Tag Archives: Baby Two

To the brand-new mother of two: embrace the chaos. Feel excellent about your pyjamas. This is all going to be fine.

To the brand-new mother of two,

Hello! Are you up and about today? Does your head feel like it’s above water?

It’s ok if not. It’s ok if not.

Listen, you probably don’t know which end is up at the minute. You are used to being one half of a double act with your first and adored child – your eldest, you’ll need to say now, and that’s what he’ll always be, and it will start to shape him from now on, this being the eldest – and suddenly there are twice as many children clamouring for your attention. It’s probably making you dizzy.

They need entirely different things.
They need them simultaneously.
They need them all the blooming time.
And there’s only one of you.

If it feels like you’re running from one to the other, patting out need-fires, that’s because you are, my love. Babies, toddlers and even preschoolers don’t have a pause button. You are it for them, and they don’t know how to wait for you, and they certainly don’t know how to take turns.

But isn’t it something, knowing you can love this much, that it wasn’t just a one-off with your eldest? Isn’t it a wild discovery, that two people can put the same genetic material together to make two babies, and those babies are entirely different from each other? I expected mine to be carbon copies of each other and they didn’t even feel like copies of me. They were fiery with their own life. Bursting with it. From the moment they left me to breathe their own air. It only ever felt like I’d set them loose on a path they were always going to take.

Some reality: it will be several months before you feel vaguely in control, and several more months before you can go anywhere near a routine. Chaos is part of your circumstances and is no reflection on you, so just go with it. Don’t feel bad about pyjama days. Feel good, feel excellent about keeping everyone fed and safe and (mostly) happy. Don’t forget to include yourself in the happiness equation. Assess yourself honestly, every day. If you really don’t feel right then ask for help.

Some advice (if you want it?): spend time with other adults during the day if you can. It doesn’t need to be a playgroup (I always hated playgroups) – it can just be a friend. If your partner works full time then, lovely as they undoubtedly are, they can’t understand what it’s like to interact with tiny irrational tyrants every day, never seeing another person with a fully developed and logical brain. They can’t understand it because they’ve never done it, don’t know the particular madness that creeps in when adults don’t interact with other adults. Please seek out conversation, sympathy. Come to my house. I will buy in biscuits and tell you you’re doing a wonderful job.

Some hope: every day they will both get a little more independent. They will understand and interact more, make you laugh more. The three of you will be like a little gang, conspiratorial, fond of each other’s company. Your going-out bag will get smaller. They will start to play with each other. They will forget there was ever a time they didn’t have each other. Watching the siblingness of them will add a new level of delight and send you back to your own siblings in appreciation.

And your new baby, your second, this stranger to you. You love him already, but wait till you see the first shoots of his personality pushing out. It will consume you all over again. Do you know how I feel about my second boy? I don’t have the words for it. He is such a bracing, blazing force of life, of nature. I can’t believe there was ever a time we lived without him. It feels like the world is infinitely brighter and more hopeful with him in it. It will be like that for you too.

Oh, is it feeding time again already? Of course it is.

Here, put Cbeebies back on for the toddler (don’t worry about it rotting his brain; it’s definitely not rotting his brain).

Here’s a biscuit. I’ll make you a cup of tea.

It might not help (because I’m just a person on the internet), but if it helps, I promise you: this is all going to be fine.

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Just down the tracks


I do not know where my [relatively] [sort of] ordered life has gone. Today we decided to look for it in Pangbourne.

This was a good idea for all sorts of reasons, for example, 1) I’ve driven through Pangbourne on my way to and from work hundreds of times, admiring all the pretty cafes and wondering what it’s like by the river Thames, and I’ve never once stopped there. It’s fifteen minutes from my house. Madness. Also, 2) Henry woke up with a snotty cold today, and this combined with his recent personality transplant meant you’d be a dam-fool to stay indoors. I am not. And 3) we decided to walk down to the station and take the train, which meant his day was made several hundred times over.

