Things no one tells you about having a second child – My take

Recently I read this article by Kate Spencer on ‘Things no one tells you about having a second child‘ and there are some things I agreed with and others that I did not. So I thought I’ll provide my own take based on my experiences using the 10 things Ms. Spencer lists in her article:

Note: Again, these 10 things are as per Kate Spencer. I do not claim originality to these 10 things.

1. You will forget you’re pregnant until week 37. 

Not so. I never forgot I was pregnant. I loved being pregnant and tried to enjoy it whenever I could especially because this one would be our last. I had some nausea in the first trimester and more heartburn than I ever did in my entire life which only reminded me that I was pregnant (my OB-GYN in Chicago said that this was normal because we are more active running around the firstborn and picking her/him up). Yes, I was busy with the Great Summer Roadtrip (see posts in this category) from Chicago to San Jose and enjoying my 1-1 time with TJ but as I started showing, I made it a point to take pictures of my growing belly, went to two consignment sales and bought stuff for my baby girl once we found out the sex of the baby at a Gender Reveal party we did, and in general tried to consciously make a big deal of this pregnancy too. Point is, I never forgot I was pregnant. In fact, I tried to be in the moment of this pregnancy and savor it.

2. You will feel worse than you did the first time around.

I agree with Ms. Spencer on this point. Thankfully, neither of my pregnancies were really bad. I had extreme exhaustion and sleepiness with both pregnancies which are nothing compared to what some women undergo and as I wrote above, the only reason I may have felt worse with my second one was because I was always actively involved with J. With our move to San Jose and without a job or nanny, I was the primary parent for him on weekdays. No matter how I felt though, I took him to story time at two libraries every single week and Music Together classes once a week all the way up to my 39th week of pregnancy. The two other days of the week, we went to local parks, both indoor and outdoor play spaces, or did grocery shopping or some sort of activity. I didn’t want my pregnancy to have too large of an impact on J yet. I only stopped in the last week because my father-in-law who is a doctor suggested that I may need to stop driving just in case my water breaks or something like that happens midst driving. Plus, because he and my mother-in-law had arrived from Canada for E’s imminent birth, I could now relax the last week of my pregnancy.

3. You will feel guilty.

The feeling of guilt goes hand-in-hand with being a parent for the most part. I completely agree with Ms. Spencer’s point here. To be honest, I hadn’t thought of this until I read someone on my Babycenter Forum ask about guilt and I realized that …damn…this person is so right…I do feel that feeling. I wouldn’t necessarily call it guilt but sort of this feeling that somehow you are being unfair to your firstborn and hitherto only child by messing his world up by bringing another child into it.

J got all our love and attention, all the time. After the move to SJ and Aaron went to work, it was me and J all day, every week day. We were each other’s best buddies. Except for my one friend and her family, we didn’t know anybody else in the city and J and I hung out all the time. He was my child, my travel companion, and my lunch partner. Together with him, I discovered new roads, communities, parks, places, and stores. I spent hours with him, reading, playing, holding hands, hugging and kissing. He had gotten even more attached to me now and every time I saw him play by himself or even when we were in the midst of play, I wondered if I’d ever be able to give him that same love and attention in a few months, weeks, days…when his sister got here. In hindsight, I know I needn’t have worried but I cannot take away from the legitimacy of those emotions I felt during those times.

4. You will forget how to do all the newborn things.

Disagree. Partly, this forgetting  depends on the age gap between kids. The two years of difference between my kids didn’t affect me at all and it definitely didn’t make any of their newborn behaviors or realities (like the ones Ms. Spencer mentions – diaper explosions, dangling belly button scab, etc) foreign. In fact, I found them endearing. Remember I was/am trying to savor every bit of this pregnancy and baby stage so every thing I did, I tried/try to tuck it away in a little memory folder. I want these little things – however gross, disgusting, don’t-care-if-I-never-see-THAT-again kinda expressions to be a part of me forever. I know I will eventually forget them and these memories will fade away but for now, they are there and I am going to enjoy their existence. I still remembered how to swaddle, change diapers (was still/am still doing it for J), fold and unfold strollers, and so on. I might have gotten a little rusty around the edges in terms of forgetting the mechanics of attaching the carseat to the stroller but Aaron remembered and parenting, after all, is a partnership . As for as the actual newborn baby realities, I never forgot them.

5. The same things that sucked before will suck again.

Absolutely true. I never got over sleep deprivation. I developed a certain tolerance for it but never whole-heartedly. Even today, given the opportunity, I would sleep 9-10 hours straight, every day. Sigh! That is never going to happen anymore. I was a zombie the first few days of E’s newborn life but I recovered quickly. Post-partum recovery after E’s birth was much, much easier and quicker than it was with J. Because my in-laws were here to take care of the household and J’s many activities, I only had to focus on E and myself. Besides, B-aunty would come in thrice a week for my massages and cooking. As a result of all this post-partum care, the sleep deprivation did not seem so bad.

We are at a good stage right now at 3 months. E has been sleeping well getting about 5-6 single stretches at night before she wakes up for feeds. The thing with early morning wakings is that your first child has already trained you for this. Waking up at 6:00 a.m. with J seemed like the worse possible thing he could do to us. Thankfully, because my parents lived with us for 4-5 months after J was born, I was able to hand him over to them at 6:00 a.m. and get a good restful two hours of undisturbed sleep until 8:00 a.m. Not so anymore and it doesn’t matter because J still wakes up around 6:00 a.m. and in the two years that he has been around, trained us well for it (even though we aren’t too pleased with that early hour).

