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View as: GRID LIST

Three years in.

1
Today my husband and I have been parents for three years and it seems a good time to reflect. If I am honest, it is only in the last couple of months that we have actually had the time, energy and brain power required to think anything deeper than “Can I get away with not changing that nappy now?” or “What the hell is she putting in her mouth this time?”

Somehow, in my head, the last three years stretch way further than the first twenty nine; I put that down to the value that has been added. (It may also be because I have spent the same amount

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2
of time awake in the last three as the first twenty nine but I prefer to think it is the sense of finally having a true purpose and the joy that being a parent has brought me. Yep.)

At the same time it seems as if only three days can have passed. This twist of time perception is down to my constant attempt to hold on tightly to each precious moment and milestone which seem to come on a daily basis. The more I try to treasure these the quicker they slip through my fingers. However fast these moments turn into memories or worse, fade away, I can still

SelfishMother.com
3
remember the first moments I saw both my daughters with crystal clear clarity. My memory is terrible but those two moments will be there forever.

The first moment came after hours of extreme stress and fear. Being taken out of the birthing pool after a night on the gas and air because nothing was happening, having my waters broken (I thought the brain was supposed to anaesthetise these memories, not sure why mine has chosen to keep that particular one. Ouch.), hours of pushing, still nothing happening, preparing for surgery and then having a last

SelfishMother.com
4
minute reprieve from the wonderful consultant who said she would get the forceps out in the room I was in. I will be forever grateful to that woman. I was more scared of the drugs than the pain and the idea of going into theatre was terrifying, even in my gas and air addled mind. Probably because at that point I had no idea how searingly awful a forceps delivery would be.

But I did it and she was there and it was a shock. It was a shock because after everything that had happened over the previous 14 hours I think I genuinely believed that the baby

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5
would never actually come out. It was a shock because she looked astonishingly like my brother in law. It was a shock because all of a sudden those months of wondering were over and she was real and she was ours. The responsibility was overwhelming.

The second moment was a lot less fraught. After worrying that labour might start in the middle of the night or at a time when there was no one about to look after our elder daughter my waters broke at, a most convenient, half past nine on a Saturday morning. After a fairly relaxed day having contractions

SelfishMother.com
6
in my bedroom so as not to scare the toddler (or grown ups) playing happily downstairs, at about 6:30pm I went to the toilet and everything went a bit mad. My husband was about to put our daughter to bed so I tried to get ready to go to the hospital by myself. I managed to get my shoes on but couldn’t lace them up. My poor father in law laced them up for me with barely concealed terror on his face then immediately went to tell my husband to abandon bedtime and get me to the hospital. 3 hours later I had that second moment and it was magic. There was no
SelfishMother.com
7
shock, no realisation that this new life was completely dependent on us, we had done it all before and this time we could enjoy it. The atmosphere in the delivery room was euphoric, we laughed- we even examined the placenta. It was worlds away from our first experience.

The journey into motherhood begins slowly; you get that positive pregnancy result and life changes in tiny increments as the bump gradually grows and you stock up on all those ‘essential’ baby items. I look back at my first pregnancy in particular as being a wonderfully serene

SelfishMother.com
8
time. There are some serious rose tinted glasses in use there, my Google history of September 2014 onwards would tell a very different story, but now I can look back and see how lovely it actually all was.

The real introduction into parenthood is labour and birth. A bona fide baptism of fire. You can pootle along in pregnancy sometimes enjoying the precious feeling of growing life, sometimes despairing at the tiredness and sickness and the inability to get comfortable anywhere. But then in those last few hours everything ramps up and you are expending

SelfishMother.com
9
every part of you with no concern for your own well being to get your baby here safe and sound. What better way could there be to prepare you for parenthood.

So now we are here, three years later, nearly 16 months since the last time I gave birth and life is bloody good. There are days when I wonder how I will get to 7pm, when everyone is tired and whinging and demanding Every. Minute. Of. The. Day. But increasingly there are days when the three or four of us have a wonderful time together.

Don’t be fooled into thinking it hasn’t been hard work

SelfishMother.com
10
to get to this point. I am not usually one for schmaltz but this is the one time I will happily proclaim that we have been on a real journey. If I were to summarise the last three years it would probably go something like this…

Exhaustion. Due to 25 hours of labour followed by 48 hours on the maternity ward. You don’t sleep on a maternity ward. If you do manage to drift off in between babies crying then a midwife will come and wake you up to check you are still alive.

More exhaustion: Feed your baby every three hours. Sleep when they sleep.

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They don’t sleep, therefore you don’t sleep. If they do sleep it is most likely on you and you are so terrified of cot death that you force yourself to stay awake even through all the afore mentioned exhaustion.

Mixed in here is an attempt to breastfeed. Is the latch right? Is it supposed to hurt this much? Is she getting enough? Is it still supposed to hurt this much? Maybe I should stop. I’ve come this far, I can’t stop now. Is the latch right? Fuck this is hard work.

Next came despair. The baby stopped sleeping altogether. No idea why.

