I remember being warned, it’d be a huge shock adjusting from being an IVF patient to becoming a parent. Its obvious but true. When you are an IVF patient or indeed pregnant if you do exactly what the experts say, you have a much better chance of success. When your first born arrives, do any of us know where to start?
Ok you’ve got an idea you must feed and change them of course. But you hear expressions like “sleep like a baby” with the implication being babies may actually sleep soundly instead of incessantly roaring their heads off. And you genuinely think you may be doing something wrong. Well I did.
So after a few days listening to my newborn consistently exercise her lungs, I looked for “expert help” in the very many available baby books. I flirted with Gina Ford. It was a brief, troubled relationship. It wasn’t her, it was me. And my newborn baby was not “The Contented Little Baby” Gina implied she would be if I followed her strict schedule. Gina is, of course, the Queen of Routine and monotony is not for me.
I do crave a structure though and after a week or so I got there. I planned our days carefully so there was always a purpose, like Baby Massage or Baby Signing but without the strict schedule I’d find stifling. To say I was a bit of a control freak would have been very unkind but totally true. I was happy though. I was back in charge again. I could do this baby thing all by myself. Well with a little help from my husband anyway.
When Izzie was 5 months old I found out I was pregnant again. If you’ve had fertility treatment it seems a bit weird to fall pregnant naturally. There’s not the months of preparation you have with IVF. There are no injections, constant check ups or regular scans, so it was almost a shock when 14 months after Izzie was born, 100% organic Jemima arrived.
I hadn’t given much thought to how I would cope with two babies under 18 months but I realised I had to give up some of my beloved control so my daughters would get the best out of life. It was tough as I’d only just met a few fellow parents “Up North”, my own friends and family were 200 miles away. After waiting for Izzie for so long I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her with people I didn’t really know and its a bit rude to ask someone if they’ll do a CRB check … isn’t it?
I found an unlikely ally in my Mother in Law. Unlikely is possibly the wrong word as she’s always been kind to me, very loving to her GrandDaughters and doesn’t under any circumstances think the sun shines out of her son’s arse. I realise these are not traditional traits in a Mother In Law. No relationship is perfect of course and I’m sure there are things that irritate her about me but she is too decent to address them. I try to do similar.
But the one thing I struggle with is the “Gobbing” into a tissue and then wiping my children’s face ‘clean’ with said tissue. This makes me cringe like only ‘finger nails down a chalkboard’ can. I know its done with a good heart because she want’s my daughters to have clean looking, albeit germ ridden, faces. So although I waft around uncomfortably, proffering baby wipes when the gobbing begins, I don’t actually say anything because I love her and she helped me at a time when no one else could.
From the moment she got ‘The Call’, I was off into hospital to have Jemima, she dropped everything and was there for us. She took Izzie to the park, for Babyccino’s or to feed the ducks. Just for a few hours a day enabling me to feed newborn Jemima on demand. She bought my girls new clothes at a time when I struggled to coordinate my own outfits let alone my babies. She helped me surrender control.
Izzie became a big sister at 14 months and I sometimes feel guilty she may have missed some of her ‘Babydom’. There were times when I had to choose which baby to take care of first when they were both crying. I’m ashamed to admit sometimes I had to pick Jemima because Izzie was more resilient. I took comfort in the fact that the time Izzie spent with her Grandma she was 100% indulged.
Just like I worry Izzie’s baby time may have been cut short, I feel guilty Jemima never had the joy of being an only child. I thought we could make up for lost time when Izzie went to nursery. Jemima cried solidly for our first two hours alone together then ran up to me, threw her arms round me in what I thought was a cuddle of truce and sank her teeth into me. Yes my own daughter bit me. Guess she missed Izzie too.
Now I look at my two girls and I realise the small sacrifices they’ve had to make being so close in age are worth it. When one gets told off, the other is there to comfort (and occasionally gloat). When one is pestering me to watch TV, the other joins in to wear me down until I am powerless to do anything but switch CBeebies on. They are never lonely and have a solidarity even I am not allowed to share.
So now I don’t look to the experts for advice, well unless it comes to health or education, but I am much more relaxed about taking offers of help from others. CRB checked or not. From what friends tell me and knowing what I put my own parents through in my teenage years, I don’t think parenting necessarily gets any easier as children get older. But when you relax into it, it cetainly gets a little more fun.