From One to Two, From Two to Three...

Both Vicki and I are due a few days from each other, and even if we live thousands of miles apart from each other we have been in touch through-out our entire pregnancies. Now that we are really in the last leg of our pregnancies with 4 more weeks or so to go I thought it would be a lovely idea to talk about transitioning from one to two (Vicki), and from two to three (me), laying all of our thoughts and dreams and fears out there. Vicki is a wonderful writer and I cannot wait to read her first book when it comes out in the very near future! Read below for Vicki's and then my ramblings on transition and adapting again...

The Cockerill Quadruplet - by Vicki Cockerill

I was asked the other day if I am ready to become a mum of two?

I guess so, I shrugged, I don’t really have much choice now, with the baby arriving in less than 5 weeks! Ready or not this baby is coming.

It got me wondering, was I ready? Can you ever be ready for the arrival of another small human that will descend into your lives and turning it upside down?

Of course, there are books/blogs/expert suggestions out there all about coping with two kids, what you can do to help yourselves with a routine but I found I could never get Elijah to follow the routine they suggested never mind throwing a new-born into the mix as well. The more the baby didn’t follow the book, the more stressed I got and ended up lobbing them across the room thinking my baby was broken. This time round, I guess we will just hope for the best and see where it leads! In textbook terms I think we are ready, the baby has somewhere to sleep, it has clothes, toys, the pram and car seat are ready, but are we?

It occurred to me the other afternoon as I sunk back into the bath, I couldn’t hear anything. There was silence. I even managed to read more than one sentence of the book I am reading without the inevitable, ‘MUUUUMMMMMM I NEED A WEE’. Elijah was playing and watching Mr Tumble downstairs, I thought rather smugly that I have this parenting malarkey sussed. Well, for 15 minutes anyway. Then I was jolted out of my perfect little smug fog by a kick from within. I realised that a bath on my own when Greg wasn’t here would soon be a thing of the past again when the baby who was kicking up a storm would be here soon.

I cast my mind back to when Elijah attached himself to me like a limpet in those first few months with me and Greg taking it in turns to bath/eat/ go to the toilet without holding a baby. I enjoy the time I have on my own, and Elijah is old enough to play independently for a bit to and let me read a book, blog or continue writing my book. Soon it would be all hands-on deck, how would I cope with loosing this time again? It sounds selfish however it was this ‘me’ time that keeps me sane, and balanced and ultimately a better mother. It would soon be round the clock feeds, lack of sleep and carrying half the house with us when we leave to go out, would we adjust again? For the last three years it has been just us three, the three musketeers, would we all be okay with the transition to becoming the Cockerill quadruplet?

Having a new-born again is going to throw a grenade into the routine we have now, (of course it is) which does work for everyone involved at present. It is slightly different now I am maternity leave and have finished work until mid-2018. Normally, me and Greg co parent equally in between our work shifts and taking Elijah to nursery and it seems to just work. We have become used to being parents of a toddler, not really taking a pram anymore, and just a small bag with a trillion pairs of spare pants in it. We enjoy taking Elijah out and seeing him actively be involved now rather than sitting in the pram, and do not need to worry about where we will be if he needs a feed. I guess, having a new-born again is going to be a bit of a shock to the system with the things we left behind two years ago. It is also going to be amazing to relive the things we have also forgotten about, the sleepy cuddles, the milk drunk faces, the teeny clothes, the baby smell and seeing them reach their milestones again. We also get to experience something different this time round. We hopefully get to experience what is it like to have a normal start to being parents again, to get everything we didn’t with Elijah and he too gets to experience this as well.

I have had more than wobble with this pregnancy with the thought of becoming a mum of two, in fact at times it has made me quite ill. I have struggled mentally during the pregnancy. Elijah has been my world, my whole world for nearly three years. We have a close bond, with giggles, cuddles and secret handshakes. The first 18 months were a whirlwind of days in NICU, Elijah having open heart surgery at 6 months old a PTSD diagnosis and everything in between. The balance then just shifted, and it seemed we then slowly and surely got back on an even keel. I wonder if the scales will tip again or if I will become a NICU Mum again. So far, the baby is well, and although we are a high-risk pregnancy things are looking good. They looked good last time soon, so until this baby is here I am not counting my blessings just yet. I do not know what I would do, or how I would cope if we had to relive the NICU days with baby number two. Especially with Elijah at home. When Elijah was in there it nearly broke me, I do not know how I could split myself and be a mother to both of them whilst dealing with that again. My main concern with becoming a mother of two is the fear of the unknown .Having a child with a life time heart condition and potentially a normal and healthy baby provides some confliction. Will Elijah resent the new baby for not having to go through what he has? What he will have to cope with in the future? Will the new baby resent Elijah and the treatment and attention this brings as they grow up? Will they both resent me for sharing so much of our lives on the blog and on social media? That I put our lives out there in a book for all to read?

It is hard to imagine possibly loving anyone as much as I love Elijah. He has had two devoted parents and their whole attention for so long, I hope he too can transition to the family growing by one more member. I have tried to involve him as much as I can in the pregnancy as it hasn’t been easy for him. To see me struggle, physically and mentally but he has bonded with my bump more than anyone. Although it might be more of a novelty with the baby still in my tummy, and getting my full attention still, than to when the baby is here. I wonder if I can handle the juggle of two, will my temper fray? Can I be a good enough mother to them both and give them what they both need? Will, I be okay physically to deal with a toddler and a new-born on next to no sleep?

