These are the days, yet I seem to forget them all too quickly, so I decided to start writing a regular series here called “I want to remember”. It’s my way of documenting the feelings, thoughts, and memories of the current moment for years to come.
I want to remember putting up Christmas decorations in our new apartment. A lot of firsts this year: first Christmas in this apartment, in a new city, as a family of four, with Ellen, and on our own (we won’t be travelling to Estonia as we usually do this year). And while I’m sad that we won’t get to spend Christmas with our family back home, I’m looking forward to spending it with out little family and people we care deeply about in our own home away from home.
I want to remember toddler Heli Mai. She’s getting SO big. I want to remember braiding her hair for the first time, making Christmas decorations with her, collecting pine cones in the park, and baking gingerbread cookies (more like me trying to stop her from eating all the dough before it got to the oven).
I want to remember my girls bonding during these first couple of months. Heli Mai is such a caring, wonderful big sister to Ellen. She’s the first to hear when Ellen wakes up or needs something, and quick to comfort her in any way she can. I want to remember how excitedly Heli Mai runs to our bedroom in the morning, looking for her baby sister, followed by kisses of course. And how Ellen’s face lights up as she recognises her big sister. Magic.
I want to remember becoming a mother of two, and how my world didn’t collapse, and I didn’t lose myself. In fact, I found even more of me, if that makes any sense to anyone but me. I want to remember feeling content and confident in my role as a mom, even if somedays I feel like I’ve failed. Tomorrow’s a fresh start.
I want to remember embracing my new body. I went through surgery just 2 weeks after Ellen’s birth to remove a big tumour from my left breast (thankfully, a benign one). I may have a Frankenboob, but I’m healthy, and that’s SO much more important that what one part of my body looks like.
I want to remember that it took me a week to publish this post. Me-time is scarce right now, but I know it’s just a season. This, too, shall pass, and before we know it, our girls will be playing together in their room while I sip a coffee and write a blog post on the couch. One day very soon. But for now, I’m taking in all the special moments in this season of life. And posting on IG, because it’s so much faster.
It’s now been 6 weeks since Ellen was born and I became the mother of two under 2-year-olds. This new series is where I’ll share my perspective of coping, surviving a thriving as a mom of 2 under 2.
Lately, my days feel like a rollercoaster. One moment, I feel like I’ve got this mom gig down. Like the moments when we’re playing in the girls’ room – me building a tower out of wooden blocks with Heli Mai while Ellen lays contently on the mattress, looking at all the colorful toys in her play gym. Or when I’ve managed to get both girls to bed before 8.30pm and no-one cried.
The next moment, I feel totally inadequate as a mom wondering how the hell I’m going to survive the day. Like when Heli Mai refuses to let me put on clothes so we can go out, and Ellen is super tired so she’s screaming at the same time, and I’m sweating because I already put my jacket on. Or when both girls cry during bedtime, and there’s only one me.
In those moments I feel so angry and frustrated. Not at the kids, but at myself. How can I not handle this? What am I doing wrong? And more importantly, what could I be doing better?
What I’ve realised, though, is that while there is definitely a harmful way of parenting, there definitely isn’t one right way to do it. One heated moment will not screw up my kids. I’m allowed to make mistakes and try again. And that to me is comforting.
Every day is a new chance to get it right. My girls are patient with me, allowing me to stumble in the dark until I find the light switch. Until I figure out how to be a better mom to them.
All three of us are learning and growing every day. While Heli Mai is learning new words, and how to put her shoes on, and Ellen is learning how to smile and make funny faces, I’m studying the art of motherhood. We all still have a lot to learn.
Our baby girl Ellen was born on the 20th of September at 10:04 am. She weighed 3580g (exactly 100g more than her sister) and was 52cm tall.
It has been a challenging time for our little family after some unexpected medical issues had me hospitalised for more than 2 weeks. I’ll write a separate post about that, but today, I want to share Ellen’s birth story.
At 39 weeks
I was SO ready to have this baby in like mid August, and was kind of hoping she’d be a week or two early. Being 36 weeks pregnant and taking care of a 1-year-old is no joke. I literally counted down the days until my due date, as if the baby would magically pop out then. I had pretty strong Braxton-Hicks contractions in the last few weeks and a couple of times, I was almost sure I was in labor. But it never mounted to anything, so we kept on waiting.
