WHEN picturing your life after having a baby you might imagine cosy evenings all snuggled up on the settee watching Disney films.
What you don’t expect is to be watching your husband apply nit lotion to your toddler at 7.30am on a Friday while watching Bing get indignant about something ridiculous yet again.
But that’s the reality of parenting. It’s not all cuddles and story time, sometimes there are bugs to be zapped. (Thankfully it turned out Santi didn’t actually have nits, just one rogue louse that jumped on board and was quickly squished).
In Stew’s three weeks off we’ve had our fair share of lovely family moments that I’ll look back on and smile, as well as the disasters that life would just be boring without.
Our first week at home after having Ezra was pretty chilled out. It was sunny, we didn’t have many visitors and I even managed a couple of naps.
But in among the calm was the first midwife visit, which is something I’ll never forget. First of all I was told off for not being in when she originally called – we’d already waited in until 4pm the day before and nobody turned up, so I wasn’t missing out on lunch with my mother on the off chance she decided to come this time. She finally turned up (at 4.30pm) with a student just as Ezra had fallen asleep on Stew’s lap after a feed.
“Great,” she said confidently. “Maybe he’ll stay asleep during the heel prick test if he’s nice and comfy.” Famous last words.
About five attempts at stabbing his heel later and moving on from the student to the midwife, Ezra was bright red and screaming, Stew was trying to hold him still and I was force feeding him milk in a failed bid to calm him down.
They finally got just about enough blood to cover the circles on their piece of card, and as they sat down saying that was the most traumatic test they had done, Ezra projectile vomited a whole bottle of milk over me and the settee.
All we could do was laugh … And pray they weren’t sent back to redo it!
There have been days when by 8am we’re counting down until nap time or just have to get out of the house – leaving the breakfast dishes in the sink, the washing in a pile and bundling the boys into the car for a change of scenery.
We’ve been to the park, to feed the ducks, on a Gruffalo trail and to a zoo, and Santi has been to gymnastics twice. And apart from the stress of rounding us all up (line up by the door if you’re ready is one of Santi’s new phrases) they’ve all been relatively disaster free. Until we got about 10 miles home from West Wales when Stew tempted fate with the words “well this is nice and calm”.
As we’d left the zoo, Santi asked for sandwiches, which obviously we didn’t have. So, with about 30 miles left on the petrol gauge we went traipsing off the main road into a tiny village near Tenby to look for a shop (that only sold pasties).
We ended up with a Twix for Santi, which Stew naively thought he’d eat half of, and there was a minor meltdown when I snapped one of the fingers in two as Santi thought I was “pinching” half of his chocolate. Try telling a tired two-year-old you can’t “put it together again”.
We managed to find a garage before the petrol ran out, and both boys soon fell asleep in the back. Imagine that, having an actual conversation with Stew and listening to the radio instead of singing the elephant patrol song from Jungle Book on a loop.
All of a sudden Ezra let out an almighty scream, waking Santi who panicked and started crying uncontrollably. We swerved into a cul de sac, I launched myself over the front seats to try and calm Ezra down and Stew grabbed Santi and ran to a bench to separate the two and avoid them winding each other up even more.
To be fair, I can’t put all the chaos down to the little ones. There was the great baby name debacle (which I may or may not go into at a later date depending on how quickly I get over it), the afternoon my mother sliced her finger open and bled over the kitchen floor, and the day I stood on a rusty nail which went through my shoe, then later reversed the car into a pillar outside Asda (although I do blame that on sleep deprivation).
Why am I sharing these moments? Because between the lovely Instagram photos of smiling children and happy parents real life is happening.
I want to remember the days when just getting four of us dressed and out of the house was an achievement. The times Stew has been on bedtime duty and I’ve found him asleep on the floor an hour after he’s gone upstairs. And the day I nearly lost it in Mothercare because Santi vanished without telling me he was playing hide and seek, and all I wanted was an emergency pack of nappies because a certain toddler refused to get in the car until he was changed. The free photoshoot lady won’t approach me again in a hurry … and at least we’d found the bath crayons I was looking for.
Yep, life is even more chaotic than ever, and I’ll probably be completely grey by the end of the year. But we’re making memories in the process.
Oh, and to prove there are moments of calm, we’re currently all sitting quietly watching TV … some bizarre Japanese programme called Ninja Warrior, of course.