Friday, February 28, 2014

Go Around Again

The fact that it's taken me almost half a pregnancy to write even one blog about my newest little guy is evidence if second-child-syndrome at play, even in the womb! But let's just start out with a positive note about pregnancy...

Another thing I'd almost already forgotten since Ishmael was how nosy and judgy people get, as if being pregnant makes you public property. "You shouldn't be eating that", "did you plan this baby?" etc. Someone at work called me a rabbit for having 1 and 1/2 children! RUDE. There are aspects of being pregnant that remind of me someone locked away in an asylum, which is one of my greatest fears. The more you protest that you're sane, the more you sound insane. I think that when I'm pregnant, sometimes people take what I say and do with a grain of salt, which I hate. Even if my emotions are running higher, it doesn't mean I'm not really feeling things that are still legitimate and need to be addressed. That's one part of the pregnant-lady routine that I could do without.

In fact, all the warm fuzzy feelings I'd felt about discovering a whole realm of people who appreciated my new life (aka, other parents) when pregnant with Ishmael have turned into feelings of "please, stop trying to parent my child".  I've felt unmotivated to join any kind of mommy group because my child never wears shoes and I let him eat sugar. A lot of my parenting ideals have gone out the window since actually having a kid, okay? On the other hand, I'm not anti-vaccines and Ishmael doesn't have an amber teething necklace, so sometimes I feel strange around the ultra "laid back" parents too. Very few moms actually say judgy things to me, but I still feel the vibes. Not that those things (especially MY habits) will ultimately bar Ishmael and I from making mommy and kid friends, but they are genuine hurdles for me. Plus, I don't know anyone my age who lives in my area who has kids, and that is sometimes alienating. Even if I did, there's the sugar and shoes issue that I mentioned. Oh, and he picks out his own clothes half the time, at age less-than-two. Funny how children can bring people together and also push them apart. I'm sure I'll make it past these present snobby hurdles of mine, but for now, I'm just exhausted and lonely as a mom sometimes. Can't I just have one mom friend with little ones who recognizes the names of NPR show hosts? (That may be one of the snarkiest things I've ever said... but hey, I'm pregnant....).

Sometimes I have people frown upon me for working at all when I have kids, and then there was the lady who chewed me out for being only a part-time student on top of working and having a baby, because she worked full time and went to school full time with a baby. It's like people have nothing better to do than critisize everything about you when you have children. I am well aware that my life could be harder than it is, but I'm grateful for the options I do have, and the time I do get to spend with Ishmael, even though I'm still not great at the whole "making someone else more important than yourself" thing...

One reason I'm extra excited for baby 2.0 is that he and Ishmael can be buddies, because Ishmael doesn't really have any right now. In fact, he just kind of gawks when he sees other children. I wrote this little blurb soon after I found out I was pregnant in November: "The thing that I'm totally unprepared for is what it will be like to have Ishmael on top of caring for a new baby. Will he be jealous? Will he understand anything that's going on? Will I be able to love them equally? Pregnancy #2 is already less dramatic and I know I won't be able to give all the attention to my second that Ishmael got. It's not less exciting in the grand scheme of things, but sometimes I do feel like the second baby is already getting cheated out of some extra hype that Ishmael had."

Since writing that, I've become confident that I will love the new baby as much as I love Ishmael, because I remember being unable to fathom what loving Ishmael would be like. I'm not a very sentimental pregnant lady as far as a connection with the actual baby, but I've come to terms with that. Especially with a toddler, I don't have as much time to think and wonder about a new baby, and I know that just like with Ishmael, the falling in love part comes when I get to meet him face to face and get to know him as another human. It's kind of nice not having to fuss with more emotions until that time, and knowing that I will fall in love again at a pace that works for me and the new little guy, just as I did with Ishmael.

A more recent "concern" is how not to make everything about the new little guy a comparison to Ishmael, as I've already done about 10 times in this post so far. On some level, it's inevitable, but I want him to know that he's loved in his own right and I know he will be a different person than Ishmael, even if I can't understand quite how just yet. I already spend most of my time talking about this pregnancy in comparison to my first - this one has been MUCH easier, and it goes by much faster when we already have a little guy running around to look after. I'm grateful for the distraction, but it does take the spotlight off the new baby a lot. My parents were intentional and believable (as in, I know it's really true) in not showing favoritism among their kids, and I don't think I'll struggle with that either, but I am curious about how Ishmael will react to the new baby, and I definitely need to be intentional about giving the new baby his own time and space and love.

