I’m a few pounds heavier, there are permanent grey circles under my eyes, I can no longer retain new information and I’ve forgotten what it feels like to pee in peace.
But I have survived nearly 18 months of having two under two. Handling a baby and a toddler is hard graft.
It places you on a 24/7 timetable because while the toddler sleeps through the night, the baby wants feeding at all hours, and while the baby naps, the toddler needs entertaining.
During the first six months I actually thought I might die from lack of sleep.
My baby was up multiple times a night and would sometimes be awake and fussing for hours.
My toddler dropped her nap within a month of her sister being born, and so during the days I needed to play with her. Through bleary eyes I tried to read The Gruffalo for the 10th time in a row, and with shaking hands I attempted to perform a sufficiently enthusiastic Row Row Row Your Boat.
The rubbish sleep continued until my baby turned one and I had to put my foot down and stop the night feeds. She’s now a good sleeper (mostly). Yet I still feel tired all of the time because the experience is just mentally exhausting.
The guilt at feeling knackered all of the time is a real doozy as well. Having a sibling is a lifelong gift in my opinion, someone who always has your back, someone who you will grow old with no matter what.
But in the early months particularly, having a sibling just takes the spotlight off of you. My toddler wants to be with me all of the time, and while she might say she is a big girl now, she still needs her mother’s attention and reassurance.
Having a breastfeeding newborn who wanted to feed every hour meant that I couldn’t build a tower on the floor with my toddler. I couldn’t go out into the garden with her right that second. I couldn’t take her to the park because I knew the baby was going to be hungry again soon.
Emerging from the newborn months and onward through the milestones of the first year means that while things do get easier – mainly because you’re over the shock – you swap old problems for new ones.
As time went on and my youngest began to crawl, it made playtime a little easier. But soon the sibling rivalry kicked in.
Kids have zero concept of ownership. Everything they see is theirs if they want it, and nothing is more appealing than when it’s in the hands of your sibling.
I can see it coming now, the moments before it’s all about to kick off over some dull item such as a spoon.
My toddler will be playing happily and my youngest will toddle over to watch for a bit. After a little laugh, she’ll decide to go for it and come in closer to reach out and swipe the precious item.
A tug of war then ensues, with both kids wrestling for possession. My toddler’s way of dealing with this conflict is to shout loudly in her sister’s face, random words such as “Jupiter”, in a bid to make her back off.
Now my youngest is walking, climbing and making a pretty good attempt at talking. I am in the cusp of having two toddlers and that is a scary thought.
And now here I am with two walkers, two talkers (kind of) and two tantrum throwers.
We have days where the crying is constant, whether it be one child, the other or both.
They play beautifully together at times and then can’t stand the sight of each other.
My eldest only has to ask for a cuddle and my youngest races over desperate for one too. There is a battle for my affections and I try so very hard to make sure both of them know how loved they are.
My biggest worry now is being in playgrounds, where one child wants to head for the swings and the other wants to play on the slide. Watching both at the same time in opposite direction is tough. If only I had eyes in the back of my head!
So after nearly 18 months of raising two under two (well, it’s two under four now), what do I think of this age gap?
I think that you could spend forever debating the perfect age gap between siblings. There’s five years between me and my brother and my mum tells me it was tricky as we each wanted to do different things at weekends. He was at primary school while I was still in nappies.
Having a close age gap means getting the baby days out of the way in one burst of dirty nappies and sleepless nights.
I’m sure it’s aged me far more than the 18 months it has taken to get to this point, but I am pleased I did it. My kids are beginning to enjoy the same activities.
My baby will follow her sister down slides and they chase each other around the living room, giggling hysterically as they go.
There will be many times when they fall out in the future, I know that. But I hope that they will be there for each other, that their similar age will mean that they get what the other is going through during tough times.
I regret nothing about having my two so close in age. Though my feelings may have been different had my second pregnancy been twins.
And even though it’s one of the hardest elements of parenting, the sleepless nights, A part of me still craves a third baby just so I can hold their tiny frame in my arms and stroke their soft cheek.
So am I poised to go for three under five? Never say never!
Do you have more than one child? What’s the age gap between your kids?