One whole month with baby Sybil. I look at her and I can’t quite believe that it has been more than four weeks since I first laid eyes on her. Our lives have gone from relative calm to noisy chaos, and – cliche as it sounds – I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sybil was a huge surprise… to Andy, not me. We were’t trying for another baby, but I instinctively knew that we weren’t done with two. Every day, every time I look at her I feel so very blessed that she chose us, our sweet Sybil.
Here is a little recap at how the first month has gone.
BRINGING HER HOME
The first couple of weeks with a newborn are relatively easy, exhausting but easy. At least that’s been my experience. This is because they sleep a lot, anywhere and on anyone. The logistics of keeping a tiny baby safe with a heavy-handed 18 month old however, that is a different story. Tallulah has learned the word “gentle” but still has no concept of what it actually means and will often wander up to Sybil, whack her over the head and then saunter away. It’s not done maliciously, she’s naturally quite boisterous and it’s something that Poppy has always humoured. Nonetheless it’s disconcerting with a newborn to keep safe. I massively underestimated the amount of coordination that was going to come up when you have an age gap like ours. So, we have essentially spent the first couple of weeks of Sybil’s life considering how we were going to gate-off portions of our home to juggle daily life.
We have slowly started to fall into a routine, and the days are a touch more predictable. As predictable as they can be with kids, I should say. We’re adjusting to the new rhythm of life and the girls are adjusting to the arrival of a new sister. Poppy is a little empath and of the two girls she has – unsurprisingly – coped more easily. Of course, she’s already been through it once before but she’s also old enough to have real conversations with. Yes, she struggles with some of the changes, but, significantly, she is able to understand why things have changed. She is also able to comprehend that this particular phase of life is only temporary and that there are benefits and rewards to being an older, big sister. Tallulah on the other hand, is struggling a bit more. The combination of her young age and now being a middle child has made it tough, and I often find myself worrying that she sometimes feels lost in the chaos of everyday. Finding pieces of time to spend with each of the girls individually is challenging, but the way that it makes them light up shows me just how appreciated it is and just how worthwhile it is.
MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY
Sybil’s birth was induced (all three of my girls were, so it’s all I know) and of all three of my labours and births, hers was closest to my ‘ideal birth’ as it required the least amount of intervention. Physically, recovering from the birth has been rather smooth sailing, but the exhaustion is next-level. There has been six years between my first and last baby and I can feel it most in the sheer amount of exhaustion I feel everyday. The baby brain is unreal too. Most days it’s all I can do to string a sentence together.
I have made no secret of the fact that I struggled greatly with postnatal anxiety and panic following Poppy’s birth, and then again to a much lesser extreme after Tallulah’s. This time around I am ready and prepared for it, and am trying to listen to my body and pay attention to my warning signals. Perhaps a sign that I am becoming increasingly self aware is the fact that I felt the baby blues much more acutely after Sybil’s arrival than I did with the other girls. Regardless, one thing it did show me was how difficult it must be to experience and try to make sense of new motherhood with postpartum depression. It is one thing to read the textbooks and have a preconceived perception of what something you’ve had no experience of is going to be like, and quite another to have lived through this immense challenge. I won’t attempt to compare my one day of (admittedly, deep blue) baby blues, but as someone who has never experienced depression but who often works professionally with those that have, it has given me a great deal of insight.
I feel like I need to pop a disclaimer in here, as often times talking about safe sleep for babies becomes a contentious topic. Everyone has an opinion on what is best, but after doing our research and understanding our own family’s needs we decided to bed-share. I’ve fought against it with each child, mostly, I think, because of others fear-mongering and strong, loud opinions. It ultimately came down to the fact that I felt safest making a conscious decision to have them in bed with us, as opposed to falling asleep in a chair or on the couch during our 476th night feed. For us – or me, as I’m breastfeeding so the nighttime responsibility mostly falls to me – it has made all of the difference. What we sacrifice in personal space and adult time we make up for in sleep, and since we now have three kids, the ability to function during daylight hours is pretty much non-negotiable. My baby brain is so bad already that I would hate to think about how useless I would be if I added sleepless nights to the mix.
This past month has simultaneously been the most trying time of my life and the most blissful. Admittedly, most of it feels like perpetual chaos, but I’m learning to (or trying to) embrace it. It surely isn’t going to change anytime soon. With each child I’ve learned to slow down a bit more, worry a bit less – which is lucky because it frees up plenty of mind space to ruminate over challenges arising from feisty five-year-olds. At the risk of sounding like a walking, talking cliche again (oh, what the hell), the moments are fleeting and I’m clinging to these days, whatever they hold, because in a blink of an eye they will be nothing more than a memory.
For the sake of community, what is one thing you wish you had known as a new mother? Leave a comment below.