september 30th already?

When I considered having another baby the thought never once crossed my mind that there might come a time when I was anxious about it. My pregnancy with Eleanor was wonderful- I loved to watch my body grow and change as she did, I enjoyed the way people looked at me with a little glimmer of hope, I loved feeling her move, and having Tim make banana chocolate chip pancakes for me while I sat with my feet up. And I’ve loved being a mom too- more than I EVER thought was possible. For the first time, I feel like I am doing something I’m supposed to do- like this is something that I am naturally good at. And, unlike was my experience in school (oh, all those years of school), I do everything I do to the best of my ability not because someone else gives me praise, but because I do. (It may not seem like it to you, but for me that is a HUGE distinction.)
So, having another baby was a no brainer. Of course I want (we want) that. Of course.

But the birth of my little man is FAST approaching- sometimes it feels like it’s happening at the speed of light- and I can’t believe how nervous I am.

First, there came the realization that there are actually things that need to be done to prepare for this little one’s arrival. And I’m not even talking about the big things (those things that felt SO important with Eleanor like setting up a nursery, creating a baby registry,  or having every closet and cupboard in the house cleaned and organized); I’m talking about the little things that are, in reality, necessities like having at least a single newborn diaper in the house, having the car seat somewhere closer than our 45-minute drive away storage unit, talking to our neighbors about ringing their doorbell in the middle of the night to stay with Eleanor if we have to escape to the hospital, having some idea of what I want to bring to the hospital (even if it’s nothing more than a change of underwear).

Occasionally I have anxiety about the birth itself. I’m thankful that these concerns are not more present than they are but they are there. After being taken to the maternity ward triage following (what I thought was) a routine ultra sound to check her position, Eleanor was delivered by Cesarean section two days later (right at 37 weeks) because she was frank breech and I had very, very low amniotic fluid. (This was NOT AT ALL what I imagined my birth experience would be.) With this birth I’ve elected to attempt a VBAC, and while the odds are in my favor (especially since my previous Cesarean had nothing to do with the progress of labor), there are still relatively high odds (I’ve been quoted 1/1200) that something can go terribly wrong.

But lately, these things pale in comparison to the anxiety I feel about the future, about the “big things” in our lives that need some sorting out. Tim is in the process of submitting job applications, and he’s casting his net far and wide. Decisions about accepting a post doc in Europe or a tenure track position in New England inevitably lead to discussions about our long-term goals (for both our careers and our family) that really have no short-term answers. At least not ones that are clear cut. There are questions about what I will do for employment (about what I want to do for employment), about how we’ll make ends meet with just one salary (if we have just one salary), about how we’ll pay for day care (do we need day care?), health insurance (can we have it for just the kids?), about whether we value more, at this stage of our lives, being near our families ASAP or taking some more time to live abroad, just the four of us. None of these questions have obvious answers- we see value on each side of the argument- and we often end up going in circles. A few months ago it felt like we had a lot of space to make big circles…lately that space has grown smaller.

What gives me the most anxiety, however, is the fear that I will not be able to be the kind of mom to this little boy that I was to Eleanor. I’m worried that I won’t be able to give him the  time and energy that I want because I just won’t have it- with a full time job, a toddler, a husband, a house…what experiences will he forgo because I simply don’t have them to give? Living in Tanzania from the time Eleanor was 10 months to almost 2 years old, meant that she had a lot of extra time with Tim and I that should wouldn’t have had otherwise, and I cherished (and continue to cherish) that; it breaks my heart to think that I might miss that time with this next child. I loved the person I was when I was with Eleanor during those early years (funny to say that as if she’s not still in the “younger years”!) and I want to be able to be that person again. As I said, I liked her.

