I return to work in just a few days, leaving Kate to carry the burden of two small children on her own. Although the time spent with my family over the last six weeks has been great, it can’t go on forever without someone working.
But reflecting on what it has been like this time, compared to the last time we had a newborn, I’ve realised how different these weeks have been.
For our first child, Harriet, we were jumping off a cliff together and we didn’t know what was at the bottom. We lacked confidence, we lacked knowledge, and the only thing we knew was that our lifestyle would be changed irrevocably.
To prepare that time, I read books and went to classes, read my parent friends’ blogs and stocked-up on frozen dinners. And it was all very helpful, and we survived intact.
This time, for our second child, Philippa, I waited until a week before and re-read parts of one book for preparation. A major difference was that this time, we had knowledge (although, a quick refresher helped) and confidence.
But what we had last time that we didn’t have last time was time. While last time, we could relax, rest or sleep during the periods when the newborn was unconscious, this time we didn’t have that luxury.
As well as Harriet having long awake periods, she has also realised that she needs to be more demanding to achieve the level of attention she received pre-Philippa. This may also be explained by simply being two-year-old age, but some is likely due to the competition.
One aspect that is easier is we’ve now well and truly given up on our old lifestyle. Going out most evenings is now a distant memory. The struggle to retain some of the old lifestyle was a part of the adjustment in having Harriet in our lives, and this is a struggle that didn’t need to be repeated for Philippa. I guess this is an advantage in having the two children relatively close together – we hadn’t strayed too far from the way of living that we’d developed to accommodate a baby.
There are plenty of nice things about having another little baby around, though it’s hard not to look back on the early days with Harriet fondly, to now think of how good we had it. This is, of course, looking with eyes that now have the confidence and knowledge that we didn’t have back then, but the yearning for more time is very strong.
So, it’s unsurprising that many of the strategies that we’ve discussed for when I return to work involve getting Kate more time. For example, enrolling Harriet in care for one day a week, visiting Kate’s parents to share the kids around for one day a fortnight, etc.
I know we’re not the first people to have a second child, so it can clearly be made to work. I guess we’ll find out how.