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12
She started losing weight. Turns out my milk, milk that I had spent 8 weeks battling through sore, cracked nipples, hours of cluster feeding and everyone telling me to stop, to use has dried up after just four months.

Elation. After the emotional turmoil that lead to my eventual acceptance that she would be formula fed she slept. A whole night. Then another one. Not consistently but enough to finally start to feel human again. This was around six months in. It didn’t last long, in fact it was around seven months in that we began co sleeping because

SelfishMother.com
13
we were just too tired to get her to settle in her cot 8 times a night.

Serious discussion then started about the fact that we definitely wanted another baby and perhaps the best option was to just do it, we were already seriously sleep deprived so why not get it all done in one fell swoop. We decided to give it a go and were lucky enough to fall pregnant within a couple of months.

Ahh morning sickness and a very small toddler, that was an adventure. I spent the first few months of my older daughter’s second year with her pottering around my head

SelfishMother.com
14
as I lay on her bedroom floor trying not to vom. A highlight was her having a grand old time dropping the toilet lid on my head over and over again as I brought up the three sips of water I had actually managed to drink that day.

Guilt. At about 7 months into my second pregnancy I began to get the guilt sweats. My daughter had spent every day of her life with just me, we were as one. She started where I ended. And now I was going to force a separation on her, against her will. She would no longer be my one and only, how could I have been so

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selfish?

Elation again. Baby number two, a girl as predicted at the 20 week scan, four days before my own birthday (the best birthday I have ever had).

Stress. Having a 20 month old and a newborn is really fucking difficult. They both need so much from you in such different ways and balancing those needs was tough. There were tears. A lot of tears. The girls cried a fair bit as well. The same can be said of a 21 month and a 1 month old, and a 22 month and a 2 month etc etc.

Exhaustion. Again. Despite believing we had learnt from the first time

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16
round baby number two didn’t sleep either. This time we invested in a sleepyhead which tided us over for a while but at about 6 months she stopped sleeping. This time it was due to that good old bad habit of her falling asleep on the breast.

Stress. Breaking the boob habit, wow. That was tough. Listening to her tears of anguish and anger because I was doing anything but the one thing she wanted was awful. But we rocked, bounced and sang our way through it and finally, after a night in which I sent my husband and daughter to my in laws and went

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17
completely cold turkey on the boob, she understood what the end goal was. The next night she slept for eleven hours.

Happiness. A few months on, we are all getting a full night’s sleep pretty much every night and everyone is so much better for it.

I considered briefly the possibility of a third because surely I’ve got it nailed now? But I am not willing to tempt fate. I just want to spend the rest of my life with my beautiful, happy family and never have to wake up every 45 minutes again.

SelfishMother.com
Rhiannon

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- 10 May 18

Today my husband and I have been parents for three years and it seems a good time to reflect. If I am honest, it is only in the last couple of months that we have actually had the time, energy and brain power required to think anything deeper than “Can I get away with not changing that nappy now?” or “What the hell is she putting in her mouth this time?”

Somehow, in my head, the last three years stretch way further than the first twenty nine; I put that down to the value that has been added. (It may also be because I have spent the same amount of time awake in the last three as the first twenty nine but I prefer to think it is the sense of finally having a true purpose and the joy that being a parent has brought me. Yep.)

At the same time it seems as if only three days can have passed. This twist of time perception is down to my constant attempt to hold on tightly to each precious moment and milestone which seem to come on a daily basis. The more I try to treasure these the quicker they slip through my fingers. However fast these moments turn into memories or worse, fade away, I can still remember the first moments I saw both my daughters with crystal clear clarity. My memory is terrible but those two moments will be there forever.

The first moment came after hours of extreme stress and fear. Being taken out of the birthing pool after a night on the gas and air because nothing was happening, having my waters broken (I thought the brain was supposed to anaesthetise these memories, not sure why mine has chosen to keep that particular one. Ouch.), hours of pushing, still nothing happening, preparing for surgery and then having a last minute reprieve from the wonderful consultant who said she would get the forceps out in the room I was in. I will be forever grateful to that woman. I was more scared of the drugs than the pain and the idea of going into theatre was terrifying, even in my gas and air addled mind. Probably because at that point I had no idea how searingly awful a forceps delivery would be.

But I did it and she was there and it was a shock. It was a shock because after everything that had happened over the previous 14 hours I think I genuinely believed that the baby would never actually come out. It was a shock because she looked astonishingly like my brother in law. It was a shock because all of a sudden those months of wondering were over and she was real and she was ours. The responsibility was overwhelming.

The second moment was a lot less fraught. After worrying that labour might start in the middle of the night or at a time when there was no one about to look after our elder daughter my waters broke at, a most convenient, half past nine on a Saturday morning. After a fairly relaxed day having contractions in my bedroom so as not to scare the toddler (or grown ups) playing happily downstairs, at about 6:30pm I went to the toilet and everything went a bit mad. My husband was about to put our daughter to bed so I tried to get ready to go to the hospital by myself. I managed to get my shoes on but couldn’t lace them up. My poor father in law laced them up for me with barely concealed terror on his face then immediately went to tell my husband to abandon bedtime and get me to the hospital. 3 hours later I had that second moment and it was magic. There was no shock, no realisation that this new life was completely dependent on us, we had done it all before and this time we could enjoy it. The atmosphere in the delivery room was euphoric, we laughed- we even examined the placenta. It was worlds away from our first experience.

