I’m watching ‘one born every minute’ and feeling emotional. Not clucky in a traditional way, but more from and fear and relief.
My births were both relatively easy. The first very ‘managed’, but reasonably fast and I coped without serious intervention despite a drip in each arm and a monitor clawed onto my unborn baby’s head.
My second was quick and shocking. Blue lights and oxygen, the cord wrapped around my daughters neck so tightly it had to be clipped and cut while her body was still inside me (and we were both in an ambulance on Hove seafront). But we were both fine and after a quick check in the delivery suite at hospital, I was released home.
But it’s the tiny, wrapped, wrinkled baby passed to the unsuspecting parents on the telly that moves me.
Having my first child was tiring and strange and wonderful. Milky mornings and blissy afternoon sleeps. I didn’t have the confidence in myself as a mumma that I do now, and I made many choices I wouldn’t choose today. But I loved it and her and liked the changes in me. I didn’t lose all of me.
Having my second daughter (within less than two years), was catastrophic. She is wonderful. She is completely incredible and tough and funny and I love her till I ache. But somewhere within the experience of having two so close together, I lost myself. Broken down and remade into someone I barely recognise.
K had colic. Devastating, terrible colic. From just a few weeks old, she screamed from early evening until late at night. She crunched and sweated and roared and fought. I wept and rocked and patted and ached and cried. And felt angry and desperate.
My sister came for a week to rock and hold her. I thought I would go mad. We tried colief and thought maybe it helped a little. A dropper mixed with breast milk squirted into her mouth before each feed. But she still screamed and writhed and fought us. On a good night she would cry (at full volume) for four hours but on a bad night it could be six or more. Eventually, we tried cranio-sacral osteopathy and it changed our lives. Immediately.
But those first weeks were relentless. On more than one occasion, I regretted having had a second baby. Shocking I know, but I’m afraid it’s true. I missed the gentle life I had lived with just my older daughter and was exhausted and constantly tearful.
The following two years were for me the toughest thing I have ever done. And I was lucky. I had extended maternity leave, eventually going back to work two days a week. With childcare costs for the two, I was paying to work for a while. But I desperately needed the break from the children. The constant, relentless, repetitive tasks. The domesticity. The caring.
Of course, it does get easier. And my two are great friends now, and I wouldn’t wish for it any other way. I would gleefully die for either one of my incredible children.
My youngest had a tough start. She is much more independent than my older one. She never got ‘all of me’. She’s shaping up a powerful bundle of ideas and energy and brilliance and I’m incredibly proud of her.
But I thought to write that I would do it all again if I had to, to get these two wonderful people into my life. And honestly, I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it again. I feel desperately sad writing it, but I’ve never experienced something so unrelenting and desperate and I never want another baby.
So yes. I cry at ‘one born every minute’. But not for the reasons you might think.