15 Mar 2014
Toddler vs baby
The title of this post makes it sound like there is some kind of fight between my children. In a way it has been. If you are expecting a second child soon you may not want to read this post. Or maybe you should
Obviously we were expecting it to be hard having two children, that Noah would feel jealous and left out, that we would be tired and stressed. We were not prepared for the reality!
Now I know we are only four weeks in and we still have a lot to learn and there's time for adjustment, this is purely a post on how these four weeks have been.
Noah was really excited about the new baby before he arrived. We talked lots about what babies do and how he would have to learn to wait because sometimes I would have to look after the baby before I could play with him. There's nothing you can really do to prepare little ones though! The day Judah was born and Noah came home he was so excited, he couldn't wait to hold his new baby brother. He kept whispering to Judah, stroking him and saying "he's so little". It was completely adorable. Of course, being Noah, he still did everything at 100mph and we had to catch Judah a few times and Noah suddenly stood up when holding him, or was generally a bit rough. It wasn't malicious though it was just Noah being Noah. Naively, I thought this would be what we would have to deal with, that Noah would just be rough accidentally.
Pretty quickly though, Noah figured out this baby was not in his best interests! Noah has always wanted constant attention so it was inevitable that he would feel left out. Whilst Thomas was on paternity leave he did lots of fun things with Noah, taking him out the house for a few hours so he got one on one time, but it didn't seem to help much! The first few days, whoever was holding Judah got the cold shoulder from Noah, he would not respond to you at all if you were talking to him and holding Judah. Following on from that came the aggression. I guess I had expected it a bit as we have had to deal with that behaviour before but I didn't expect it to be so bad! It was constant biting, hitting, pushing, pinching, all day, to everyone including the baby! I say 'was' like it has stopped, it hasn't but I do feel like the fog is lifting a little! There was very little we could do to discipline Noah, he would just laugh or go to his bedroom quite contentedly and play. Nothing seemed like a punishment. As our tiredness and frustration has grown it has been so so difficult to deal with, and in all honesty Noah got quite a lot of smacks. I feel so ashamed and sad to say it but when you are that tired it's hard to stop the knee jerk reaction of hitting him back! We have done our best to put a stop to that though, how can we tell Noah that violence isn't acceptable when we do it straight back?!
What we didn't expect at all was just how heartbreaking the whole situation would be. We have both been in tears at the end of the day because we feel so awful for how it is affecting Noah. You could clearly see he felt angry, left out, rejected, sad and frustrated. As a parent, knowing you have caused your child to feel that way just breaks your heart in two. Sometimes I could see Noah wasn't in the friendliest of moods so would hold him at arms length when he was trying to get near me or Judah, I just didn't trust him not to bite one of us. Then he would say to me "don't push me away mummy" and I would just crumble. It was truly one of the hardest things I have to deal with.
The thing that made it so much worse has been permanently tired, we've really struggled to settle him at night and then he keeps waking up and coming in our room. As a result of this his impulse control has been completely switched off. Not just in relation to his aggressive behaviour, but it has made that so much worse. You can see when you tell him not to do something, he instantly does it, but the look on his face has been 'why did i do that'?!
The reason I say the fog is lifting is there have been a few occasions the last few days that Noah has gone to do something mean to Judah and has stopped himself. The first time I saw him move his hand with and toy phone in at Judah's head and stopped himself I nearly jumped for joy! He got lots of praise and was clearly pleased with himself. That's the big thing you see. Noah absolutely adores Judah, he gives him lots of cuddles and kisses, he's always asking if Judah can play with him. He snuggles up next to Judah and tells him he loves him. I know one day they will be the best of friends and my heart jumps for joy.
This is a highly emotional time, not helped by hormones and lack of sleep. The tears and smiles have both been a plenty. It's all 100% worth it though!