The journey into motherhood begins slowly; you get that positive pregnancy result and life changes in tiny increments as the bump gradually grows and you stock up on all those ‘essential’ baby items. I look back at my first pregnancy in particular as being a wonderfully serene time. There are some serious rose tinted glasses in use there, my Google history of September 2014 onwards would tell a very different story, but now I can look back and see how lovely it actually all was.

The real introduction into parenthood is labour and birth. A bona fide baptism of fire. You can pootle along in pregnancy sometimes enjoying the precious feeling of growing life, sometimes despairing at the tiredness and sickness and the inability to get comfortable anywhere. But then in those last few hours everything ramps up and you are expending every part of you with no concern for your own well being to get your baby here safe and sound. What better way could there be to prepare you for parenthood.

So now we are here, three years later, nearly 16 months since the last time I gave birth and life is bloody good. There are days when I wonder how I will get to 7pm, when everyone is tired and whinging and demanding Every. Minute. Of. The. Day. But increasingly there are days when the three or four of us have a wonderful time together.

Don’t be fooled into thinking it hasn’t been hard work to get to this point. I am not usually one for schmaltz but this is the one time I will happily proclaim that we have been on a real journey. If I were to summarise the last three years it would probably go something like this…

Exhaustion. Due to 25 hours of labour followed by 48 hours on the maternity ward. You don’t sleep on a maternity ward. If you do manage to drift off in between babies crying then a midwife will come and wake you up to check you are still alive.

More exhaustion: Feed your baby every three hours. Sleep when they sleep. They don’t sleep, therefore you don’t sleep. If they do sleep it is most likely on you and you are so terrified of cot death that you force yourself to stay awake even through all the afore mentioned exhaustion.

Mixed in here is an attempt to breastfeed. Is the latch right? Is it supposed to hurt this much? Is she getting enough? Is it still supposed to hurt this much? Maybe I should stop. I’ve come this far, I can’t stop now. Is the latch right? Fuck this is hard work.

Next came despair. The baby stopped sleeping altogether. No idea why. She started losing weight. Turns out my milk, milk that I had spent 8 weeks battling through sore, cracked nipples, hours of cluster feeding and everyone telling me to stop, to use has dried up after just four months.

Elation. After the emotional turmoil that lead to my eventual acceptance that she would be formula fed she slept. A whole night. Then another one. Not consistently but enough to finally start to feel human again. This was around six months in. It didn’t last long, in fact it was around seven months in that we began co sleeping because we were just too tired to get her to settle in her cot 8 times a night.

Serious discussion then started about the fact that we definitely wanted another baby and perhaps the best option was to just do it, we were already seriously sleep deprived so why not get it all done in one fell swoop. We decided to give it a go and were lucky enough to fall pregnant within a couple of months.

Ahh morning sickness and a very small toddler, that was an adventure. I spent the first few months of my older daughter’s second year with her pottering around my head as I lay on her bedroom floor trying not to vom. A highlight was her having a grand old time dropping the toilet lid on my head over and over again as I brought up the three sips of water I had actually managed to drink that day.

Guilt. At about 7 months into my second pregnancy I began to get the guilt sweats. My daughter had spent every day of her life with just me, we were as one. She started where I ended. And now I was going to force a separation on her, against her will. She would no longer be my one and only, how could I have been so selfish?

Elation again. Baby number two, a girl as predicted at the 20 week scan, four days before my own birthday (the best birthday I have ever had).

Stress. Having a 20 month old and a newborn is really fucking difficult. They both need so much from you in such different ways and balancing those needs was tough. There were tears. A lot of tears. The girls cried a fair bit as well. The same can be said of a 21 month and a 1 month old, and a 22 month and a 2 month etc etc.

Exhaustion. Again. Despite believing we had learnt from the first time round baby number two didn’t sleep either. This time we invested in a sleepyhead which tided us over for a while but at about 6 months she stopped sleeping. This time it was due to that good old bad habit of her falling asleep on the breast.

Stress. Breaking the boob habit, wow. That was tough. Listening to her tears of anguish and anger because I was doing anything but the one thing she wanted was awful. But we rocked, bounced and sang our way through it and finally, after a night in which I sent my husband and daughter to my in laws and went completely cold turkey on the boob, she understood what the end goal was. The next night she slept for eleven hours.

Happiness. A few months on, we are all getting a full night’s sleep pretty much every night and everyone is so much better for it.

I considered briefly the possibility of a third because surely I’ve got it nailed now? But I am not willing to tempt fate. I just want to spend the rest of my life with my beautiful, happy family and never have to wake up every 45 minutes again.

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Rhiannon

I am Rhiannon, a 30 something mum of two living in Stratford Upon Avon. I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home mum and while I may sometimes feel like my head is going to explode I wouldn't be anywhere else.

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