The Early Days with a Newborn and a 12 Month Old
I don’t think I’ve ever truly acknowledged to myself the amazing work I did raising my two in the early days, do any of us? I don’t think I’ve allowed myself to relive what I went through with a one year old and a newborn.
My photos are the sunny days, the giggles, the cuddles…
the rain evaporates, and so you remember the warmth.
Those early days were beautiful, and they were some of my hardest.
Having post-natal anxiety added to the layers of postpartum, and I learnt early on that Harry was highly sensitive, a gifted trait but one that would take so much from me. He just needed me all the time, and if it wasn't me he simply just needed, sometimes neither of us knew what.
I would try to tell Drew when he got home from work how our days were, but my words often fell flat. I was exhausted and just elated that he was home and also resentful I hadn’t left the house all day. But here he was, a grown up person I could have a conversation with, but I wouldn't because I was too tired.
But time will have you forget about it all, the details of the hardship, the impossible tandem naps, the nights you’re up hourly, the constant nature of it, the no breaks, the taking the responsive approach for two babies who need you all the time. You’ll scroll back on photos of them now and wish you could go back to then, forgetting the tired eyes behind the camera. Forgetting how much of yourself went into them back then, and not necessarily more than now, but it was so loud wasn't it? So loud that you became quiet, with friends, with yourself… while the beauty was consuming... it also consumed everything.
It was a play date this morning that had the memories flooding back. Holly’s friend came over and her Mum brought her one year old with her. Play dates for me haven’t changed, they’re still broken conversations, intervening, reminding about manners, forgetting what I was saying, and forgetting to make the coffee I offered twice.
But one thing I have mastered is the ability to let the mess unfold, it’s taken practice over the years, or maybe I just surrendered to it. But as I sat there with her, the kids in the other room and us on the floor with her baby, I began to remember the early days.
I don’t know how it’s possible, but somehow I forgot how much one year old's can be, and yet two years ago I can remember the exact moment I tried on a pair of jeans and the button almost popped off, I remember the colour and style of them, and giving myself horrible camel toe purely so I could loop that sucker in. And yet I had forgotten the chaos of a one year old. How does this happen? I lived and breathed it for two years in a row.
Everything was going in the mouth, he was reaching for felt pens, reaching for marbles, stumbling around, pulling himself up, needing something, wanting something, breaking something (to be fair my kids still do most of this). It wasn't bad, it was just non stop, you really can't take your eyes away for a second. And I wondered how I did it. I joke all the time about how I just got on with it, but I started to drift back. While one was learning to walk I was finding my feet, while one was learning to communicate I had forgotten how, while one was behind a baby gate crying I was crying over purees when the other wouldn’t nap.
As soon as Drew was back at work, as soon as the last family members dissipated back to their lives, I remember wondering if I could cope. And I did, and I didn't give myself enough credit for what that meant.
No age gap is easy, I know they would all come with their challenges. But as I watched him today I saw myself again, holding a newborn with a 12 month old in nappies at my feet in the kitchen. Bending down to hold them both. I learnt to do many things with one hand, and I also learnt to let many things go.
The blur of beauty, guilt, magic, confusion, forgiveness, all hidden memories.
It’s still magic and still challenging, and their still so little.
But things change, and somehow we forget.
But today, I remembered.
I saw through that blur and told myself from 3 years ago that she was moving mountains. Because I don’t think I once believed it, not ever.
And maybe years from now you’ll have a friend with a young baby round, and you’ll remember the beautiful chaos of those early days too. Maybe then you’ll truly see what an amazing job you did.
Maybe you can remind her too.