The last few days felt endless. I went into bed on the 19th of September without the slightest hint of labor. No contractions, no gut feeling, nada. Rein had gone to pick up my mom from the airport. She was flying in to help take care of Heli Mai.
At 2.30am on the 20th of September, just one day shy of my due date, I jumped out of bed. My water broke. It was show time.
I went into labor at exactly the same time as with Heli Mai. That seems to be my magic moment. The beginning was so similar that I was already mentally preparing myself for the long wait that I was sure was to follow. But everything else was different this time.
I was different. My body was different. This time I knew what labor was like and my body knew what to do. I started having regular contractions right away and my water kept leaking, which was a sign that things were progressing as they should, unlike last time. I really felt like I was able to listen to my body and relax into the process. I ate soup and took a shower, scrolled through Instagram to keep my mind busy and timed my contractions every now and again.
At around 6.30am, as I was gripping the towel handle to manage the pain, I knew it was time to go to the hospital. We waited another 30 minutes until Heli Mai woke up, so we could say goodbye to her and she wouldn’t just wake up to being alone with Grandma and aunt Patu out of the blue. I was a little bit nervous about leaving her as she’d been especially clingy the last few weeks of my pregnancy, but it all went beautifully. As if she had understood we were going to get her baby sister.
As I was hugging her goodbye, I started crying. Everything would change in just a few hours. My baby would become a big sister! I would become a mom to another little girl. How I was ever going to fit all that love into my heart, I wasn’t really sure.
Heli Mai waved us goodbye and we walked the few hundred meters to the hospital. We arrived there at 7.30am and the rest was quicker than I could have even hoped for. I was dilated to a 5, which was a bit of a bummer. I was pretty sure we’d have hours of labor still ahead of us, but man was I wrong.
The CTG showed that the baby’s heartbeat was a little bit too fast and it turned out I had a fever, so they kept me on the CTG machine and set up an IV with fluids. I remember thinking “Great! Hooked to machines AGAIN!”. I was really looking forward to moving around during labor and listening to my body and finding the best position for me. You know, all that good stuff you’re told during pregnancy when you’re preparing for a natural birth.
The details are a little bit fuzzy, but there was an incident with me screaming in the toilet, followed by the sensation that I needed to push. The midwife checked again, and although I had progressed a lot, I wasn’t quite there yet.
At some point, I got offered an epidural, which I refused, and then some milder pain meds, which I took. I may be all about natural birth before the delivery, but midway through… the words “pain meds” sound like candy to a toddler.
The midwife suggested I try changing the position and laying on my side to help me get to a 10. Although that was way more painful than the position I was in, it did seem to work, and just a few contractions later (or so it seemed), I was ready to go. Honestly, the moment the midwife says “During the next contraction, I want you to take a deep breath and push as hard as you can.” is my very favorite moment of child birth. Because it means it’s almost over.
The pushing part was quick and easy (compared to just having contractions), just as with Heli Mai. Before I knew it, she was out.
The sense of relief and joy is indescribable. It makes up for all those months of nausea, exhaustion, having to pee every 5 minutes, feeling like an elephant, not being able to sleep on your belly, or your back, or even on your side… basically, not being able to sleep comfortably period.
Feeling my baby on my belly, not in it, is the best feeling in the whole world. I had forgotten how painful the contractions can be, and how it stings when the head comes out. And I will forget it again. That’s how it’s supposed to work. But that feeling of joy and relief, and LOVE. That I will never forget.
That’s my story. And her story.
She’s already a month old, and I can feel that her first year will fly past even quicker than with our first baby. Because now my days are filled with watching two little girls grow. Man, it’s the best! Seeing Heli Mai tote on her little sis, giving her kisses, being concerned about her crying, saying “Õte! Elle!” (“Sister! Elle!”) a million times a day, teaching her to high five, wanting to hold her and trying to put the pacifier back in her mouth gives me heart eyes every single time.
I get to see them become best friends for life. There’s nothing better than that!
I don’t know if or when we’ll have another kid, but for now, I’m glad to be done with pregnancy for a while. Ask me again in a year, though…