My mother in law had a good piece of advice the other day, which was to make breastfeeding time a time to sit and read with the older child too. You're still getting skin-to-skin time with the new one, but not completely excluding the older one from a clearly intimate and bonding time with someone else. I think it's okay to have one-on-one time with the new baby sometimes, but I do like the idea of synchronizing some of their activities. Fellow parents, how do you balance time with your kids, particularly when one's a toddler and one's a newborn? Do tell!

One upside to baby #2 being constantly compared to my experiences with Ishmael is that Jonas and I will get a chance to attempt righting what we feel are parenting fails so far with Ishmael. I'm not so naive as to think that everything I do or don't try with the second son will have the same affect (or lack of affect) as it did on Ishmael, but I'm going to try my darndest to introduce shoe-wearing a little more intentionally and institute/stick to "play by yourself" time earlier.

Of course, Jonas was beside himself with excitement when I told him I was pregnant (I made the lovely pee-stick the last "ornament" as we decorated our Christmas tree this past season), and in general, he makes "reveals" about anything important or that he's excited about into tense moments that I want to run away from. We'd been at odds over how to tell everyone about baby #2. He ended up telling my Dad and brothers when we ran into them at Costco, which was low-key enough for me, but kind of anti-climactic. He wanted to tell his brothers at Thanksgiving by being the last one at the table to say what he was thankful for, but I put the smackdown on that because the very idea makes me wither. I've been trying to figure out why I hate telling people so much that I'm pregnant, initially, and I finally figured it out: building it up, especially in a group, results in everyone suddenly looking at me and me already being weepy or not knowing how to react, which is embarrassing. It puts everyone on the spot to respond in a certain way, and sometimes people's (or my) initial reaction is not really what you want to show. Beyond that, I think that everyone then imagines us having sex. Jonas said that's crazy, but that's what I imagine when other people tell me they're pregnant, and I know it's juvenile that my mind goes there, but at any rate, I don't like feeling naked in front of people. One of my sisters in law confirmed that that's what she thinks of too, so I'm not totally crazy on that.

Speaking of sex, marriage with kids is hard. Not to mention the complications of pregnancy hormones, post-pregnancy body issues, etc. I've struggled with jealously a lot since having Ishmael, listening to my married kid-less friends tell me about their exciting, spontaneous, sex lives. I've been SO thankful for the couples with older kids and the occasional blogger who remind me that difficultly cultivating romance and lack of creative sex is very much a product of having young children, and it does get better/back to normal eventually. I know this is somewhat personal territory, but I make a point of talking about these things because I wish more people were willing to share such comforting knowledge with ME more freely. Not in a creepy way, but if it comes up, you know.

I'm NOT looking forward to the thought of my body sliding back into pregnancy-and-nursing-related-shapes for the next year to 2 years, but the awesome thing about being on your second baby is that you have proof that you really can bounce back from dough bellys and tiger mawl marks and countless stitches in inconvenient places and boobs sucked down to your waist. Except I just read that bouncing back from a second baby is harder, which makes me minorly panic. As with the sex life (which was finally recovering pre-new-pregnancy, ugh!!!), I'm somewhat consoled to know we CAN bounce back, but disheartened to know that the process will be almost entirely a new adjustment because it won't be exactly like it was with Ishmael.

Goodbye, fairly doable life routine that we've worked out with one child. It's strange that when you're in the moment (like figuring out how to restructure your life with a kid from day to day) things don't usually seem all that difficult, but when you look back at all that it has costed emotionally and in terms of sheer time, it's so daunting to imagine doing it again. For example, even with one kid, the thought of watching a full length movie is depressing. Wait, you want me to spend 2 and 1/2 hours doing essentially nothing, to be a told a story that probably won't be incredible enough to make it worth my time? So long, theater. I'll see you in a decade. I'm not even kidding you, I haven't stepped foot in a theater since the Great Gatsby came out.

I now also have a healthy fear of those sleepless and nerve wracking days right after your baby is born and the up-every-3-hour routine for months there after. Can we just skip the first 6 months please? Then again, I'm kind of looking forward to the tinyness of a brand new person again. I found myself thinking "I love kids" the other day, and I can barely believe that I've turned out to be someone who does love kids (or at least my own kids). I also feel much more equipped the second time around with tools like the incredible podcast/community the Longest Shortest Time. Plus, no poop can scare me now! I've already seen it all (right? please tell me I'm right), complete with poop finger painted on Ishmael's face. I'm blissfully unaware of all the things baby 2.0 will throw at me that Ishmael never did.

