Exactly three more sleeps until I meet our second child, our first son, and the fourth member of our family. It is a surreal time. We have been such a complete family unit for three years now and soon that routine, that familiarity and the working cogs of our little family will be thrown into glorious disarray.
Having your second child is so very different to expecting your first. You have none of that innocence, that naivety. “What fun!” you obliviously think the first time round, I’m going to have a baby and I get to dress her up in gorgeous outfits and show her off and take care of her. Of course you appreciate the big step you are taking and the responsibility you will have towards this tiny new life, but because you know nothing else, you completely underestimate it all. The sleep deprivation, the exhaustion, the “constant-ness” of it all – suddenly your life is no longer your own.
This time my naivety is gone. And hopefully I’m also a bit more forgiving towards myself. Less judgmental of all my parenting failures. Last time I was fixated on a natural birth, but after 15 hours of labour and a baby that went into distress, the doctors performed an emergency C-section. And I felt like a failure because of that. And then there was the feeding. Whether I was too uptight, too stressed because of my mother’s illness, or just received some bad advice, I struggled to breastfeed from Day 1- parenting failure number 2.
This time I’m booked into the hospital for a Caesar, I’ve organised a lactation expert and the whole experience will hopefully be calmer and less stressful. If I struggle with the feeding again, I’m going to try not beat myself up. I’m going to give it my best shot and then switch to formula if it doesn’t work. Having a child is stressful enough and ruling out any smaller stresses is one way of making the whole transition a little easier.
But I’m also so excited for the joy. For the miracle. For that moment when we hold that tiny life in our arms and know that he is ours and that we made him and that he is precious. For those small fingers wrapped around your bigger ones, that fluttering beat of their heart as you hold it against yours and those newborn eyes staring so directly into your soul. For that first smile, that first burst through of their unique character, for those first steps.
Will he be just like his sister in looks, in personality, or completely different? Will he have more of me or his father in him or be unlike us both? How will the lottery of genes play out? And how will Rachel react to him: with love, with jealousy or with a whole mixed bag of toddler emotions?
It’s exciting, it’s nerve-wracking, it’s a fundamental change to our lives. Bring it on – we’re as ready as we’re ever going to be.
Image by Robyn Rose.