Fears

OK, I know I just wrote a whole thing about how I feel that I am confident as a parent and know what I am doing for the most part. So I need you to indulge me for a moment.

I am a little nervous about having a second baby. Part of the reason I was such a kickass parent when Sam was an infant was my ability to stay completely in tune with his needs and meet them. I had infinite patience for him (which lasted until, oh, last week). But I did not have another child who also needed my attention. I had a husband, which is not really the same at all, and I know that I was horribly impatient with him at times. I can’t be like that with Sam when Otter is here. And I am afraid that he will be shortchanged if I give Otter as much of myself as he had. But I don’t want to shortchange the baby either.

I know that every parent ever (at least the non-lame ones) has struggled to find balance. I still have trouble balancing being Sam’s mom and being a writer and being a knitter and knitwear designer and being a housewife and being a friend and being a blogger and the eight million other things I am. Something always suffers. And I worry how I’ll handle adding one more thing to the mix–and an entire human at that!

I take comfort in the hope that the solution will be beer. Foamy, delicious beer.

15 thoughts on “Fears

  1. Mary

    August 31, 2009 at 9:08am

    If beer isn’t the answer then I don’t know what is.

    Hmm. I have wondered about this myself. I always feel like I’m somehow neglecting my child when I do ANYTHING that is not directly related to her immediate needs. I know that is crazy, but that is how it feels sometimes.

    I guess the balance is that Sam gets a sibling out of the deal, which is cool even if it means that Mommy will be a little preoccupied with that sibling for awhile. And Otter gets an awesome big brother.

    Besides, no one has to tell Otter about the days when you would hold Sam for 20 hours straight, staring at him with no distractions. Otter won’t even know they are missing out on anything. I won’t tell.

  2. Katherine

    August 31, 2009 at 10:17am

    I was only two when Nathan was born, but I have clear memories of cuddling up next to my mom while she fed him, and talking to them about whatever or reading a book. And when Rachel was born, Nathan (2) and I (4) both couldn’t get over her (at least until she was older, when she seemed designed to drive me nuts). Otter will have more attention than Sam did, because Otter will have Sam – and as Otter gets older, Sam will get attention from his younger sibling. Otter will never know any different.

    I also remember for a while that it seemed like the only thing that my mom ever said to me was “Just a minute…” – and, apparently, I got so fed up with her, I yelled back at her, “‘Just a minute, just a minute’ THAT’S ALL YOU EVER SAY!” So, yes, I was awesome at guilt trips at a very early age. That was about the same time that she started to flip me off when she got mad – and then I flipped her off in front of my grandma. HA HA!

    Good times!

  3. Stephanie

    August 31, 2009 at 10:31am

    I know it’s not helpful right now, but all I can really say is that it will all fall into place. Which is not to say that you won’t sometimes feel like you’re pulled in a million directions at once. I was just thinking yesterday about how everything happens at once around here. Irina needs to use the potty (which requires my help) at the same time that Saren is in the shower in the only working bathroom at the same time that Silas cries because he wants to nurse at the same time that Harper asks for help with a project at the same time that the cat throws up in the hallway. But when it happens you just prioritize things in your mind, deal with them, and wait for the next thing.

    It’s true that Sam will need to adjust to his new position in the family, but he’ll do fine. All my used-to-be-the-baby kids really enjoyed being helpers when the new baby came along.

    In conclusion, this might just be so much blah blah blah until you’re actually experiencing it, so I’ll just stick with “don’t worry, it’ll all fall into place.”

  4. Swistle

    August 31, 2009 at 11:26am

    Of COURSE the solution involves beer.

    Also, I remember that things sometimes felt IMPOSSIBLE (toddler pitifully asking for a book while baby screams and has a blow-out diaper and then spits up) and sometimes felt BETTER THAN EVER (toddler wants baby to sit on his lap while we read a book, and pets baby’s downy head while baby coos adoringly/adorably), and usually they balanced out somewhere in the middle. I’d read to or talk to the toddler while nursing the baby, and that wasn’t as nice as when I used to read my own books while nursing, but it was nice in its own way. I’d set the toddler up with a game and be kind of glad that I had the baby to deal with so I wasn’t quite so bored waiting for my turn. Etc.

  5. uccellina

    August 31, 2009 at 12:42pm

    Twins! The neglect is built-in!

    I know this will be different for you because Sam has been the only child until now. But seriously, one thing that saved my sanity – and still does – was our mutual friend KS’s reminder that my job was not to make the child stop crying. It was to make sure they were safe, that they knew I was there and they were not alone, and to try to convey I was aware of their needs and would deal with them as soon as I could.

    The tearful outrage of a child asked to wait for a book while the other child has its diaper changed is a sad and pathetic thing. But they survive, and so do we (so far, anyway).

