You know all those things I said I'd never do again? All the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned the first time? Well... I'm doing it all again - rocking Charlie to sleep, giving him a dummy, carrying him around wherever I go when he absolutely refuses to sleep, feeding him in bed till we both fall asleep, and sitting around all day just enjoying his company instead of getting off my butt (which apparently did not receive the memo that we are no longer pregnant) and doing something resembling exercise/housework. I've given myself permission to do it all over again because I know what I'm doing this time, I know we'll end up with some bad habits and I'm ok with that. It's all about survival at the moment and if I have to take the path of least resistance to get through the next 6 months, so be it.
I read through book after book trying to find answers when J was smaller, and when I realised that none of them answered any of my questions, I tossed them all out. Some were a little helpful, but despite the one-size-fits-all solutions offered, my child just didn't comply. When Charlie came along he surprised us by being a comparatively easy baby and I didn't feel the need to turn to "experts" for advice. Then he hit the baby version of menopause - "the 6 week change" as Robin Barker calls it - and started napping for no more than 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. It was all too familiar...
I didn't have much of a plan in the beginning, I just knew I wanted to do things differently the second time around, I was determined, perhaps somewhat naively, to nip it in the bud. When Charlie went through "the change" I had no choice but to go back to the books. I borrowed one from a friend called "Sleep Sense" and it really did make sense. There were a few new, and genuinely helpful, pieces of advice in there but it was all just a bit too familiar. Again I was left asking, "but what do I do when...?" So I've decided that, for now, rather than trying to find one philosophy, one solution to all my problems, I'm going to do whatever the hell feels right at the time. At least once a day we practice attachment parenting, and Charlie naps on my chest or in the Ergo. Other times I channel the Baby Whisperer and take a firm but fair approach. Then there are times when he needs some serious Gina Ford style wrangling to go the f##k to sleep... At least I'm consistent in my inconsistency, and I now have a 3 month old who goes to bed at 6pm every night and sleeps for 12 hours. I'm always going to stress about whether or not I'm doing the right thing, and I will question myself every step of the way but that's just one more thing the books can't help me with.
A friend told me, before Charlie arrived, that I'd appreciate baby number 2 all the more for the simple fact that, unlike with the first child, I wouldn't end up resenting the disruption to our lives. I wasn't sure I got what she meant at the time but now I do. Our lives were already chaos, and Charlie fit right in, like he was meant to be here, and we simply carried on. What has struck me the most is that the first 3 months of his life have gone so much faster than Josh's first 3 months (which dragged on FOREVER!). We got to the 12 week mark, looked at each other and said, "you know what, that wasn't so bad." And we gave ourselves a little pat on the back for making it through. There are still tough days, really really long days, and days when I have no clue what I'm doing, but unlike the first time around, I know they won't last. And there's a good chance that when Charlie is a strong and independent little man, I'll long for the days when he needed me wrapped around him to fall asleep. So I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, making those mistakes, setting us up for bad habits, because I know that, if in making those mistakes again we risk history repeating itself, we'll be ok. Because we survived the last two years and we have a pretty awesome 2 year old to show for it.