It’s strange to think that she is very definitely the baby that we wouldn’t have had if Alexandra had lived – we never planned on having 3 children. Despite this thought, Daphne has slotted into the family unit as if she was always here.
As mentioned in her birth story, we were very lucky that we managed to get discharged when we did otherwise we would’ve been snowed in at the hospital! As it turned out, Daphne got to see three lots of bad snow within about 2 months. So what with the snow, recovering from a c-section and general pandemic lock down we didn’t go very far for quite a while.
Daphne looked a lot more like Alexandra than Ophelia did at birth. This is both bittersweet and reassuring. It’s nice to see how all the girls link together but also you wonder how Alexandra would look now; will we see that in Daphne? As with a lot of things, I’ve got a much more stable emotional bandwidth to cope with things like this this time around.
As a subsequent Mum, I found some things just kicked in. As I had experience with Ophelia, Daphne got a more prepared Mum. With Ophelia, the urge to protect kicked in straight away but the love part took longer. With Daphne, because I had a ready-made base of confidence, both kicked in much quicker. I’d say I’m more physically attached in my style of parenting with Daphne. I’m more confident in bonding with her. I’m more confident that she’s here to stay. I’m able to keep the thoughts of fear at bay and not allow them to take over.
Say it quietly but we got the hang of breastfeeding much quicker too. Righty booby was a bit more of a challenge but because I felt confident in my decision to breastfeed again and knowing some of the techniques and tricks to try we got this down within hours/days. It was a night and day experience to how hard it was to get Ophelia going. I fed Daphne every 2 hours for first 7 days and once she was back up to birth weight (a loss of only 5.7% this time around not 10.8%) we soon switched to feed on demand and away we went. I’ve treated myself to some better breastfeeding specific clothing as the options have improved dramatically since I was feeding Ophelia.
My health visitor this time around was much more approachable and included all the girls in her conversations with us both. As part of our conversations I mentioned the lack of understanding of having a baby after loss with my HV with Ophelia and she mentioned the CONI programme (Care Of Next Infant) and I was peeved to say the least that this wasn’t offered to me at the time with Ophelia. Especially given the po-faced, snarky attitude that the HV gave both midwife and me when she was asked to do extra weigh ins to give reassurance. Without any input from me, the CONI team decided that their programme wasn’t appropriate for me this time around. How they knew that without talking to me is beyond me so my HV made extra visits after hours and off the books visits to check in on us both – a credit to the NHS and her profession.
I’m not sure if it’s a new thing or because I’m now 36 and happened to be on the heavier side immediately post birth but the sums were done and I was sent home with 6 weeks worth of daily anti-clogging injections. A daily stab from Andrew that felt like a wasp sting. Not nice and I ended up covered in bruises. Baby brain meant that I forgot that you could have them in your leg! So I ended up with bruises on both arms and both legs SHEXY. I was very glad to see the back of those.
As a result of lock down I put us on loads of waiting lists for classes but generally I revelled in being able to keep a newborn bubble going for much longer this time around. I didn’t have to rush off anywhere, have expectations of being on time for anything and so I enjoyed the contact naps and catching up on various box sets on our new Roku device and reading. I sobbed absolute buckets at It’s a Sin. Oh Colin! In the summer term we went to Baby Sensory (which at times felt like I was watching a trippy show at the Edinburgh Festival!) and aquanatal. I think for the Autumn term I’ll try and get classes earlier in the day as I keep having to wake Daphne up from he afternoon nap to go to them.
Sleep has been very different with Daphne. When she first came home, Andrew started whittling about the importance of his sleep and worrying about returning to work. Honestly, no jury would convict right?! He needed a serious word with himself – he was on paternity leave and then working from home and we can take Ophelia slightly later to the childminder. I’ve just had a c-section and I can’t quickly sit up so you can either get Daphne out of the Snuzpod and hand her to me or help me sit up, not roll over and whinge the next day! Thankfully he now sees the funny side and knows that he gets much more sleep than me – every morning he asks how my night was.
Daphne is very much of the opinion that sleep is for losers. She has been through several phases of waking up every 2 hours overnight and refusing to nap during the day. Humphrey and Ophelia are way too exciting and she doesn’t seem to have got the memo that if she doesn’t nap then she should sleep over night. We completely gutted and renovated our bedroom during this time which meant 3 months all sleeping in the dining room with us parents on the sofa bed. Not ideal but the end result is fantastic. Once I started putting her down for naps in her cot bed in her own room, I noticed an improvement in her sleep as she wasn’t whacking the sides and waking herself up. She’s now graduated fully into her own room and she’s waking up maybe once or twice and I’m starting to feel a bit more human again.
My NCT group is more of a WhatsApp support group due to the restrictions and doing the classes on Zoom meant that making stronger connections was more difficult so I haven’t really made any new strong Mum friends and relationships. Again, I haven’t beaten myself up about this (apart from the Day 3 melt down!). I’ve been quite happy doing my own thing. Due to Covid regs it’s been hard to chat to people in the baby classes we’ve been doing.
Weaning has started and Humphrey has remembered to sit underneath the high chair – of you believe hard enough, food will fall. He’s now on reduced kibble rations otherwise he might become rather jolly! Daphne thinks Humphrey is extremely fascinating and he may have to be banned so she actually eats something!
Ophelia appears to like being a big sister so far and enjoys helping with nappy changes and feeding although at times it is a bit “careful Lenny!”. She’s starting to become a bit more territorial about “her” toys so we’re going to work on which things are safe to share with Daphne.
Sadly, during the last 6 months we know of 2 families who have been effected by stillbirth. Even though we’re 5+ years into life without Alexandra, we’re still floored by yet more parents joining the club that no-one wants to join. It’s heartbreaking and it send you right back to that moment. Obviously we know how precious our girls are but when you hear devastating news like that, we hug them a little tighter and appreciate how lucky we are.