it's always darkest before the dawn

I haven't been telling the whole truth here lately.
I haven't been lying, just keeping quiet about things.
I knew when I was pregnant with the beautiful girl 
that things would be trying at times with two under two,
I knew there would be changes and that we would all need to adapt,
I knew that it would be challenging and exhausting and tough
and that was just on the good days.

And for the last couple of weeks I will admit
I have been struggling.
But not for all the reasons I thought I might,
looking after two children wasn't the issue.
I've been finding it easy enough getting out and about
and have found ways to change our routines to fulfil both their needs.
I was just finding the beautiful girl really hard.

When you already have a baby
a big part of you assumes that that is just the way your babies are,
that all your future children will be just like the first one.
There is nothing to compare that first one to so everything is an unknown
but the second time around you have all this experience
which you think will be so helpful
but it's all experience based on the baby you already have
not on the new person you've just brought into the world.

It kills me to say it
but the beautiful girl was driving me insane.
She is just so different from the beautiful boy
and I felt out of my comfort zone, out of control and out of ideas.
I'm not sure if it's a girl thing
or a second baby thing
or just a different personality and temperament,
but I was finding her really hard work.

She just seemed so unhappy . . .

. . . and I couldn't work out what to do to make her happy . . .

. . . which made me feel like I was failing her on a daily basis . . .

. . . and also made me feel like I was failing the beautiful boy too
because he hates it when she cries.

She was hardly napping at all,
despite my best efforts,
and as a result was a screamy mess by the afternoon.
She would howl through the little man's dinner,
perk up for bath time
and then yell again out of sheer tiredness until her bedtime feed.
That is unless I was holding her and letting her suck on my little finger,
which was manageable on the days my husband was home to help at bath time,
but at least 50% of the time he isn't.

I wasn't enjoying being her mummy.
She just seemed to need more of me than I could give
and I was at a complete loss.
I hated hearing her cry
but nothing seemed to make her happy.

By this weekend I was broken.
I was tired and miserable
and starting to wonder if two children had been a colossal mistake.
I actually said the words out loud:
"I'm not sure I even like her."

You know how when things get on top of you all you can see is darkness,
and it seems never ending?
Well I had got to that point.

Weeks of dealing with what seemed like the world's most unhappy baby had taken its toll
and I needed some space and a rethink.
I left both the babies at home with their daddy
while I went out to buy some baking ingredients and have a bit of me time.
I turned the volume up really loud in the car 
and I sang my heart out without worrying about little ear drums.
I went out with just my phone and my purse,
no changing bag, toys or buggy.
It was so nice to feel free and like me.

Within an hour of leaving home I had a text from my husband.
The little man was sleeping
but the little lady was screaming the house down
and he had no idea what to do.
I fought the urge to stay away
and to say I had no idea what to do to help her either
and instead I went home.
And I walked through the door to the words
"I really don't know how you do it"
over a chorus of hysterical crying.

I scooped up my baby girl and held her
and within seconds she was calming down.
She had wanted her mummy.
Maybe, just maybe I was doing something right after all.

I love her and she needs me.
She might not be able to tell me what she wants yet
but it's my job to keep trying things until I can work it out.

I think it's easy with your second baby to be guilty of expecting more from them
and expecting it sooner.
I often forget that she is still really only a newborn
and that newborn's are unpredictable little creatures.
My little man is a super easy, dream of a kid
but it wasn't always that way.
He was far more difficult to put to bed than his sister
and he fed for far longer too.
He might not have seemed to cry as much as his sister
but then he never had to wait for my attention,
whereas sometimes she simply has to cry
because I have to look after him too.

So I decided to reassess and forget everything I thought I knew about looking after a baby from caring for her brother
and decided her to treat her like the completely new and different person that she is.

She adores being held and likes to be really warm and snuggly.
In the hospital and when we first brought her home
she was happiest when she was wrapped up in a blanket.
I had stopped wrapping her up so much
as she had got bigger 
and better at regulating her temperature and keeping herself warm.
But I decided that swaddling might be worth a go,
even though she is actually getting pretty big for swaddling.

I had always wanted to swaddle the beautiful boy
and had this precious idea in my head of a wrapped up newborn.
I even brought special huge and thin blankets to swaddle him with.
But he hated it.
He was miserable the few times I tried it
and fought constantly to get his arms free.
As a result swaddling hadn't really crossed my mind this time.

