I’m asked all the time…what’s it like the second time around? I’m sure all of you with more than one Small have been asked the same question. I asked every parent I met who had two children when I was pregnant with my second and the answers fell clearly into two camps. Some responded by saying, “It’s really hard. Having two is three times harder than having one.” That wasn’t really what I wanted to hear. The other response was more optimistic, “It’s so much easier the second time around.” Now, that’s more like it.
Here’s what I think and, please, this is just my experience but good news people – I fall into the second camp. For me, the second baby was a fucking breeze; a walk in the birthing park. Not only was the birth a much less traumatic experience, what has happened since has been easy in comparison.
Easy? Yep. Easy peasy.
You see, as I’ve banged on about before, I found that transition to motherhood the first time around the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Really. I’m not trying to be dramatic about it. When I think about those first few weeks, I break out in goosebumps. Not the exciting kind of goosebumps, the ones fired up by fizzy knickers and buzzing excitement; no, the kind that appear when you’re certain that there’s a monster standing at the end of your bed and you’re too afraid to even open your eyes. Those kind of spine-chilling goosebumps.
I mean, for me, I’d already done the hard bit. I’d already become a mother. I’d already resigned myself to the fact that private poos, relaxing baths and slouchy hangovers were a thing of the past. I was at peace with the fact that I would have almost no disposable income for the next eighteen years and that lie-ins were banished to the same place that I’d sent Father Christmas, the tooth fairy and my dreams of marrying Keanu Reeves (it was the 90s people).
So when Bo arrived I hit ‘Motherhood The Sequel’ running. My hypnobirthing home-birth that lasted three hours with no drugs, meant that my recovery both physical and emotional was much quicker; the damage done was minimal. I bonded with my newest Small immediately. For the first time I experienced that much lauded immediate rush of love – I didn’t get that with my Biggest Small. It was almost a year until I bonded with the Biggest Small in a way that I felt good about. I’m not proud of that. That’s really, really hard for me to admit but I’ve never shied away from an embarrassing admission on this blog before so I’m not going to start now.
And this is where I get a little fuzzy. This is where my mama guilt, my personal feelings of inadequacy, my memories that remain, stagnant, of my first experience rear their ugly heads and make me tearful. I wish, more than anything, that I could have had that experience with my first daughter. I wish that I hadn’t struggled emotionally to figure out motherhood and I wish that I hadn’t felt so paralysed when it came to bonding with Billie. I feel guilty that she had a mother that was emotionally removed, inactive and oh, so, angry and sad and confused and cross.
Having my second daughter was a wonderful experience but it’s also served to reinforce just how hard I found it the first time and what a pretty terrible experience that was for us all. While I’m sure my eldest won’t hold it against me (she won’t, will she?!), I do hold it against myself. I do wish I could rewind time and do it all again knowing what I know now. I wish I could have given Billie what I’ve been able to give Bo in the first few months of her life.
Coulda, shoulda, woulda, right? I know it’s pointless to wallow in the past and to wish that it could have been different, but Billie, if you’re reading this know this: you were loved, more than you know and frankly, more than I knew. You are a unique character full of energy, love, imagination and strength and perhaps that’s because of what we went through together. You taught me everything I needed to know about motherhood…it was as if you took one look at me and sighed, “Jeez, this one doesn’t know what she’s doing,” and you stepped up. You, Billie, guided me towards the right path and for that, I will always be in love with you.