I’ve been a mother of two now for two months. Two months sounds like forever and also no time at all, all at once. In some ways, Indiana feels brand new, but he also feels as though we’ve always had him. It’s strange, and wonderful – which is how I’d describe most of parenthood to be honest.
Indiana Hugo Atlas (yep, we do long pretentious names in this family. Roo is Ruben Hendrix Etienne!) made his way into the world 8 days late in the most incredible, empowering home birth on the 13th of July. I got my dream water birth in the end, although getting there wasn’t the easiest road! The midwife showed up… without the key for the gas and air! The pool took FOREVER to fill up, so I had nothing but my breath for pain relief for most of the labour. I am, if I do say so myself, a freaking hero.
Indie made his grand entrance at 2:58am (second child means I had to check this!), still in his sac until I grabbed him out of the water. I kept hysterically saying “we did it baby, we did it!”. It was incredible.
Except I ended up with a 2nd degree tear! It’s strange to have your nether-regions sewn up by a near-stranger on the sofa that you usually use for snuggling up and watching The Office.
We, of course, recorded the birth, and I’m excited to edit it and share the full story with everyone.
If you follow me on Insta, you’ll have seen we’ve not had the easiest few weeks of Indiana’s life. After our gorgeous home birth, I ended up in hospital not 24 hours later as I was passing enormous blood clots. The doctor was horrible and I ended up crying for several hours afterwards. A great start to the postpartum period.
Then on day 5, we were out for food when Indie went floppy and unresponsive and I was petrified. After we ended up at A&E, it turned out to be “one of those things”, but I couldn’t relax for days afterwards. We were sleep-deprived. I cried every day. I felt like Ruben hated me and I had ruined everything for our family. Oh, the fourth-trimester hormones!
When Indiana was not even 2 weeks old, my friend Becky came to stay which was lovely, but on her last night I had a ~feeling~ something was wrong with him and every time I checked his temperature, it was high. He also had noisy breathing. At around 2am I decided to call 111 and they suggested going to Alder Hey (our local children’s A&E closes at midnight…!).
Mothers’ instinct was spot on and we didn’t even sit down in the waiting room before we were seen in triage, skipping the 9.5hour queue! My baby was very poorly and not even an hour after arriving he had had a lumbar puncture and a whole host of other tests. We were admitted and ended up staying for a week! That meant a whole week away from Ruben – heartbreaking. We had never been apart more than 24 hours before, but he wasn’t allowed in the hospital and it made sense to let him go to Center Parcs with his Nanna and Grandad, Auntie and Uncle and Cousins. We knew he was looked after and having fun, so we could focus on looking after Indie. But it was bloody hard.
Indiana was diagnosed with Bronchiolitis and after a partial lung collapse, ended up in the high dependency unit, with an NG feeding tube and on a bi-pap machine to help him breathe. We had a 1:1 nurse and a room in the Ronald McDonald House. Thinking back to it now makes my heartache for my poor tiny baby, but at the time we knew we just had to get through. When we did get home I really struggled to get used to not having a machine telling me about his oxygen saturation and nurses to help keep him safe.
That said, when we got home, my baby blues had pretty much gone. If I thought life was hard before, having one baby incredibly poorly in hospital to the point I couldn’t hold him & the other miles away without his parents, and me sleeping on an uncomfortable sofa in a hospital room while Steven was in an unfamiliar room on his own – well, it puts things into perspective.
We were finally able to do our newborn shoot at 4 weeks, and I started to go back to baby classes and live the life we had been robbed of for a week. I’ve loved getting back to baby classes, but it does feel weird to be a second-time Mum while making new parent friends. I feel like such an insufferable know-it-all. I can’t stop myself from saying “Oh my first used to do that but it’s okay, we tried XYZ and he’s fine now”, or “I remember with Ruben…” it’s so annoying! I know how important it is to learn things for yourself with your first baby, so I’m trying to keep my mouth shut where I can, but also it feels a little weird not to be experiencing these things for the first time with everyone else.
Don’t get me wrong, things haven’t been easy since then. My gallbladder is still an issue (although it’s being forcibly evicted on the 6th of October!), and having 2 children is logistically tricky. Getting two kids into a car on your own is something you just don’t consider and I’ve had to get good at it because I try to take the boys out every day if I can.
One thing we’ve been lucky with is that Ruben adores Indie. There’s been no jealousy, no drama, the first thing he wants to do every day is go and see his brother. I’m sure it won’t be like this forever but for now it’s making a huge difference.
We’ve managed to find a little routine at the moment. Steven gets up with Ruben in the morning while Indie and I have a little lie in together. Steven gets Roo dressed and gives him his breakfast and then he gets me up. I take the boys for the day and we do classes, or soft play, visit a farm or hang out with friends. I struggle to stay in the house at the moment because things are messy and there are only so many episodes of Paw Patrol I can handle in a day, so we try to get out. Steven finishes work at around 5pm and he will hang out with the boys while I cook dinner. This works well for us because it means I get some time alone (I’ve really enjoyed trying out #Afflink Gousto boxes recently) and Steven gets to spend time with both boys, which he loves. We’ll have dinner and then do bath time – usually, Ruben will want me in the bath with him & Indie. It’s a bit of a squash and someone usually poops in it (not me, to clarify!) and then it’s Roo’s bedtime. Steven will get him in his PJs while I sit in his room and feed Indie. Then Steven will say goodnight and take Indiana downstairs, while I snuggle with Ruben and read stories to him. It’s the only time that it’s just the two of us and it’s really precious – even if I do have to read the same books every single night. Then Steven and I will watch Greys Anatomy (we’re only on season 3!) while Indie snuggles on one of our chests and falls asleep. I’ll do all the night feeds (cos Steven is yet to learn to lactate) but Steven will get up to Ruben if he wakes up. It works pretty well for us.
So my first two months as a Mum of two has been dramatic and stressful but also full of beautiful moments. When the four of us are snuggling on the sofa watching Cars (again!) I want to cry because my heart is so full. But when I’m driving down the motorway and both boys are crying, I want to cry because my head is so full. The good times outweigh the bad for sure and we’re starting to get into a good groove with it all. I can’t wait to see how this adventure goes.