Well to say it transformed my daughter would be an understatement.
She adores being swaddled.
And the tighter the better.
She is just so content when she is all wrapped up.

She appears to have a really strong startle reflex
which was making it really hard for her to nap in the day
with a noisy big brother making a constant racket.
But she sleeps so soundly in the day now
to the extent she can stay sleeping in the middle of our lounge while he plays right near her.
She'll also happily sleep in the big cot during the day as long as she is swaddled.

In the space of a week she's gone from hardly sleeping in the day
and constantly moaning
to napping consistently and being the happiest baby ever when she's awake.
The change is remarkable.

The truth of the matter is that I'm not sure how much of that is swaddling
and how much is just a case of time passing and her growing up
or maybe even just me feeling a bit more positive about things.

I can remember getting to a point when the beautiful boy was tiny
(I think it was actually a little sooner than this time around)
where I felt completely suffocated.
Newborns are hard work
and when you are tired 
and dealing with their every whim 
its really difficult at times.
The all consuming need they have
for you to do everything for them
and be everything to them
is pretty scary.
And when they are so small it feels like it will last forever.

And last time, just as with this time,
it was at the point where I felt like I couldn't take much more
and like I was about to go under
that it suddenly got easier.
One second I was crying to my husband that I was doing a rubbish job as a mother
and the next minute I was happily jumping out of bed in the morning,
excited to spend the day with my little people.

This won't be the last time my beautiful girl and I have our challenges I'm sure.
I'm dreading her teenage years,
and I can already tell she's got a ton more attitude than her brother.
They just make us girls a lot more complicated don't they?

But I do know that I love her to pieces
and that I'd do anything to make her happy,
even while it is killing me trying to find out how,
so I guess we won't do too badly.


  1. that has to be one of the bravest posts I have ever read.

    I was there 17 years ago when I had just had boy thirteen months after girl.

    Hormones, tiredness they all play havoc but you are amazingly strong and you will get there.

    it's not easy and I think alot more people feel like you do but won't / can't admit it to themselves, let alone on their blogs.

    here's hoping they get the courage to acknowledge it now.

    Hang in there. It does get easier. I promise.

    1. Thanks so much for your support. Funnily enough just writing this and sharing it has made me feel a lot better, plus she seems to have transformed in the last few days and life all seems a bit different when you have a happy baby.

  2. Oh Lucy well done for writing this.
    I have had moments similar to this. I regularly find myself saying I can't do this. I feel like I never have time to be me.
    Harry feeds like a newborn. He always wants my boobs and although I mainly don't mind, sometimes I just wish daddy could fix things, or at least try.

    It might not get easier soon, look at me, 17 months on and still feeling like this but acknowledging your feelings and sharing them is a huge step.

    I'm here if you ever need to vent.

    Big hugs xxxx

    1. Thanks Lauren, I have often wondered if breastfeeding compounds the pressure of caring for a newborn. It makes the mummy the centre of things and makes it hard for dads to be as much help. I wouldn't stop the breastfeeding for anything but it does make it harder to get time away to breathe.

  3. Couldn't read this and not comment as I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes. Sounds like you are doing a great job even if she isn't old enough to tell you yet. I have no advice but your not the first or last to feel this way and I remember always being told about the magic 10week Mark when things get easier and not believing it until it happened. Give yourself time to get to know each other and remember tp love me some advice next yeah when I am feeling the same! X x x

    1. Thanks Becky. They do go on and one about this magical ten to twelve week marker when things suddenly get better, the thing is that for me I was finding it a walk in the park until about 7-8 weeks and then it suddenly got harder as she was awake more and just seemed so sad.
      I was so worried about posting this and scaring all your expectant mummies. Believe me, the greatness of having two lovely babies outweighs the negatives, but it is tough sometimes. And I figured that if I pretended everything was all easy peasy then it doesn't help anyone. You'll be great, just don't expect to be a wonder woman. :) x

  4. A great post, honest and real. It was reassuring for me reading this to know others mums go through the same.

    My 2 boys could not be more different and I felt the same, like my baby boy (who is now 12 weeks) isn't as content and happy as my first boy was. He doesn't sleep much in the day and bedtimes are the worst times.