Note: I just wrote ‘river Thomas’ instead of ‘river Thames’, above: this should give you an idea of the state of our train obsession at present. Henry nearly mugged a kid by the river because he was wearing a Percy t-shirt.

Second Note: I keep telling myself that things will Settle Down with my wonderful firstborn, but let me tell you, I was pondering Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat this morning (2am is weird) and felt for a moment that selling Joseph to the hairy Ishmaelites sounded like a pretty good idea.


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The train was a massive hit, to the extent that getting off ten minutes later went down Very Poorly Indeed (of course). Big ticks for the shops, the river and that nameless muscular chap with the sword.




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There was also a b-e-a-u-tiful Georgian church I dragged Sarah into. I have a thing about old churches. I’d have all my picnics in graveyards if people didn’t think it was weird. This one was a belter.



Third Note: The church is called St James the Less, which seems a bit harsh on poor St James. Less than what? I looked it up and it seems that he might’ve been called James the Less because he was shorter than the other Jameses in the Bible. As you do.

The cherry on the no-one-getting-sold-to-Ishmaelites cake was this hair. It’s either sticking up with strawberry yoghurt or sweat, and I’m not sure I want to know which.



What I Wish I’d Known About Two: five things no one tells you

Last, but definitely not least!

I’d planned for this guest post series to run on consecutive days. Giving birth the day before kind of threw a spanner in the works. But I’ve loved reading and posting these, and hope you’ve enjoyed them too. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed.

This post is brill. I am already laughing with recognition and I’m only two weeks in. It’s going to be one heck of a ride…

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I was always amazed at the reasons people gave me for why I should have another child, when my first son Brodie was a baby.

“You’ve got a little boy – don’t you want to try for a girl?” (I’m the least girly person you could know. A lack of pink in my house doesn’t bother me.)

“He won’t be a sociable child if you don’t give him a sibling.” (Errr, I’m an only child, and I’ve never been short of friends.)

“He’ll be hard work, unless you have another child for him to play with.” (What’s wrong with playdates?)

In the end, when Brodie was around 18 months old, I realised I wanted to have another.


Because I felt I could manage two children (but no more than two).
Because I wanted to enjoy having a baby – PND had left me an emotional wreck for much of Brodie’s early months and I missed so much joy in my fog and panic.
Because I knew Brodie would be a fabulous, loving big brother.
And because I just wanted another child. Simple as that.
Brodie was two and a half when Blake came along, and the bond was instant.
I had no worries about jealousy from the big brother – more that Brodie might smother him from too much cuddling.
Nowadays they are still close – when they’re not fighting. But Blake is a very different character – headstrong, stubborn, fiercely independent and unable to accept the word “no”. So despite their devotion, they are bound to clash sometimes.
Which brings me to the five things I’ve learned about having two children – that no-one ever tells you.

They’re not clones
You can pat yourself on the back that you’ve used every Supernanny trick in the book to get a child to eat/sleep/behave. Kids are not dogs, and a method that works with one child will not necessarily work with another. Take it from a mum whose first child was sleeping through at 6 months – but who is still still up through the night with his 4-year-old brother.

You won’t treat them equally
I’m not saying you can’t love them both, but inevitably you’ll learn lessons from the eldest which will change the rules for the younger one. Usually you’re more relaxed, and the smallest benefits from that. Or maybe you’ve made some mistakes which means you’re stricter on the littlest. But it makes me laugh when parents say “I treat my kids the same”. Parenting changes you, and you’re nowhere near the same person when number two arrives.

PND can strike twice
It can come again – but it doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience twice. The first time around, I was tearful and panicky about whether I was doing the right thing, whether I was a good mother, and that feeling stayed with me for more than a year. With Blake, I enjoyed the baby experience much more and knew what I was doing. But I felt invisible and like my identity had been swallowed up. Counselling got me through it, with no regrets.

