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Saturday, October 8, 2011

embracing pregnancy with a toddler

I've been putting off writing about this because I was afraid what some people would think about my honesty. I was nervous I'd come off like I'm not happy about being pregnant again, which OF COURSE I am!


And there's where it goes nowadays. There's a BUT that has snuck up this time around. The first pregnancy was lovely and happy and filled with excitement from the second we saw the pink lines on the pregnancy test. We received cards in the mail every day for weeks congratulating us on our bundle of joy that we were expecting. My husband and I discussed the growing baby almost daily, wondering certain things, all in a blissful - albeit nauseaus - state of mind.

And now... it's totally different. My husband and I are so happy, grateful even, beyond grateful really, not having expected it to happen so wonderfully for us again, feeling like we'd been given all the luck we were going to get with our amazing first born son. And yet even he and I don't discuss it every day like we did with Owen. We are too busy with Owen now and a mortgage and daycare bills and buying whole milk at the store and sippy cups and cleaning up tractor toys from the bathroom floor that we forget there is this whole other amazing thing in our life right now.

People's responses to us were mostly, "Yeah, yeah, we already expected this, great news, congrats..." in a monotone voice. Not everyone. Our parents were even more delighted this time, totally blissfully happy and content to be grandparents again. But others surprised us.

And the comments, oh the comments... The first time around they were centered around, "Oh, you are going to be great parents! This is going to be an amazing time of your life!" versus now with number two on the way people's responses are more like warning signs on the bottom of pill bottles... "Oh boy, you have no idea what you're in for. Watch out now, your whole life is going to be insane. Are you sure you want two?!" My friend at work encouraged me after I was in tears telling her how some people had responded to us when she said, "You're having a second baby. It's not like your seventh kid! People do this every day!"

I'm all for honesty, as you know. I just wish the honesty had come when I asked for it, when I said to a mom of two or three, "Um, how on earth do you do this?!" Not when we first announced we were delightfully ecstatic that a baby was on the way!

The thing is, we know it's going to be hard. One was hard. We are not delusional to think two won't be a challenge. In fact, that's another change this time around. I was too naive and innocent with the first one to know exactly what to expect so therefore I lived in the magical bubble that everything would be like it is in the movies, all perfect and easy and nursing would happen just like that! Yet this time around I'm full of knowledge and blurry memories of sleepless nights and sore girls from a baby who did not know how to latch correctly. So I know it will be hard. And it has me thinking all the time, how the hell are we going to do this?! I think about childcare now at week 10 versus at month 9 like I did last time. I wonder how on earth we will afford me taking maternity leave since we used up all of my saved sick time with the last child, and then last year used up whatever I gained again because my son was sick a dozen times. There just seems like more to consider this time.

It's been tough also because this is the first time that I have several friends around me who are still trying for a baby and who have to turn to IVF and other things... it's difficult to be excited or even complain about nausea in front of them. I know how lucky I am to have another baby. I was told four years ago I could never have children due to uterine fibroids and previous surgeries. God knows I know how lucky we are.

I am exhausted. More exhausted than... well, ok I won't say more exhausted than ever before, because we all know that would be a lie, having gone through a week in a hospital after a C-section and taking home a newborn who woke up every two hours. But really, I'm exhausted, really, really so drained and tired. Zero energy. It's different this time. There is no time for me to nap, to just say, heck with doing dishes, who cares if my toddler drinks out of the milk jug just this once, he doesn't need a clean sippy cup! Mind you, I have ignored the laundry and dishes more than I've ever done in the last 12 weeks, but still there are days I have to force myself to at least wash those sippy cups! (This is one thing I'm actually proud of myself for. I have left dishes for four days in the sink and left the 6 loads of clean laundry in buckets that my husband cleaned and left for me to fold for 7 days... a travesty in my house pre-baby number two on the way. I'm proud that I can let some of it go, because I know I'll need to do that come next spring anyhow!)

With a toddler around - insert any other word for "toddler" that you want when considering things like high energy, running around, spastic, crazy, chaotic, filled with excitement, etc. - it's difficult to just rest and be still. With my first pregnancy I refused to open the fridge for weeks because the smells made me want to vomit, so my husband poured my orange juice for me every morning. Now? I am forced to suffer through the almost vomiting feeling while I change a poopy diaper from a toddler who excretes everything that went in. I can only nap on weekends when my son takes his nap. I go to bed at 7 now.