    I think the only 2 things that saved me from pulling my hair out have been my husband who has been a great support and as someone who wasn't around the boys all the time came up with some very simple ideas that worked. Mainly just working out a feeding routine which means we all get sleep now and making me realise I didn't have to do everything and I gave up baths on the days I was on my own. I think when you are living it all the time you can't see how to change/improve things and you want to keep trying to do it all. I also think that my toddler has been a huge help, he keeps me busy, so much so I don't find I have too much time to sit and worry and get upset that things aren't going how I thought. I just have to play trains/cars and get on with it.

    Thank you for sharing xx

    1. My husband has really helped too. Just telling him I was struggling meant that he stepped it up a gear in the help department. I think he'd been worried that if he helped that I'd think he was stepping on my toes somehow. X

  5. What a brave post lovely. Your a great Mummy, and the newborn stage is tough enough with one let alone two. You seem a lot more laid back than me, so god knows how I will cope! You don't need to be Super Mum, just the best Mum you can be, which sounds like you already are. Your babies are very lucky to have you. x

    1. Oh hun, you'll cope just fine. I think the whole "not trying to be superwoman" thing is a big element in that. You can't always do it all and you have to know your limits when you have two little people relying on you. Thanks for your support. X

  6. Such an honest and warming post honey. You are doing so amazingly well!! Belle is 3.5 and at pre-school 3 days a week and I still have days like this so don't worry, it is normal. We know we love our babes with all out hearts, to the moon and back, but we are only human and these emotions are normal and the fact you can talk about them shows how much you care! I do think girls are harder work and more complicated I have to say :) Little boo is very easy (although suffers with wind so has his tough days) whereas Belle wanted to be held all the time just like beautiful girl, but because she was the first I had the time. Like you say it is all phases, they come and go. Lots of Love x

    1. They definitely appear to make boys and girls very differently, my little man was bad with wind too). And it definitely makes me feel better to know that it isn't just me. I don't want to wish her newborn days away but I am looking forward to things settling down into a routine more. X

  7. I have just z and he is like a little hurricane everyday. I completely admire anyone who has more than one. And having a newborn is SO tiring, I can remember wanting to just sleep all day every day in the beginning. When you have a toddler too I can't even begging to imagine how you catch up with your rest properly. And when your second is completely different to your first...then that's like being a first time mum all over again in bits isn't it? Hang in there. You are doing an amazing job. Xx

    1. I think that's the thing, in a way I do feel like a first time mum again. My experience is really applicable to my little boy, but it sometimes seems useless when it comes to her because she is so different. X

  8. Wow. The words describe my life but with the boy after three girls. He is older that your beautiful girl (13 mths) and a complete bag! Into everything, isn't happy unless he is being naughty, watches me until I take my eyes off him so he can grab the chance to wreck something.
    But then he smiles. And hugs me. Then life is good again.

    Thank you for this post.

    1. I wonder if maybe its just the change from what we are used to which makes it hard. And boys and girls are definitely very different creatures. X

  9. How odd- my son hated being swaddled, but my daughter loved it! I wonder if it's a girl thing! You are doing an awesome job love - everyone mummy doubts themselves sometime - it's human nature! But never doubt that you are a fab mum ! xxx

    1. You may well be right about it being a girl thing. Lots of people have said their girls liked swaddling. Maybe it's because boys like to be on the go all the time. X

  10. dear beautiful mother, you are wonderful x

    1. Thank-you. Doesn't feel it some days, but thank-you. X

  11. This is such a beautiful and heartfelt post. What you have been going through is probably something every new mum goes through at some point. It might be just for a week or so and it might be for six months. I have an ony child so have no others to compare but when my sister had her daughter she did compare her to mine. You simply can't do that - they are little individuals, all very different.

    My daughter will be a teenager in a few weeks and believe me, she's a lot more stroppy than I ever imagined she'd be when she was a screaming baby!

