Welcome back to our third post in the series! Last time we heard how the pregnancies were going and how the women prepared their homes to welcome their second baby. Today we read about how they prepared themselves.
What did you do to prepare yourself emotionally, mentally, physically, or even spiritually for the second child?
I was so concerned that there was no way I could love this second child as much as the first. I thought the kid would be doomed. Of course, as soon as he was born, I immediately understood what everyone had been telling me about unlimited pockets of love. For the birth itself, I took another breastfeeding class since it didn't go very well the first time and I gave up nursing after only 10 weeks. I realized that every baby is different because Gunnar nursed immediately, with no effort from me.
To prepare myself (which there really is no way or perfect way I think)...I just got as organized as I could (cleaning, washing & putting away all newborn clothes, stocked up on diapers, things like that) spent as much quality one on one time with Abigail as possible, and planned a few good date nights with Ryan, as contnuing to nuture that relationship is just as important. I also kept up excercising as for me personally I feel that the stronger I am not only emotionally but physically it makes for an easier labor/delivery/recovery. I prayed daily, thanking God for trusting me enough to allow me to become a mother yet again, but also asking for contiued guidance and understanding.
Explaining to a little child why Mommy's tummy is growing--and WHO is in there!--is fantastic preparation for having a baby. It doesn't get any simpler. Children are naturally curious about other children, and waiting months and months for a new child to arrive is exciting. I also learned how much a 17-month-old child is capable of. Of course it would be ridiculous to put too much pressure on a toddler, but (reasonable) high expectations have a habit of being met. Cee could start following complex directions (please put your PJs on your bed and then get the hairbrush and then come back here to me), which helped me, and also made her proud of herself.
Physically, I have to admit, there was not much I could do. Cee kept nursing until 11 months, so I was trying to eat well to keep her healthy while I was so sick from the pregnancy. I lost weight for the first three months of the second pregnancy, and felt completely wiped out.
Emotionally, I had challenges. I had no friends in the area. My mother-in-law was working full time, and my parents did not babysit, so I had precious little relief or companionship during the daytime. I called my husband at work--a lot. And I tried to remember how critical it was to be present to my first child. That meant playing on the floor for hours and hours, till I was bored to tears. It felt like an abrupt change to go from teaching college students to sitting on a blanket playing with Fisher Price people and needing to vomit every twenty minutes--with no other adults around.
I'm sure other women have accepted such challenges more gracefully than I, but I am grateful for what this difficult period of time did for me: I have always been a fiercely independent, proud, competitive person, and this period of mothering taught me how dependent, humble, and collaborative I needed to become. I spent a lot of time imagining how my own evolving role as a mother reflected how God cares for me. These babies in my charge were utterly dependent on me for everything. If I failed to care for them, they would suffer--yea verrily, even die. The same is true, I began to see, for me as a child of God. What a blessing to glimpse my whole life as a story of caregiving and nurturing! I myself am utterly dependent on God for everything.
I, similarly, emailed Catholic moms who I felt would be able to relate to my parenting style and who had children who were close together in age and asked them what they did to prepare and/or adjust. I realized I needed to pray for Tom, because I was most anxious about being away from him in the hospital, and to ask Mary to pray and intercede for his protection and well being. I tried to make the most of every day of just having so much fun with Tom, because I knew as awesome as it would be to have two, I wanted to soak in the last moments of just Tom and Mommy time. I also wrote a letter to Tom in his baby book about how much I loved him and was excited for him to be a big brother the day before David was born.
Wow! I appreciate how varied each experience was for each woman. I, too, wanted to make the most of my time as a "mother of one," and that meant some days where I didn't clean up well and we didn't "accomplish" very much. But I wouldn't trade that time with him for the world. It helped me feel ready to give our daughter the same sort of attention her brother received his first few months. I knew he'd make the adjustment inevitably, so I took advantage of what I could when I could. I hated the thought of leaving my son for a few days while we were in the hospital (turned out, it was a blessing for everyone), but I also wanted our second to know
Thank you, ladies!
Check back at noon tomorrow for how each mom dealt with Sleep & Other Adjustments!