Rachel, Henry and Maisie

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Name: Rachel

Children and ages: Henry age 2 years 9 months, Maisie age 14 weeks

Location: Stretford

Previous blog: https://the-mothers.co.uk/2016/03/02/rachel-and-henry/

Life since the last blog post: I’ve enlisted Paul’s help with these questions and when I asked him what life has been like since the last blog he blew out his cheeks and said, ‘Crikey where do we start?’

We’ve just been getting on with life really, it seems to be flying by as though someone flipped the fast forward switch. I had a student in my school once who hated the end of break time and would cry ‘who is stealing all the time?’ I understand what he meant now.

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Last summer we took a family holiday as a three to LA to visit Paul’s brother, wife and son. It was brilliant and I’m really glad we did it although the flight with an 18 month old was interesting.

We also discovered that the little two bed semi that was perfect for just two people was completely insufficient for a family and so we moved house about a year ago. A month later we found out I was pregnant again so I guess we were just in time.

Paul turned 40 in December and we managed a trip to Venice without our child, all credit to my mother there as she agreed to have Henry while we were gone. Now we’re a family of four the chances of a break like that are slim so I’m grateful we squeezed it in when we did.

Motherhood since last being on the blog: It gets easier and it gets better every day.

I know everyone says that when your baby first arrives but it’s completely impossible to believe them. The bit you’re in is all-consuming and you can’t see the end of it. But it does.

I keep looking at Henry and wondering where my baby went but I am enjoying the rapid change. He is more communicative, more interesting and more fun every day. He is also stroppy, wilful and difficult when he chooses to be but I teach teenagers so I can deal with that. I like that he has a big personality and that he is determined, I’m hoping it’ll mean he can focus on what he wants when he’s older and work hard to achieve it.

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We had a chat when Henry was just over a year and half old about whether we’d cope with a second child, I didn’t want Henry to be alone, I have two wonderful sisters who I love and I wanted a sibling for him too. Paul was worried because the baby bit is so hard but he didn’t completely object. We found out we were expecting Maisie pretty soon after this brief conversation so it’s just as well really.

Everything about the pregnancy and birth this time was completely different. With Henry I remember being fine once the sickness passed but with Maisie I was sick for a long time and then my pelvis became stiff and sore. The labour compensated for it though, it was much shorter and I was able to have a water birth as there were no complications, it was as lovely as a labour could be and we came home the same day.

The last 14 weeks have flown past and we now have a smiley three-month old who allows us to put her down and will sleep at night – not all night, but she’s on the right track.

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We are probably more relaxed this time but I definitely think she is more chilled out than Henry was as a baby. I remember thinking he just seemed so angry that he’d been born. She’s coping with the outside world more easily and that makes the new baby bit much more of a joy this time around. I also know this is my last baby, two is enough, so I am trying to enjoy these fleeting weeks as much as I can. They’ll be gone before I know it.

Has motherhood changed you? Paul’s response to this one was, ‘In what world would that be a no?’ It definitely has changed me. It’s changed us.

I feel a bit like I joined some sort of team. Other mothers, in my experience, are almost always willing to help if they see you struggling. I know the internet seems to be the place of judgement for some, but in the real world mothers seem to know they’re in it together. Helping you fasten a sling or baby carrier or lifting your kid off a slide because you’re holding the baby. I like that it seems natural to help each other out. Parenting is hard, and it’s heartwarming when people just offer assistance because they understand.

I’m also more tired, much less bothered about going out or drinking alcohol – Henry gets up at 5 so what’s the point? I worry a lot, I have developed a bit of a fear that something awful will happen to Paul or the kids. I think it’s natural and logic helps to keep it in check but it’s definitely only since the babies came.

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I’m sleep deprived, I know the words to the Thomas the Tank theme song and often catch myself humming Wiggles songs (actually I think most of my family does that given Henry’s early obsession with them.) I’m busy and I’m constantly multi-tasking. But I am quietly happy and feel very lucky to have the life I have.

Hardest parts of being a mother: The endless multi-tasking, especially now we have two. I am pretty organised when I want to be but it still feels exhausting. I also worry when I lose my temper with Henry, broken sleep makes me grumpy and then my patience is shot. I know sometimes kids need to be told off and that it helps them to establish boundaries but I also know when I’ve over reacted because I’m tired and it always makes me feel bad. Sometimes Paul gets grief for the same reason but he’s usually pretty good at brushing it off. We know it’s temporary this time around, I guess.

Best parts of being a mother: I love watching them change and develop into little people. Henry is hilarious at times and his little stories fill me with joy. He’s also a very affectionate older brother which is great. Parenting is hard but there is a lot of joy in it. I love that.

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What you wish you’d known before having children: How emotional motherhood is. Paul finds it amusing; but I can’t hear sad music or watch an emotional scene on tv without tears. Not full-blown sobbing, but I always fill up.

I even get little stabs of sadness when I think about how quickly the kids are growing up.  Nobody can parent small children forever and I want them to be independent young people, but it still makes me feel sad knowing they won’t always need me the way they do now. I finally understand why my mother still needs me to call her when I arrive somewhere and worries if I catch a cold. They’ll always be my babies even when they’re all grown up.

Has becoming a mother influenced your attitude to work/career? Definitely. Not because I don’t enjoy teaching, I love being in the classroom I just hate how much time work takes away from my family. I know we couldn’t afford for me to work part-time but I do miss my family when I’m at work. This time around I’m taking a year for my maternity and I’m really glad I have that option.

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Any more advice for mothers and expectant mums? Well, emotionally I don’t really have much advice. Nothing will prepare you for the change first time around. It is awesome though and if you are finding it hard then find others to share it all with. Mothers who are like you and who can help without having to be asked. I have a brilliant group of mummy friends and when we get together we all muck in to manage the kids while we chat about everything. It’s a lovely way to pass the time and it also keeps us all sane.

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I do have two pieces of practical advice that might be useful:

First, when putting your kids in the car keep your keys in your hand or pocket, I put mine on the passenger seat when Henry was about 6 months old, they somehow clicked and I ended up locking him, the keys and my phone in the car in the middle of summer. The fire brigade had to get him out and I felt like the worst mother in the world. Henry was fine, the firemen seemed to have enjoyed the whole thing and wanted a little picture to celebrate their rescue, it was all ok in the end but I never ever put the keys in the car now, lesson learned.

Second, buy a white noise machine. I bought one for Maisie, we sleep.

Additional info:
If you would like some beautiful drawings of your children look up Paul Loudon the illustrator, you name it he’ll draw it.

http://p-loudon.blogspot.com
Paul Loudon / Lantern Jaw / Mr. Illustrator

p-loudon.blogspot.com “It’s a blisteringly hot summer and England are smashing their way through the World Cup. Like planets in alignment (which presumably are not usually aligned) this is nice, rare and people seem to be pleased.”

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