“Hank” is due to arrive in a little over 9 weeks. Nine. Weeks. 66 days. 1,584 hours. Give or take a few. To say I’m feeling a little apprehensive would be an understatement. It’s not just butterflies in my tummy, that’s for sure:
Maybe “terrified” would be a better word?
Of course, I cannot wait to meet him. When I found out that Hank was on the way, we had just returned from a day trip to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square. During the train journey, I had felt very sick, very tired and very…well, pregnant. And then I went back to work in my little home office, overlooking our tiny Brighton back garden, while Evie played happily at daycare until 5.45pm…and I stared at one of these:
So much has changed since that day, it feels like an absolute lifetime ago. And, consequently, this feels like the world’s longest pregnancy. How can all that have happened, and yet I’m still pregnant!? I must be a human elephant, gestating this baby for 2 years. It’s the only explanation. That day, I don’t think I had even decided to resign from my job yet. We were still nearly two months away from catching a flight to Seattle, and several hotels and apartments away from moving into the Dream House.
Evie still looked like our teeny little chubster baby:
And I was a million miles away from “Stay at Home Mom” status. Evie and I spent maybe 2 hours a day together – either rushing around giving her breakfast, packing her bag and getting her dressed & ready to walk down to nursery with Daddy, or sorting out tea, watching In the Night Garden and getting ready for bed.
Now, though…wow! I don’t think we are ever apart, from 8am to 8pm. She has even started giving up her afternoon nap, so we are practically joined at the hip for 12 hours a day. In so many ways, I really love it! My absolute favourite part of the day is the half hour we spend together when she first wakes up – she runs through to our bedroom, with a huge smile on her face, yelling “Mummy, Mummy!!” (though these days, it’s starting to sound disturbingly more like “Mommy, Mommy!”). We have a quick cuddle, before she starts rifling through my bedside table, looking for fun things to play with – like my Kindle, wedding rings, hand cream – toddler-suitable toys like that. Then she’ll lie down and pretend to sleep (complete with fake snores), demand I turn the light out, or throw me a book to read to her. She’ll often pull up my pyjama top so that she can “kiss the beebee”, before climbing up for bump-squishing cuddles! It’s so nice to have this snuggle time together in the mornings, without having to jump up, get showered and rush out of the house – I only wish I could wake up so full of energy and smiles every morning!
But. But….what is going to happen in 2 months time, when she runs through into our bedroom to find “Mummy” is otherwise engaged? Mummy already has her hands full with your baby brother, so you have to go to Daddy. Or sit calmly. No bouncing. No climbing. No snuggling with mummy, but you can sit next to me if you’re very careful with the baby! And no, honey, Mummy can’t come and play peek-a-boo under the duvet with you, I’m busy feeding Hank right now.
Is she going to be OK? Is this huge change in her life (yet another one in a very long list this year) going to wipe that fabulous morning smile off her face? Will she forgive us?
Evie will be two next month. Two years old – how on earth did that happen? How has it been 2 years since this day?
Along with that momentous milestone come the tantrums associated with the Terrible Twos. In fact, they’ve started a little early for Miss Genevieve. I often wonder if it’s because she’s now too used to having me around 24-7, and is being a little spoilt with cuddles and attention? Have I created a monster? Has she lost her wee independent spirit? Or is this a completely normal 2-year-old response to…well, life?
At the moment, she’s easy enough to distract – you want a biscuit, and if you can’t have it, you’re going to throw yourself on the floor in hysterics Evie? Well, OK…..or, we can go upstairs and have a tea party with Upsy Daisy instead? How about that?
You don’t want to put your shoes and coat on before we go outside, Evie? Well, OK, you can stand there and scream at the injustice of life, or we can quickly peel you an apple to keep you distracted while I grab your wellies.
Most meltdowns are, fortunately, pretty easily averted before she hits full throttle.
But. But…how am I going to peel an apple with a newborn in one arm while a whinging toddler tries to climb my leg? How quickly am I going to be able to stem the tide of rage, if I’m right in the middle of feeding our wee boy when Evie decides that things aren’t going her way? How quickly will I be able to run to “kiss it better” when she falls off her Tiger Trike and bangs her head (as she has literally just done!)? How do I run after her when she does this, without giving the newborn in a sling shaken baby syndrome?:
I worry about ridiculous things. Will Evie hate the baby? Will she stop loving me, or develop abandonment issues and turn from our happy, playful little monkey to an angry, difficult wee attention-seeking monster? Will I love this new baby as much as I love my beautiful Genevieve? I keep dreaming that I completely forgot to feed him, only realising my fatal error after 3 days. Or worse dreams, that Hank is born, and not only can I still not decide what to call him, but I’m indifferent to his arrival.
I suspect the root of all this anxiety is the knowledge that it’s going to be so very, very different this time. We’re in a new house, in a strange country on an entirely different continent. My family are a 9 hour flight away, and my friends…oh, I miss my friends.
There’ll be no snuggling on the sofa in front of Jeremy Kyle with baby, while we recover from a sleepless night before – not with a restless toddler on the loose! There’ll be no antenatal classes to meet mums due at the same time. And no postnatal support groups, baby massage or mummy and baby yoga. Worse (much worse) still, there’ll be no meeting up with my lovely Lu for a clandestine vino (or two – medicinal purposes, you understand!) while the babies snooze in the sunshine.
Of course I realise I am not the only woman in the world to have ever had two children (or even three or four…or half a dozen, Angelina Jolie – of course, if you’re married to Brad Pitt, I bet you can cope with just about anything!) and survived to tell the tale. Hell, many of my friends have done it – not only are they alive and well, but they’re even still smiling! But it doesn’t stop me panicking just a little bit every time I walk past Hank’s bedroom door and see that cot waiting for its teeny, tiny new arrival.
Maybe that’s why we are still no nearer to choosing a name. I’m clearly in denial – help me, or he’ll be Hank forever!