It’s a Wednesday morning. I’m lying in bed feeding 5 month old Benjamin before I have to get up for the school run. Four year old Carly is lying next to me in the bed where she joined us at around 4am. Six year old Cameron comes in and clambers onto the bed excitably trying to engage with his baby brother, knocking him off my boob as he does so. “Cameron!” I exclaim, trying to reattach Benjamin, who’s now no longer interested and wants to play with his siblings. Cameron leaves the room scowling, feeling dejected. I didn’t mean to make him feel unwelcome, I just needed to get the feed in before getting up and out of the house or I know Benjamin will be grumpy in the car.
This is the reality of life as a mum of three, and it is hard, sometimes very hard. Going from one child to two, I struggled a little, especially with a fairly small age gap and having two of them in nappies to start with, but overall I felt I coped quite well. This time round, it’s felt like a bigger change.
I constantly feel guilty. Am I spending enough quality time with the older two? It’s difficult as I’m exclusively breastfeeding Benjamin and he feeds on demand, meaning I’m often pinned to the sofa or struggling to do things whilst holding him attached to my me. I try and spend quality time with Cameron and Carly on their own, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.
And then there’s the guilt about Benjamin. Although I spend almost every waking moment with him by my side, I don’t necessarily feel I’m giving him the attention he deserves. More often than not I’m feeding him distractedly whilst thinking about all the other things I need to be doing.
I haven’t taken him to any baby groups, and he doesn’t really spend time in the company of any other babies. I’ve recently started going to a buggy walk, and I’m hoping to start swimming lessons with him when we can afford to, but the guilt is there, in the back of my mind, I’m not appreciating his time as a baby.
Time goes so quickly and he’s growing up so fast. He’s most probably my last baby (I would love another but clearly things are already shaky with three), and soon the baby stage will be over and I don’t want it to have passed me by. I still don’t know what I’m doing about returning to work, but if I do go back, I may only have a few months left at home with him.
I took him to my nan’s art class last week and all the women were cooing over him and saying they could watch him for hours, and I felt like I was seeing my own baby for the first time and truly appreciating him.
It’s so easy when you’re just managing to get by each day to let the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months, and before long my three little children won’t be so little anymore.
I’m hoping that things will change, that as Benjamin does grow and starts needing to feed from me a little less, it will be easier for me to spread myself out between the three of them, but for now I need to try and keep the mum guilt at bay. I’m doing the best I can, and that’s ok.