This week, F turns six months old.
Half a year might not bring the same celebrations, cards and cake as the first birthday, but it feels just as much of a milestone to me. F has changed so much that it is hard to believe he is the same baby that, just 26 weeks ago, was spending his first night in my arms. He’s learned to smile, laugh, reach for toys, roll over and sit up. He’s started to recognise his name, eat solids and make noises that will soon become words. He knows what he likes – singing, peek-a-boo and trees – and what he doesn’t – hats, car journeys and sleep. He’s gone from a helpless baby to a gorgeous boy filled with personality.
I know for many people this passage of time is tinged with sadness that those newborn days are over, but not for me. Even knowing that F is most likely my last child, I can’t help but feel relieved that this first stage is over. It’s been joyful and wonderful but, just as it was with I, it’s also been a bit of a slog. Six months in the grand scheme of things might not seem that long, but when it is filled with colic, reflux, blood tests, snotty noses, coughs and everything else, it feels like an eternity: an eternity that I most certainly won’t miss.
It’s only been in the last week that I feel like the new baby fug is beginning to lift – like I’m a bit more in control of everything – and that actually – maybe – I can do this ‘parenting of two’ malarky. I can see a little bit of me starting to peek out from behind the vomit-stained shoulders, eye bags and nappies.
And it’s nice to have me back.
I love my children and I love my life with them, but I also love myself (someone’s got to) and it’s so hard to keep a sense of who you are when you’re a parent. And whilst, second time round, I know there are still many more sleepless nights and difficult days to come, I also know that, as each of them passes, I will get a little bit more of my independence back. And for me, that means being a happier, stronger and better parent.