by Andrea from MommyGearest
I’m one of those Type A women. I’m one part organized, one part high-strung. I schedule, well, everything. I arrive on time – or at least I used to before having children.
So when I was pregnant with my son, you can imagine the kind of mom-to-be I was: I signed up for weekly emails about my baby’s growth (from not one but three different sites, as if the content would be so remarkably different from each); I attended baby shows; I tirelessly read sleep and breastfeeding books, books about creating routines, attachment parenting and early intellectual development; I made a list of possible baby names, a list of nursery requirements and a list of all the things I needed to make lists for down the road.
And then he arrived.
The first six weeks were a blur – a haze of happiness, self-consciousness and exhaustion. I was so busy trying to figure it all out and get it “right” that I missed out on some of the earliest and most perfect moments of my son’s first weeks of life. Not that I recognized this at the time, of course.
Once we found our groove, I devoted my days to creating the ideal schedule, attending programs that fit between nap times (and turning down far too many invitations that didn’t), finding the best baby gear, and doing everything I could to follow the advice from all of my books. I was trying too hard.
It was a lofty goal, and at five months in – when my night-time sleep was suddenly interrupted and naps inexplicably turned into catnaps – I cracked. I cried in my own mother’s arms, wondering what the hell had gone wrong. I had followed all the rules, after all.
“Throw out those damn books,” my mother scolded.
I didn’t throw them out (they cost me a fortune!), but I did stop relying on them. Instead, I threw my hands up and surrendered – admitting that my child was the one thing in this world I couldn’t control.
Enter pregnancy No. 2; I barely knew how pregnant I was week to week. I loosely referred to a couple of my favourite baby books here and there, but I spent more time finding creative ways to get my toddler to try the foods he used to love and enjoying trashy magazines before bed. We found out we were having a girl and, I admit, I did get her nursery ready ahead of time – but we were down to the wire.
And then she arrived.
There was a calm about motherhood I had the second time around that only mothers who’ve had more than one baby can really understand. I could try to describe it, but you won’t really get it until you do it yourself (much like when mom friends of yours tried to tell you what having your first baby would be like, what it would do to your life, and you finally went “Ohhhhh…that’s what she was talking about” when you had one). Breastfeeding was a breeze this time, there was no awkwardness trying to change that wee little bum on a narrow hospital bed, and my mind wasn’t consumed with self-doubt. When I looked down at my baby girl, fast asleep on my chest, I wasn’t thinking about needing to wake her up in exactly three hours to kick-start a feeding schedule. I was just admiring her perfection.
And then we took her home.
My two-and-a-half year old, who had been genuinely excited to meet his sister, barely acknowledged her existence for six weeks. In fact, he barely acknowledged my existence – and it broke my heart. Trying to help him adjust, keeping up with his waning nap schedule, getting him to and from preschool twice a week and making sure he had nutritious meals to eat each day meant that my sweet baby girl got very little attention.
She put a lot of miles on the Jolly Jumper in the months that followed, and I relished in breastfeeding because it was just about the only time we shared alone – unless my toddler came bounding into the room because he still hadn’t learned to change the channel from TVO to Treehouse by himself.
In her first year, my daughter napped like nobody’s business, but I was far too busy keeping my son entertained to enjoy a rest myself most days.
Since becoming a mother of two, I always say that I wish I could have had my second baby first. Not my actual baby, but the experience. I would’ve had the hindsight and time to enjoy more of those fleeting baby moments. I would have scheduled less. I would have been more present. I would have laughed about the projectile poo – of the yellow, foamy variety – and not worried about letting my infant fall asleep at my breast or in my arms because The Books told me not to. I would have relaxed.
But does this mean I’m going to have a third? Not on your life. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m enjoying what we have right now – just the way it is.
Pleasantville Note: I did not write this bio for those of you wondering. It is damn funny though
Andrea is the founder of Mommy Gearest – a baby and kid-gear product and service review site – and is committed to helping busy parents spend their hard-earned money wisely. Three days a week, Andrea is an account director at public relations and public affairs firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies. She has a little boy who’s nearly four and likes to talk about his penis – a lot – and a 16-month-old girl who believes her mommy’s boobies exist only for her, much to Andrea’s husband’s disappointment. Andrea’s latest hobby is the two-to-one nap transition.
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