They will hate each other
Despite the fact they love each other, there will be days when they can’t stand the sight of their sibling. You’d better get your referee’s whistle at the ready to deal with the barrage of “It’s his fault” and “He hit me” and “Tell him to go away”. There will be days like these. But they will pass.

It’s still bloody painful
I’ve saved the best til last. And sorry to break the news, but don’t believe everyone who tells you childbirth the second time will be a walk in the park – because your body’s done it before. It’s quicker, I’ll tell you that. But as someone who was determined to go drug-free second time around (and failed miserably) I’d say don’t count on the pain being any less. Unless you were superwoman first time around, and got through it with just a light perspiration and a couple of grunts, don’t think you’re in for an easier ride.


Donna White is a Geordie, a freelance journalist and a lover of wine – not necessarily in that order. She has two sons Brodie, 7, and Blake, 4, and writes about the runaway train that is her parenting experience over on Mummy Central (http://www.mummycentral.com).

You can also find her on Twitter @Mummy_Central or lurking on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mummycentral

What I Wish I’d Known About Two: the practicalities

Today’s post is from the lovely Fay, with two slightly older children – I do love hearing from more experienced mothers. Somehow you’re able to look back on things with less anxiety (and a better sense of humour)! And all that indecisiveness seems to disappear in hindsight. I especially enjoyed what she says here about coupledom after two children.

Fay blogs at http://flyonthewallfay.com, so go have a look!


My second child was a long time coming: part post-traumatic stress from Amy’s birth, part grieving my brother, part, shall we, shan’t we.

Time flies when indecision strikes.

I will never forget the pregnancy test for Jake: we kind of knew, Amy was 8 so we were trying to keep it under wraps a little. I sneaked upstairs and Dan loitered by them in trepidation.

It was positive and I sat there, biting my lip, thinking that’s gone and torn it.

“So?!” He yelled up the stairs.

“Yes” I replied, talking in a subtle and ingenious code.

“Yes?!” He asked. “Yes” I whispered now on the bottom step. We looked into one another’s eyes and hugged, thinking, that’s really gone and torn it.

The wonder of a second is you have been there before, you know the joys, and the truck loads of love that are delivered each day, the achingly sweet, would-not-swap-for-a-second cuteness.

The horror of a second is you have been there before, you know the tiredness, the pain, the hormones and short fuses and all that bleeding!

We finally told Amy on holiday a few days later, pretending we had just tested. She said “Does that mean you did the willy thing?!” “Um, well, yes” we replied, and felt about so high.

A large age gap is a very different kettle of fish.

A lot of the clichés have proven true for us: our family now feels complete, and the fun interaction of siblings is priceless especially at Christmas.

Seeing what mix of features and character, foibles and silliness each child has inherited is so much fun and we do feel closer as a couple having enjoyed and survived those early baby days, twice.

We were a real parenting team the second time round, and watching Dan fulfil that role so fully has been very rewarding.

My second time round list:

Do be aware a lot of marriages fail in the first two years of the second child’s life. Make time for each other, seek romance between you.

Swimming really helps those joints.

Formula tins now advise each feed is made up with boiling water as you go, that is madness. Cooled boiled water works fine. Those wheel formula dispensers are brilliant. I used to pre-fill them and have a stack of bottles with water waiting at Jakes bedroom door.

In my opinion waiting to wean for 6 months is a hiding for nothing.

Tag-teaming the feeds was so much better than me trying to go it alone.

A lot more goes by in a blur with number two, don’t forget pictures and hand prints.

Muslin squares are still invaluable.

You now know the baby really isn’t getting that much out of all those enriching crafting sessions and music classes and just let them tag along a lot more.

I felt a lot more respected and listened to the second time round, by medical staff and other mums. It’s a bit of a club having two kids, practice your “been there, done that” attitude.

