I’m thrilled to have been asked to write a guest post this week, and the subject of my post is highly topical as we approach the half way mark in pregnancy number two! When people ask me why I blog, I often tell them that I find it quite therapeutic… I’m not sure if therapeutic is the right word this time, but it’s certainly got me thinking about the stuff that needs to get done and has helped give us a kick up the back side to get moving on some of that.
For me, preparing “stuff” for my second child isn’t half as stressful as it was first time around. Those of you who have read any of my recent musings on pregnancy second time around will know that I could happily have sat on the sofa with a mug of tea in one hand and my laptop in the other for 9 months waiting for E’s arrival, planning everything meticulously and ordering everything online. I read a lot. It had to be perfect, and no one was getting in the way of that. I could have switched the rest of the world off until she arrived. We found out that she was “probably a girl” and that meant that a sea of candyfloss washed over the house. Obviously, E is here now, approaching 19 months old and she alone makes sure that I cannot sit on the sofa for 9 minutes with a brew, never mind 9 months! Needless to say, this time around, very little is planned. I have my c-section booked after a difficult and complicated birth last time and I have a moses basket. Someone’s lending me some sheets for it. I bought a box of breast pads on offer in case I am able to breast feed this time. I have no replacement mattress for the crib and if it’s a boy he’ll only have two neutral sleep suits and a stack of pink vests. We have three names on the list. One boy name, two girl names. Until quite recently, if it was a boy he would have been called Boy.
I guess in a way there’s a lot less to plan second time around. You’ve got most of the kit (I just need to remember who has borrowed what since and get it back – I’ll add that to my to do list RIGHT AWAY!) and you’ve got a wealth of parenting experience you didn’t have the last time. You’ve not got to buy the big items, do the antenatal thing, wash every item of clothing 15 times to see how much you can fit on the clothes horse and choose which powder you prefer the smell of. For us, planning for us is more logistical. Swapping round bedrooms, as the kids will share, which means boxing up a lot of stuff for the loft and purchasing and assembling a build in flat pack wardrobe (I am naturally over the moon about this job) and putting provisions in place for E for the day I go into hospital. Starting to consider our childcare options for when I go back to work. That kind of thing.
Making the most of the days left
Preparing for baby two for me means making the most of the days I have left as a mum of one, and that’s probably the change I am most apprehensive about. We kept this pregnancy a secret for 15 weeks for various reasons, which almost left me in denial about it. When we made the announcement I was flooded with excitement for my new baby, my growing family, my life as part of an awesome foursome. And then it dawned on me that, much like when you wave goodbye to your days as a couple, just you and he, I am on a countdown of days left of the three of us, but even more heartbreaking, just me and her. My Fridays off with her are numbered and things will never be quite the same. How will I share the love I have for her with her sibling? How will I deal with the jealousy I anticipate her feeling? How will I ever get out of the house with two children without one of us forgetting our shoes/getting lost/being eaten by savage lions? No textbooks can tell you that. No amount of tea will stop me getting teary about this.
Preparing your first child
That leads me on to how I prepare E for this… And this is where my ink runs a little dry, as I’m still scratching my head a smidge. How do I try to explain the enormity of what’s about to happen to my toddler who thinks that because there’s a baby in my belly, there’s one in daddy’s belly and her belly too? How can I make sure she’s ready for this? Well, there’s some stuff I know I can do. I’ve already moved her into a toddler bed and her cot is up in the loft. I wanted it out of sight for as long as possible so that she never felt that someone else was replacing her in that cot. We will get this bedroom swap done so that she can settle into it long before there is a crying infant around. We talk about the baby in my belly a lot, especially while she plays with her doll and her pushchair, and this week she’s gone beyond playing peepo with my t-shirt and now strokes my belly, and puts her head to it and hugs it. She still puts her finger in my belly button and has a good rummage, maybe hoping it might eject the baby, but I think there’s something quite endearing about that. As I write I’ve ordered a copy of There’s a house inside my mummy to read with her. But I don’t know if I can explain, or how I can explain, or if any of this really makes her ready. Don’t get me wrong, of all the children I know she is probably one of the most amenable and adaptable. She adores babies, even as a tot herself she “helped” take care of the younger ones at nursery and now she dotes on my friends’ babies, retrieving dummies and offering them toys. She adores the company of others and loves to talk and chat and share… I know long term she will adore having a sibling and will be an incredibly loyal and loving big sister. As a single child myself I always feel a little bitter watching the relationships of others with their brothers and sisters. But they’ve done all that new baby stuff years ago and their parents dealt with all that and seemingly did a really good job of managing it. I think this is one of the things I’ll have to wing. Like much of my parenting. Perhaps I don’t need to get so worked up about it all, after all, we’re all still here 19 months down the line!
So, in conclusion I’m not all that prepared. But I’m preparing to be prepared. Or planning on preparing to be prepared. Despite all my hang ups, my tears, my worries, I know this will all be fine. Better than fine. It will be wonderful and our life as a family will be enriched by this baby and I can’t wait to watch us all grow.
Now to go and look at my to do list. The countdown continues…