Well, we’re almost at the point where I’m saying goodbye to “two under two” – Angelica is two in two weeks’ time. All the twos. It has been difficult at times, having a toddler and a newborn, though not quite as bad as I had anxiously thought it might be. But I have an inkling that the fun is only just getting started. The other day, Angelica tried to help change a nappy and almost catapulted liquid poo around the room, and she’s wont to try and mimic me, attempting to lift Ted out of his baby bouncer and things like that. It’s very sweet but I need eyes in the back of my head at the moment.
I have to say, I didn’t ever anticipate having two babies relatively close together (I didn’t even think I’d be lucky enough to have ONE baby!) but whether you have a tiny gap between children or a huge one, you just have to get on with it, don’t you? I don’t think there’s a magic formula to achieving some sort of “easy ride”, because each and every child is completely different, but maintaining a sense of humour is a must. That would be my number one tip, if anyone is interested: sense of humour. And also accepting as much help from other people as possible, that’s a good one – sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how proud you can be when you have a baby. You feel as though you’re failing unless you do absolutely everything yourself – this time around, I’ve had no qualms about taking naps here there and everywhere and letting other people take up the slack.
Anyway, on with the update: Ted is four months old today and Angelica is 23 and a half months.
Well, Angelica is a total hoot. I sit there chuckling away at her as she potters about in her own little world, breaking into impromptu dance routines and looking for bees in the cupboards. (I have no idea either.) Her favourite things at the moment are her “backpack” (this monstrosity*) and the paddling pool (bought it for a tenner from Tesco) and a little bee hotel that I was sent with a beauty sample mail-out from Burt’s Bees. It’s like a little wooden birdhouse but with tiny cardboard tubes in it for bees to hide away in – she looks down each and every hole checking for inhabitants.
I find the whole child development journey fascinating – I keep meaning to read some actual child development books to, y’know, have a clue what’s going on, but I never get around to it. I’m hoping that as long as you keep feeding their desire to learn and occupying them with new and interesting things, the development part takes care of itself. I mean my Mum didn’t read a load of books, and look at how I turned out! Ha.
But watching a toddler grow and develop is simply amazing – every day there’s a new word, a new skill, a new little mannerism. Not all good, admittedly – this morning saw a little sulk about the wrong song coming out of the plastic Fisher Price backpack (see link above) and there have been a couple of minor meltdowns over food. I’ve been working on my patience levels, because I’m not actually a hugely tolerant and patient person when it comes to kids – I have a tendency to be a bit snappish when things really kick off, and when the baby is screaming and Angelica isn’t playing ball I sometimes find myself wanting to scream. I think it’s the feeling that everything is stacked up against you, isn’t it – you can’t see a way to easily solve things because you only have one pair of hands, can only soothe one child at a time, and then they are screeching away and it’s so BLOODY NOISY!
So yes, I’ve been working on my deep breathing at stressful times, and also trying to concentrate on one thing at a time rather than aiming to tick off a million things on the to-do list. For example, at lunch I would usually try and get some emailing done when Angelica is eating, or scoot about the kitchen clearing stuff up, but now it’s impossible to do that with Ted there as well. So I just take my high expectations and mentally toss them out of the window. One thing at a time, no matter how absolutely tedious it is trying to get a toddler to eat lunch. (Unless you do what my husband does, when under duress: stick Peppa Pig on the iPhone and prop it up against the salt and pepper grinders!)
New words that I adore: backpack (beckpeek), mole, moon, pool, sticker (dicker), ice-lolly (elolly), squirrel (urrel), cake (cake – that one’s easy). She can now string two or three little words together into very, very simple sentences – “no Mama” or “Dada’s tea” or “no bed”. And she loves speaking to Granny on the phone – she hasn’t quite understood the telephone concept, and thinks that Granny can see her as she nods and dances and pretends to jump in puddles, but it’s very sweet and she does a jolly “bye bye!” at the end before cutting off the call by pressing the red button… I swear today’s toddlers will be able to use iPhones better than us before they’re even at school… On that note, I’ve really been trying to cut down on the amount of time I spend looking at it in front of her, because I don’t want her to think that it’s the norm for people to be glued to a tiny handheld screen. Except, as I realised the other day when I went into London, it is the norm. Scary.
