A little while ago I wrote about my daughter and how she coped with the birth of her twin sisters. While it was an honest post I’ve had a lingering feeling I’ve only told half the story. My daughter was brilliant with her sisters and, except for the odd moment when she gets cross that they snatch her breakfast or her toys, is patient and kind with them. However I didn’t mention our relationship and how it’s changed.
I never thought anything would alter it. She was such a mummy’s girl. Whenever she fell I was the one she would turn to. She could be a bit clingy at times. I always think of a line in one of my favourite books Wives and Daughters, The little girl (who my daughter is named after) has lost her beloved father and when they are reunited wishes for an invisible cord to bind them together. It felt like we had that.
When I was pregnant I was so ill with hyperemesis and had to spend a couple of days in hospital. Other than going to work it was the first time I had been apart from my little girl. The thing was I was desperate to go to hospital to get a break. It was so hard carrying on our every day lives feeling so exhausted. The first time she came to visit me in hospital, I hadn’t thought how it would affect her. I didn’t hide my drip and she found the large plaster in my hand terrifying. For the first time ever she wouldn’t come to me and give me a hug. I felt so awful as there was nothing I could do.
I know it was only a couple of nights and so didn’t have a lasting impact. It’s hard to tell how much something is upsetting a young child emotionally. They live in the moment, so most of the time they just carry on and seem so happy. Apparently, when I was away she would play with her trains and one of the trains was the mummy who had gone away from the baby train. For a long time after that, about a year in fact, she was terrified of plasters and would never let me put one on her. I just thought it was because it might hurt but I do wonder if it was seeing me that upset her.
The other thing which was hard was that I was of course being sick – all the time. I was potty training her at the time and although it made it harder it was actually having to cook her food which really turned my stomach. I tried to be discreet about it but sometimes she would follow me upstairs and I would hear a little voice saying “mummy, you ok?”
Then of course I got to the last trimester when I was the size of a barn. I tried not to pick her up too much but there were times when it was unavoidable, bath time being the main one and when she had fallen over. Of course not picking her up was better for me but her her it was difficult. Somewhere along the way I stopped being the favourite go-to parent. If she fell over it was not me she would run to. I know it had to be that way, but it was very hard.
When the twins were born there were only a few hours between kissing my daughter goodbye and seeing her again. Yet she seemed like a different person. I never expected it to happen. It was like she had grown in those few hours and seemed like a giant. I did worry about how she would be with these tiny precious babies.
In those first few months I tried so hard to make sure her routine was not disrupted and we got to do all the things we usually did. We still went to playgroups and I gave myself all kinds of stress trying to do cooking and card making and all the usual things we’d enjoy. In some ways it was easier though. I would be stuck for so long feeding the twins that there was plenty of time to read books or do stickers.
As the sleepless nights stated to take their toll I found it harder and harder to keep my patience with her. Molly always has to go downstairs first, well do everything first actually. Carrying two babies downstairs is a bit scary and having a three year old dawdle in front of you is incredibly frustrating. I would like to say I kept my cool but it wasn’t always the case. I’m usually quite a calm person but I would get so wound up. She was just getting the hang of getting ready herself but it always took her so long and we had the added pressure of having to get her ready so we weren’t late for nursery. I dread to think what my blood pressure was like during that time. I hated it because I think the greatest thing you can give your children is your time and patience. All they want is you to listen and admire what they’re doing. Every time I snapped I hated myself.
But gradually, gradually I found our relationship getting stronger again. I make sure I spend time just with her, and remind her that we’re doing things the toddlers can’t do. I try to give her my full attention, although she does have to tell me to put the paper down occasionally. She will cry if I pick her up from school and she’s expecting someone else, which doesn’t make me feel great but I know it’s not about me. She also has said a few times that if I want I can go back to work full time and Daddy can stay home to look after the girls. Thanks then.
So now I’m going to allow myself chance to say how fantastic my little girl is. I try so hard not to be obnoxious and brag about her every little achievement. I know that while she may have done some things sooner than other children, there will have been other things she took longer to do. But this is my blog and so I can say she is such a lovely little thing. Since learning to say cat at eight months she hasn’t stopped talking. At times she a big scardy cat but in the water she’s fearless. She loves bike riding and ice skating and can do tricks on the trampoline. She can hit back a tennis ball much better than I can. I love watching her delight as she learns to read a new word. She will spend hours cooking or doing crafts and will sing her own little made up songs while she’s doing it. My favourite is her rendition of Hushabye Mountain “lullaby lie low”
Here she is with her sisters when they were first born, singing them the ABC song. Start ’em young with the basics of reading I say.