Single Dose or Double the Double?

It was only this week that I ventured a delicate subject with a friend – a fellow mummy of three. It is a subject which I never discussed with anyone, basically from fear of the looks I would get from other mothers. I have always wanted to pose the question, from the moment we started talking about children right up until the minute Bettina was born. I never found the courage to ask the question, not even to my own mother, but somehow I have been thinking about this subject recently and this week the topic popped up when talking to my friend.

Looking back now, it is a ridiculous question, one I have no idea why I feared, but at the time it was on my mind. Constantly.

Do you ever love the second child as much as you do the first?

Motherhood opens up a universe of emotions. Everything comes to surface, all is new, and the amount of love you feel towards this small and fragile stranger is amazing. You find yourself doing things you never imagined you could, and you smile through it all. Everything is fresh and bursting with love. It is the reason why many mothers say how they can never imagine going back to a life pre-baby. It is because life and priorities shift so tremendously that even if you put feelings aside, there is no rational way of ever going back. You give birth, you become a parent and your children are with you always and forever.

So big and enormous is this mass of love you feel for this tiny little baby that it is frightening, elating and surprising. Ten years ago, would someone have ever told me that I would be waking up at 6.30am on a Saturday and Sunday morning to a cooing baby, and smile about it, I would have called them crazy. Whenever we went out I would start preparing for the night out for at least an hour before. Now I am lucky if I get fifteen minutes to prepare myself for an evening out. My bags are full of baby wipes and empty biscuit wrappers and my pots of makeup are now under lock and key or else destroyed. And somehow it is okay and I don’t mind.

Now imagine being so enamoured and so wrapped up in this tiny being who you’d move earth for, and then find out another little on is on its’ way. With our situation, we were waiting for Bettina eagerly. She came at the perfect period for us all. Cesca needed a sibling to ground her a bit and we did not want to let too much time pass for a second baby because we knew that the more time passed, the more difficult it would be to start the baby-routine again. Things were happening in the background, and add to that the silent fear I would sometimes experience when I’d think of a new baby, my panic attacks started and they threw me off balance.

I now know that the cause of it all was fear. Too many things were happening at the same time and I did not know if I was prepared for it all. Funny really, considering how I did the first two and a half years of Cesca’s life alone with her and I never ever doubted I could do it. But a second baby, a job and a new school for Cesca, made me worry about handling it all. Luckily enough they all turned out to be unfounded worries, but try telling that to a pregnant woman midway through her pregnancy. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to handle.

Underneath it all, and perhaps at the root of it all, I would start questioning how I could love another baby as much as I did Cesca. I spent so many hours during Bettina’s pregnancy thinking how I would be cheating Cesca out of my love for her, with the arrival of a new baby. I feared showing preference towards Cesca in front of the new baby and having the latter notice this.

And then Bettina arrived and everything shifted. Suddenly everything was clearer and simple. I had gone round the whole issue the wrong way. For it was not halving the love I had for Cesca in order to share it with Bettina. But it simply was doubling the love I had for one, for two. The enormity of emotions Cesca brought with her just doubled. As my friend told me, each child comes with their own universe of love. And that is true. I then understood so much more than I did before. Cesca and Bettina have different characters, each come with their own baggage of love, they are both unique and I can not think of one without thinking about the other. Cesca makes me laugh, and a minute later we’re both smiling at something Bettina did. There is never any hint of jealousy, of preference, for they are two separate portals of love.

So I finally got the answer to the question which had been brewing in my mind for ages. Each child is a blessing, and the most amazing thing is that whether you have one, two or six, you love them equally, in different ways perhaps, but somehow they all hold your heart. Parenthood is an amazing blessing. It baffles you at times, drives you up the wall at others, but rewards you with the simplest and purest form of love. Or loves.