If you do need a C-section it’s really not as bad as it sounds at all.

Hold on in there, it’s so, so worth it!

Love it. And amen to the muslin squares.

Counting to ten [days]

Number of times I have said the word ‘gently’: approximately 4500.

Number of changed nappies, large and small: 88.

Number of hospital check-ups: 3.

Number of times hair has been torn out of head in frustration at hospital parking: 3.

Number of times Henry had to say ‘apples’ before I realised he meant ‘nipples’: 35.

Number of milk-reappearances: 4.

Number of times I have rechecked the caffeine guidelines for breastfeeding mothers: 102.

Number of times I drank the stupid Coke anyway: 97.

Number of cries-for-no-reason: 5.

Number of Buffy episodes watched: 23.

Number of times I’ve turned around to find Henry holding Edward in dangling Michael-Jackson-on-the-balcony fashion: 1. Thank goodness.

This is the best hard work I ever did. Though it’d be even better if Edward would stop power-feeding till 2am.

Still, this face, eh?


What I Wish I’d Known About Two: How it’s done

I haven’t the words. I haven’t the words for what two babies feels like so far. I try, and my brain reaches back for more chocolate ice cream, baby smell and fumbly emotional seesawing. Thank goodness for talented people who can express it for me. 

It might be crazy hormonal milk-arrival-day talking, but this post resonated with me so much I cried. So it felt like a good place to start. Megan writes at Meg In Progress, and is one of my all-time favourite bloggers. When I read her stuff, I remember how good it is to write about things that matter.

Hope you enjoy this and the posts that are scheduled to follow this week – I definitely have. 


My baby is three weeks old and I am two days past being absolutely bonkers. Some mothers are slowly driven crazy by their children. Mine make me mental from birth. It is not entirely the darling dears’ fault. My chemical make up is particularly prone to postpartum depression. Combine that tendency with sleepless nights, diaper blow outs and HOW-MUCH-WEIGHT-DO-I- STILL-NEED-TO-LOSE and you have one notsohotso mess. We are nearly a month into this two child experiment and I am finally waking up. I can smile in the mornings and haven’t fallen asleep crying on the floor for days.

Yes. This is big and beautiful news.

Sunday was one of my last actively psycho waking periods. By mid morning, I had pushed past the panic and sadness. The question sounding since Viola was born, “How are we going to do this?”, had become a bit quieter.

In celebration, I made a fancy breakfast. And by “fancy”, I mean that hash browns were involved. The table was set and in the course of breakfast making I had only broken one egg yolk. Time to eat. Of course, Viola decided she was scream-till-I-just-can’t-scream-anymore hungry at the very moment I had dressed my beloved potatoes. (Three shakes of salt, two from the pepper and a generous ketchup-ing.) By the time I was done feeding the baby, my egg had congealed and Margaret had been taking bites of my bacon. The hash browns, however, still looked just perfect.

My baby was fed, my family was enjoying a meal made by my hand. Who needs eggs? Who needs bacon sans two year old slobber? I have everything. Everything with a side of fried potato strings. Contented, I lifted a forkful of the hash browns to my mouth and they were cold. Freezing. Glacial.

It was more than only slightly sane me could handle. I got up, threw the plate in the sink and locked myself in the bathroom for an angry cry.

The tears came hot and my breaths burst out in short gasps. How are we going to do this? How are we going to do this. How am I going to do this?

Twenty minutes and one shaky make up application later, I emerged. Margaret was in her room, Viola was asleep and the kitchen had been cleaned. Riley was waiting for me in the front room. The poor man looked very confused. He sat next to me, pulled me into his arms and asked what was wrong. I started crying that horrendous ugly cry I do so well  – all splotched face and hiccups and a runny nose.

“Don’t you see?” I said, “With two kids I am really just a mom, I can’t see myself or the things I want outside of that role. Ever.” and here my breath caught as I nearly shouted out that harsh realization, “I will be eating cold potatoes for the rest of my life!” This was of course followed by more tears, hiccups and snot.

