When Pete and I found out we were pregnant with August, I asked myself, “How will this second child change our family dynamic? Will it be easier this time around, since we now know what to expect?” Although we’re still pretty new at this parenting-two-kids-at-once thing, a few thoughts have come to light that I wanted to share.
Life is not more crazy.
August was born when Liesl was 19 months old. As a family, we were in a really great groove; Liesl thrived on her schedule, and Pete and I were both happy with our work/play routines. I was nervous about what a newborn would do to this strongly enforced schedule! Luckily, August was a very chill newborn and was super adaptable to his new schedule (that matched Liesl’s). So, fortunately, adding a second child wasn’t that big of a deal, to be perfectly honest. He simply become part of our family’s routine, and hasn’t added that extra layer of “craziness” that some parents talk about when a new child is added to the family.
Our team is still strong.
Pete and I say thanks every day for being such good teammates to each other. We both pitch in and do what’s required (for the most part with a smile) to keep the kiddos happy and healthy. Sharing parenthood with such a good partner makes parenting a fun life experience. There are good days, and days that are a bit rough, but knowing that Pete and I are on the same side and supportive of each other makes the challenging moments bearable.
I’m happy, not blue.
Since Liesl was our first child, there were so many things about her first year that Pete and I didn’t realize weren’t “normal”. (The saying “you don’t know what you don’t know” is absolutely true.)
Most notably to me was the “joy”, or rather the lack thereof. Many mom friends said they experienced this euphoric feeling within the first six months or so of their child’s life. I never experienced this with Liesl, and I thought there was something wrong with me. “Am I meant to be a mother? Does this mean I don’t love my child?”
Let me explain. Liesl would literally cry for hours and hours each and every day (for about 3 hours at a time) until she was about 4-5 months old. We tried everything to comfort and soothe her, and nothing would work. When Pete would come home from work, Liesl would usually be crying; I’d have to hand her off to him just so I could get a break from the sound. I’d need to leave the room, close a door, start the shower, go outside, do just about ANYTHING to simply block out the noise. Just thinking about that sound now still makes me tense.
Long story short, now that we’ve had another child and can reflect back at that time in Liesl’s life with fresh eyes, we see that Liesl was colicky. Anyone that’s had a colicky baby knows the difference between a normal baby, and its crying, and a colicky baby. Not knowing any different, I truly thought that all the crying and fussing was normal, and that every parent experienced it to the same level that we did. I can only imagine how colic feels from a baby’s perspective; from a parent’s point of view, it’s excruciating. Knowing that nothing you do will soothe or comfort your child brings on this sense of defeat, inadequacy, and depleted self worth.
Looking back on it, I realize I may have experienced mild postpartum depression or significant baby blues after Liesl’s birth. Again, not knowing that Liesl’s behavior and crying fell outside the “normal” limits or that the subsequent feelings of inadequacy that I felt weren’t normal, I didn’t think that I needed help. I wish I had known then what I know now. It would have made things so much more manageable during Liesl’s first year, and helped me feel less isolated as I began the journey into motherhood.
The experience with Liesl, however, has helped me appreciate August’s time as a newborn. Going through this experience with such a pleasant baby is an amazing experience, and I understand the euphoric joy that mothers talk about feeling postpartum. August is almost four months old, and I’m still feeling incredibly thankful for, enamored by, and joyful about our little man.