It’s official – my family will be welcoming a new addition early next year. Exactly when our bundle of joy will arrive is uncertain, as I was still breastfeeding regularly when we conceived so had not had a period in over two years. That was the first interesting lesson to come out of Round 2 so far – despite all the hand-wringing about the ideal age gap between kids, the decision is often made for you. My grandmother keeps remarking how brave I am to have two children so close together. In truth though, it already feels like a lifetime ago that our rough-and-tumble toddler was a helpless newborn.
I loved being pregnant with my son, so I started looking forward to experiencing pregnancy again just about as soon as he was born. Despite no signs of ovulation or pregnancy, I remained ever optimistic that we would conceive again when the time was right. I’m not sure exactly what prompted me to take the pregnancy test back in May. Knowing I was likely to be disappointed, I tested the morning of a champaign bachelorette party, reasoning that at least then I could drown my disappointment without reservations. When the second faint pink line appeared, I refused to believe it (and thoroughly enjoyed the champaign). But the line was stronger when I tested again two days later, and there was no questioning the result another three days after that.
Before we fell pregnant the first time, I’d day-dreamed about how I would share the happy news with my husband. When I saw those double lines, however, all I could do was run into the bedroom, crying tears of joy and waving the pee stick in his face. Not so romantic. This time, I managed to keep my excitement to myself until Father’s Day (more than two weeks – it was not easy!). I dressed our son in his new “I’m the big brother” shirt and had him deliver our Father’s Day card – a Dr. Seuss-style book titled, “I’m So Glad that You’re My Dad,” where the final line read, “You’re so good at what you do … it’s time you became dad to two!” It took a few days for the news to sink in, but then morning sickness hit me like a cement truck and the reality became undeniable.
Although it was only minimally within our control, my husband and I are thrilled that our kids will be exactly two years apart. Sure, we’ll have two kids in diapers for at least the first six months, but we also still have all of our baby stuff (bassinets, clothes, toys, bottles, etc.) and still remember how to use it (although visiting a friend with a new baby last weekend made me realize I’ll have to re-learn how to burp a newborn). On a daily basis (often correlated with how much sleep we got the night before), my husband and I alternate between extreme excitement for the chance to do it all again and sheer terror at the prospect of two top priorities competing for our limited resources.
My biggest concern is how our son will respond to another baby in the house. Any advice from parents of two or more small children on how to help our first-born adjust? He is too young to really understand the baby-in-mommy’s-belly talk, though we plan to start reading him “big brother books” in a few months. Our son has been very gentle with other newborns he’s met, but he has been much more attached to me since I fell pregnant and is even clingier when my husband or I pay attention to another child. I fear the arrival of our new baby is likely to correspond with (or perhaps, provoke) the onset of the “terrible twos” in my first-born, which will only exacerbate the sleep-deprivation and other challenges of a newborn. Any ideas for how to prepare for and smooth the transition from being a family of three to a party of four?
The conventional wisdom has it that every pregnancy is different, and that’s
definitely been true for me so far. I had only occasional morning sickness with my son (usually just first thing in the morning before I’d eaten), but was queasy and dizzy for most of my first trimester this time around. Although I have no acute symptoms now, I definitely feel more tired. That has nothing to do with this baby, though, and everything to do with my first-born, who keeps me on my toes and does not tolerate me sleeping late or spending afternoons lounging with a magazine. As for food cravings, with my son I ate pounds of wasabi peas and beef jerky (although I don’t normally eat red meat). This time around, I’m happy with my usual mostly-vegetarian fare, except with the addition of cans and cans of sweet peas. I have no idea how peas soaked in sugar water are so satisfying to my pregnant body, but I cannot otherwise explain the 2-4 cans a day I have been consuming (sometimes mixed into pasta salads or soups, but usually just on their own, straight from the pop-top can!). Strange …
… and also ironic, since from the day I told my husband we were pregnant we have been calling our unborn child “Sweet Pea,” since that’s the size s/he was around Father’s Day. At our twenty-week anatomy scan, the tech felt pretty confident about our baby’s gender, but my husband and I were not ready to find out. Stay tuned for more on that topic … For now, we are focused on our son (who recently started going to a daily play-group and is doing very well) while enjoying the thought of a new addition to our family (which is much easier to manage than an actual newborn).