    You're doing an amazing job. Pat yourself on the back and enjoy the wonderful early years.
    CJ x

    1. Thank-you. It's so hard not to compare, in fact practically impossible when that is the parenting experience you have to draw from. But we're getting to know her more each day and things are getting easier. X

  12. A brilliant post. well done. my daughter was my first and was really hard work, I think girls and boys are wired very differently and boys are, as a general rule, easier. strangly enough, my daughter loved being swaddled too, but not my son! you are doing an amazing job, and as they get older it will get that bit easier x x x

    1. They are definitely totally different. And isn't it funny that so many people have daughters who loved swaddling and boys who hated it. X

  13. This is a really brave and honest post and I think will help other mums who have been feeling the same thing. Well done for being honest and for persevering with your gorgeous girl.

    1. Awww, thank-you. I hope it does help other mummies,if only to let them know it's okay for it to be tough and you don't have to be fantastic every single second of every day. X

  14. o girl. you are amazing. i know how hard two kids are. and i had the same expectations when ember came that she would be the same as ty in almost everyway...but soon found out how differently she liked things. i think you are amazing and your children are beautiful. if you ever want to vent or cry you can always email me. I promise there is no judging here. i have such similar feelings having kids almost the same ages.
    stay strong

    1. Thank-you. It is tough to change when you are expecting things to be a certain way. I think I just need to cut myself some more slack and allow her to be a different person and just work out what she likes. We're getting there.
      And thanks for the offer of a listening ear, I'll take you up on it next time we hit a bump in the road. X

  15. Two can be so tough in the early days of settling in to things. Especially when things don't go to plan. I definitely think it's a personality thing, rather than girl / second child thing as my second-child girl was so calm and easy from the word go. HOWEVER, I definitely paid my dues with a tricksy baby the first time round - reflux, a boy who needed a very strict routine, who otherwise would get instantly overtired and have a mega meltdown. His only saving grace was that he was a good sleeper, if I stuck to his routine. He was tough! And as for swaddling - I think it's the best thing ever. In fact I don't know how people get their babies to sleep without swaddling. Both of mine were swaddled for up to four or so months! I'm sure things will settle down for you soon and good to hear you're enjoying them both again. Lots of love xx

    1. I think it's just difference and change that are tricky. It's so much easier to deal with what you know.
      And I think I'm a total swaddle convert, I really wanted to swaddle the boy but I'm so glad that the baby girl loves it. X

  16. I've been going through something similar and really admire your bravery and eloquence in this post. When you have your first child you have endless days and nights to get to know every inch of them but, with a second, you just have to get on with it and hit the ground running rather than spending time getting to know your little stranger, because of the demands of an older child. Our age gap is 2.5 years and my son is a very bright, active toddler who demands a lot of attention. I feel like I am constantly dragged away from my now 13 weeks old daughter but I try to make the most of the time I do get to focus on her in order to learn her ways and her personality. I'm pleased that she is an easy baby so we haven't had the outbreaks of crying like you have but it is tough, I feel like I barely get a second to myself. I was sitting on my own waiting for a hospital appointment the other day and relishing the fact that I was on my own and could read a couple of chapters of my book in peace! I was sad to be called in for my appointment! You seem like a very lovely Mum, this post is a mark of how much you care!

    1. In honesty, most people probably would think she's a pretty easy baby. I just hate the fact I don't get the time with her and so she seems so sad. It really presses that mummy guilt button.
      It's nice to hear that other people are going through the same thing, not that I'd wish it on anyone, but it's nice to know I'm not alone. X

  17. What an amazing post which took a lot of bravery to write!
    I am apprehensive at the prospect of two but posts like this help me prepare for what's to come!
    You are doing a fantastic job :) xx

    1. Thank-you so much. It can be tough with two, but it's absolutely fantastic too. X

  18. You sound like you are doing a really incredible job. I only have one and I found her very difficult as a newborn so I can't imagine juggling two. I hope sharing your thoughts has been helpful and I hope it continues to get easier. Big hug xx

    1. Thanks. Getting it all out (and then getting so much fantastic support) has definitely helped. That and the fact that swaddling has transformed her into a different child. X

  19. I'm not sure how I did not read this post. Thanks for being honest and sharing such a difficult story. Being a mum is never simple.

