Posted by Hilary Parker on August 10, 2011
I don’t know about you, but I was a wreck after having Baby No. 1.
Sure, I’d stacked the deck against myself by buying into all of the ideas about a natural labor process (hello, emergency C-section!) and about how our baby would have nothing but breast milk for the first year (hi there, severe lactation issues!) And when I nodded off into a painkiller-induced narcoleptic session while sitting in the rocking chair the first night home from the hospital only to be awakened to find she’d rolled off my lap onto the floor, I was pretty sure I’d never be a decent — not to mention good — mother. (She landed safely on a super-carpeted floor, but I still can’t believe that happened. I was convinced I’d scrambled her little brain.)
I worried when she ate. (Did she eat enough? Too much?) I worried when she didn’t eat. (Is she sick? Are some of her intestines missing?) I worried when she walked at eight-and-a-half months old. (Does this mean she’s a genius? I don’t know how to raise a genius!) I worried when she started daycare. (She’s crying for me! Will this separation produce a lifelong anxiety disorder in her? Followed by: She’s not crying for me! Does she like her daycare providers better?) The list goes on and on…
Now, eight months into Baby No. 2, I’ve relaxed. When the vomiting started last night, there were no panicked calls to the doctor. I simply waited until all of my second-born’s stomach contents were safely settled down the front of my pajamas and then undressed us both in the laundry room before taking her into the shower with me. What once brought me to tears (Does she have Asian Bird Flu?) gets a big bowl of “meh” now.
It helps that I’ve been blessed to have such a lovely, bright, now nearly six-year-old serve as my teacher. The very same baby I dropped on her head that first night has gone on to teach me so much about what is and isn’t important. I’m often overheard saying, “If nobody’s bleeding, everything’s OK.” (And usually, even if someone is bleeding, things are still OK.) And I’ll be honest: I’m having a lot more fun the second time around.
I know this is not a unique experience: Most parents confess to having an easier time with their second (and subsequent) children. We’ve been around the block, and while we may have skinned our knee a few times, we’ve come away wiser and more good-humored about it all. But I offer this in the hope that it might help any of you Vigilant Moms who find themselves going through the first-round worries. It’s normal, it sucks — and it’s all worth it.