I’m really noticing how completely different maternity leave is this time round.
When Ella was a baby, I really enjoyed my maternity leave. Ella was one of those dream babies. Don’t get me wrong, she had her moments. But mostly she was pretty predictable in how each day would go, when she’d feed and when she’d sleep.
I run my own business, and when Ella was a baby, I started working again during my maternity leave, managing to get a few hours done every day while she was napping. I kept on top of the washing, as there were only three of us and her clothes were diddy. The house wasn’t taken over by toys, as baby Ella just had her play gym and a few small toys.
When Ella was awake, we’d snuggle on the sofa, probably watch a bit of Kardashians, which I was obsessed with at the time (and might still be…)! We’d spend a lot of time walking. We’d walk everywhere. To the shops, to baby weigh in, to wherever we needed to be. We had a few exercise classes we went to, and Ella would chill in the buggy watching. I’d even do some home exercises with Ella lying on the floor watching.
We might make it to the odd baby group. We did a baby massage course, which Ella loved! We could go to the shops and Ella would stay happy and content throughout.
It was lovely and it definitely helped me make the decision that I’d only work a couple of days a week when returning to work properly.
This time round, it’s a lot different!!! Sienna isn’t as predictable as Ella was as a baby. She’s a lot more…vocal, let’s say!!! She cries a lot more than Ella did, she doesn’t nap consistently and she’s not always happy just chilling in the play gym or having a cuddle.
And of course, it’s not just me and baby this time. I have a two year old now too!! A two year old who is very different from the baby she once was!! She’s loud and lively and wants a lot of attention.
Ella isn’t content going for long walks in the double buggy. She wants to walk. Or, should I say, she wants to run til she reaches a road and gives me a heart attack by running straight across it without looking. So the reins are on the majority of the time. So she then dawdles, fights against the reins and wants to run free. Or she wants to be carried, but doesn’t want to sit in the buggy. We walk the dog most days, but we certainly don’t go for long walks!
Then there’s what to do every day to entertain a toddler, while having a pretty sensitive baby. I want to keep Ella entertained, but our trips to soft play are becoming stressful with a crying Sienna, and the glances of empathetic mums. Not to mention the fact that Ella is recently toilet trained and I’m forever on toilet tenterhooks (not helped by a recent soft play experience that involved a couple of accidents that weren’t of the wee variety! Two pant changes and a whole lot of messing, in the space of twenty minutes!).
I can’t take Sienna to baby groups, as I have Ella too most days and they just don’t seem to coincide with the days I don’t. Ella still goes to her nanna’s one day a week, and nursery another, which gives me a couple of days of just me and Sienna. Some of these days are lovely, like maternity leave mark one over again! But others are spent calming Sienna all day. Or unsuccessful trips to the shops that have involved more settling than shopping.
There is far more washing to be done. There is a toddler to feed three times a day, as well as a baby to feed every three hours. There is the exhaustion, as Sienna doesn’t sleep great and our day starts at 6am, regardless of how bad the night was.
I can’t leave the girls alone to go for a wee or put washing away, as Ella is so heavy handed with her sister. A lot of activities take place with Sienna on my hip!
Getting both girls in the car takes a good ten minutes. I have to battle Ella in to shoes and coat. I have to put her in the car first as she is prone to running off! Then come back in for Sienna who is usually screaming as she hates being in her car seat unless it’s moving!!
And I’m really struggling to get much work done! I don’t have the energy. I can’t use my laptop with Ella around as she likes to bash the keyboard. And the windows of opportunity are far more narrow. So I feel the mounting to do list growing all the time.
But all that said, I love life with my two girls. There are very tough days, don’t get me wrong. Especially when both girls are poorly. And I’ve had hardly any sleep. And I’m definitely a lot more weepy this time!
But while last time was chilled, this time is busy. And I like busy!! This time I don’t have just a baby who can’t talk or interact much. I have a toddler that I get to have crazy conversations with. Who likes to randomly break in to song! Who I have a little boogie with in the kitchen, with Sienna giggling away in my arms! I get to play all day rather than get absorbed in the lives of a rich American family! I get to bake terrible biscuits with someone who will eat them regardless of how awful they taste!
I have a baby who, although sensitive, has the most gorgeous giggle and the biggest brightest smile. Who I cuddle probably far more than I did Ella, as she needs that extra bit of assurance. Who I see growing daily and changing constantly. Who is far more content as she gets older and who is also starting to nap more predictably (though the night time still leaves a lot to be desired!)!
And I get to see the relationship between my two girls grow. To see how excited Ella is when Sienna gets up from each nap. To see them giggling together. Or to see them having a snuggle on the sofa.
And it may be different, and I may sometimes crave those quiet days that I had during maternity leave the first time round. But there’s no way I’d change what I’ve got right now for the world!