Three things have happened in the past couple of weeks that have prompted me to write this blog.
The first is that I read the chapter in The Unmumsy Mum Diary where Sarah Turner sets out the pros and cons of having baby number 3. It may have just been the way she wrote it but it appeared to come across that the cons outweighed the pros. The cons were sensible concerns, like going through the birth, the fact kids are expensive, they require more room (in your house and your car) and another baby requires you to divide your attention by another multiple. On the other hand, children are pretty awesome (I’m summarising the pros!). The irony is that I read that chapter shortly after Sarah Turner (the Unmumsy Mum) revealed that she was expecting her third baby. Clearly heart overruled head. This also coincided with the announcement that William and Kate were expecting their third baby, the news of which was reported widely and sparked many conversations and debates on social media around the decision to have more children. I assume Kate and William don’t have the same “cons” list as many of us, I’m sure they are ok for both money and space, but it did make me reflect on the list put forward by the Unmumsy Mum.
The third thing which happened was that a friend said to me that whilst a mutual friend was telling her how hard having a newborn was, she said two things: firstly, she didn’t realise it would be “this” hard, and secondly, she didn’t think I (meaning me) had had it so hard. I laughed. Not at her finding it hard (obviously) but the fact that it is so easy to conceal how tough it really is. I hadn’t done it on purpose, it’s just the way it happens, especially when you don’t see or speak to people so often in those first few months after having a baby. Those you see regularly, which (to be honest) was only parents, very close friends and NCT comrades, know most of the lows as well as the highs, but other than that, the stories are censored.
Even my husband and I have censored certain days in our own heads. I asked Chris if he remembered the time we left Isaac on the floor in his room and shut his door to drown out his crying. I sat next door on our bed and sobbed. Chris doesn’t remember. Also, in those early days, whilst Chris was out of the house for 12 hours at a time at work, there were so many tears even he didn’t see. We both remember the day when I rang him and just sobbed down the phone, unable to even string a sentence together, because I couldn’t do anything to stop Isaac crying. We remember (although I’m sure we no longer fully appreciate) the torture of sleep deprivation in the early days, and despite what every book and healthcare professional said, we would fall asleep on the sofa or in our bed with Isaac on us, not out of choice but just because we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. These things stand out but most of those first 6 months were a blur. Days and nights just blended into one, there was no real concept of bedtime, and waking up at 10am didn’t feel like a lie in when it was preceded by a night of broken sleep. I find it unbelievable that I can no longer tell you how often I fed Isaac in those early days or when he napped or for how long. I remember people saying “is he feeding again? Surely not?” a lot, but if it stopped him crying I didn’t care. I remember that he didn’t nap (at all!!) for a very long time but now it feels like there was never a time when he didn’t nap for a set amount of time in his cot like he does so well now. I can pinpoint when he started to sleep through the night, although I didn’t realise at the time that that was the start of a new routine. The reason I can put a month on it is because we went away a week or so after he started sleeping through and I was absolutely petrified that being away would ruin what we had appeared to have achieved (so much so that I briefly contemplated cancelling the holiday all together!).
Isaac crying every time we would sit down to eat, Chris having to cut up my food so I could eat over Isaac breastfeeding, plans cancelled, ‘date nights’ postponed, Isaac crying, me crying, the fun of baby classes trumped by Isaac’s very different agenda, sheer exhaustion, the realisation that life as you knew it had been completely turned on its head and so many tears (did I mention the tears??), and this is all without even mentioning the birth. Whilst I don’t want to erase those memories, as they form part of my son’s life, it’s clear that we just pop most of them to one side and put a lid on them.
Writing this has brought back memories that I hadn’t thought about until now, and if I’m honest, I will gladly put back where they belong. At some point, maybe when I’m writing my own pros and cons list, they will come back up, but for now, whilst we are loving the joys of having a 17 month old toddler, I think they are times better forgotten.