I was the firstborn of three, with two other half-brothers with a different Dad. I was left out, ganged up on, mocked and made to feel like I was no longer part of, ‘their’ family. This has affected me my whole life and I will strive to never let Elijah feel like this. Knowing he is waiting for me at home when I come home from the hospital has put me in such a determined state of mind, I know I must get back to him. Go in, have the baby (hopefully with as little to no complications unlike last time) and get home so we can recover together being a family of four. We have a few things planned, like no visitors for the first week, a holiday together for Elijah’s birthday in September and to spend as much time as we can as a foursome. I also know this time round the importance of recovery, to make time for me and Greg, and one on one time with Elijah so he doesn’t feel left out. At times, it feels like it might be easier as (we think) we know what we are doing and what to expect but transitioning from one child to two is throwing us a whole host of new worries and concerns this time round.

I am not sure how it will work, if it will work but I do know, whether two, three or four Cockerills we will figure it out on the way together.

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This Ever-Growing Family of Mine - by Jade Anna Hughes

I have a permanent twitch in my left eye from lack of sleep, and I can’t even blame it on the kids. I wake up an hour after I have fallen asleep, wondering about how the birth will be this time around (will I make it to the hospital in time?!) and about how I will navigate breastfeeding three children. I get up to pee, because that’s what happens when the baby gets to this size, and then get back into bed and try to find a comfortable position, something that isn’t usually possible, especially when you are usually squeezing yourself into a spot between two toddlers, one of whom likes to use her 36 inches in length to take up the entire king size bed. I worry about finding an apartment before the baby arrives, about making sure the girls are safe when I am rushing into Labor & Delivery, and about how the girls will react when another tiny baby joins us.

Then I focus on those kicks that are so strong I sometimes feel like tiny baby is trying to jump out of my tummy already, and I think about holding tiny baby in my arms and kissing those soft chubby cheeks. I dream about navigating the walk to the park alone with two rambunctious toddlers and a tiny newborn, and creating new routines that work for everyone. I remind myself that no one needs to be a superwoman and that it’s OK to not always accomplish everything that we want to accomplish in one go. Sleep sometimes comes back around 5am, not long before Cesar gets up to go to work and the girls toss and turn and demand to nurse, before they doze off again for a few hours.

I was so adamant after Aurora’s birth that I would remain a mother of two: that was it, enough for me. But as always my life takes many a turn for the interesting and for the miraculous, and in a few weeks I will be a mother of three children (under four). While I know this and I keep imagining our life with the new addition, I have no idea what it will actually be like. Will I go insane? Will I become more patient? Will I sleep even less? Will I spend all night nursing one after the other after the other? Will I still find the time to work and to write? Back in the middle of 2015, about a month before Aurora arrived I wrote about all of those late night fears I had of transitioning from one to two, and surviving with two children under two. Much to my surprise after the first two weeks of adjustment it all seemed to fall in place quite naturally. I was expecting a super high needs child like Luna, and instead Aurora was the opposite, and everything seemed to just work out. There were those nights when Luna woke up at the same time as Aurora and I had to let her cry while her sister nursed, or those times when I really, really wanted to just hold Aurora and stare at her for hours like I had done with Luna, but I didn’t have the time for that. There were also days where everything worked out perfectly, a walk to the park, naps altogether, early bed times and a lot of quiet evening times for me, when I worked and read and worked some more.

I honestly think the transition from no children to one was a bigger step than going from one to two. But maybe I was so sleep deprived by the time Aurora arrived that I only remember the easy parts… Who knows. That said, I am a lot calmer this time around, and just ready to take everything in my stride. Cesar is working as many hours as he always has, but I do hope that we find a place to live nearer his jobs so that we can pop in to visit, meet for a quick lunch between shifts, and so that I can walk around the rose garden and entertain the girls in the park. I’m not scared of handling the three kids together alone, that fear of doing things alone disappeared a few days after I had Luna when I was all alone holding this tiny screaming, angry child in my arms wondering what the hell I was doing wrong. At least now two of them can talk and also be entertained by a Disney movie or a tub of Lego for a bit! I’m not so worried about having everything “ready” this time around because nothing is ever fully ready anyway. I do sometimes wonder how the girls will cope, but they are already so much better at playing together that I think that their bond will grow even closer. And I am looking forward to letting Luna really be a big sister and helping me with the baby. As long as she doesn’t hide under the table with a Sharpie like she did this morning and give herself (or the baby) lipstick, nail polish and tattoos “like dada’s”. At least it wasn’t a mural this time.

Four more weeks to go (or 5, or even 6 if I go to 42 weeks) and we will be a family of five. (Or 6 if you include Joey Ramone the cat). This has been my easiest and most relaxed pregnancy to date, none of the unknowns I had with Luna’s, or the high risk status I had with Aurora’s. Now I’m ready to meet our newest little one, but I do hope tiny baby gives me a few more weeks to appreciate those kicks and hiccups and little punches. I’m not in any rush for this to end right now.

You can read more on my journey into motherhood and beyond in my book, With Spring Comes Hope.