Lovely, I am sure.

The good – patient! – man laughed, pulled me in closer and said the most romantic thing this crazy girl has ever heard,

“Meggie, don’t forget. I am here.” He kissed the top of my forehead and pulled me in closer, “We will take turns eating cold potatoes.”

And there it was. My answer to that question that I had carried home from the hospital. That is how we are going to do this. We will all laugh and love. The girls, Riley and I will color the world with sidewalk chalk and read about the places we can’t reach. I will remember the man I married and follow him to the bright lights he has always seen. He will remember the girl he fell in love with and give me time to write and space to dream. We will touch and make out and ahem, you know, so that for just a little while it feels like we are the only ones in the world.

And we will take turns eating the cold potatoes.



Look what the weekend brought. Another ordinary day that turned into a birthday for one Edward Francis Jeffcoat.

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The first of anything always feels like an auspicious day to be born, doesn’t it? Fresh beginnings for everything, and the freshest of all for you.

I will try to explain all about it when I can. Until then, please come back for some really fabulous What I Wish I’d Known About Two guest posts, which I’m planning to set going tomorrow. And I’ll be sat in bed with three boys, probably eating chocolate buttons, probably delirious from two hours’ sleep in every twenty-four (forgot about that bit), probably feeling like it’s the best day ever.

Happy July to you!




To the Chinese cabbage in my uterus, with love

Dear baby, welcome to the Big Third.

(trimester, that is.)


Big in all senses, of course. I am now so huge I struggle to fit my beachball face into a photograph (see above), and you are shooting out like a firework. This week you are apparently the size of a Chinese cabbage. I don’t know what a Chinese cabbage is, but the only alternative I found was an aubergine, and I’ve never had one of those in my fridge either. Do you think that if I ate a whole aubergine in one sitting, I’d feel like I were having twins? Don’t answer that.

But isn’t it about time I addressed something to you directly? Because you are the quietest member of our household by far, and the jabs under the ribs you give me are quite often eclipsed by your brother trying to swallow his nail clippers. Now we’re in the home stretch of this pregnancy I feel like you deserve a little more than chocolate milk on tap (though I hope you like chocolate milk, given the circumstances).

You can respond to light and sound. You have fingernails and fat layers and unknowable dreams in the half-darkness. And suddenly I feel like I ought to be making more preparations. This morning it all got a bit much.

Sometimes I wonder what on earth we’re doing, making another person. Motherhood has laid me bare, made me more aware of my limitations than I ever was before. There is endless revolving worry while Henry sleeps at night, and happiness so acute it hurts too. I’m like that kid from Mean Girls who wants to bake a cake made out of rainbows and smiles, because she just has a lot of feelings. I have a lot of feelings, these days. And deep down – alright, not very deep down – I’m utterly terrified that I won’t have room for any more.

But I would like you to know something. Yesterday Henry and I were at the park. It was blazing hot, so we [he] ran wild on the grass before heading to the playground. It was the sort of day where I haven’t bothered to iron his shirt and he finds my every move hilarious.

I thought that a scene like that, with you there as well, would be something really fine. That’s true even on the days where I cry and cry because I haven’t bought you a crib yet and Timothy is in Amsterdam and how can I possibly continue getting bigger for another twelve weeks, I mean seriously.  I think you will be someone I’ll be grateful to know.

Please come, when you’re ready (not yet). We’ll save you a seat.

The naming bug

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I promise I am actually thinking about things other than babies at the moment. Yesterday I thought an awful lot, for example, about European legislation – specifically, the grammar thereof – and had a right little chuckle when I found an article beginning ‘An old cleavage causes new divisions…’ (No, it was about Cypriot social policy.) It was the end of a really long working day.

(Still, it’s been a couple of weeks – weeks, and two of them – since I read a book. Urgh. Has anyone read anything amazing lately? I could use a recommendation.)

