Today we went round to visit a friend from antenatal class who’s baby should have been born on the same day as mine, but arrived unexpectedly several weeks ago. After several periods in and out of hospital, she is now at home, and growing fine. But SO small! Oh my god: reassuring in a way (as mine is obviously yet to come out, if it can circumnavigate the varicose spaghetti en route), but slightly scary, as after living with what is now a fully robust and communicating toddler, it was a timely reminder that we are about to go back to square one.
Also reassuring though was toddler’s reaction to the baby: he thought she was gorgeous and gently pointed out all her features and gave her a nice kiss. Before yanking her feet through her babygro. But generally he was lovely, and that was a very nice sight to see.
I also had the fortnightly check-up with the community midwife, who was running very late, and was even less interested in things than usual. I confirmed that as the bambino has turned the right way up (ie upside down, after a breech period a few weeks ago) I wanted to go to the local birth centre. The midwife has known this desire for weeks, but only now asked if I’d filled in the appropriate forms. Nobody had mentioned anything to me about these before, and in true coordinated style as the birth centre is in another county all my current medical notes are irrelevant, so we spent a rushed 20 minutes filling in a new set of forms, and getting me registered at the new place (there were a couple of pointed comments as she spoke to them on the phone: “I’ve got a mother with me who at 38 and a half weeks has just decided she wants to come to you…”). I tried to bite my tongue. And not once through the session did she actually ask how I was. She took my blood pressure, tested urine, wrote down weight (77 kgs, eeegggh), and measured the baby (which is “on its way” to being engaged), but there is definitely a feeling that for second-time mothers you’re just being processed.
To some extent this may be justified I supposed. The clinic’s waiting room is transformed into a baby clinic for new mothers on Thursday afternoons, and as I waited for my midwife appointment, I overheard (there was no one else there; it was hard to avoid) a newish mother (with a 9-mth old) in tears to the clinician over her baby’s sleeping and eating patterns. She bemoaned the fact that the baby only wanted finger foods and rejected all the food that her mother was earnestly cooking and pureeing. Aaagh. Another session of tongue-biting. It was totally inappropriate to butt into this tearful conversation, but I wanted to cry ‘baby-led weaning’ and point out the heft of our toddler, who has not had a single jar of puree or baby food* in his life and is now as solid as a rock.
And I definitely felt like saying, it’s a phase, it’ll pass, try to chill a bit. And maybe that’s what comes with being a second-time mother.
Shall I read this back to myself in 4 weeks’ time? The baby’s BOUND to be out by then…
* I tell a lie, one evening when we were wild camping in the Lake District I brought him a rice and chicken casserole thing in a sachet, which actually was perfect for camping and would have been good in adult sizes as well.