Ten days before my second child was born, I went in to see
my doctor for a check-up. It was there that I learned that I was in the early
throes of active labor. Fully effaced and three centimeters dilated, my doctor
recommended I get my affairs in order and head to the hospital later that
evening. (I had Group B strep so needed to have enough time to be administered
antibiotics before the birth.)
I agreed and sobbed the entire drive home, looking back at
my then 3.5-year-old only child in the rear-view mirror.
This was the last car ride we would take as a twosome. The
next time I looked back at him from that mirror, his sister would be there,
too. I was hysterical. I felt like I was betraying him by having a second child — that
I was ditching him to have an affair with a younger, newer model.
I wasn’t wrong. In a way that’s what happens when a second,
third, fourth child are brought into the mix. And I have yet to meet a parent
who didn’t feel guilty those last few weeks of pregnancy ... there is a definite
mourning that takes place before a new baby is born knowing that relationships
will never be the same and that the family dynamic tomorrow will be very
different from the one of today.
I mourned my only child that afternoon, knowing that come
tomorrow, he would no longer be my ONE.
I explained it to him through my tears. And while I don’t
think he fully understood why I was so upset, I felt like I needed to talk it
through with him. I felt I owed him an apology and so I apologized. (I am a
firm believer in the importance of being emotionally transparent with my kids.
I do not attempt to hide tears when I feel the need to spew them.)
I had spent all that time worrying about something I had no control over.
As those who have been reading GGC may know, Archer spoke
very little, if at all, until Fable was born. He came alive in a new way when
he first held her. She brought the words out of him, and their bond, even now
(as they bicker in the other room), is a mind-blowing thing.
And yet, that afternoon in the car, I spent so much time
worrying about him no longer being my ONLY that I forgot how amazing it was to be able to witness him becoming a SIBLING.
I had spent all that time worrying about something I had no
control over, and it wasn’t until the three seconds it took to place Fable in Archer’s
arms that I realized, preparing my first for a second was something he had
already done for himself.
And, sure, we talked about babies and read books about
babies and I took him to all of my “baby” appointments, but “preparing” a child
for a child is not unlike preparing an adult for one. It is an impossible task
because in no way can it be comprehended until it has actually happened. And
that, my friends, is the most important part to remember in all of this.
It is impossible to prepare anyone for a baby. But when it
comes to having a second child, at least you have the knowledge that you’ve done this thing before.
And hopefully (unlike the first time) you now recognize how
little control you have over absolutely everything.
What about you? How, if at all, did you prepare for a second
child? Any advice you want to share for parents expecting their second
children? (My only recommendation would be to make time for one-on-one dates
with your kids if and when possible. This has been huge for me and worth the
initial headache of trying to negotiate who’s turn it is to go with mama to the
As always, I look forward to your thoughts on this. Thanks
in advance, all!
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