I’ve been promising myself that I would write this blog post for some time. But finding a moment to sit in front of the computer when I have the mental agility, free hands and sheer will to get it down on screen has been nigh on impossible. Boy 2.0 is now six weeks old and it has been all I have been able to do to survive. Perhaps I had forgotten how tough it can be, perhaps it is the fact that there are two to look after, perhaps I am older and perhaps boy 2.0 is more ornery. But I am surprised – stupidly perhaps – to find that it’s not easier the second time around.
It’s exhausting, relentless, and utterly absorbing. All things other than food in and food out fall by the wayside. I found breastfeeding pretty tough to start with last time, but this time around it has been all consuming (literally), and at this moment seems like the hardest thing I have ever done. Going back to work will be a doddle compared to the last six weeks.
I have renewed sympathy and admiration for those mothers who make it to court first thing in the morning with tiny babies, or who manage to make appointments with their solicitors in between managing the competing demands of several children. I was impressed with my client recently who travelled miles by train and then bus only a few weeks after delivering by c-section, bringing baby with her and managing him all day at court whilst also giving instructions to me. Now, in hindsight, I am in massively impressed. If I do manage to get out of the door it is local, by car and only several hours after I had originally planned to leave. Engaging with court proceedings when you are adapting to the arrival of a new child is a monumental task and I think sometimes we don’t appreciate that.
Similarly, when making arrangements for contact between where there is a new arrival, we would do well to remember not only how restricting breastfeeding is to mobility and the impact demand feeding can have on punctuality, but also the sheer effort and military organisation that is required to simply get to a prearranged location by a prearranged time. Sometimes mums make excuses to frustrate contact and aren’t prepared to make the effort to promote it, but I think in our profession one can sometimes become too cynical about mum’s resistance to contact – I am making a mental note to myself to remember just how bloody hard it is in the early days.