And then there are the emotions... oh the hormones! I started showing earlier this time around, too, which had me all freaked out at first that I was having triplets or going to gain 80 lbs when the last time I didn't care at all about my weight. Now that I'm feeling slightly better (aka maybe hormones decreasing slightly?) I am embracing even the maternity clothes I'm now wearing at week 12 instead of when I started wearing them at week 16 the last time.

This time my emotions are centered around my toddler son and around making sure I treat the two the same way. I felt the guilt of being split in two the first day we found out I was pregnant. I felt the guilt of wanting to be sure we treated baby number two the same way, took as many pictures, wrote in a baby book the same amount. We had a difficult time scheduling our first ultrasound because between mine and my husband's work schedules and not being able to take our son to the appointment and not wanting to tell anyone yet... we could not come up with a time that worked for both of us. Honestly, it took three phone calls to the doctor's office and so many text messages between my husband and I during the day to make that appointment happen. My husband said at one point that it was OK for me to go alone and I burst into tears going off on a rant about how we were going to treat this baby number two the same as Owen, just as special and exciting, and he was at Owen's first ultrasound so he'd be at this one's first ultrasound!

I feel the guilt about my son, too. I know things will change when another one is around. I am so close to my son. I spend more time with him now than anyone does. We go to the playground after school at least two or three times a week, get ice cream once a week usually, play in the yard every night before dinner, take walks and point out all the basketball hoops and dogs we see along the way. I rock him to sleep each night now and wonder if there will be a time I can't do that because my belly will be too big. I lay him down in his crib and wonder if after my C-section I won't be able to do that for a few weeks since I can't lift much of anything.

I am grateful now and taking in every moment as if it is our last when we are alone. It brings me to tears even now writing this as I think of how it won't be the same soon. And yes, I know what you are thinking, "Oh, Angela, it'll be BETTER! It'll be so awesome to see how great of a big brother Owen will be to the little one and to watch them grow together." Yes, yes, I know that's true. But for now I can worry and be sad that my little baby is no longer going to be the baby. It's how I felt when we moved him into his own room and crib instead of sleeping next to me in his bassinet, and when he started walking and on his first birthday when I cried rocking him to sleep that night. It's just hard watching them grow up and away from us, that's all. We get over it as parents, but it's still hard to acknowledge at times.

I took this picture below simply because it reminded me of him as a newborn. And I want to remember that little face and how his lips still to this day suck in and out even as he's totally asleep, just like he has done since birth.

So, it's tough. It's tiring. It's been totally different from the first one.

(there's that but again...)

And I'm not trying to make it all sound better here so you are convinced enough that yes, I truly AM happy about this baby. (Well, OK, I'll admit my hormones and emotions ARE indeed wondering if someone reading this is going to think I have pre-partum depression and need help ASAP!)

BUT... it is amazing. My husband said it best a few weeks ago when I asked what he'd been thinking about and he said, "How incredible it is that we get to do this all again..." I smirked, laughed, and reminded him that he hated being up in the night every two hours. He shook it off, said, "Yeah, but we get to do this again. We get to hold that newborn for the first time and be like, that's ours, we made this. And then we get to watch it grow and learn and change just like Owen, and that's just so cool. I can't wait for all of that." (OK yes I'm crying now remembering my husband say this.)

It's true. We get to be parents to a second one. We were so lucky and blessed to have Owen. I can't even imagine how we got to be so blessed to have a second one. We hope it turns out just like Owen, and yet we hope it's different, too. We genuinely don't even care if it's a girl or a boy. We know that a girl would be fun to finally buy pink and play dress up, but we also equally feel that a brother for Owen would be as awesome as it is for my husband to be the baby of four brothers. So we are good either way.

I'm trying to find the laughter in it all now. I'm trying to savor the moments of us being a family of three. I'm making sure I put Owen first and spend as much time with just he and I as I can. I'm resting and acknowledging I can't do it all. I'm letting my husband help me, and telling him how grateful I am for him taking over on things around here. I'm writing in my pregnancy journal and then simultaneously writing in Owen's baby book. I'm planning to take tons of pictures. I've already bought a couple of new outfits for baby number two so it doesn't feel like everything is hand-me-downs.

I'm embracing it all these days. It helps that I'm slowly feeling less nauseaus. I'm telling myself it's good that I was honest here. That's the reason I started this blog in the first place, to tell it like it is and to share all the worries, insecurities, fears, and excitement that is becoming a parent.

Parenting is an adventure. With any adventure there are ups and downs. There are moments you will cry and laugh - sometimes in the same moment. It's ALL OK in my book!

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