One thing I'm actually looking forward to with baby 2.0 is the hosptial stay. Everyone thinks that's crazy of me, but it kind of felt like being in a spa, where all I had to do was lay there and let people take care of me and feed me. There is the excruciating pain aspect, but what I have to say to that is: more drugs sooner.

By the way, for you nosy readers, we did in fact plan baby 2.0, so all the drama of an unplanned honeymoon baby is not around this time. I'm almost 20 weeks pregnant as I type this, and I've only gotten ultrasound pictures of baby 2.0 once so far, and they haven't made their way to the fridge yet. Poor little guy. I'm already planning his first birthday party, so I hope that makes up for the lack of new clothes I'm buying and no picture on the fridge yet. I was a little hesitant to give the new little guy quite as dramatic a name as Ishmael ended up with, but Jonas is adamant that we stick with the double middle names, so little guy #2 can count on an equally flowery title.

I'm working on carving out a beautiful little space in my mind for my newest baby boy, and the best way I can connect with that space and him and kind of get it ready for both of us is through music, images, words, film, etc. I'm still die-hard against telling his name before birth. Someone wrung one of his names out of me the other day and I regretted it almost immediately. NO MORE! I find it boring and anticlimactic when people tell the name before the baby has arrived, no offense to those of you who do, but I'll give you a little image teaser of that place I'm building in my psyche for him. Another teaser (kinda) is the girl name I had fallen in love with the day before finding out new-baby was a boy, and that was "Ophira". If you steal it before I've finished having kids, I'll slay you.

Sometimes I can't believe I'll have two sons before I'm 23, but you're only in your 20s once, right? This is what I call living large (haha). Although this is never the path I would have chosen for myself, I'm so grateful it turned out this way, and I'm excited that our kids will be close together and be able to share that special type of sibling bond that both Jonas and I had with our close-in-age siblings.

I've been trying to wrap my head around being the mother of boyS, and what all that entails. I definitely like it, but I keep thinking of new "issues" that I hadn't considered having to deal with (probably at an earlier age than I will be thrilled with). For example, I heard a fabulous talk given by Adam Savage of MythBusters fame on how he went about explaining porn to his twin boys. They had discovered how to google various terms, around age 11, and I just loved the way that Savage handled talking to his sons about the dangers of porn on the web. He started off by telling them that curiosity was not bad and was a very rational and normal human reaction to something like sex, but that there were some things on the internet that you can never un-see and that will ruin special moments in your life by popping up uninvited in your head. Ultimately, he described the internet as the brain of someone who "has a problem with their image of women". I was so delighted and encouraged by the model of Savage's talk with is sons (though I imagine this will largely fall to Jonas in our family) because it's so important to me to be open with our kids about things like sex and not to make it all fear and shame based, but to impart how serious it can be, too. Anyway, I highly recommend it if you too are a parent of boys. 

It's a wild ride, people... 

P.S. If you're pregnant right now, I forgot to include two of my very favorite things for pregnancy in my list of favorite 1st year products. Gillian & O'Malley maternity underwear at Target are DIVINE, but I haven't seen them when I've looked the past couple times. They better still carry them, or there will be blood. Oh, and word to the wise, vintage pregnancy clothes are WAY cuter than modern ones. They should have good resale value too! The other thing I can't do without are Target's gummy prenatal vitamins. As with sippy cups, I had to try several (for Ishmael, haha) before I landed on the right ones (it so rarely crosses my mind to try a different brand or method if I'm not totally happy with something!) - some other brands are MUCH more expensive (over the counter), or have yucky coatings, or made me throw up (Costco).


  1. I came across your bog posting through a friend when she posted it on facebook. First, I am not stocking you or that person. I wanted to say that your post was very insightful and enjoyable to read. I am a mom of 2 (boy 3 and girl 1). I live here in SM. I wish there were more moms like you to talk to. Sometimes being a mom can be fun, scary, and I have no idea what I am doing as a parent. My son talks about poop, farting, garbage truck dropping poop all day and every day. All I am saying when number 2 comes you will fine a rhythm that works for you and your hubby. :)
    I tend to keep to myself a lot with my kids because I hate being judge by other moms. I am not young, but sometimes I feel alone as a mom. I love my kids, but at some level it's really nice to read your post because it spoke to my heart and I didn't feel alone in this world as a mom. Thanks :)

    1. Julie, thank you so much for your encouraging comment! I'm actually totally excited when people I don't know find the blog ;) I hope you find some less judgy moms with equally poop-loving kids. Maybe I'll even get to meet you some day! I've gotten some really compassionate feedback from this post, and it's both so cool to find like-minded ladies and so sad that lots of moms feel like they don't have any friends because of peer judgement over parenting. :(


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