When I learned we were having a boy {and I can’t believe I’m going to admit this} I cried. I was terrified. “I have finally gotten the hang of raising a girl,” I thought, “how the hell am I going to raise a boy?!” (I realize now that this is crazy for two reasons: 1) it makes it sound like I knew exactly what I was doing with Eleanor and that there was no room for imporovement or nothing to change (not true) and 2) it suggests that you have to raise boys and girls differently (also, not true).) I read something recently, though, that has helped to calm my nerves: “motherhood, like all things human, is learned.” No one knows exactly what to do at first, to think otherwise is a real disservice to yourself and your child. I was reminded that even with the experience of one baby/infant/toddler under my belt I won’t necessarily know what to do with this one because he is a different child- a different person with different needs and a different way of being in the world. Sure, my body will have some memory of what it is to breastfeed, but there’s no gaurante that it’ll come easy again. It’s easy to forget that we didn’t always know the things that we think we know (the things that have become instinctive). In the end, I will figure this out. I will learn as I go and, given time, the practicalities- the details of how to live a balanced life- of mothering two will become as instinctive as mothering to one is now.

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9 thoughts on “september 30th already?

  1. What a wonderful post. As I’m sure you know deep-down, you’re going be just fine. As my grandmother always said, the right thing will happen. If it weren’t the right thing, it wouldn’t happen ❤

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    1. Right you are, Allison. One of the best things about this pregnancy (which I was fortunate enough to have with my first as well) is that I am not alone. Not only do I have so many other friends pregnant themselves, but I now have an outlet for expressing these thoughts, fear, and emotions. Thanks for listening…and sharing!

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  2. Great post, Kiya. You put into words many of the anxieties that I also felt about a new baby (my first) and I imagine I will have some of the same fears about the second. This big life change also made me feel like I needed everything else in life to be sorted out, but I had to accept that there will never be a point in our lives when we feel like everything is sorted and settled. And that’s probably good – that we always leave room for change and growth, even though it can feel unsettling when you want to bring a new baby into the most stable world you can make. When I get myself worked up about whether or not I am a good enough mother (ex. I haven’t read ANY books about toddlers yet, and that stage is rapidly approaching! Shit!), I tell myself that I will tackle problems as they come and always face them with intention and gentleness and empathy, and with that attitude, I believe everything will be alright. You are so right that we can’t anticipate what tools we will need to prepare ourselves for each new child and for that matter each new stage – we just have to trust that we have those most basic tools and the desire to get it right. And that’s enough. It’s gonna be wonderful:)

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  3. So much of what you’ve described is so very familiar. My daughter is 3 and my son has just turned 1. He and I recently spent a week in hospital recovering from a terrible bout of gastro (him, not me) and the upside of it was getting to spend that much time with him, just the two of us. It’s so completely different the 2nd time (oh a penny for every time I have heard, and said those words…). The upside of having less one on one time with my son has been how much more I get to enjoy him when I do…because I’m not feeling overwhelmed or stressed.Enjoy the last stretch of your pregnancy.
    PS: thanks for the link :).

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  4. Well, first, I have to comment: he made you BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES? While you RESTED?? That is one of the best things I have ever heard about Tim (who already impresses me more than most people).
    Secondly. The second baby. I have more guilt than anxiety (thank you, Catholic upbringing), worrying about how much less time I will have with No. 1 and what this new addition will do to his emotional security and our relationship. I can’t imagine loving No. 2 as much, or with the crazy psychotic all-consumming love I feel for No. 1. Is it possible that I can generate that twice? I have to believe it, although I worry.
    I was so [mercifully] naive with the first one, but I have grown, like you, in confidence in myself and in my choices as a mom. But I also wonder if my boy-child skills will serve me as well with the coming girl. When we learned we were having a boy, I had a panicked reaction too. What the hell was I going to do with a boy? My dating life had been enough to convince me beyond all doubt that my understanding of male lifeforms was about as low as possible. My husband and I were both even somewhat freaked out at the idea that I had a penis growing inside me. But then he arrived and I fell in love with him and nothing else mattered, not even how inadequate I felt about my ability to be a mother. I love having a son (*and you will too*), for too many reasons to list. I am already grateful for the lessons on gender difference I have learned from him, and I know there are plenty more to come. I love the thought that I have a chance to raise a son to be the kind of man who will respect and perhaps even understand women (is that overreaching?). And, he is frickin’ hilarious. He is pure joy, covered in dirt.
    In the end, facing a few short weeks before the arrival of No. 2, I put my faith in two things: one, the midwives of the Birth Center, who will see us through The Ordeal, and two, in the magic that happened the first time, which dissolved all my self-doubts and fears in the blissful narcotic of total baby love. And that part I am kind of looking forward to.

