I could have also titled this blog post, ‘Having a baby in a Pandemic’ or ‘Adjusting to three kids’ but Kit Gabriel Norris has rather taken over both of those situations and made it all about himself – as it should be.
Kit was born at the end of November, a lockdown baby, and my first winter one too. We took him home from hospital in the cold and dark at 5 am, got straight back into bed and all had a lovely sleep, before calling and texting friends and family to announce his arrival when we woke up late in the morning. We have always had visitors almost straight away when we’ve had babies. With both of the last two we had not only family but medic friends who were working in the hospital popping by, so it was a complete change to have silence, just us and him. My sister had left bucks fizz and croissants on the doorstep on her way to work and we sat in bed feeling like we were in a 5 star hotel and had won the lottery with our baby prize. For me this was the closest I could get to the home birth I had initially wanted and those glorious hours of soaking in your new addition in your own home. I didn’t get up when the midwife came and I was still in bed when the girls came home from school and they got to meet their new baby brother. They were totally in love from the moment they saw him and it was a lovely moment to share as a newly formed family of 5.
There have been many downsides to life with Covid and it massively impacted on my pregnancy, but having a baby in a pandemic, in lockdown 2.0, was in some ways a blessing. As I said before, we have always had a lot of visitors in the past and I had often read enviously of people who made a nest and managed to spend their immediate post natal days ‘on or by the bed’ – something I read recommended somewhere once. I truly believe that is the best start you can have with a new baby, getting plenty of skin to skin, bonding and breastfeeding without worrying about getting your boobs out infront of visitors. I’m way past that on baby #3, but when Cora was born she was so all consuming that I felt my attention and time really taken away from Bea. I wanted us all to be able to participate in enjoying him and adjusting, and of course it was different this time around anyway – the girls are so much more independent and play together for hours, as well as being older – Cora is over 3 and a half now whereas Bea was only 2 and a half when her sister arrived.
I won’t lie, there have been tears thanks to Covid too. Tears shed because at some points, not sharing the joy of a new baby dulled my own joy in him, though fleetingly. Filling the house with friends or family admiring him, telling the story of his birth, eating and toasting him together, has all had to wait. Whilst I enjoyed the absence of scheduled visitors I missed the joy of sharing him too. We have been fortunate that we have been able to form a support bubble with my sisters household, as the new rules on that came in on December 2nd for households with a baby under 1. Looking back on those weeks after Pete returned to work, I would have been sorely lacking in adult contact, and in fact any contact other than the kids, had I been reliant on meeting people outside.
Of course we have met people – as soon as the November lockdown was over we arranged a visit with my family to meet their newest grandchild, but keeping to the rules we went for a walk and had supermarket sandwiches and coffee in the park. Breastfeeding a newborn in the freezing cold wasn’t a highlight and I’m still trying to perfect winter dressing appropriate for feeding, that keeps as much of me covered as possible! Soon after we also met my in-laws in the same way and I was spoiled rotten by my best friend setting up sandwiches, mince pies and prosecco in the park on a sunny day so we could debrief and toast Kit, albeit 2 weeks late.
Despite all this time and space, babies still seem to fill it! I have been reminded of how all consuming newborns are, how you can easily lose an hour or more to a feed, a nappy change, another feed, a poo-splosion, change and bath… and so it continues in a never ending cycle. Kit isn’t a bad sleeper, mainly waking 3 times during my sleeping hours… but he has had his moments and bad nights too. So far we have managed by Pete taking the role of getting up with the girls and any mornings he is around he lets me sleep in to catch up. In exchange the nights are up to me, which is fine anyway as breastfeeding only needs me and there’s no point having us both up. The mornings I have to take the girls to school were definitely the hardest. There is nothing worse than watching the clock and seeing the hours of sleep slip away and a fixed wake up time looming. Other than that we have been lucky, he hasn’t been plagued by colic and fed like a superstar from the off. My milk came in quickly and there seems to be plenty of it so he’s been a quick and efficient feeder though that does mean he likes to do it often!
Christmas was quiet, spent with my sister and her family in our bubble, which was especially good for the girls getting to play with their cousin. It was the first year in several that we haven’t hosted and it was amazing to be cooked for and just enjoy it. Sometime between Christmas and New Year on a particularly tired night I went straight to bed when the girls were in bed and bedded in to watch tv while Kit fed. It’s become a new routine as it’s cosier and comfier than the sofa and I don’t intend to stop until he gets a bedtime routine! This is the first year I’ve truly lost track of the days between Christmas and New Year.