I was never a napper with J because it affected my night time sleep. I took naps with E in the first two weeks post-partum because my in-laws took over care for J. Once they left, I stopped napping. Just as well, because now it’s back to where if I nap in the afternoon, I cannot sleep well at night and the latter is more important to me.

While it is the case that the same things that sucked the first time will suck again, many other things will get much easier and become second nature.

6. You will be 110 percent more chill about everything.

This is so true…I used to worry about so many different things with J. Google was my best friend and because J had horrible gas and tummy issues until his third month, I was constantly on the search engine looking up information on whatever new thing was bothering him. From his incessant crying because of gas pains to shrieks right after a bath to eczema like scaly skin rashes to what have you. This time around, I am definitely chill. Both Aaron and I have more confidence in our abilities to manage a baby. I know what worked for J may not work for E but I also know that everything is a phase and that the worst shall pass too.

7. New parents will drive you nuts.

Hmm…not sure about this one. I know a couple of pregnant women but since they haven’t given birth yet, I am not sure about their parenting personality. One woman, I don’t know her at all. She is Aaron’s friend from graduate school. The other is a doctor so she’s got the whole mama thing covered or at least knows exactly what to do if her child has any of the issues that J did. I honestly haven’t met any new parent that has “driven me nuts”. Not yet anyway and even if I did, I would understand their anxiety and help them through it should my advice be solicited.

Because I am of the nature where I always sweat the small things and I get easily provoked (as I get older, I have less patience for stupidity and ignorance where there shouldn’t be), one could assume that new parents would drive me nuts. That is not the case in this context. I do feel I have a lot to share and pieces of advice I can offer should I be asked and I don’t mean this is in a grandiose know-it-all way. Therefore, an anxious parent only trying to do her/his best for her/his child will never be one of the reasons that would drive me nuts because I have been there and I know how it feels to feel utterly helpless staring at your newborn cry till he is red in the face as his first little teardrop descends his barely open eyes because he is writhing in pain over tummy troubles.

8. Your firstborn might hate you for a little bit.

I would sincerely like to believe that we did and continue to do right by J so he doesn’t hate either of us or Baby E. We’ll save the hate for his teenage years. Just kidding. Honestly though, J loves his parents as only a two-year-old can. He is completely head-over-heels in love with his baby sister. I think we prepared him well for her. We read him books about becoming a big brother, we constantly talked to him about her, we involved him in the Gender Reveal celebration, we told him about the baby in mommy’s belly and he loved kissing the belly because baby was in there.

Now he did have major meltdowns for two weeks after we brought Baby E home. He would go from 0 to 180 degrees in 2 seconds over the most banal of reason and take a long time to snap out of it. Throwing himself back, hitting his head on the floor, he would scream and cry and become inconsolable. He wanted me all the time, was extremely clingy and understandably, could not rationalize why I couldn’t be with him. That I was with E was perhaps only affecting him subliminally; that I couldn’t spend time with him was the bigger issue.

After those two weeks, he was back to being his usual self. Somehow it seemed like he had to figure things out in his own head a little before he could come around to accepting this big change in his life. He is thriving now and understands that we are a family. He always includes her when we talk about going somewhere together and without fail, lists her among the people he loves. He is going to be an awesome rock star of a big brother. I know this.

9. No way are you doing that stupid music class again.

Yes, I am. So I can’t really say that I personally enjoyed those classes and I think that is Ms. Spencer’s point. The first few weeks I was there with J (at the Music Together classes), I felt like I was getting stupider by the minute sitting there acting all musicky, grooving and nodding my head to the silly songs, doing ridiculous “dance” moves that J only seemed half interested in, if at all. I can’t pretend I enjoyed what I was doing but I had to, for J. I know music is good for young kids but I couldn’t help feeling like I was losing my mind, my highly educated (yes, I sometimes carry a chip on my shoulder but so what, I earned it so I deserve to carry it sometimes) intellect washing away amidst the escapades of John, the Rabbit or the garden snail creeping annoyingly slowly. Gimme an effin’ break!

However, as the weeks progressed, I noticed that J had started getting into the music and its moves, however ridiculous they seemed to me. I had played the CD at home a few times and one of those times was as muzak during dinner. In the midst of his mean, at one point, J started moving the index and middle fingers of his left hand over his right arm. Surprised, Aaron asked me what I thought was going on and a light bulb went inside of me. He was doing the moves the teacher at Music Together did to the Garden Snail song (don’t know the actual title of the song) and I realized that I chose to enroll him to Music Together for a reason. I didn’t do it for me. I did it FOR J and he surely seems to be getting something out of it. Besides, he had also started humming the notes they intersperse throughout the album and which the teacher sings during class time. He WAS benefiting from this class to whatever extent. He WAS in fact paying attention in class even though he pretended to not care. Hallelujah.

So I guess what I am trying to say is, I will be taking J to that music class again. This time, E will go with us because siblings under the age of 1 are free with an enrolled sibling.

10. Your kids will entertain each other when they’re old enough, and it will make your life so much easier.

I was going to write that I haven’t experienced this yet and to be fair, I haven’t. What I have experienced however is the seeds of such a future. It has happened many times now that Baby E has started crying while seated in her chair while I am in the middle of something in the kitchen that I can’t immediately get away from. Invariably, when TJ sees that I can’t get to baby, he climbs on to the chair next to the table to reach the baby (don’t worry I still have an eye on him and her) and at different times, I have heard him say, “Baby, no..baby, baby…baby…no baby” gently and lovingly. Having witnessed many of these heart melting moments, I KNOW that there will come a future where my kids will play together and I will just sit there watching them in wonder at the beautiful lives I helped create with all the prayers and blessings that were bestowed on us.

The social scientist in me wonders about gender differences and how and if they will affect their time together. Content for a future blog post 🙂

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