Source for this image here.
I am feeling very much better today. Papa Bear took me to see the doctor yesterday because he was so concerned about my constant sickness, and the doctor prescribed some medication for me that helps to ease the nausea. It makes me feel a little drowsy, but so much better that it is worth the sleepiness just to feel normal again. Today I was able to eat much better than I have for days, and therefore I have a lot more energy and feel more cheerful and able to get on with my chores again. I have been so well looked after by my family! Little Bear has been taking care of all the cooking and kitchen chores whilse I have been feeling so unwell, and she has done a marvellous job, leaving everything beautifully tidy and clean, the sink sparkling and the fridge (which I especially didn't want to go near when I felt ill, as just the sight of food was making me want to rush to the bathroom) is immaculate. Thank you so much sweet Little Bear!
While I have been resting with my sickness I have been reading a lot - Jane Austen's "Persuasion" which I am enjoying, plus the newspaper, in which of course there has been a great deal written about Princess Catherine and her pregnancy. Lots of articles I have seen have focussed on severe morning sickness and the possiblity that such early severe sickness, for Princess Catherine is only thought to be about 8 weeks' pregnant, suggests she may be expecting twins. My personal experience is that the sickness is more intense and does start earlier with twins - Cubby Bear has a brother in Heaven who was born asleep, and when I was expecting our boys I definitely knew that I was pregnant sooner than I did with Little Bear and I did feel more nauseous - but that might also have been because I had an 8 week old baby to look after also!
There was another article about pregnancy and childbirth that I read which was about just this thing - having two children within less than a year of each other. In our culture it's not at all unusual to have babies close together and having two within a year is affectionately known as "Irish twins". I am not sure where this euphemism comes from but as someone who is part Irish I don't find it offensive at all. And having "Irish twins" myself, I also know that it isn't the dreadful experience that the writer of the article (who had 2 children 14 months apart - far more months than Cubby and Little who have only 9 1/2 months separating them in age) described.
We were delighted when we found that I was expecting the first time around, just months after our marriage. And how thrilled we were when just weeks after Little Bear's birth we discovered I was expecting again - and carrying twins! Our whole family celebrated - twins run in our family, and it was so exciting to think that we would soon have 3 babies to care for! The loss of Cubby's brother was devastating, but we had to focus on Cubby as he was very ill, being born so prematurely, and it meant there was little time to grieve. Being a papa and mama to two babies not yet walking whilst also having the sadness of the loss of little Baby Bear was very difficult. And yet we managed - very well indeed. We were very busy, and did have some help, especially whilse Cubby was still in NCCU and we needed to be with him as much as possible. But when we brought him home we were so happy to be a family together at last, and we managed by ourselves with no extra support.
The writer of the article in the newspaper cited one of the hardest aspects of having 2 children so close together for her as being the fact that she was not able to spend as much time with the new baby as she would have liked because her older child was still so dependent on her. Of course with 2 that were both not walking, in a way, it was easier just to treat them as if they were the same age. But there were a few other things that I think made our experience easier. For a start, I did not work outside the home, and wasn't going to. So there was no pressure on me to have the babies in any particular routines, or reach any stages of development by a certain age so that they could be left with a minder, or placed in daycare. We did what worked for us - and that meant we were able to be a bit more flexible. For example, Little Bear was already eating some solids when Cubby was born - I did start to wean her earlier than the guidance is nowadays, beginning at about 4 months - but of course she couldn't actually feed herself all her meals, so I would need to guide and assist her. It was easier, I found, to have her sitting on my lap at the table, with Cubby in a seat on the table beside us so that if I had to feed both of them at the same time, I could. I did not feed my babies myself - they had formula milk and I do have to say that this made things very much easier - for one thing formula fed babies seem to sleep through the night earlier - Little Bear never actually woke in the night from day one, and Cubby slept through from about 6 months. That meant Papa Bear and I had plenty of rest so that our busy days whether at work in at home, were easier to cope with.
We were fortunate - but I also think it is partly to do with our culture. The attitude in our culture to babies is perhaps less sentimental than in wider society today. We don't tend to worry over our children quite as much as is the trend nowadays. If they are fed, changed, warm and safe, we tend not to worry over them if they are fussing, but just leave them be. We aren't wanting to entertain them every waking moment either - very young babies can be amused by simple things like watching the leaves on trees moving, or a mobile over their cot. They don't actually need to be held and petted constantly when they are awake, or have toys waved and poked at them - they really don't gain anything from being interacted with excessively in the early months, and it can actually condition them to become dependent on the presence of an adult or older child for company and amusement. I am not of course suggesting that we neglected our children - far from it - but we didn't see them as playthings that were there for our amusement, like big dolls. It helps children to become more self sufficient at amusing themselves, getting themselves to sleep, caring for themselves, if we let them do it alone whenever appropriate. This attitude I do think helped to make our early months with 2 babies much easier.
Another thing which helped was of course that coming from a culture where it is both normal to have lots of children and also to have them close together, meant that for us it really wasn't anything unusual to have just 2 babies to look after. We weren't expecting it to be easy - so our experience was less of a shock for us. I think not having high expectations about the "joys" of motherhood in the early days is something that is difficult for many modern mothers because society is geared up to give them the impression that not only should it be easy, it should also be perfect - and that as mothers, they too should look perfect and, of course, be able to reclaim their "child-free" lives at the earliest opportunity. It's going to be difficult to adjust to motherhood - whether it is your first, second or tenth baby - if you don't embrace the role of being a mama wholeheartedly. I do not see how it can possibly be so fulfilling, if you are also having to leave your child in daycare, go out to work all day and then pick up being a mama at 6 pm in the evening again. Being a mother is a full time job in itself so it is bound to be stressful if you are trying to do it alongside a career or the need to look like a celebrity and have a social life to match.
Whether or not motherhood is easy, and no matter how close or far apart our children are born, one thing is certain - they are most definitely a blessing from the Lord! We would have loved - and still pray that it may yet be so - to have had many more children. And so one day we might. But for now, we cherish the two that we have, and are thankful to God for sending them to us, happy, beautiful and healthy.