Advertisements

Togetherness

Our little Bettina is growing up. Now that she’s bottom-shuffling and learning to express herself, she has become Cesca’s perfect buddy in crime. From the day Bettina was born, Cesca was constantly asking me when her little sister would start playing with her. It seems those days are here for now when together, they are inseparable. Their favourite way of playing is very messy and involves all the toys they have, but they spend hours together, playing, fighting (mainly B pulls C’s hair when the latter takes her toys) and giggling. Oh the giggling, how I love hearing them laugh together! Bettina is constantly following Cesca with her eyes, and I swear she gives her big sister a unique look of total love which neither me nor Anthony get. And Cesca (known to us, her parents, as our full-blown diva with the sky-high self-esteem and total love of self), has found her perfect role as a big sister. Bettina is the perfect audience. She claps when Cesca calls her, she claps when Cesca sings, and she claps when Cesca gives her toys. I’ve said it before and I will repeat it now – from the moment we found out we were having another girl, this is what we wanted and wished for. This camaraderie they seem to have, this hidden bond which ties them together. Bettina was a godsend to Cesca. And Bettina is lucky in a way that Cesca wasn’t. Bettina has a full-time entertainer, talker, performer – Cesca only had me as that. And my eldest daughter is a million times better a performer than I ever will be.

They are spending more time together now than in winter, and although tiring (and draining in this awful heat), they are a laugh. Their characters seem to be different. My friends all agree on the First Child Syndrome – the first child is the one who is unarguably spoilt, has a great sense of self-worth, struggles a bit when s/he learns that the world does not revolve around him/her alone and is somewhat a bit bossy. Cesca is all that. She loves an audience, insists on being called a queen, and I’m pretty sure she will start referring to herself in the third person pretty soon. But is so much more. Her sensitivity surprises me and the love she gives is a joy. She surprised me most with Bettina – she fully accepted her without an ounce of jealousy, and every sentence starts with “Me and Bettina…” Unfortunately third parties are sometimes rudely excluded. To their face. With a pointed finger ordering them to go away.

The Second Child Syndrome mainly involves the child being somewhat more of a fighter. S/he fights to find his/her own place in the world. S/he never knows the full and total attention of the parents as the First Child did, and this is due to obvious reasons. But the Second Child is observant, more knowledgeable about what is going on around him/her and although may appear quieter and calmer than the First Child, when need be, s/he will make his/her voice heard. Bettina is more ‘gathered’ than Cesca. She has an air of tranquility around her which makes everyone who meets her remark on her jolly nature. In these nine and a half months she’s been in our lives, the only times I have known her to get upset is when she’s hungry and when it’s time to take her out of the bath. Otherwise it’s mostly she smiles, I smile.

Together they click. And how!

Christmas in July.

Christmas in July.

IMG_20150628_124804

This is basically the sum of my lives together with these girls :)

This is basically the sum of my life together with these girls 🙂

This Moment

I never even realize how much time has passed between blog posts until I receive an email from WordPress telling me that it’s been while since I put fingers to keyboard, and typed away. So much is happening, time is never enough and posts which I write in my head just before I go to sleep, somehow never make it here.

The girls are growing up fast and quick. Bettina is now six months old, she just cut her first tooth and is still learning how to sit up unaided. Cesca will be four in three months, she is a human radio and never EVER stops talking (she even talks in her sleep), and has found the perfect role in being a big sister. Bettina is her doll, her property, the recipient of her songs and conversations, mannequin for hair-bands and clips, and just her’s, plain and simple. And even though sometimes I pity little Bettina, who is never left alone when Cesca is with her, I look at them both and my heart fills up with so much love and joy. Because from the very moment we found out that we would be having another girl, today is exactly what we wanted from both girls. We wanted them to be each other’s world, we wanted to give each other looks of unconditional love, secret smiles and giggles. I smile when I see Cesca fiddling around with Bettina’s ear, and Bettina in turn playing with the other ear (it seems to be one of the many things they have in common). My heart warms up when I hear Bettina laughing at Cesca who pretends to gobble up her toes, or play hide and seek with her. Bettina doesn’t move or cry whenever Cesca surrounds her with soft toys and whole regiments of animals, whilst playing. She just looks at her sister, studies her and smiles at her whenever they catch each other’s eyes. For Bettina is a smile-r, she smiles, she laughs, she’s a sweetheart. And Cesca, who sometimes plays up and can be a proper pain, is deep down the most sensitive and gentle girl I have ever seen. Her transformation around her sister is amazing.

Yes, two children are hard work. The days just fly by, our time and energy is consumed by these two little angels. Weekend sleepovers are over – by 7.30am, our bed is normally hosting the whole family. We have to sometimes schedule time for ourselves, because the parent-mode switch is never off. But we would not have it any other way, not for a second. Seeing the girls so much in-sync is our greatest gift as parents, hearing their laughs coming from their rooms is a blessing, and we only pray and hope that this bond which is so beautiful to watch forming between them, lives on, grows stronger and survives all.

