That Brilliant Bond

The day I discovered I was pregnant second time round, I felt immediate doubt. It’s not that we didn’t want you, the timing just didn’t seem to fit.

Your Brother was only 15 weeks old…and extremely needy. He wasn’t an easy baby, he was demanding and highly strung. He slept poorly, ate poorly and digested poorly. I think it’s fair to say that me and your Father had more than our hands full. 

But, there’s still no denying how truly blessed we felt (on both accounts).

Our dream was always to have two children – a boy then a girl – but we hadn’t anticipated our dream coming true quite so soon.

What worried me the most about having another baby was how your Brother would cope with it. He was meant to be close to one by the time you were due – still so young, still such a baby hisself. I worried that my attention would be taken up by our new arrival, that I’d miss all the important milestones in his life. I felt as though bringing another baby into the equation would detract from the quality of time I’d be able to give him. It almost felt as though I’d be replacing him for a younger model. 

I convinced myself that he’d hate me – after we’d worked so hard to build a bond. I told myself relentlessly that he’d feel rejected, abandoned, neglected. 

I overcompensated throughout your pregnancy, pushing myself to the limit so he’d never feel as though I was treating him any differently. I made a promise to him that he’d never feel the way I’d told myself he would. Yet, still I worried that the change would be too much for him to handle. 

It was harder for Tristan than most babies, your arrival into the world 9 weeks early meant undoubtedly, he’d feel abandoned. After all, I did for 11 nights whilst you were in intensive care. 

Coming home was always going to be alien, he was always going to sense that he was no longer the baby and feel forced to grow up that little bit sooner. I just hoped he wouldn’t be jealous of you. 

It was important to me that he felt a sense of importance, something to connect you two together. I wanted him to see that he was pivotal in your life, that his role was valuable and irreplaceable. Without doubt, he took to Brotherhood the best way he possibly could. 

From the moment you joined our family, he became your protector. That brilliant bond you both share is genuinely what makes me proud of you both. I can’t help but feel such a sense of pride when I see the way you both are with each other. 

Because of your disability, I’ve worried that I can’t protect you from the harsh and upsetting reality of being different. Even at Two, I can see how some children seem shy to approach you. This breaks my heart, I pray so much that you’ll be accepted – or have the strength to appreciate how beautiful, lovely and  amazing you are. Having your Brother eases this burden. I hope, when you’re older and the bond begins to change, you recall just how nurturing he was. I’ve seen him fight your ground, stand up for you when you’ve been completely oblivious to what’s gone on. He’s almost drawn blood to return toys that were snatched from your hands, called out loud ‘That’s Siena’s – give that back’. He recently trekked from one end of a play area to the other carrying the biggest, heaviest wooden toy because he remembered it was your favourite. He placed it gently by your feet, kissed your head then toddled off to rejoin his friend. Myself and your Nana are often subject to a telling off when he feels as though you’ve been treated unjustly (honestly, we live in fear of forgetting to make you a drink when we’re making his…or give you one sweet if he has two). He holds your hand, he cuddles you constantly and he makes sure you’re well looked after. 

What’s more than this is, he’s your biggest cheerleader. He’s so anxious for you to develop like he has, he celebrates in every milestone more than he did for his own doing. The day you sat unaided,  he applauded you until his hands were red. The day you pulled yourself up for the first time, it was him who brought it to my attention ‘Mama, Dena’s standing’. He loves it when you take one hand in mine and one hand in his and march along the sitting room. He laughs at you so heartedly and beams each morning when he sees your face.

That brilliant bond you have is definitely reciprocated, you’re amazed by your big Brother. You admire him so much! I can see in the way you look up to him that he means the world to you, and I’m sure he always will. I’m proud of the way you copy him, he’s pushed you to talk better, to learn quicker.

Two years on from the worry I once I had, I can honestly say that the best thing me and your Father ever did is bring you into our lives, making our family complete. We’re all so lucky to have you (and we’ve really learnt to appreciate that too)…especially your Brother but you know what? You’re lucky to have him too.

That brilliant bond…well, it’s just brilliant isn’t it?


You Say My Hands are Full

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the 1st one to admit that my life these days is crazy. From 6am until 10pm, it’s a whirlwind. There’s no time to moan about everything that needs doing and how little time I have to do it all in. There’s no time to stop and reminisce about how simple life used to be.

Life with one baby can be testing (especially in the early days) but life with two is a whole other level, completely incomprehensible until experienced. It is, without doubt, manic.

But I love it.