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    1. I wish you commented here more often Amy- You have such a wonderful way with words (and can express a sentiment the likes of which I am only able to hint). I do think back on just how naive I was, and am comforted by the knowledge that I now have a little more experience to draw from (until I realize that this should only be a little comfort (having two is NOT like having one) and then I’m a little close to where I began. Oh well!)
      One thing is for sure- I’m immensely grateful to have friends like you to go through this with!

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  5. Amy and Alice-
    I love the repeated sentiment: belief in “the magic that happened the first time, which dissolved all [my] self-doubts and fears in the blissful narcotic of total baby love.” It is going to be wonderful, and dare I say (perhaps, maybe?) even more wonderful this time around because we get to watch our first born children interact with, and grow to love, their sibling.

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  6. It makes total sense to me that you are more nervous about not only the birth of a 2nd, but that you will then have 2 children. You now know how hard it is, but also how rewarding. Not only do you get another person to love and who loves you, but you get to watch the love between siblings blossom. There’s nothing like it. Don’t know if I’ve shared this with you yet, but this poem has made me cry multiple times over the years because of how accurately is captures what I was feeling during that time.
    Loving Two
    I walk along holding your 2-year-old hand, basking in the glow of our magical relationship. Suddenly I feel a kick from within, as if to remind me that our time alone is limited. And I wonder: how could I ever love another child as I love you?
    Then he is born, and I watch you. I watch the pain you feel at having to share me as you’ve never shared me before.
    I hear you telling me in your own way, “Please love only me”. And I hear myself telling you in mine, “I can’t”, knowing, in fact, that I never can again.
    You cry. I cry with you. I almost see our new baby as an intruder on the precious relationship we once shared. A relationship we can never quite have again.
    But then, barely noticing, I find myself attached to that new being, and feeling almost guilty. I’m afraid to let you see me enjoying him, as though I am betraying you.
    But then I notice your resentment change, first to curiosity, then to protectiveness, finally to genuine affection.
    More days pass, and we are settling into a new routine. The memory of days with just the two of us is fading fast.
    But something else is replacing those wonderful times we shared, just we two. There are new times – only now, we are three. I watch the love between you grow, the way you look at each other, touch each other.
    I watch how he adores you – as I have for so long. I see how excited you are by each of his new accomplishments. And I begin to realize that I haven’t taken something from you, I’ve given something to you. I notice that I am no longer afraid to share my love openly with both of you.
    I find that my love for each of you is as different as you are, but equally strong. And my question is finally answered, to my amazement. Yes, I can love another child as much as I love you – only differently.
    And although I realize that you may have to share my time, I now know you’ll never share my love. There’s enough of that for both of you – you each have your own supply.
    I love you – both. And I thank you both for blessing my life.
    Author Unknown

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  7. I love that poem Lisa, it was so true to my experience of having 2 kids. Kiyah, much like you said, having your first baby was like nothing else, you love them more, worry for them more, enjoy them more than you ever thought possible. It’s the same with the second, you learn to be a mother of 2. Nothing will prepare you for it until you are there. I thought after my first I had an idea of how to take care of a baby. Nope, I knew how to take care of that baby, I had NO idea what I was in for with my second, she was totally different. I found out I was pregnant again when our first was just 3 months old. I was terrified, I was just starting to gain some amount of confidence with one. I put so much pressure on myself to make up for that fear, to be the mother to the second that I was to the first. When it didn’t happen I was devastated, I thought I was a horrible mother. Everything was different, she was different, our situation was different. When I figured out that ‘different’ isn’t neccesarily bad, I saw our life in a whole new light. No, I never did get all those sweet cuddles the second time around. What I did get was to watch a loving, and growing relationship between 2 very close sisters, I get to watch them teach each other, hug each other, protect each other. I learned so much that first year (which realy was just months ago! Haha, like you, I act like it has been so long!) I learned how to steal away little moments, time with each of my girls, that will always be a part of my heart. I can’t imagine my life turning out any other way. As humans, we always fear the unknown, but rest assured, it will be much better than anything you can imagine on your own. What is meant to be will not only be, but it will be incredible.

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