When I became pregnant for the second time, even though it was sooner than we'd planned, I was quite complacent about the idea of having two kids under the age of two. I told myself I had managed one just fine, how hard can two really be?
Experienced mothers pointed out that I was going to be "busy" and gave me the all-knowing raised eyebrow that mothers do. And I was all, yeah. I'm sure it will be hard. Ho hum.
And then, along came Oliver and crikey it WAS hard. Bloody hard. Especially the first few months - that period of adjustment in which I was trying to come to terms with the logistics of two children heavily dependent on my attention.
19 months apart means two kids in diapers, two kids that need me for sustenance, cleanliness, safety, development, exercise, love... up, down, in, out, on off. And so it goes around and around in an endless cycle of provision. Night and day. Tiring, yes. Exhausting, absolutely.
J works during the week but when he's home we divvy up the work. And at night we have an agreement of sorts - if Matthew wakes up, J sees to him, and I see to Oliver. Naturally Oliver is the more frequent waker, but I have my routine down to a T. I can do the whole process - stagger from our room to his, prepare and feed him formula, put him down, and come back to bed - all within about 20 minutes and all while remaining in a semi sleep-like state.
Most nights things run smoothly - others not so much. Like last night for instance. Matthew woke first at 2 a.m., which is unusual. He cried for a bit and then fell back asleep. Oliver then woke up needing his feed. 30 minutes later I delicately placed him back into his crib and tip-toed out of the room. Something must have startled him because he woke right back up crying. This in turn woke Matthew up. For the love of... For a second I envisaged the rest of the night unraveling in this domino effect. And I thought, okay, THIS is what happens when there's 19 months between your kids. That's life.
But despite all the hard stuff, there are so many things I LOVE about the age gap between our two boys: the wondrous moments when I watch my sons becoming close. Matthew - who once wanted nothing to do with his brother (the stealer of mommy's attention) - now spontaneously gives Oliver kisses. He picks up Oliver's bottle and feeds it to him - or at least he tries. And Oliver is always the eager recipient of anything his big brother does. And Matthew is the first to let me know when Oliver has woken from a nap. "Mommy! Oli? Oli?" he says, and grabs my hand.
Despite the hard stuff, I know that in a little while I'll be very happy we had our kids so close together. And maybe a little smug as I watch them play together, knowing we're through all these baby stages.