I’ve spent much of the last week deliberating over what to use as the title for my next blog post, and have had a great deal of difficulty coming up with anything suitable. As you may have noticed, I’ve had rather a lot of trouble coming up with any words at all in fact, although this has been primarily due to logistical reasons – i.e. I’ve spent virtually no time in front of the computer since the babies were born, thanks to the never-ending barrage of feeding, changing, bottle-washing, laundry, looking after a fragile wife, and trying to maintain some kind a relationship with the two older children. Oh my god, what a week!
The babies turned one week old just over an hour ago, and the last seven days have bizarrely been the longest seven days of my life, while also totally flying by. I can’t believe we’ve already had them for a week, but also so much has happened in that week that it feels like it’s been months.
The first four days were the smoothest. Every pre-conception you might have about a private birth at the Portland is absolutely correct. We don’t have enough words to praise the entire experience. From the incredible doctors to amazingly attentive midwives, to great facilities to the unadulterated luxury of being able to send the babies to be looked after in the nursery at any time, the whole thing was just brilliant. The babies spent all night every night in the nursery, meaning that Ursula was able to get some proper rest, and the nursery staff were just amazing. I only stayed at the hospital the first night – I was confident enough that she was being so well looked after that I was able to come home and sleep in my own bed for the rest of the week. I was even able to get a couple of days’ work in while she was in the hospital.
We were delighted that Ursula and the babies got to come home on Friday, as, despite the hospital’s excellence, she was starting to get a bit stir crazy after the end of the week, and we really wanted to get back to our big boys. But coming home has been rather a mixed blessing. You get lulled into a false sense of security when you get to send the babies away at night. It’s only when you’re on your own at home with no staff that you remember the sheer hell that is night time feeds. Zach and Jonah have been doing the typical newborn thing of sleeping throughout the entire day, and even having to be woken up to eat during daylight hours. But once night falls, they become amazingly lively, rarely going more than two hours after the last feed before waking up and making their complaints felt. Neither Ursula nor I have ever been very good at coping with sleep deprivation, and Jacob and Max were both very good at getting into night time routines as babies, so to say that the whole thing has come as a bit of a shock to the system would be a serious understatement. Add to this the fact that she’s still very much incapacitated after the c-section, and I think it would be fair to say that we’ve been struggling.
Now this is not to give you the impression that we’re having a horrible time of it. The babies are absolutely gorgeous and we’ve loved every minute of their still rather brief lives. Even during the night feeds, they make it all seem worthwhile when we get to cuddle them. It’s just been a slog, that’s all. A lot of this would have been the same even if we’d only had one baby, but a lot is also down to the fact that there are two of them. It means two of us are required for night feeds – when there was only one, we could take turns and let the other one get some sleep. It means an inordinate amount of bottle-washing and laundry. And if ever I do take over and take care of them on my own so that Ursula can get some rest, everything takes so bloody long!
Jacob and Max have been both brilliant and frustrating. They are totally adorable with their new baby brothers – they’ve taken much more of an interest than we ever could have hoped. They love to help with feeds, and to cuddle them and play with them. But it’s also been very tough because they’re not getting the attention they deserve from their parents, and being just 5 and 3 years old, they’re not exactly prone to keeping their frustration to themselves. Not that they should, but it makes it tough trying to keep everybody happy. Suffice to say there have been plenty of tears shed in the Hirschkorn household over the last few days.
So the first week of being a father of four has been every bit as challenging as I imagined, but I always knew that I would never really know what it was going to be like until we were in the thick of things. But Jonah and Zach are simply gorgeous and are doing a fine job of fitting right into our family. We may have only known them for a week, but we already love them as if they’ve been here forever, and we can’t imagine life without out them.