Like everyone I think, January has been harder, this third (I cant believe I am writing this) lockdown ending any prospect of family seeing Kit for some time. The grim cold weather. The schools closing was the final straw… and that first week of homeschooling involved a lot of tears and desperation, feelings of failure and despair as I juggled all three children. Fortunately Cora now has a nursery place so I am home with just Bea and Kit, still difficult when she needs help with her work and Kit needs feeding or settling… but easier than having both of them doing different things and needing different, constant help, and Kit too. It’s not the maternity leave I imagined and I feel sad not only that I’m not getting to soak him up in the same way as I could when I had time alone with them at school, but also that that stress and pressure of being stretched thinly in three directions did not make me the best version of my parent self, by a long stretch. Tiredness and patience do not go hand in hand for me and I felt bad for the girls too getting the short end of my fuse. Almost the hardest thing however was the guilt. If you follow me on social media and are thinking that you had no idea I felt like this, its because I haven’t talked about it to anyone but my closest mum friends who totally get it. I felt like if I complained about having them at home (aside from the fact I am very aware I’m not the only one in this position,) there would be people thinking, ‘well if you don’t want to have 3 kids at home, don’t have 3 kids!‘ It’s a valid point but none of us signed up to parent 24/7 in a pandemic, with work to balance in many peoples cases and no respite from school. I had always planned a bigger gap with a third child specifically because I knew how much easier I found it once Bea started pre-school full time when Cora was 6 months old. Those first 6 months were the hardest of my life I think! On top of all that Pete is ridiculously busy with the Covid vaccine roll out in South Manchester, on top of his day job. Like many medics at the moment he’s working a lot of extra hours to get it done, which means less time to help me, and less time with Kit.
It’s a lot. But it’s a lot for everybody, for many different reasons, and it will be over eventually. I write all this not for sympathy, I know there are people worse off, with less help than me, but to say if you’re reading this and feeling the same, you are not alone, or a bad person or mother for feeling this way. I’m trying to take the positives of having some relief with Cora going to nursery and having so much time 1-2-1 with Bea homeschooling. It’s been a joy (at times) seeing her grown up persona – she plays so well with Cora on her level that its easy to miss her more mature moments and she’s has been a great help with Kit. She can hold him for me while I get something done and he smiles away at her! One of the things I have enjoyed about homeschooling has been the insight it gives into their school work and seeing the improvement in Bea’s writing and reading since March last year is incredible. Don’t get me wrong, there have been moments of abject despair, head banging frustration and tears shed by all parties involved, but I’m clinging to the positives here!
As I write this, Kit is 7.5 weeks. In the last week or so he has changed so much, really waking up. He is super smiley and is starting to really take in his surroundings. He’s started to have cooing conversations with us and we even did our first baby massage class, via zoom of course but he loved it, we both did. I’m already sad that those sleepy newborn days are passing, but looking forward to getting to know his little personality. I realise as I come to the end of this blog post that I haven’t mentioned the transition from 2 to 3 children. In truth that’s because newborn needs aside, it hasn’t been that noticeable. For me the transition from 1 to 2 children was incredibly hard but when people ask I always say I think the transition depends entirely on the babies and children involved at the time. When Cora arrived, Bea was just starting to enter the terrible 2’s (a phase that lasted until she was at least 4!) and Cora was a really challenging baby, in retrospect because of her dairy allergy we diagnosed very late, affecting her sleep and her tummy. This time around, the girls are more grown up, easier and Kit is a relatively easy baby too, so it hasn’t seemed as hard at all. He makes us the family I had always imagined we would be and I feel very, very lucky that he’s here with us. ❤️
I hope you have enjoyed reading this, I wanted to try and put it down for myself as much as you guys, and I have lots more to write if I get chance… but we shall see how I manage that in the coming weeks! Thank you all for all of the lovely messages we got when Kit was born, they were lovely to read even if I wasn’t able to get back to them all, and all the more important when we couldn’t share him in the way we would usually. I’m always grateful for the friends and insta-pals I have made in my phone. 🥰
Until next time, stay home and safe,
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