It was under five years ago that I began a beautiful journey with Aaron. As soon as we got engaged and got married three months later, we knew we wanted kids. Plural. We both wanted two kids. Baby J now Toddler J or TJ was born two years later. In fact, I was pregnant on our first anniversary during which we also celebrated a babymoon. Two years later, TJ’s little sister, Baby E was born. My family is complete and I feel extremely blessed. Everyday. Even my anguish over staying at home and not financially contributing to the household has tamed in recent weeks.
I began this blog during my first pregnancy so understandably all my previous posts about pregnancy, post-partum issues, breastfeeding challenges and such have been about TJ. Baby E has not yet got her time on this blog so I wanted this post to be about her but before I do that and for subsequent posts to have context, I would like to write about some of the similarities and differences in my experiences with the two kids.
(1) Being Pregnant
Both TJ and Baby E are “Clomid” babies. I had trouble getting pregnant because of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) which is known to influence fertility. After months of trying to conceive, when everything failed, my OB-GYN in Chicago put me on Clomid. The first cycle failed and needless to say, I was extremely miserable. Along with Clomid, I also needed to take Progesterone and Estrogen pills to successfully conceive and keep the pregnancy. Thankfully, with the trifecta of drugs, I got pregnant with both babies in the second cycle of medication.
J: I loved being pregnant. I had wanted a kid for so long, I felt blessed, fortunate, and very, very happy for everything. Aaron and I celebrated every little discovery about my body in amazement and great joy. Whether it was how much or how little the uterus had risen since the previous week, whether the linea nigra had gotten more prominent, whether the breasts suddenly seemed bigger, the hips rounder, or what vegetable or fruit our fetus was what week, how I accomplished a 5k run (mostly jogged) at 20 weeks pregnant, the waves FJ (fetus J) made from inside the womb, the many kicks, hiccups…every little or big thing was observed and given its fair share of discussion time. I took pictures of my growing belly every month.
E: I loved being pregnant. Even with nausea and heartburn, I loved it. This was my dream coming true and I was witnessing it happen inside me. We celebrated most big things about FE (fetus E) like her many kicks, waves, and hiccups from inside the womb but the little ones, I was often left to do that on my own. We had our hands full with TJ and Aaron took primary care of him on weekends and holidays. Because we were roadtripping (read posts on The Great Summer Roadtrip) part of my first trimester and were vacationing in Canada (when we found out about E), I had an eventful time. Once we moved to SJ and Aaron started going to work everyday, I was the primary caregiver for TJ throughout the rest of the pregnancy except on weekends when Aaron took over. This also meant though that except at quiet times at night or when TJ was napping, I did not have much time to consciously connect with E in the womb.
(2) Baby Shower/Gender Reveal
J: We hosted a Baby Shower. We had about 30 friends and colleagues attend the Shower and their kindness and generosity presented Baby J with everything he needed as a newborn and infant. Of course we had to buy some other essentials but we got all the big things on our registry and we are so grateful for that, even today, since we use a lot of the same things for Baby E (e.g., stroller, car seat). He was knitted numerous blankets by friends of Aaron’s family and every time someone visited, they came bearing a handful of gifts.
E: No baby shower. We were in San Jose and only knew 4 people and one of them was a child. Baby E did not receive any presents. No friends knitted her anything and no one came bearing handful of gifts. Mama had her back though. I bought her a bunch of clothes, old (from consignment sales) and new (from Macy’s, The Children’s Place, and Carter’s) – not too many but enough to cover the first couple of months and we also had a lot of TJ used clothes. I feel sad writing this because (1) I wonder if this is because she is the second child and typically second or subsequent kids after the first one don’t get made a big deal of, (2) had we been in Chicago, she would have been showered with more material love, and (3) I am making it seem like all I care about is “stuff” and gifts and presents.
I did however want something special for her and so we decided to do a Gender Reveal.
We held a Gender Reveal party for her with our families on Google Hangouts. I ordered a cake and gave the lady at the counter the sealed envelope from the doctor’s office that revealed the sex of the baby, asked her to open it, read the content, and re-seal the envelope. Based on what the content revealed, the inner layering of the cake was to be in blue or pink.
