I have an essay called “The First Time Around” in an anthology that is coming out soon, From the Heart: A Collection of Stories and Poems from the Front Lines of Parenting. It compares my first year mothering to my first year teaching high school and explores the desire for a do-over, to fix all the mistakes you made the first time around.
So now I am a week and two days into parenting a second child and feel compelled to document this slice of now with a Venn diagram. Alas, I don’t know how to do that on WordPress and have only so many (how many is never something I can predict) minutes until I will be called to nurse again, plus writing lying down is not the most comfortable thing. So I’m just going to make some lists. Please excuse the lack of parallel structure.
We’ll start with that thing about positions by giving a shout out to the few things that I look back on fondly from my first weeks after my son was born in 2006 via c-section (for a breech position and short cord that prevented him from dropping).
Positives about baby #1’s first weeks
- I could sit. Seriously. A c-section hurts a whole lot, but once you’re upright, you’re cool. I cannot wait to sit without pillows delicately arranged or frozen peas in my underwear.
- I had only one child. There was no monstrous four-year-old lurching around, slamming into his parents, kissing the baby ad nauseum, or needing to be taken to the park to preserve family sanity.
- My husband did everything. I don’t think I changed a diaper for two weeks. (See above that we didn’t have another child to take care of).
Similarities across both experiences
- I still have trouble sitting up from lying down and getting up to stand from sitting. It doesn’t hurt in my gut like it did when I was cut open, but the truth is I have no abdominal muscles now anyway, and it does hurt my bottom to switch positions.
- I love looking at my baby.
- Every day is a bad hair day.
Positives about baby #2’s first weeks
- At home! Sunshine instead of yucky florescent light, no strangers waking you up to poke at your progeny, no separation from the baby for hearing tests, no people bringing me (who is gluten-free and dairy-free) a cheeseburger the day after abdominal surgery and the next day, when I begged for something I could eat, telling me, “It’s hard to accommodate special diets.” In the hospital?
- No drug hangovers!
- Milk coming in right away! And like gangbusters! What a concept! After three years of nursing my son, I found out there was still a lot I didn’t know about breastfeeding! But apparently I do know how to get a baby to latch well in any position. No trips to the lactation consultant this time, at least not in the first week.
- A calm baby who seems comfortable in her own skin. Maybe just her temperament, but maybe from coming on her own terms or helped out by the flower essences I took during labor and gave her right after or the essential oils we used. I’m sure actually getting nourishment helps, too.
- Friends helping out — with food, with support, with childcare. And a whole lot of baby clothes.
- Having something of a clue as to what I’m doing and a lot less anxiety about what I’m doing wrong.
- Having a little boy who looks adoringly upon his mother and sister (with a head that seems a lot bigger than it did two weeks ago) and says sweetly, “It’s nice having a new baby.”