The big development of the month is potty training: we’ve had a number of successful poos and wees in the potty (sorry Angelica-of-the-future, if you’re reading this later on in life! These reports are only going to get more embarrassing for you, so I’d stop reading now) and we’ve moved up from nappies to pull-up pants. Quite honestly, I wasn’t even going to get started on potty training until later on in the summer, but Jodi the nanny got started and Angelica cottoned on really quickly. It helped that we were spending a lot of time in the garden, so she ran around without a nappy on – although there were a couple of poos on the grass one day and a little wee on the patio…
Weirdly though, she seems to have regressed and now won’t do anything on the potty. We’re just being very relaxed about it, but my God it’s annoying having to run backwards and forwards to the potty all the time, taking off the clothes and socks and what have you, then keeping an eagle eye out for them running off without a nappy on. I didn’t ever appreciate how absolutely convenient nappies were until I had a bare-bummed toddler on the loose!
Ted is an adorable chubby little cherub. He’s starting to be properly alert and characterful and sits there chuckling away at us – he’s very readily pleased and easy to get a laugh out of. I can’t remember Angelica ever laughing this early on (you can read her four month update here) but then I can barely remember anything about her newborn days. It’s as though your brain just wipes clean after every stage, isn’t it? I mean, I have a really good memory, but ask me anything about how Angelica slept or fed as a baby and I wouldn’t have a clue. Good job I wrote it all down!
Things that are different about Ted (apart from the fact that he’s an entirely different human!): he hates having a full nappy, or even a half-full nappy, and so if he’s crying it’s the first thing I check. Angelica couldn’t have cared less. Ted snack-feeds a lot, whereas Angelica used to latch on for hours and hours. (Though maybe that’s a second baby thing – he senses that I don’t have the luxury of constant feeding sessions?) Ted dribbles constantly and goes through babygrows and vests like the clappers – Angelica didn’t ever dribble or drool, really. My washing load was light with her – Ted needs changing multiple times a day, even if he’s been bibbed up.
I’d say that their sleeping patterns at this age are similar – still regular feeds throughout the night. Although there was one surprise night, last week, when Ted went to sleep at 7pm and didn’t wake up until 7am. I was very disorientated when I woke up and then had a bit of a panic when I realised that he’d slept through, but all was fine and he had a big old feed and I felt rather sad that he had grown up so quickly and no longer needed me in the night. HAHAHA. Well, needless to say that was a standalone occurrence: it’s been every two or three hours again since then. I’m bloody knackered. Though I do love waking to the sound of him chewing on his hands and knowing I’m about to pick up a little warm bundle for a nighttime cuddle…
Yes, let’s talk about me. Slightly deranged, perhaps, but I’m still here and (mostly) unscathed. I have good days, when I feel on top of it all and I bang out emails in nap time and eat salads and pay bills whilst the babies are playing on the floor and then I have bad days, when I wonder whether I’ll ever be “on top” of things again, or whether it will always be this big administrative/domestic ferris wheel of clearing-up and bill-paying and telling the dog to shut up when he barks at the doorbell. Sometimes it feels like Groundhog Day. But mostly it feels as though I’m living fractions of my old life stuck between huge sections of a new life. I love the new life, I loved the old life, it’s just trying to get used to the two lives melded together!
The old bod is faring ok – apart from my knees, weirdly. You’d think it’d be any other body part, wouldn’t you, but my knees are really giving me trouble. The joints feel as though they’re made of chalk. I need to really up my game with my nutrition – I crave milk all the time, but I can’t have it and I think those nut milks are dire. Really: dire. I understand why people have them, whether it’s for eco or health or political reasons, but please don’t tell me they’re tasty. Bloody hell. It’s like water with a speck of cream mixed in. Perhaps they’re an acquired taste.(I’m not drinking milk because when I stopped, Ted stopped throwing up all the time. Recently I tested again and started taking Lactofree in my porridge – the same day, Ted re-started his vomming! It can’t be a coincidence, surely? Though it’s open to discussion..)
What else? Postpartum body is alright, my stomach still looks like one of those half-cooked, lumpy omelettes from the omelette challenge on Saturday Kitchen, but it’s gradually shrinking down and pulling back in. I’m guessing that me cutting out my daily Mini Magnum would help it on its way, but to be quite frank, I have no vices apart from my evening iced treat and I’m not about to give it up. So there.