(3) The Love of Mamama and Ajja
J: My parents, J and E’s mamama (grandma) and ajja (grandpa) arrived from India 20 days before TJ’s expected due date. Part of the reason they came so early, my mom told me was so she could pamper me, her child, her pregnant child 🙂 From then until Baby J was about three months old, he was under the constant love, attention, care, and connection with his maternal grandparents. There were visits from uncles, aunts, cousins, and paternal grandparents. Our friends dropped by to see the new baby regularly.
E: My parents could not visit us this time. Aaron’s parents stayed with us for a month, a week before E’s due date and three weeks after. Their being here was an incredible help especially since TJ still had his slew of activities that needed to be taken care of. He still had daycare two days a week and Music Together once a week. Had my parents been here, they would not have been able to shoulder these driving responsibilities because my mother hasn’t driven in years and my father cannot drive in the US. While E got the love and care of her paternal grandparents for three weeks, she has never met her mamama and ajja. She has had no family visit her yet because we just live so goddamn far and it’s so expensive to fly here, even domestic. Hate that about being on the West Coast. Thankfully my sister and her family will be visiting us in August so she’ll have that. Also, E has had my good friend H and her family visit her at the hospital. E has that over TJ because I did not want any hospital visits during J’s time (not that anyone was that eager to visit us at the hospital in the first place that we had to turn down many invitations). In general though, E has had fewer visitors and been around fewer people at home.
(4) Have Baby, Will Wander
J: My mom was rather strict about the post-partum ‘no leaving the house for the first 30 days’ ritual that is followed in some parts of India. In fact, she wanted that adherence for 40 days. Life in the US does not quite lend itself seamlessly to such a confinement period. I know a lot of cultures have this practice and follow it religiously even in the US but I have always been a rebel if I don’t see a justified reason for something. Besides, being married to a non-Indian, certain things just can’t be convincingly explained, reasoned, or argued especially if I don’t believe in it myself. Of course had I insisted that I wasn’t going to leave the house for 40 days, Aaron would have accepted that because he loves me and wants me to be happy but I, myself, found the confinement period too stifling. Respecting my mom’s wishes though, I did not go anywhere for 30 days except a short walk around the block with Aaron, literally only twice. It was a cold March evening and the crisp chill in the fresh night air felt aaahmazing! The first official time out after 30 days was to a temple in Lemont, IL.
E: Confinement? What confinement? The birth of a second child does not neatly streamline into a life of calm and quiet post-partum healing. Sure the baby is sleeping most of the time and all you really need to do is feed her, if breastfeeding, but what about that older kid you birthed who barely just turned 2? He still needs you. TJ had the worst couple weeks right after we brought E home. He would fly into rage and tantrums at the drop of a hate for no reason and would become completely, unreasonably (he is surprisingly reasonable for a two year old otherwise) difficult to handle. No amount of distraction or redirection helped. He wanted his mommy. Period. He was extremely clingy. He would not want to let go of me and held on to me as if his life depended on that tight clasp he had on me.
He loved visiting his baby sister at the hospital and especially loved kissing her. Still does. As a two-year-old though, understandably, he could not see why I had to be with her all the time. I consciously tried to give him as much time as I could continuing to read to him or help him with his naps and night time routines but obviously, I wasn’t so involved in the latter as I was previously. Thankfully, he got over it on his own in two weeks, and was back to being his usual happy-go-lucky chill dude.
Meanwhile, I could not be confined at home. I did try and mostly succeeded the first three weeks back home (from the hospital), thanks to my in-laws but TJ got a raging viral fever so I needed to take him to the pediatrician. Before that, I had to take E for her newborn and first week appointments. Once the in-laws left, I also had to drop TJ off at daycare and pick him up, each time, hauling the baby’s car seat in and out of the car. SO…confinement wasn’t really much of anything, really. I just felt extremely grateful to have had my in-laws even for the short time they could manage to be with us and processed everything as my life being a consequence of my choices. Besides, I was eager to get into a routine and find a rhythm that worked for our family, as a unit. Sooner, the better.
More to follow…