Where did the last 6 months go?! I cannot believe my littlest baby is already half a year old. Miss O is such a joy and makes me smile constantly every day. She has been sitting up for a month and a half, can clap, says 'dada,' has two little teeth and is on the move, reaching everything within about a metre of herself! She absolutely adores her sister Miss M, and Miss M is smitten with her. It's so beautiful watching them together. So many memories have already been made, and I know there'll be thousands more to come in our little family of 4.
I feel like we have finally come to a good place. The first few months of a newborn's life would have to be the hardest (speaking from my very limited experience). I can't say I always enjoy the first month or two - yes the squishy little cuddles are amazing, but it is a very tiring, emotional and hectic time. I definitely prefer when they can sit on their own, especially as Miss O had colic and still had trouble burping until she was sitting. I also prefer when you have a bit of a schedule worked out - Miss O feeds every 3-3.5 hours, and has 3 day sleeps, and only wakes up once each night to feed.
Looking back, how did I survive those first 6 months?! I've compiled a list of things that I think are essential in that time, remembering that every single baby is completely different (even my two girls are worlds apart!) and what has worked for us may not work at all for another family. Just do what is best for you and your kids!
1. I asked for help. With Brendan working two jobs last year, and then getting the permanent teaching job and moving towns this year, there has been lots of times when he wasn't able to help (although he wanted to!) and I really had no choice but to put my pride aside and ask for help. My mum, and my friends have been AMAZING during what has been an incredibly hard time. I have called on my mum at random times, and she has even been willing to take both girls from when Miss O was very young, so that I could have time to go to appointments, clean the house or just have some me-time.
2. I kept Miss M in daycare 1-2 days a week. Miss M originally started daycare when I went back to work last year, and she absolutely loved it. I kept her going when Miss O was born so that I could have a less hectic day, and a day to just bond with Miss O. I always looked forward to that day, when I felt I could sort of catch my breath! Sometimes I didn't get a lot done, but I got to just really enjoy that newborn stage again, just one-on-one.
3. I prepared lots of freezer meals, and we had friends bring us meals. I have an amazing church family who create a meal roster for about a fortnight for mums who have just had babies. It is so nice to have your meal arrive hot and ready to eat each night for a fortnight! I also prepared lots of freezer meals prior to Miss O arriving (I just made double batches of meals like spag bol and lasagna) and that was a life saver on those hard days!
4. I spoke to my doctor when things weren't right. I had had depression in the past and so knew the signs very well. Even though I didn't have post natal depression after having Miss M and thought I would be ok, two kids was a very different kettle of fish, and Miss O was not an easy baby! I don't think anyone is immune, but making sure you don't leave it too long before getting help is imperative. I had to go on medication, but often seeing a counsellor may be all you need!
5. I get out of the house every day. Some days I only get out to hang the washing out, and let Miss M and Miss O play in the fresh air in the backyard, but it definitely helps! My double pram has been excellent for going for long walks with both girls, and we go to playgroups and library each week to socialise with other kids and mums. Mum's groups are SO good! It lets you know that you are normal, and you can share your struggles and triumphs with others. Plus the kids are usually occupied playing with other kids so that'd always a bonus!
6. I make things as simple as I can. If you are able to grocery shop online, do it! I'm not able to in my town, but if I could I would! I did lots of online Christmas shopping when Miss O was only 2 months old, as I struggled in those first few months to take both girls out very much or for very long, especially to browse the shops. All the things I cook for dinner I can either prepare earlier in the day, or only take half an hour max. Some days are survival days, and that's ok! No time to do your hair and makeup? Use some BB cream on your face, and dry shampoo in your hair, works a treat! My girls live in Bonds wondersuits, and I feel they make life very simple too!
7. I make sure I have self-care and me-time. I crave time alone, and make sure I always schedule time for myself and to pamper myself each week. I don't feel guilty at all - I refill my cup so I can be recharged to be a better mum for my girls.
Hopefully some of these things help someone out there who may be wondering how they'll get through it - it'll go quicker than you could imagine, so remember to enjoy it - you'll get through it Mumma, and you'll do a great job! We've got this!