  6. Summer

    August 31, 2009 at 2:15pm

    I’m expecting my second about the same time as you and very much feeling the stress of doing it as well the second time around. My basic feeling is things have got to give a little – River will learn to compromise, Sweet Pea will thrive even if my attachment parenting is slightly less attached, and somehow we’ll find balance. But if you can figure it all out, please do share!

  7. Shelby

    August 31, 2009 at 2:25pm

    “Alcohol: the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.”

  8. Anne

    August 31, 2009 at 6:14pm

    As the mother of two, who had a total meltdown re: 2nd baby about a week before 2nd baby was due, feeling sure that I was totally not being fair to my firstborn, and she’d be all screwed up and this was ALL MY FAULT, I have to totally agree with Stephanie, but Shelby’s point is completely valid too!

  9. KS

    August 31, 2009 at 7:45pm

    Going on 4 kids now, I have to say that the transition from one to two was the hardest for me. It was less to do with worry over neglect but simply that it was the first time I HAD to find that balance between kids. Have you read the Continuum Concept? (I thought you had, but my foggy end of pregnancy brain is not remembering for sure.) One of the ideas that really resonated with me (which I think is often lost in “mainstream” attachment parenting) is that it is not desirable to focus on our children all the time. Babies and children are part of life, and life includes siblings and potty breaks (for the grownup) and adult conversation and work (including writing and sewing!!!), and the older they get the more they will understand that and find their own path within the family.

    So all that’s to say that whatever worry you feel is fine, but also that this will be so GOOD for Sam (and you!) even if there are hard moments sprinkled in there.

    I remember my oldest cuddling beside me feeling upset because I couldn’t do something for her right away (because of the baby) and then turning to her sister and kissing her. It was always such a great reminder that we were all transitioning, and it wouldn’t be forever, and especially that no one was being traumatized by the experience!!!

    Although now that I think back, I’m pretty sure I was drinking beer every day at that point. But that was for supply!!! I swear!!!

  10. Annika

    August 31, 2009 at 7:55pm

    I’ve read part of The Continuum Concept. I couldn’t finish the book, due primarily to hating the writing and partly to the fact that it was all stuff I knew already. But it might be worth a second look to remind myself of some of the stuff you’ve mentioned here. Because that is totally my philosophy about parenting but it is really hard in practice some days.

  11. Meg

    August 31, 2009 at 9:21pm

    The only thing that will Truly Trouble any of you after Otter arrives is how it was possible your family existed *without* Otter. That, and you will never (and I mean NEVER) have the bathroom to yourself again.

  12. Melissa

    August 31, 2009 at 9:56pm

    I am not a parent. But my mom told me that with all of her kids, she found out that there was always a transition stage, but that their love always multiplied, it never divided. You have an awesome husband, and your success is proven with Sam. Sam will be a helper to you and you will make it! All of those things that you do and are, they will wait for you to pick back up again when you are read – they won’t go anywhere. And I bet the beer won’t hurt.

  13. Diane Dawson

    August 31, 2009 at 10:51pm

    The most reassuring thing I have been told so far… Lilly will do fine because I gave her everything I gave her. And she is securely attached and has resources for dealing with stress. So my focus needs to be on providing that security for baby sister so she can be equally secure in her Mama’s love and devotion. I know it will still be hard… but it was a good reminder to me that an infant’s needs will often need to be a priority in the beginning.

    Here’s to us all finding the extra strength and patience!

  14. B

    September 1, 2009 at 6:54am

    I may be one of the few here that thinks so, but the transition to one kid was harder than adding the second. For our family at least.

    Now that i know how to function on little-to-no sleep and how to get out the door with all that it takes to care for a baby, how to nurse in public, how to nurse in general (!), how to change a diaper one handed, how to ask for help when I need it – the second kid has just sorta fit in.

    Me? I do miss staring at the newborn all day. It’s not happening and yes, it makes me sad. But the newborn doesn’t know what it’s like to be stared at all day. So she doesn’t feel slighted.

    And as a bonus this time around I get this 3 year old who can’t stop kissing her baby sister. Who tries to mimic all I’m doing with the baby, right down to making herself a breast pump out of a magna doodle and shoving a baby doll up her shirt to nurse. She sings songs to the baby so I can put her down and go to the bathroom for a second. She fetches diapers at changing time and rinses toes at bath time. It’s so damn cute in such a different way than staring longingly into newborn baby’s eyes all day that I’m learning to be okay with missing out on the stuff I used to do with the first baby that I just plain can’t now.

    It’ll work out. You may need beer, yes. But there’s some good stuff here i didn’t expect and it’s a blast.

  15. Nana

    September 1, 2009 at 10:35pm

    My first child never recovered from becoming a big sister…

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