We all wondered who Rihanna’s special guest might be during her comeback Super Bowl performance this weekend, but none of us had baby number two on our list.
Within seconds of our girl RiRi hitting the stage, speculation was rife that she might be expecting a second child with rapper, A$AP Rocky.
And after 13 minutes of blessing us with her killer vocals and choreo, a rep later confirmed that she did it all while pregnant.
We are not worthy.
The Bajan singer gave birth to her first son, now nine-months-old, in May 2022, meaning that she’ll soon be a mum to two children under two.
And while it’s clear Rihanna is doing just fine, having two children so close in age can be a culture shock for even the most super-human of mums.
This was the case for Jess Jones, who is mum to Sophie, 10, Isabella, four, JJ, two and Theo, one.
The 33-year-old and author of Own It: How to Build Confidence, Completely Love Yourself and Embrace Your Body, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘We wanted a big family, and we sort of had the mindset of, “Let’s just get it out of the way!”
‘I never let my post-partum body stop me from feeling sexy. I loved my body for bringing my children into the world – and my husband did too.
‘Let’s just say, we didn’t let that get in the way of our family plans!’
But Jess, who lives in Bedfordshire, says she wasn’t prepared for some of the practicalities of having JJ and Theo so close together.
She says: ‘They can’t walk or talk, they have no independence whatsoever, so you can’t underestimate how much they need you at that age.
‘Even just carrying them both around at the same time wasn’t easy, so I had to invest in a double buggy, and doing the school run with the boys in tow was a learning curve.’
Jess says she quickly realised she had to let go of the small stuff. She explains: ‘It’s fine if the house is a mess, or you can’t host guests, or if you haven’t showered for three days.
‘The important thing is that your children are well-loved and cared for. Nothing else matters as much.’
And curating your social feeds can help with that dreaded mum guilt. ‘If you’re constantly seeing pictures of spotless homes and children in matching outfits that aren’t covered in stains, it’s going to make you feel rubbish,’ she says.
‘My advice is to mute or remove, and seek out content that makes you realise you’re doing okay.’
Like Jess, mum-of-two Emma Cantrall also let go of any expectations placed on her.
The 37-year-old from Wokingham says: ‘My second didn’t sleep for longer than 45 minutes at a time for the first 18 months. It was pretty tough.
‘Almost everything that society expected of me could wait.
‘I had no capacity to get back to exercising, ‘lose the baby weight’ or have a delightfully clean home. I let myself off the hook.’
A routine was also crucial.
‘Being organised and getting out of the house every morning for fresh air helped me get through it. We stomped the same route most days,’ she says.
‘And every day we had afternoon naps together. My eldest would sleep for two hours, while me and the baby would doze and feed.
‘If I didn’t have that rest, I wouldn’t have survived.’
Now, over a decade on, Emma’s children are 10 and 12, and she loves how close her children are in age.
‘My two are good friends now, and they always have an ally or someone to play with.
‘My message to any new mums is that it gets so much easier, eventually – so remember that.’
For author, Tobi Asare, 34, from Surrey, accepting help from her support network was crucial when she was a mum to two under two.
She says: ‘In the same way it takes a village to raise a child, I’m a strong believer that it takes a village to raise a mother too.
‘That might be someone popping around, or holding one child while you go for a walk or engage with the other.
‘But it can also be about having someone that you really trust on the other end of the phone, when it all gets a little bit too much.
‘I also believe in ‘Duracell days’, which is a day, at least once a quarter, that you book in to recharge. Let your village know about them, and chat to them about how they can help to make sure you get some time off.’
Tobi also says that it’s easy to lose yourself when parenting two small children. ‘Don’t forget yourself or ambitions, or the things that you love,’ she adds. ‘You may have gone back to work for a short while before going on maternity leave again. So the idea of refinding your goals post two children might feel a bit lost amidst all the nappies and late nights.
‘I love to remind mums to invest in themselves – that doesn’t require a lot of money, but just time to think about you and the things that are important to you.
‘Read books, listen to podcasts, take time out to remember that you have so much value – and those skills are really valuable in the workplace.’
And on a more practical note, Tobi says it’s all about being hands-free.
‘Invest in some kind of hands-free gadget,’ she says. ‘That could be a baby carrier or a cord-less breast pump. Look out for gadgets that will allow to do things on the go.’
Like Tobi, Lolo Stubbs says that accepting help can make all the difference.
The 40-year-old from Manchester, was adjusting to the possibility that she may not be able to have children when she fell pregnant in her oldest son, Cole, now 11.
She says: ‘My husband and I had been told we only had an 8% chance of having children, and after five years of trying, we were starting to accept it might not happen for us.
‘But a month before we were due to start IVF, I found out I was expecting Cole.’
Then, when her son was eight months old, Lolo fell pregnant again with daughter, Lyla Rose, now nine.
Thrilled to have two miracle babies, Lolo admits there was challenges at first.
She says: ‘Cole doesn’t like loud noises, and at first, I think he saw Lyla-Rose as a bundle of noise!
‘I constantly felt guilty and like I was giving one more attention than the other.
‘But I slowly started to get into a routine. I made sure that when I was feeding Lyla-Rose, I gave Cole a fun activity, so that I could be present with my daughter and have that important bonding time.
‘And I tried to make sure that they napped at the same time, even if it was just for an hour, to give myself a bit of respite.’
And for Lolo, the positives of a close age gap outweighed the negatives – so much so, that she did it all over again. She had her son, Archer, now four, followed by Hartley, now three.
She says: ‘The second time around, I learnt to accept help.
‘I think I’d been afraid before that people would think I couldn’t handle it, or that was lazy.
‘But if a friend offered to pop round, I’d take the opportunity to go for a nap or have a bath.
‘Time alone, or a date night with your partner, is so important. Don’t let weeks go by without it.’
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