    1. It's many things, but simple really isn't one of them. :) x

  20. I applaud you for writing this post and you hit the nail on the head - you might think you know how to cope with a baby once you've had one but in reality when that next baby comes along, you almost have to start from the beginning again. I always find it amazing the quirks and personalities each child has, even from this early age. Hope things are improving, it does get easier and having two is awesome

    1. It's definitely like being a new mum some days. I think I came along feeling all confident with my experience and she's just knocked me down a peg or two and reminded me who is boss around here. X

  21. What a wonderfully honest post. I'm going through a similar phase at the moment with my first baby who is just 11 weeks and my protective barrier is to turn to humour to help me through but today has been hard again and I've been flitting between anger borne out of frustration, tiredness and tears. I nickname my baby Little Missy aka She Who Never Sleeps and we haven't managed to find a way to help her just yet. Half way through me reading this, she started to cry whilst being changed for her feed. The hubster and I calmed her down and now, he is trying to give her the bottle to give me a break from breastfeeding and she is wailing whilst I type with the tears falling down my face. BUT, it's good to know we will find a way and I'll be jumping out of bed happily soon. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel sad all day but knowing what her needs are every minute of the day can be very very hard work. Thanks for sharing. I follow you already but came to this post via NewMumOnline #PAPS. As ever, beautiful photographs.

    1. Ahhh, thanks. I know that feeling so well, where you kind of feel happy a fair amount of the time, but then are suddenly in tears or just plain mad. I think a lot of the trouble just sorts itself out as time passes through a combination of getting to know each other and them just growing up a bit. I hope things are better for you soon, and rest assured you aren't alone. X

  22. what a beautiful post. I can remember going through similar feelings on my 2nd AND 3rd pregnancies but it does get better and all slot into place I promise. I think it is imperative that you get "time out" whenever you can. That to me is a real sanity saver. I am so glad that Liska nominated you as her blog post of the week in the #PAPS.

    Have a good week

  23. Can so relate to your post. Brought tears to my eyes. I had the opposite problem in that my daughter the baby was good as gold but my son (22 months old when she was born) chose that moment to hit the terrible twos. You think you'll know what you're doing second time round but as you say they are completely different little people. I found my son the challenge as he had jealousy issues and seemed very upset with me for "replacing" him in his position as my baby. It does get easier though. They are 4 and 2 now and they give each other kisses and yes they do fight but they are also so sweet together (see blog post about being doggies). Hang on in there. It does get easier!!!

  24. i have found being a mum to two extremely hard and there is no way in hell i would have a 3rd.
    both my boys have been very different too and Jenson is so much more of a mummy's boy and i have found this hard going and almost suffocating at times.
    i hope things are getting easier - we all think like this Lucy and seeing all the comments above mine you are most def not alone.
    well done on writing it x x

  25. I came here via Liska (although I have been here before). As a single mother I remember times when I'd just had enough. I just wanted one whole day (and night) to myself and of course, I couldn't. My DD is now 4 and I can honestly say that we've had our wonderful times and our not so wonderful times. The overall is definitely positive though.

  26. I have been meaning to come and comment on this since I read it on my phone last week (can never comment on blogger on my phone for some reason). I love your honesty in this post and can imagine that it must have been hard to write. I think it's the feelings like this that need to be shared because it is so easy to feel awful and like the worst mum in the world when you have them, I think it's when mums don't feel like it's normal to have such thoughts and start to beat themselves up about it.
    I have only had a girl so I can't compare but she is definitely hard work sometimes! Swaddling was our lifesaver too, I didn't start it until she was about 7 weeks which is quite late but I did right up until she could break free at about 6 months. I also used to just spend hours walking around pushing her in her pram to get some peace!
    Even with Iyla at this age, I have good days and bad days. Some days I enjoy her company so much and other days I want to go and hide upstairs! Kids are bloody hard work. Especially in those first few months when your hormones are all over the place. Glad things are better now though xx

  27. A perfect example of how parenting is a learning and growing process. It sounds like your new swaddling approach and also a more positive outlook have changed things for the better. All children like different things, you just need to test and find them. Trial and error definitely works!

  28. I can SO relate to this. When my 2nd child was born, I fully expected him to be just like his sister- but he wasn't. And he never will be. Now my third is here I know that all babies are SO different and I really wish I had taken some time back then to appreciate my son for who he was instead of wishing he was someone else. Good luck- you sound like an amazing mum :)

  29. X I think most mums of more than one child can relate to what you've written, I know I can. Just follow your instincts and everything will be ok xx

  30. Hello there! This blog post could not be written much better!
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    He constantly kept preaching about this. I most certainly will forward this information to him.

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