We’ve finally settled into a happy family routine. Our two-year-old daughter is settled at nursery, sleeping through the night, eating well, and behaving well (ish).
Our weekends are crazy – we swim, go to the park and sing daft songs – they are filled with only the laughter being with a toddler can bring.
After a couple of years of some very dark, sleep-deprived times, I started to feel like ‘me’ again. I started to wear mascara again. And deodorant.
Then everything changed. I discovered I was pregnant with baby number two. Cue the silent scream in a darkened room.
Discovering you’re expecting again conjures up all sorts of emotions: joy, relief, anxiety, fear, trepidation . . .
In many ways I feel more relaxed; I’ve survived pregnancy, childbirth and the newborn days. I know what to expect.
However, in preparation for the new arrival I’ve looked back on the highs and lows of my first pregnancy and thought about the things I’d do differently* this time. Second baby, second chance . . .
I’ll embrace my changing body – but I’ll also try and do more exercise. I didn’t lift a limb during my last pregnancy, partly down to the fact I felt like death for every day of 40-plus weeks. This time seems to be a bit kinder to me – or perhaps I just have less time to wallow – so I am going to try and swim and walk regularly.
I’ll try and adopt an early routine. Contrary to what many second-time mums say about the newbie ‘sleeping anywhere, eating anything’, I’m going to try to get mine into some sort of routine. I’d fly by the seat of my pants a bit when my daughter was tiny and that leads to a chaotic life.
If I breastfeed I am going to eat cake and lots of it. Nursing helps burn an extra 600 calories a day so I can really indulge without the guilt – something I didn’t do the first time round.
I’ll use dummies, breast milk, formula, white noise apps, the hairdryer whatever it takes to soothe my baby – and I’ll do it guilt-free. First-time motherhood is loaded with guilt and worry about ‘what other people think’.
I won’t bust a gut to get my newborn to every baby class going. First time round I exhausted myself dashing from music class to baby massage to swimming lessons – with no real benefit. This time I plan to spend a lot more time in the comfort of my own home. With my feet up, watching Netflix and napping.
But I will take full advantage of baby cinema sessions, an opportunity to sit in the dark, watch an adult film, eat cake and drink coffee in the company of other nursing mums. I discovered this revolutionary activity far too late in my last maternity leave when my daughter was on the move and no longer sleeping for 20 hours a day. I’ll be there at the first opportunity this time!
I won’t buy too many baby clothes. While there are 1,001 cute outfits out there I’m only going to buy what I really need, what’s practical and what goes together. Before my daughter was born I bought her an adorable cotton shirt with collar and cuffs in a newborn size. What was I thinking? Who’s going to iron that? I was too tired to even take it off the hanger. This time is babygros til they’re one. I say this but John Lewis’s latest range of baby clothes are just adorable . . .
I’m going to try baby carrying (again). Having purchased a super-expensive, all-singing baby carrier first time around I quickly discovered that I had no idea how to wear it properly (and I was too exhausted to YouTube it) and my daughter didn’t like being in it (probably due to the fact I hadn’t tied it securely). However, with a boisterous tot to get to nursery every day then baby carrying might be the way forward. But this time I’ll go for something easy to use with my eyes still half shut.
If I struggle, I’ll talk about it. I waited too long last time and, as a result, crumbled and needed professional help. This time I will be more mindful of my mental health and take care accordingly.
I’m going to have a good time.
* Disclaimer: All these ideals will probably go out of the window once the newbie arrives and I’m once against plunged into sleep-deprived madness.