Second Time Around

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When I had my first baby, even though we had a rocky start (he was in special care for a week due to a problem with his breathing), I felt very comfortable and relaxed being his mother. I followed my instincts. I read all the books but I found my own way of mothering him – a bit of Gina Ford, a bit of Baby Whisperer, a bit of my Mother…..my own way. I had sleepless nights, a bit of colic but nothing too bad, I combine fed him and weaned him. I had really tough days and really good days. But I was quite happy and confident in my ability to read my baby and look after him well. Time passed and I had a very bouncy happy two and a half year old when I had my second son.

Everyone told me that second time around it was much easier – you learnt on your first one, you had time to enjoy your second. But from the first few weeks I felt completely lost. My new baby was totally different – constantly hungry – he wouldn’t take a dummy even, all he wanted was my boob! I couldn’t put him down – he’d scream and cry and was only calm when held. And of course I had a two year old who was feeling unloved with a new intruder in the family. Again everyone told me it would get a bit better, would be easier as I already had been through the baby stage….

But it didn’t get easier. I felt like an utter failure. I couldn’t settle the baby. He had colic, he was hugely hungry all the time and he was enormous! He was heavy even in the sling that I started using to try and have some hands free. I tried to keep to the same routine I’d worked out for my first baby but nothing worked. I was exhausted. How could I have thought it was hard the first time? Didn’t I realise how easy it was compared to this? Everyone else is coping. It must be me. I’m a bad mum. I’m failing.

And that’s where I ended up. Crying my eyes out in the doctor’s office, confessing that I was a failure and thinking I might need antidepressants. Thank goodness I had a great GP who listened, understood and reassured me. I was exhausted she said, not depressed. She prescribed Vitamin B12 and Omega 3 – prescription strength! She told me I was fine, that it was normal not to cope, that I wasn’t a failure.

And I gently realised how mad it was to expect child number two to be a clone of child number one. All babies are different! All babies sleep differently; all babies cry differently; some babies have colic, some don’t; some babies have a nightmare with teeth, some sail through. It’s not your “fault”. They are just different people!

It’s much easier to see now they’re older. And equally frustrating sometimes – how could two children who were weaned the same and ate the same as toddlers, end up with completely different eating patterns – one who eats everything, one who refuses most foods. I’m sure it will continue. I look at my sister and I and we’re polar opposites.

But in the haze of dealing with two children for the first time, I forgot. And I blamed myself and hated myself. So in an effort to spare you that feeling – be easy on yourself. You’ve brought another life into the world – good on you! It’s hard having more than one so go easy on yourself. And you might find it easier this time – you might find it harder – there’s no textbook! Share how you feel – that’s one of the things I forgot to do. You might find someone else who is feeling exactly the same – and that helps!

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I'm Sally Reeve Edwards, I live in Catford and I'm a mum of two boys with SEN (ADHD and ASD). I run Singalong Sally classes and parties in SE London.