their shoe and two wanting me to do their hair. Instead of freaking out I just said okay hop in the ‘need mummy line’ and they lined up waiting to get their turn with me. They learn about patience and that other people have needs as well as themselves.
Perhaps that would be a good topic for another post – how I spend individual time with all five of my children?
I pray more now, than I used to. I used to send up quick prayers for help. But in the last year or so I have been relying on the Lord more for his wisdom. My prayers have become more focused, intentional, detailed and consistent. If I don’t know how to deal with a particular parenting challenge I spend some time with the Lord and his Holy Spirit gives me an answer. The answer comes as a thought, through reading his word or at times through advise from others or reading a book or article.
Thank you for reading! Leave a comment if you have something to add to this from your own experience.
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