Nineteen Days In…

Nineteen days into this new year, and I’m finally writing my first blog post for 2015.

About time.

Since the last time I wrote here, we finally had our first holiday as a family of four. We had both sets of grandparents on board with us for some help, and they were a godsend. Trying to get ready by a certain time with two kids is not easy, nor do-able. Someone always needed to pee, or poop, or change, or eat, or cry, or bring up milk, or sleep. But we managed to have four wonderful days of food, small Sicilian villages and driving round new places. Cesca had a day of fun getting wet in the snow and Bettina watched from her car-seat. Both behaved very well and I am proud to say that we are not traumatised beyond repair to the thought of travelling with them both again. Having said that, a trip for the two of us is in the pipelines 😉

Driving around ;)

Driving around 😉

The time of her life!

The time of her life!

Barely able to move. Poor B.

Barely able to move. Poor B.

Two years after having a hairdresser touch her hair, Cesca finally got her hair properly trimmed. And she has bangs, which I love, love, love! Although she does need to trim it every couple of weeks.

A proper haircut, with bangs and no knots!

A proper haircut, with bangs and no knots!

The beginning of school brought with it a new set of persistent germs which meant that Cesca has been off school for this past week, and little B is now sniffling :/ I’m hoping that tomorrow C will be back to school, for all our sanity’s sake because after staying indoors for five straight days, she is now fed up of all her toys, television shows, books and any activities I can do with her and a three-month old.

Both girls are now settling in lovely. The hardest part of having a sick Cesca was trying to keep her away from her younger sister. She could not quite understand why she could not hug or pat Bettina, and was getting quite upset when I tried to explain it to her. The upside of this all was seeing how much she adores her little sister. And bother her as much as she does, it is heartwarming to see how Bettina’s eyes already light up whenever she hears Cesca’s voice singing “Jingle Bells” to her.

Nearing The End

2014 is nearing its’ end.

It couldn’t have been a more eventful year if we wanted it to be.

We got pregnant.

We had our little Bettina.

We started building our future home.

Cesca started school.

(and other ‘minor’ episodes I won’t bore you with…)

The timing of some events could have been better, granted. But we somehow managed.

We learnt that bit more about ourselves and are better for it.

2014 was a tough bitch at times. It was full of change. It brought us the greatest happiness ever in the form of our little angel Bettina. It taught us hope and persistence, and the amazing power of prayer and positivity. It presented us with our greatest fears, brought us to tears at times, and made us question what we thought we knew. We progressed in some areas, regressed at others. It made us bang our heads against the wall one day, but made us cry with laughter the day after.

We will end 2014 slightly bruised perhaps, but stronger than ever.

So 2014, thank you. I can’t think how 2015 will top this year, but knowing the little I do about life, I’m sure it will.

Dear friends, seasons greetings to you all! Blog-wise, 2014 was a testing year at times. You all helped me along the bumpy path life led me to at times, and you all cheered our happy events with your sweet words and messages. So thank you friends, all of you near and far, friends and practical strangers. I wish you all the best of the festivities to come. Stay safe x

My sweetheart turned three!

My sweetheart turned three!

The Bump

The Bump

Two friends, two bumps, which resulted in Bettina and Ivy :)

Two friends, two bumps, which resulted in Bettina and Ivy 🙂

WP_20140807_00620140807203333

Running to meet her little sister for the first time x

Running to meet her little sister for the first time x

12 hours after her sister was born, Cesca started school!

12 hours after her sister was born, Cesca started school!

She's changed so  much in the seven months it's been since the photo's been taken x

She’s changed so much in the seven months it’s been since the photo’s been taken x

The definition of love.

The definition of love.

No Other Way

If I ever thought having one child was time-consuming, I must have not given a thought as to what having two children would be like. Saying that the days are rolling by is an under-statement. My days are starting earlier than usual and from the moment we wake up, the hours just fly by. Between waking C up, preparing her for school, feeding and changing B, taking C to school, taking B out to run errands and shop for the basics (i.e. food), picking C up from school and then handling two children till A comes from work, feeding and washing them and putting them down for naps and sleep, I hardly, if ever, find a moment for myself. Some days are really good and make having two children look like a manageable job. Others start off bad from the morning and go downhill from there. Let’s just say there is no time to get bored in this house.

