I know the last few weeks have been hard for you. First, I was home more, which was great. You enjoyed spending more time with me, and we had some lovely days. There were some things I couldn’t do very easily, because of my big bump, and you couldn’t sit on my lap properly to cuddle. But you didn’t mind too much. You were very patient with me.
I kept pushing you to become more independent: to take yourself to the toilet; to dress yourself; to climb in and out of the car unaided. “I can’t do it,” you’d say, before you did, in fact, do it. I kept talking about, “When the baby comes,” knowing that you really had no concept of what it would be like when the baby did come.
Since Samuel has arrived, you’ve been brilliant. Yes, there have been a few days where I’ve been less patient with you, and there have been some days when your tantrums have been unbearable, but mostly you’ve been great. You’ve been so gentle towards your baby brother, even if you do shout, “I can’t hear my Octonauts,” when he cries.
Samuel’s birth has made me think so much about your birth. If I’m honest, it’s not a time I look back on particularly fondly. We tried to have our kitchen fitted and extended before you were due. In reality, the kitchen was gutted the day before I went into labour. When we came home, we had a microwave in the dining room and the house was covered in dust.
I had been completely naive about the birth and breastfeeding. I was knocked sideways by how hard both were. I remember feeding you for hours on end to watch you then puke it all up, then scream for more. I couldn’t believe that I would ever recover from the birth. You slept well, going in 4 hour stretches every night from day one. But somehow, I felt guilty and anxious cuddling you to sleep and holding you. I felt I should be busy, getting on top of things rather than resting and recovering. I remember not wanting to let you sleep on me as I was convinced it would mean you’d never sleep in your cot.
I thought those feelings were normal. Over the last 3 and a bit years, I had convinced myself that the ideal birth and first few months were just a myth. But then I gave birth to Samuel. His birth, and his first few weeks, have been as close to that ideal as possible. In the first few hours after his birth, I just cuddled him. I couldn’t do that with you. We came home that night, instead of spending 2 nights on a stuffy post-natal ward where midwives tried to help us learn to breastfeed. Our house was ready for the baby, instead of a building site. He has had everything I wanted you to have.
So I’m sorry I didn’t cuddle you enough. I’m sorry it was a nurse who put you in your first outfit rather than me or Daddy. I’m sorry I didn’t enjoy your early months, because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
I know it really didn’t make any difference. You are a kind, loving, affectionate, thoughtful young boy who I’m sure will grow up to become a wonderful young man. You know I love you more than I thought was possible.
The feelings I have about your first months are much more about me than you. 3 years on, I really don’t think those first few hours, or even weeks, affected how much we love each other. I think they are probably very normal feelings a mother has for her first born child, especially if the birth was difficult. I’m sure I will soon look back on these first few weeks with Samuel and realise not everything was rosy.
You have amazed me with your resilience, your adaptability, your affection and your pride in your little brother. I think a lot about what you’ll be like as you grow up, and I hope you and Samuel will be friends as well as brothers. Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll work out how to spend our days best, and I’ll try to make sure you get the attention you deserve.