But anyway, back to the babies. Just for now, I promise. Because I don’t know how you feel about it, but the pressure of choosing a baby name that’s not so popular your kid will spend the entirety of his school career being referred to by his surname, nor so hideously ‘original’ that he’ll be marked out as the class punching bag for fifteen years, is TOO MUCH. It needs to fit when he’s a baby and a boy and an adult. It needs to go well with his last name. His initials shouldn’t spell out anything obviously dirty. It would also be nice if it came with a selection of accessible nicknames, though we got around that with Henry by getting out the Latin phrasebook.

And there’s also this vow I made to name all of my children after Shakespeare characters. Henry was a good start.

There are three obvious avenues that occur to me.

One, I rifle through my Arden Collected Works for some options. I did that this morning. I wish I’d thought of the fact that Shakespeare didn’t go in for normal names before I made the vow. Here are a few:

Titus Andronicus Jeffcoat

Horatio Jeffcoat

Oswald Jeffcoat

Edmund Jeffcoat

Francis Jeffcoat

King Lear Jeffcoat

Donalbain Jeffcoat

Ferdinand Jeffcoat

Falconbridge Jeffcoat

And there I stopped, because Falconbridge Jeffcoat is so obviously a winner there was no need to go any further. Falconbridge Jeffcoat, you guys. I am feeling it.

(Except, as my sister astutely pointed out, with a name like that he’d have no option but to be a superhero, and our genes tend towards the nerd end of things. Bother.)

Ok, then. Two, I look at some other names of English kings. Henry is obviously a popular choice. What else is there? I’m glad you asked.

Edmund Jeffcoat (again)

Edgar Jeffcoat (lots of E names, here)

Eadwig Jeffcoat (too far)

Harold Jeffcoat

Aethelred the Unready Jeffcoat

Harthacnut Jeffcoat

Sweyn Forkbeard Jeffcoat

WHOA THERE. Someone called Sweyn Forkbeard Jeffcoat will go far. I can just feel it.

But what if he takes after his father and can’t grow much of a beard, much less a forked one? How will he live with the crippling disappointment of being a clean-shaven Sweyn Forkbeard?

Third, I look in a baby names book. I had a crack at that this morning, too. Maybe we’ve just got a baby name book for dweebs. All I’m saying is, ‘Falconbridge’ is not present, and ‘Brick’, regrettably, is. Brick. There is no origin, because someone had a baby with a square head once and made it up.

I’ll keep looking.

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Henricus Rex was always a keeper.

How did you choose your baby names? Shakespeare? English royalty? Or – hang on a minute – something else?

About twenty weeks

I blinked, and then we were halfway through.


This pregnancy is slipping by like it’s a dream. Since coming out of that hideous first trimester (during which time didn’t move at all) I’ve resumed normal life, done everything I used to, swapped smaller clothes for larger ones automatically. This little person doesn’t kick nearly as much or as hard as Henry did – as soon as that boy started moving, he didn’t stop, though I suppose that’s Henry for you – and so I feel this other pair of feet once a day with a kind of tender surprise. I find them oddly endearing, these unobtrusive efforts to be noticed. I wonder whether they’ll translate to baby personality, and how a firecracker and a quiet observer might rub along together, if so.

We saw the baby on-screen today, lounging stubbornly head-down, feet crossed under my ribs and one arm slung casually over its head. In completely the wrong position for a good photo, incidentally, though we saw a heck of a good kidney. I was taken aback by how big it is already. Hello, no wonder I can’t eat properly. My stomach must be the size of a peach. And also: this is actually happening, isn’t it? Car seats and white baby socks and that little kitten cry in the early hours. And oh, the newborn smell on the top of the head. I cried when Henry started to smell of shampoo and sweet potato.

I’m excited. Yes, I’m definitely excited.

I mean, look at that kidney.


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