Author: Alison Lockyer
Welcoming a second child into the family.
Of all the names I'm known by, mummy is by far my favourite. We are blessed with 2 beautiful, healthy boys, Henry (2) and Charlie (5 months) who are my absolute world.
However, welcoming Charlie into our family has caused me to have such ambivalent feelings; euphoria at his birth, pride when Henry holds his little brother but also copious amounts of guilt and sadness.
I've lost track of the amount of google searches I've done for 'my toddler hates me and I've ruined his life by having another baby'. My firstborn suddenly feels so huge in comparison to his little brother and seems so distant to me. I see his sad looks when I'm holding the baby, I hear his cries for daddy rather than mummy, I feel his pain when he hits his brother. I just want to scoop him up in a giant cuddle and go back to the days where it was just the 2 of us. Days where I wasn't fiercely protective of our new arrival, days where I didn't feel guilty for singing or interacting with Charlie for fear of leaving Henry out. We're both hurting, with memories of the special 2 years we shared together still reasonably fresh in our minds. I know Henry feels like I've replaced him with Charlie and it breaks my heart, but I'm trying my best to show him that I still care. When Henry chooses Daddy rather than me or pushes me away, it hurts more than any heartbreak I've ever experienced.
I know I've changed, I feel like a different person to the mummy I was 5 months ago. My mind is constantly clouded with thoughts: I'm not giving Henry enough attention, I'm not giving Charlie enough attention, how do I respond to Henry's actions, what am I going to do about going back to work, what are we going to do about money, when is Charlie going to feed properly? When I was pregnant, I had imagined reading Henry books before bed while breastfeeding Charlie, following Henry's usual routine, playing on the floor with Henry while Charlie fed. However, the reality is that for the past few months, Charlie will only breastfeed laying down. He'll only take naps while lying on the bed suckling on my boob or in the carrier. My much needed 1:1 time with my eldest just isn't happening at the moment. But I'll keep trying. I won't give up on him. I still remember the joy I felt when I found out I was pregnant with Henry, the sound of his heartbeat, the moment I first laid eyes on him. Those memories remind me to keep going, even when he closes doors on me and cries if I come into his room rather than Daddy at night if he's woken up.
Naively, I assumed after a few weeks of being a family of 4, we'd feel settled. Yet currently we're trying to find our rhythm, our new normal as a family of 4 and I'm not ashamed to say that 5 months in, we still haven't found it. I haven't lost hope that one day we'll feel we've sussed it all out, but for now we're taking each day as it comes and loving our 2 little boys with all of our hearts. I see glimpses of hope when Henry tries to play with Charlie and I see the looks, laughs and smiles Charlie gives his older brother. I hope one day we look back on these early months and say 'yep that was hard. But look at us now; it was totally worth it.'