There’s no need for an alarm clock these days, I no longer wake to the sound of my favourite tunes blasting through my phone. I wake to a much sweeter sound, I wake to the sound of my new name. Much like clock work, my son wakes religiously at 6am – long before I desire to wake up, long before my husband’s alarm is set. He stirs, he stands, he chants for ‘Mam’. I’m tired, I’m in need of at least one more hour but I can’t deny his call. Inside, I’m ready. I’m giddy to get up and see his goofy toothy grin as he beams when he sees me. He wakes euphorically, last night’s tantrum hidden by his smile. Then I hear the cry, his sister is stirring and the mania is about to begin.

I’m in at the deep end, abandoned by my husband as he leaves for work. My initial task, tackle the nappies. It’s something I’ve learnt to master. My Daughter is a dream, she can’t yet roll. My son is a different story. He rolls, he walks, his hands know where they shouldn’t be and he can’t resist that level of temptation. I’ve learnt to manoeuvre upside down, wrong way round, standing up and whilst on the move. I sometimes grin to myself, if I were Supermam, my super powers would be the ability to change nappies under duress.

Nappies attended to, now for breakfast. They say you never get two babies the same and in my case, it’s true. My son is fussy, he doesn’t see food as a form of entertainment, he doesn’t need it to feel good about life (I don’t understand him, he doesn’t get his lack of appetite from me). My daughter is greedy for food, needy for a filling. She just needs to sense that there’s food within close proximity for her to want it.

I sit, my son positioned to my left, my daughter positioned to my right. Both hands move mechanically, a spoonful of porridge for my son, a spoonful of porridge for my daughter. I can’t stop, if my left hand stops then I’ve lost my opportunity. Once his mouth is closed, once he’s lost interest, I might as well give up. There’s no coming back. If my right hand stops, my daughter unleashes her temper. She squeals until she’s purple-faced and unable to breathe. Not even the spoon can calm her down, she’s inconsolable until she feels the hunger again. What about me? Well my son loves to share, I get the lumps he takes out of his mouth and pushes to my lips, he’ll be distraught if I dare reject his offer of kindness.

Next comes play time, my favourite part of the morning. Siena is getting stronger each day, at 8 months old, she’s not like other babies. She’s had further to climb and she’s rising to the challenge just fine but she’s still small for her age, still unable to do most things an 8 month old should be able to do. She now enjoys her Jumperoo, although he feet still don’t quite reach the ground. This is where her brother comes in handy. He stands beside her, bouncing her up and down, side to side. He shows her the toys, teaches her how to work them. I watch them and my heart hurts with pride. I’m so proud of how Siena flourishes, I’m proud of how Tristan has taken to her. I’m proud of how gentle he can be, how much love he has for her…then he spots her dummy and the peace is momentarily disturbed. He is such a dummy fiend, his only weakness. He is so incapable of seeing another baby with a dummy without releasing the green eyed monster (or in his case, the blue eyed devil). Even if he has two of his own, nothing will appease him.

If I’m lucky, they nap.

In which case, I clean. That’s right, my only hour off and I spend it doing tasks that I wouldn’t manage to do otherwise. Some of these are a complete and utter waste of time. I tidy away toys, knowing that I’ll repeat the same job maybe three more times in the day. I get myself dressed, ready to hit the ground running as soon as they both wake.

Now for the fun part, let’s leave the house. Bags packed, I tackle both babies at one time. A fully loaded car seat in one hand, my son attached perfectly to my hip. I really do bless them for how slender my arms look these days. My arms have always been my least favourite part of my body and the place I always check first on a photo. These days, I appreciate their natural tone. They may never be as svelte as they once were but human weights have definitely contributed to their current state.

In a perfect world, my day would be seamless. In reality, it can go one of two ways. Either both babies will behave, they’ll be merry and we’ll manage to survive tantrum free. We’ll laugh together, everyone will eat and we’ll come home feeling inflated with love and the memories of a truly delightful day. Or we’ll cry. Recently, I visited the Metro Centre with both babies alone. My task was to pick up my Daughter’s christening gown and head straight home. It was awful!

At one point, I was actually approached and asked whether I needed help. Well wasn’t it obvious?! Of course I needed help! My son was psychotically clawing at his sister, determined to snatch the dummy from her mouth. My daughter was so distraught she was choking on her own saliva. I’d tried reasoning with him, I’d even tried bribery. In the end, I shouted. I shouted out loud for all to hear. I swore, I nearly cried.

Hideously embarrassed, I dashed from the store and headed to the car. As I transferred my son from his pushchair to his car seat, he wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed my nose. I was, once again, putty in his hands.

So, on a typical day, it’s no wonder I hear the chorus ‘you’ve got your hands full’ several times. I do. I have two babies with only 9 months between them, both still in nappies, both incapable of talking. But aren’t I lucky?

I’ve twice the laughter, twice the smiles, twice the love and twice the pride. So you may say my hands are full but you should see my heart. It’s bursting with joy.