Yesterday I carried you from our holiday cottage to the duck pond. You rested your bent elbow on my shoulder, making a pillow for your head as you slept. It was a pose utterly reminiscent of your big sister when she was a baby.
And in these early days, when all you do is feed and sleep, it is easy to assume you’re the same as Eilidh in every way . Physically you are undoubtedly alike. When the midwife placed you onto my chest, bloody and perfect, I gasped at the resemblance.
But I can see you are different. From the manner of your birth – quick, chaotic, terrifying – to the sounds you are beginning to make, you are doing things your own way. Already I am in love with your little lopsided smile, your gentle cooing noises when I sing to you and the soft indignant snuffles that become squawks if I am slow to respond when you are hungry.
As I write you are kicking and waving your arms at the end of the bed, happily full of milk and waiting for sleep to fall upon you once more. Things are simple for you, but you have turned our lives upside down every bit as much as your sister did. Suddenly we are back in the world of broken sleep, of timing our journeys around feeds, of tiny sleep suits, muslins and seemingly endless laundry. It’s true that I am less apprehensive about the basics. I am blasé about bathing you, certain that I will not let you drown. And I breastfeed anywhere and everywhere – so far, most memorably in an industrial estate in Livingston, when you suddenly decided you were hungry. But don’t be fooled – I am in no way taking you for granted. You are a whole new person, and I need to learn how to be your mum just as I learned how to be Eilidh’s.
In the ridiculous chaos that is our family life these days, I’m afraid that yes, sometimes we do put you down in your car seat and leave you to sleep, while we read books, play games and chase your exuberant and hilarious big sister. And I love the moments when I glance round and find that you are unexpectedly awake, your dark eyes gazing calmly at me. I love that you can surprise us already. And I hope you keep doing it. Be your own person, Kirsty. Find your own role in our funny little family. Explore your own interests, find your own passions and never be afraid to try something new. You might be a second child, but you will never come second in our hearts. We cannot wait to get to know you and to help you find out who you are and what kind of person you want to be.
Kirsty, I don’t know what you’ll need from me yet, once your needs expand beyond food and clean nappies. You might be a child that needs hugs, reassurance and a lot of support. Or you might be an independent spirit, requiring freedom and the knowledge that we’ll be waiting whenever you come back. Whatever you need, your father and I will do our best to make sure you get it. I can’t promise we’ll get everything right. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee we’ll mess things up from time to time. But I promise you this: we’ll never stop trying to do better.