How is my baby one?! I sit here and wonder how quick this past year has flown by. How is it possible for 365 days, 8760 hours, to creep up so quickly when you have spent every waking hour of the past year with two children hanging off each leg. I mean, when you are right amidst a bad night or bad day, sure, time stands still and lasts what seems like an eternity. But honestly, having a second child really does make you appreciate every second you have off work with your family and makes you cherish all those little moments, good and bad, that you know you will never get back. It’s inevitable, most of us have to return to work and juggle motherhood, relationships, maintaining a home and a career. But shh, let us live in our little bubble for that little bit longer!
My husband really wanted to keep the gender of Cacia a surprise. I was adamant on finding out the gender of my first born Jax, so it was only fair that I allowed him this one. I personally preferred finding out, it helped me bond and connect better with the vegetable growing inside of me. I never really understood the hype about keeping the gender a surprise, how is there a greater surprise than the arrival of your very own little human to call your own?
It was right amid the chaos of COVID that Cacia was born. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t have access to simple necessities such as nappies, formula, nipple shields, maternity pads and it was making me feel super anxious. I decided to be induced to take control of the situation to ensure I had a plan for Jax to be taken care of. It absolutely broke my heart that he wasn’t allowed to visit us in the hospital and share this experience with us. I didn’t want him to feel like I had abandoned him for a new baby. He had never spent a night away from me, so I was feeling guilty that it was going to impact him emotionally in some way. Turned out he wasn’t bothered by it at all!
My waters were broken at 6am and I had Cacia by 1:30pm. As soon as hard contractions began, I welcomed the epidural unlike my first labour. I had a 6 hour natural labour with Jax, and I remember telling by husband during an epic contraction to kill me if I decided to go drug free next time! I was glad I got to experience a natural labour, it was amazing to go through the raw process of the body preparing itself to birth a watermelon. It was such an amazing experience and differed so much from my labour with Cacia. With Jax my body just knew exactly what to do, when to do it and how to do it. When it was time to push, something superhuman came over me, this wave of overwhelming energy and my body completely took over and pushed that baby out! With the effects of an epidural it felt so unnatural during the pushing phase. Having to be told when to push, how to push and without the crazy screams and commotion it just felt…weird! Don’t get me wrong, the lead up to the pushing was bloody amazing! I was laughing, napping, having a great time with my husband and midwives, the process itself was so much more enjoyable. But the pushing phase just felt unnatural and alien to me. After a couple of hours of pushing which felt like an eternity, I gave birth to my baby girl… and a massive haemorrhoid! She looked just like Jax, so much so that we just assumed she was a boy. After a good 10 minutes we thought we would double check and realised he was actually a she! Our little girl, our angel, our little sunshine. We were cleared to return home 5 hours later and begin our life as a family of 4.
The second child
I was so worried that so much of my heart was taken up by my first born Jax that there wouldn’t be enough love to give to my second. But I quickly learnt that just like during pregnancy, when our bodies miraculously expand and do magical wonders, so do our hearts. It was instant, full, overflowing, gushing love at first sight. My first little girl and last little love to make my family whole. Cacia has been a dream. I really did find things the second time around to be so much easier. Maybe it was that I was prepared for the worst (that being lack of sleep- which I well and truly experienced with my first born). Or maybe it was that I didn’t have any expectations this time around. I promised to throw every single book in the bin, I promised to follow her cues and chill the eff out. I had another little human to think about this time around. I didn’t have the time or patience to struggle through sleep training, put shushing hours on end in the middle of the night. I couldn’t enforce a strict routine when I had my energetic toddler to entertain throughout the day. And I couldn’t possibly survive life with no sleep with two kids full time, so I had to get to the bottom of any issues rather than struggle through it. The universe was so kind to me and sent me my angel Cacia. She slept, fed, burped and pooped through the first 3 months of her life like a dream. Unlike Jax, she latched on for her feeds like it was second nature and fed in regular blocks. I would take her to late dinners with my friends, and she would sleep soundly in the pram. I would go on daily outings with Jax and she would stick to her own little routine like clockwork making mum life of two such a pleasant experience for me THANK YOU LORD! Until she hit 3 months.
Had she just started a leap? I better re-download that wonder week app! Was she going through a sleep regression early? Where is that fucking Save My Sleep book?! Surely it must be teething? It’s always teething right?! WTF has changed my perfect baby into that baby that wakes unsettled every hour on end through the night and just will not settle back to sleep? There were too many nights to count that I would be surviving on broken sleep totalling 3 hours. There were too many nights that I would dread night-time knowing what the night would bring. There were too many nights on my own, when my husband was on night shift, that I literally just didn’t cope with having to constantly resettle Cacia every half hour whilst trying to juggle bedtime routine with Jax. I would barely survive the night having to comfort and resettle two wakeful children numerous times through the night on my own. I remember crying myself to sleep because it was all just too hard, and there was no sign of relief in sight. Cacia started to develop terrible eczema and show signs of blood and mucus in her stools which confirmed to me that something just wasn’t right.
