The arrival of Little Monster Blue.

It’s fair to say the arrival of Little Monster Blue turned our world upside down, buy viagra inside out, grabbed us by the proverbials and shook us so violently that we lost all sense of who were and what our lives used to be like.

Little Princess Pink was approaching her 2nd birthday when we felt the time was right to think about number two.  Super Daddy was delighted as bedroom activity increased accordingly. We were both shocked but over the moon when we realised Super Daddy pretty much just had to look at me and I was pregnant (him more so, as this was clearly obvious proof of his Super Man status.)

Despite my tiredness, the dreadful morning sickness and the random and very inconvenient cravings for the crunchiness of ice-cubes, I loved every moment my pregnancy and couldn’t wait to become a mum for the second time.

Five days before he was due to arrive, things started kicking off in a big way and it was clear LMB was going to be a February baby and not the March one that we’d expected. But we were organised, and we knew what to expect, after all we’d done it before, we knew what to expect, right? Wrong.

The ‘second labours are quicker’ statement was a blatant lie as far as my experience went.  Fifteen hours later, an emergency dash to theatre and one unexpected and highly grudged c-section, and LMB had arrived.  When I look back now, I should have known from that moment that this would be a sign of things to come.

That first moment I held him was magical, we were as proud as punch to have our little boy in our arms, and although I had much trepidation about how our LPP would take to her baby brother, I knew his arrival had completed our family in the loveliest of ways.

The first few weeks went by in a haze of feeding, changing nappies, cleaning up projectile style baby vomit, sleeping, crying (both him and me) and wondering when on earth things were going to get back to normal.  Slowly it started to dawn on me that this was the new normal. This was our life. One where the tiniest person in the house dictated when we ate, when we slept and when we paced the floor for nigh on four hours at a time.  One where the comfortably predictable routine we’d gotten into with LPP was pulled from beneath our feet. And the guilt and dread started to set in.

I’d be lying if I said LPP loved her baby brother from the moment she laid eyes on him. Yes, we have those first photos of us as a family of four, and LPP is kissing her brother on the forehead and looking at him with awe and wonder. Yet seconds after those photos were taken, she was pushing us both away and telling me she wished her brother would go back inside my tummy. I struggle to describe how bereft I felt in those early months after LMB came along. I wept buckets at the loss of the close relationship I had with my girl.  I never thought it possible to love someone beyond words, yet despise them at the same time.

I remember the first time I said out loud that I hated the decision I made, that I hated my baby son.  Even writing those words now makes me recoil – what mother says that about the child she carried for 9 months and brought into this world to love, nuture, grow and cherish? But it is the truth.  The first year of his life was easily the worst year of our lives.

But I look back at it now as the year that really defined me as a person.  I saw flashes of a person I intensely disliked within myself.  I craved for the days when I could sit for hours with LPP reading to her, building castles with mega blocks, playing ring-a-ring a roses without having to balance that with 4 hourly feeding schedules and trying to settle a baby who fought his sleep with the aplomb of Ricky Hatton. We lived our lives looking out to the next phase that would move things forward in a positive way, when he’s sleeping though the night things will be better, when he moves onto solids, things will be better, when he starts to crawl, when he starts to walk…..when he goes to university!  We were wishing away those early days that we would never get back.

At about 5 months old, the onset of his eczema began. It was awful.  My poor little man was hot, and itchy and sore, and red and raw, and I would have given anything to take away every ounce of pain and discomfort from him. We had endless trips to the health visitor, GP and dermatology clinics, and endless trials of lotions, emollients, bath additives, horrendously pungent zinc and paraffin pastes. It got so bad we progressed to steroid creams and having to wrap the little guy in bandages night after night to stop him clawing himself senseless. Then we hit upon his tomato allergy, so terrifying and shocking when his lips started to swell and he became violently ill. It wore us all down. Our family fuel tank was running low.

To the untrained eye, we were ticked every box in the ‘perfect family unit’ But when the doors were closed, we did a lot of weeping and wailing.

But slowly, things did start to change for the better.  The stomach-churningly stinky zinc paste worked wonders on LMB’s skin and we started to get his eczema under control. LPP continued to flourish and grow and became very accepting of her little brother, occasionally giving him a hug without that final squeeze which had previously been just a little too aggressive. We’re growing out of the tomato allergy and now have no scary reactions, just a controllable flare up of his skin. And boy, is LMB starting to find himself!

We quickly found we had a huge repository of nicknames for the little guy – Corporal Chaos, Captain Commotion, Mr Mischief, The Terror Hawk, The Horror – to name but a few. He’s been on his feet since 11 months old, and prefers the toilet brush to a teddy bear, he’d rather eat slugs in the back garden than the casserole I slaved over for hours. He waits until his sister is settled quietly doing a puzzle or colouring in and only then will he creep up behind her and lamp her over the head with the plastic cauliflower from the play market stall. He has a penchant for a sweeping brush, or a mop, and is a big fan of the vacuum cleaner (which worries one of my mum friends who has a 7 year nephew with a serious Hoover obsession and a request for the new Dyson City model on his Christmas list.)  Within 5 seconds flat LMB can empty the entire contents of the kitchen cupboards, and can upend a vase of flowers on the highest shelf just by bouncing a bit too exuberantly underneath them. Oh, but he has the cheekiest grins, emphasised by his ever so slightly wonky teeth, which just make him even more adorable, his giggles are more contagious than chicken pox in a childrens’ nursery  and he adores his big sister in a way that makes my heart melt.He has an incredible liking for taking random items from around the house and hiding them in his laundry basket…………..which probably explains why I’ve just found two plastic forks and LPP’s toothbrush in the washing machine!

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