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 🙂

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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.

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“Mama’, I’m stuck”. Again!

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Yes, they’re all sweets!!

Trying to find some frogs.

Trying to find some frogs.

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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.

Beginnings

We welcomed a new member into our family on the 30th of September. Bettina Lucia was born at 7.50 in the evening, all pink and cuddly and full of that scrumptiousness that newborns seem to have. Just like her sister, she came quick and fast. Actually she came much quicker than her sister, and I’m lucky that A made it to my side with just a couple of minutes to spare before her arrival!

That Tuesday was one of those days where I had a million and one things to do. The day began like any other day. We all woke up, my mother picked C up and I left for work. Since the Friday before we had received some last-minute school news, I had to pop by a school for a meeting after work, and had stationery and shoe-shopping planned for the afternoon. At four I left home to start my errands, and by five I only had C’s shoes left on my list. I agreed to meet up with C and mum at a local shopping centre at 5.30pm, so after pencil and file shopping, I left to walk my way there.

Every pregnant woman imagines what her labour will be like. Will it be short and swift or dragging and painful? And perhaps with a second pregnancy, it is less and more scary at the same time. I knew what was going to happen yet a part of me clanged to the hope that it would all be as fast as C’s birth was. At the same time I knew that this was not necessarily the case. I know of friends whose second labour was nothing like their first. Thoughts of 12+ hours of labour would flash in my mind, and I’d enter into a mini-panic zone. What kept me sane was the thought that God would not give me more than what I could actually handle.

I now laugh at the following part. You can however imagine my embarrassment, panic and shock at having my waters break in a public place. In a shop in a local shopping mall, which is always full of locals. Perhaps it was sheer luck that the shop happened to be nearly empty at the time, and the only witness to my ordeal was the panic-stricken shop assistant who was in a worse state than me and continued asking me whether she should call an ambulance or not. I was in no pain whatsoever and my thoughts were all over the place. Cesca was running around the store totally unaware of her mother’s crazy state. My mum who was waiting for me outside came to ask me why I hadn’t come out yet, and only realised what happened when she saw my face. I was thinking how we were going to get C’s shoes, whether my dress held any evidence of what had just happened, how I had to call A asap and how I still had to label and mark Cesca’s newly-purchased school items. And most of all how I would probably miss C’s first day at school the following day.

The walk to mum’s car seemed like an eternity. I waited there while she took C to buy her shoes. We went home, I had a quick shower, grabbed my things, headed to the hospital and then the pains started. I was super-dilated (8cm by the time the midwife checked me), and by 7pm was ready to start pushing. But I held back, waiting for 7.30pm because I wanted A by my side. Things happened so quick that Bettina was born twenty minutes after he arrived. Two hours after everything started. Talk about fast and furious.

We are now slowly settling in. Life with two children is so different than life with one. There is always someone to check on and always something to do. I am so so lucky to have help from my mother and in-laws. I honestly don’t know how I can do it all alone, and have so much gratitude towards them. I am pleased to report that Cesca is totally besotted with Bettina. From the moment she first came to visit her at the hospital, calling out for ‘my sister’, she has been a real trooper. She helps me with the nappy-changing, sings to her and ‘plays’ with her – though I am super-vigilant with the latter. However as expected, she is playing up at times. She had a tough couple of days dealing with all these changes, and at times blatantly challenges me and her father and does the exact opposite of what we tell her to do. Sometimes she ignores us completely, and thanks to school now comes out with these phrases she never said before. Right now her favourite is calling people ‘silly-Billy’. I bite my tongue and try to be the most patient I can be with her. But exhaustion and impatience do get the best of me at times, and after I sometimes shout at her, the guilt feeling sets in. The guilt feeling every mother seems to be burdened with, even though she tries her best and is always looking out for her own. Whatever I do at times, however I deal with her, I always end up feeling as if I’m lacking her and as if I could do better. I know it’s early days still, and I really can’t complain overall. I just want to be sure and certain that I’m doing the right thing, and, most importantly, that she knows it too.

So we’re all taking it in small steps and one day at a time. We have alone moments with Cesca. We take her to the playground, we read books to her and we dedicate moments to her alone. I don’t want her to feel as if she’s the ‘extra one’, the odd one out, not ever. It is harder than it sounds, especially since a newborn takes up so much of my time. All mummies know how time-consuming babies are, it’s all about them and you spend every minute they’re awake, with them. So it only figures that having a newborn and trying to spend equal if not more time with a young toddler is quite challenging.

But I’m looking at it all positively. We will manage just fine. It’s all about surviving these early days with a positive outlook, and living peacefully with the knowledge that you did your best with love and more love. And believing with hope that those around you, who are closest to your heart, recognise this.

A favourite shot captured by Auntie Ver. Running to meet her little sister :)

A favourite shot captured by Auntie Ver. Running to meet her little sister 🙂