The flurry of headlines about the imminent arrival of Kate Middleton’s second baby takes me back to when l was pregnant with our middle child and how blissfully ignorant l was about how much my life was about to change once more. l had presumed everything would be so much easier second time around and it was in some ways but l had completely underestimated how hard l would find the jump from one to two children. As one of the mum’s from playgroup so aptly put it: “one child is like a pet but two or more is a zoo.”
As anyone who has gone from one to two in the space of a few years will know, dealing with a toddler and chronic sleep deprivation is no mean feat. There are three years (and six weeks) between my boys, Charlie (6) and Edward (3) and two years between my second and third baby, Jemima. She has just turned one and l can honestly say that going from one to two was a much harder milestone than two to three.
l loved the first year with our eldest and revelled in pretty much every aspect of his precious babyhood, from his first smile, first words and first steps but l struggled at times with our middle one. He had reflux, a lactose intolerance (or so we were told but l think my GP might have been a bit over zealous with that diagnosis) and was nowhere near as agreeable as his big brother. He has gone on to become a (mostly) sweet natured and loving toddler in between the periodical meltdowns.
lt wasn’t just hard because my second was a difficult baby though. Juggling the whole newborn and hyperactive threenager thing was a real struggle at times, especially as our eldest totally regressed on the potty training front and always seemed to have an ‘accident’ when l was feeding or changing his baby brother.
His accidents actually became something of a trademark and l will torment him with them in the years to come. Two particularly outstanding highlights include doing a whoopsy on the floor of a pub in front of an aghast audience (and a hot young barman) at a Great Aunt’s funeral and another in a friends’ daughter’s Wendy house, before putting it in the play oven to cook and feeding the rest of it to their dog. Suffice to say, we were never asked back!
l also found the whole concept of tending to the needs of two children simultaneously hard to manage and grasp. Spoonfeeding a baby with one hand whilst trying to cut up sausages in the other, get a wriggling baby dressed whilst also trying to negotiate and wrestle with a flailing, wailing toddler or waking up to find two children crying in the middle of the night and having to debate which one to go to first (usually the one that is making the most noise).
Negotiating the whole squabbling sibling thing – especially if you have got two of the same gender – was and is also something of a challenge. My boys are pretty civilised little people on their own but put them together and they turn feral. By the time our baby daughter came along, we were already in chaos so one more really hasn’t made much difference.
Anyway – to Kate, my two pregnant friends and sister in law and anyone else who is expecting the arrival of their second child, l wish you luck because, God knows, you’re going to need it.