Cesca seems to have finally settled down. She seems to be enjoying school, she does not stop narrating her whole school-day when she’s home, and she’s learning her first words of Maltese. Her pronunciation is funny I have to admit, and I have to stop myself from laughing when she starts sentences with ‘Ara mama’…’ Luckily she loves her teacher and seems to have found her group of school-friends whom she calls ‘my cousins’. Her ‘best friends’ are Karolin, Giulia and Gabriel, and every morning she wants to wear a hair-band like Giulia, and she wants a Peppa Pig back-pack like Karolin. Yesterday she spent a whole evening laughing about a “Miss Vanilla” and “Megan” Gabriel and herself talk about at school. She has a wild sense of imagination and makes up the most believable of stories, which I only got to verify last Friday when I had her first Parents Day. It seems that Sister Elsa did not cry all morning long because she wanted her dummy and Sister Stella did not want to give it to her. C made that one up.

Bettina is a little blessing. She’s 8 weeks old now and now smiles and makes the most adorable of noises! It seems she already reacts to C’s voice and turns her head whenever she talks to her. Even though she’s young, you can see the connection these two have. I have to hold C back from hugging her too tight, and poor B gets tens of wet kisses every day. Whenever I bathe B, C has to be there, rolling her sleeves and asking for soap. And when she starts crying, I always find C covering her with a blanket (because according to her she’s feeling cold), and asking her ‘Why are you crying Bettina?…Mama’, Bettina wants milk!!’ I can not wait for B to be a bit older only to see them playing and interacting more with each other. And of course, fighting…

On crazy days B will be crying for milk, I will be trying to feed her while taking C to the bathroom. I have become an expert at one-handedness. I can cook, clean and dress with one-hand, whilst holding and feeding B with the other. We have taken both girls to Malta three times, and each visit had its’ own set of stories. A and myself joke that each trip would qualify as an episode for ‘The Crazy Family’ show…somehow always with a happy ending and the four of us all still alive and in one piece.

We are extremely lucky that Cesca has taken to Bettina from the moment she first laid her eyes upon her. So of course, we praise C, we give her rewards, we try and spend alone time with her even though it’s hard with a newborn. But the weather has been good so far, so we take her out for walks with her scooter, we take her out for lunch at her favourite place and we always read her her favourite book, even when we’re dead-tired after a long day and just want her in bed to enjoy some quiet. Because quiet time with two children is practically non-existent. As is a tidy house. And my reading time. And my Bucilla.

So yes, we’re living crazy days. But I can not imagine life being anything other than what it is today. All that makes this life crazy, is what makes it worthwhile and precious.

InstagramCapture_28e84990-7291-442c-b0bb-b2b13d9cb159_jpg

“Mama’, I’m stuck”. Again!

WP_20141119_002

Yes, they’re all sweets!!

Trying to find some frogs.

Trying to find some frogs.

InstagramCapture_2411de68-f3b9-47aa-ba55-97265c7b32e7_jpg

The baby gym is out! (Remember this Clare?)

The baby gym is out! (Remember this Clare?)

We've started decorating!!

We’ve started decorating!!

Motherhood. Parenthood. Sisterhood.

Bettina is four weeks old tomorrow. It’s been four weeks of trying to find our feet and adapting to the experienced, yet somehow new lifestyle of having a newborn in the house. We have all been enchanted by this new member of our family. She is small, perfect and happy. Two children means more than double the love.

But I have learnt that two children are more than double the work of having one child. Two children means extreme time-management, hastily-grabbed snacks, less than perfect meals, showering at odd hours in the day, and waiting three whole days to eat a pomegranate, because the time spent peeling it can be better utilised doing something else. Like going to the bathroom, for example. Or putting another load in the washing machine.

Cesca has taken to Bettina without any problem whatsoever. Everyone asks me how she’s taken to having a younger sister, and I can honestly say that there has not been one moment where she’s shown any sign of jealousy or aggression towards Bettina. On the contrary, I have to keep an extra eye out for her because all she wants to do is hold her sister, pat her head and of course, play with her ears. Bettina is her sister, her property and I thank the higher powers that I’ve seen nothing but love towards her.

