Being a mother of one darling child was a walk in the park compared to two darling children. My first-born was an easy-going, content little bub. She slept well, she ate well, she was healthy and a very content child. Sure we had the witching hour blues, and don't get me wrong they were hard work. I had times where I would just cry for hours, because I couldn't console her if she didn't get her nap in for the day.
My friends and co-workers had pre-warned me about their terrible experiences of non-sleeping babies, colic, babies that constantly cried, and all of the issues they had faced. I was expecting a pretty terrible time, and I was pleasantly surprised.
When my baby came out she was an angel, and I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I kept seeing these memes circling about sleep deprived mothers, and screaming babies and I couldn't really relate at all. I was sleeping during the day when the baby slept, so getting up through the night wasn't really a big deal. My first was mix fed expressed milk, formula and breastfed for the first 6 months of life. Which meant on the weekends my wonderful hubby would get up with her and I would get to have a bit of a sleep in. I slept more with my baby than I did through my pregnancy. It was amazing!
Once I had gotten the hang of being a mum, and when I felt like "we got this" I talked hubby round to try for another bub. You know how you get those feels all the time and want another baby, even though you just had one! Rosie (our first bub) was 15 months old when I fell pregnant. She had only been walking a few months, she was still fairly relaxed, and each day that passed she spoke more, walking turned to running and before I knew it I had a toddler in my midst. Actually I refer to her now as a mini dictator! (but that's another story haha). By the time I started to get a glimpse of what mothering a toddler was like it was too late and I was already pregnant with baby number 2 by then.
So here we are now with an almost 2 1/2-year-old and a 5 month old. I love both of my daughters equally. They melt my heart, they are my world. Seeing the two of them interact with each other is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. I feel so blessed and content, knowing they have each other. Both my babies are born in December, 2 years and 6 days apart to be exact.
As you can imagine that last week in my pregnancy was a hectic week in the lead up to Miss 2's birthday. When I had Annabelle (miss 5 months), Rosie stayed with her grandparents. We ended up being away from her a couple of days. With another unplanned c-section I was in hospital for 3 days in total, including labour, when we just got home I saw my GP and was re-admitted for another blood transfusion, as I had some serious complications during the birth. I ended up being really sick and had a much longer recovery time than with my first baby. I was traumatised from my last birth. It took a massive emotional toll on my soul to go through some of the things I did during my pregnancy and then through labour.
Rosie was going through her own issues as she had been away from us for so long, she had never spent much time apart from us, and she dealing with her new life in her own special way. She was screaming a lot and didn't want to go into her bed alone. She would wake from the baby crying, and she would wake the baby from her crying. It was a nightmare.
Our new baby Annabelle wouldn't sleep unless she was being held, which meant an already very exhausted sick and tired mumma and supportive dad were at the end of our tether. I wasn't coping emotionally or physically. I was stuck on the couch for days on end while I was recovering from the surgery and getting nursed back to health. My boobs were red and bloodied. I actually felt resentment for the baby.
It took a few weeks before I think I actually really bonded with her, and that bond has grown over time. Which is the complete opposite to my first, it was love at first night. I understand why it happened like that, but it still upsets me that I felt resentment towards her. She is just the most beautiful, loving little soul. I wish I could have been in a more supported situation at the time. Hubby and I did the best we could, and we struggled so much to just survive through that time. It put a massive strain on us and our family unit. I can't believe it was only 5 months ago that we were living through that.
All I wanted to do was sleep. I just wanted to pretend like none of it had happened and wished I could just get a decent night sleep. I imagined being on a holiday away from my family alone, or being in a hotel room for a week by myself. I lived in this fantasy world, which no doubt helped keep me sane as I lived through the sleep deprivation and emotional torment. Being woken every couple of hours and having to hold the baby on the couch while we slept was the hardest first couple of weeks ever. Hubby and I tagged teamed as much as possible, but it was a real struggle. We didn't have a community around us to help. Despite my best efforts asking for help from my sisters, as they have no children of their own they just didn't get it. So you have to build a community around you of people who do get it!
We hadn't experienced anything like this before. I was just so thankful that my husband was home for 4 weeks after the baby’s birth to help out. I think at that point he would have preferred to be at work, as it would have been easier to escape it all. So Rosie who used to be this amazing sleep, now wakes in the night. I'm not sure why she does, but she's now in the habit of coming into bed with me around midnight. So I get up with her then, and then I get up a couple more times throughout the night with Annabelle.
I now get those stupid sleepless night meme's. My life is a true reflection of them. They actually make my day when I read them because I don't feel alone in my pain. I love to be able to reach out to other mothers who are dealing with similar things to know that I'm not alone! I am lucky to have another baby who is content and happy and no trouble at all. But she is a baby, both of them are still dependent solely on us to do everything for them which means I'm on call 24/7 for everything.
I can see that it is slowly starting to eat away at me, and sometimes that resentment kicks in. Sometimes I want to get up and be alone. Sometimes I want to sleep in, or have a full night sleep without interruptions. Or hubby and I talk about our memories and some of the amazing times we had before we had our children, when we did sweet FA all day, slept, ate, watched movies, slept.... you get it! What I would give to have a weekend like that again. One day we will, but for now we have two gorgeous little girls to love and care for.
"When I was pregnant I read a lot of articles and information on going from 1 to 2 children, and it focused a lot on my first born's needs, but I didn't actually see anything about the parent’s needs."
I strongly believe that to be the best mum you can be you need to look after yourself, as you are the person who keeps everyone going. Some things I have found to be really helpful and soothing to my soul is practicing meditation daily. I listen to a self-love meditation each morning and write in a journal. I basically write all the crap in my head out onto paper so I can have a clear mind.
Before bed I listen to a sleep meditation, and within 10 minutes I am out like a light. Ah-may-zing! I am currently going through and organising myself and my life more, I have a calendar on my computer that I put all of my events into, so my mind is free to worry about important things. I have done up a monthly meal planner, so no more thinking about what to eat and cook or buy each day. I am making amazing changes to my day to make it more manageable and help me feel more in control, which puts my mind at rest.
All of the experiences that I have gone through have inspired me to create a page & group to empower and support other women who are going through the same thing. If you want to connect with a tribe of supportive, and loving mothers come over and say hello.
The Best Mum I Can Be
Ashley Winning is wife & mother to two beautiful girls aged 2 years and 5 months. Inspired & empowered by other strong women around her, she has decided to follow her passion of supporting & empowering mums in their motherhood journey through her page The Best Mum I Can Be. Open & honest with her readers and keeping it real. In her free time she loves to…. who are we kidding? Free time! For reals though, she loves to sing, eat and be one with water. On a never ending journey to become the ultimate version of herself, until the very end.