You have given them the best possible gift in each other.
Every pregnancy is incredible in its own way. However, I would be lying if I said that seeing those two little lines while my 7-month-old sat screaming at my feet, didn’t induce more than just the usual first-trimester nausea!
Once the initial blind panic began to ease, and my baby finally went to sleep, I did what any self-respecting mum would do – I Googled. “2 under 16 months” and “2 under 18 months”. And I found... really not a lot. So now, with my youngest approaching her first birthday, I thought the time was right to write something because if you are currently frantically Googling, I can reassure you this – you got this Mumma.
Firstly, it will be hard.
This one kind of goes without saying. Of course, it's going to be tough. Having a toddler or a newborn on their own brings plenty of challenges without trying to juggle the two. This is especially true when you throw in a healthy dose of exhaustion and hormones.
But, you WILL survive!
They will grow and although there will always be new challenges to navigate, you won't have two babies forever. And if there is one thing that can be said, it is that weeks whiz by in a blur (although admittedly, one night can still feel eternal).
Because it really is easier the second time around.
All that baby wrangling you learnt comes flooding back and one of the many beauties of the small age gap is that it is so fresh in the memory. Things I agonised, researched and sweated over the first time around, I barely noticed doing the second time. You’ll be shushing, feeding, rocking with your eyes closed and applying everything from teething gel, clean nappies and sun cream while wrestling your toddler and not think twice.
With adversity comes a new perspective.
The slightly daunting prospect of having two entirely dependent beings to keep alive helps you to stop sweating the small stuff. Is having a toddler who eats nothing but banana for a day/ watches an entire season of Bing back-to-back/ or having a bikini line that resembles that of an ape/ (insert your own fears here), is it really so bad?!
I had one friend who, on being told she would have twins less than two years after her first baby, was comforted by a doctor who said, “remember… all you have to do is keep them alive”. Of course, on good days I have much loftier goals involving much interactive play, everyone sharing and wholesome home-cooked food. However, on bad days, it is a huge comfort to remember this!
Because at the end of the day… they are SO worth it
Through all of the failed nap turned double screaming match, the bedtimes lasting three hours, the fact that a trip to see friends 30 minutes way can feel akin to a crossing of the Antarctic, it all pails into insignificance when those two little bodies snuggle up next to you.
When they look into each other's eyes and giggle, hold hands, comfort each other and share (who am I kidding, this hardly ever happens), you will have a lump in your throat and know that it was 100% worth the tears / sleepless nights / abandoned career / saggy boobs (delete as applicable). And more than that, maybe (but not quite so soon), you would do it all over again.
Even though it can feel tough, and like you have to neglect one to love the other, or if you feel guilty for shortchanging one/ the other/ both/ partner/ friends/ family/ yourself, you have given them the best possible gift in each other. And that is something that will last infinitely longer than a tantrum about being allowed to put your baby sister in the toilet.
And, hey! A small age gap also means each phase if over quicker, so you can be back to being you (baby free) in double quick time!
I want hours upon hours of delicious sleep followed by hot cups of tea, reading my book and nothingness. But I'll have to get up now to comfort, feed, clean, dress, entertain, love, laugh, play, and repeat.
Huge Congratulations Liz! Hope you're not getting too much of a rough time with the pregnancy! Yes we were much the same - planned but timing was quite a surprise!! Hearing from other Mums who had little age gaps (which is much more common than I had realised) and survived to tell the tale has been such a help to me :) Really pleased to hear it was encouraging for you and wishing you and your lovely little ones all the very best :) You can do it!!