However it has not been all easy-peasy. Cesca has had some difficult moments, episodes which I think are school-related more than anything else. I think she was more effected with going to school than having a younger sister. Don’t get me wrong – the majority of times she is the old Cesca. She never had the easiest of characters, but we know her so much, for us it’s all normal. We know that giving her choices works wonders with her. We know that we always have to start with the right shoe, or the right sock – never the left. We know that she is a head-strong girl and if she says ‘no’ there’s no use trying to convince her otherwise.  But lately, she’s been having full-blown tantrums over the silliest of things. At the moment it’s twice a day – one usually after school when it’s time for her nap, and one right before bedtime. She says ‘no’ all the time, even when we know she badly wants something. Suddenly everything concerning her is ugly. She has ugly hair, she has an ugly bed and her room is ‘an ugly mess’. Cesca was never a people-pleaser, but she never had these types of ugly episodes, where she screams and cries so much for the better part of an hour. And it is trying on us. Very very trying. Especially with a newborn in the house. This past week has been horrible. I’ve shouted at her everyday, left her to cry herself to sleep every other day, and I’ve had moments where I’ve lost it completely and smacked her – something which keeps me awake at night with regret and sadness because I never was and never wanted to be that sort of mother.

With motherhood comes the guilt feeling. The sensation that you are doing something wrong, that you could have done more and that whatever you’re doing is not enough. I have been thinking and rethinking past episodes over and over in my head, I have been reading online articles on what to do and how to deal with these situations. However the more I do that, the more guilt and remorse I feel.

So today I turned to Instagram with a photo, and got an overwhelming number of messages from friends, near and afar. All offered words of encouragement, and most importantly for me, everyone shared with me the fact that they had passed from my exact situation, and lived to tell. And that, more than anything else, is what is helping me. Beautiful friends gave me advice on books to read, some shared their blog posts with me wherein they went through what I’m going through now, people I’ve never met gave me virtual hugs and cuddles. And I cried. It seems I spent the whole day crying. Crying for the moments I allowed myself to lose it, for the moments where I forgot that she is all but three years old, that in one month her whole life as she knew it was shaken and disappeared completely. I cried because I look at her and still see her as she was at Bettina’s age, so small and vulnerable and my heart goes out for her and the change she has had to go through. And I cried because I love her so much and I don’t want her to remember me as the parent who was always shouting at her, who was always angry at her. I cried so much I felt spent. And when the tears stopped, things suddenly became much clearer.

So today I made a pact with myself. I promised myself that I wouldn’t shout or smack Cesca, even when another full-blown tantrum happened. I would distract and distance myself when the screaming and shouting became too much. And I would live one day at a time, I would take care of myself and therefore be healthier and happier of my children, and I would not let one episode throw me back in doubt and insecurity. Sure, today she had an after-school tantrum where she did not want to change out of her uniform. She removed every piece of clothing I put out for her. So I ignored her. I ignored her running around naked, still suffering from a slight cold she has, and carried on as if nothing happened. I ignored her putting her dummy in the fridge and refusing to eat anything. I kept my calm, counted to hundred hundreds of time, and sure enough after a couple of minutes she stopped screaming. She came to me with her socks and top and asked me to help her put them on. She went on the sofa, drank her milk and asked for a banana. And within minutes she was back to her normal self, the Cesca I love so much. The one who never ceases to chat and ask questions. The one who mentions all the children in her class and tells me what each and everyone of them does in school. The one who wants to know everything, who amazes me with her stories and makes me laugh with her goofy voice and silly dance moves. And even though it was a silly episode, I feel somewhat proud of myself, of this one moment which I’m happy passed by without much ado.

So thank you my online sisterhood of friends. Thank you for your words, for your advice, for your support and for not judging me. Sometimes I write these posts and ask myself why I ought to share my thoughts and life with my readers. What do you get out of reading my experiences and what do I gain from it all. Maybe some people read these posts out of curiousity, maybe it offers them some moments of good gossip or a hearty laugh. It certainly is not easy writing a blog in a small country where everyone knows you and your family. But for me, in many situations, it has offered me support and the knowledge that I am not alone in my worries. I don’t know you all, not personally, but I feel I know you that bit better than others because of your words and comments.

Parenthood isn’t easy. Motherhood is perhaps the toughest job out there, utterly rewarding but hard. And sisterhood? Ah, sisterhood rocks. Sisterhood is the helping hand in times of doubt and problems.

We act silly and we smile :)

We act silly and we smile 🙂

Love, love, love.

Love, love, love.