I was proactive, I rang the health hotline to speak with a nurse. They suggested that the mucus and blood could be making its way to her stools from a runny nose or virus and not to worry. I was more worried about that ridiculous advice. So I went to visit the GP who suggested that it could be a burst vessel from constipation and that her skin will improve with some over the counter moisturiser. She was the opposite to constipated, he hadn’t listened to a word I said. I took her to a highly reputable holistic chiropractor who suggested that her sleep issues and flare up of eczema were related to a lack of Zinc in my breast milk and prescribed me Zinc drops. I was going round and round in circles. The Zinc drops did sweet nothing. By then it had been 5 weeks of sleepless nights which felt like 5 months. I was tired, irritable, psychotic, my husband was copping it, Jax wasn’t getting the best of me and I just wanted my dream Cacia back.
No one would have ever known. I acted like I was doing ok, I still managed to get out and about, I tried not to whinge and complain as it just makes you feel worse. You can’t fully understand the struggle of it all unless you are well and truly in amongst the shit storm. Anyways, thank the heavens for my mums group, made up of 7 crazy mothers who have spoken daily since all of our boys were a few months old. They trusted that something just wasn’t right by the way I was struggling with Cacia and forced me to take her straight to the hospital. The doctors were AMAZING! They never made me feel stupid for bringing her in. It took them 5 minutes for them to diagnose her with cows milk protein intolerance causing the blood and mucus in her stools, discomfort at nights and exacerbation of the eczema. They educated me on how to change my diet, prescribed steroid cream for her skin, and referred us to allergists and a paediatrician follow up appointment.
An overwhelming feeling of relief came over me. I wasn’t making it up, I wasn’t exaggerating, my poor baby was suffering, and I am so glad I held her tight and comforted her through it all rather than throw her out of the window. I tried going dairy free for a few weeks but it was honestly making the smallest difference to Cacia. Her skin was improving, and there was no longer any blood in her stools, but she was still so restless and unsettled at nights. The paediatrician said it takes a good month to rid all cows milk protein from my system so she could still be getting it through my breast milk. Against all of the professionals advice, I decided to put her on formula as the stress of it all was just too much. Within a week I noticed such a change in her. She was so much happier, so much more interactive, less clingy, so much more settled at nights. I could put her to sleep and actually enjoy some time with Jax uninterrupted. I felt so bad that I let her suffer for this long. It took 8 weeks to get to the bottom of all of these issues, 8 weeks of her suffering, 8 weeks of me struggling. And this is why mothers need time off of work to raise tiny humans. Because they need time to adjust to this world, they need comfort, they need nurturing, they need constant attention. It is hard work, and anyone that thinks otherwise is a damn fool!
My shining star
The last 7 months have been absolute bliss! My girl was back. Her personality began to shine. She took to solids like a pro. She taught herself to crawl at 7 months and decided she wanted to walk at 10 months. She is unbelievably quick to learn and knows exactly what she wants. Unfortunately, she will bite your arm off if she doesn’t get what she wants…so we make sure she gets her own way. She has the most infectious open smile that will brighten anyone’s day, and the most incredible doe eyes that look right into your soul. She gives the best open sloppy kisses and the sweetest snuggles. She will happily flirt and smile at any stranger from my arms, but as soon as anyone touches her it’s over. She’s a mama’s girl through and through. I have cuddled her to sleep since the day she was born, the same as I did with my Jax. Jax gave me no choice, but I gave Cacia no choice this time around. I knew she would be my last baby so I wanted to soak up as many cuddles as I could, and I have had many cuddles at that.
After spending the day with Jax, Cacia and I the other day, my younger cousin asked in a concerned tone, “so is this what you do all day?” As I sat there in a pool of plastic easter eggs, surrounded by monster trucks and singing bears, whilst being smothered by strawberry hands and open wet kisses, I replied…”yes, Isn’t it the best?!” Raising children is a full-time job, and with it comes fatigue, frustration, impatience, and breakdowns. It is bloody hard work! But that is only part of it. Mostly, it brings joy, laughter, gratification and growth. You learn new things about yourself and develop a ridiculous amount of resilience, patience, compassion, empathy, and pure selflessness. Parenting can look ugly to an outsider, but it really is so incredibly beautiful. Raising you in these past 12 months, my Cacia, has been so incredibly beautiful.
I like to live in the present, so for now I won’t bring up what the future holds. I know it involves me returning to work in a matter of weeks, and I am not quite ready to accept that. So lets continue making a mess on the floor and deal with that another time.