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The Curse of the Second Child

My midwife has a line she likes to share with second-time moms.

“When you’re pregnant with your first, all you think about is your first. When you’re pregnant with your second… all you think about is your first.”

I’m finding this very, very true.

When I was pregnant the first time around, it felt all-consuming. I read about pregnancy and I looked forward to those weekly emails you get from all the various baby sites telling you exactly what the baby is up to in terms of growth and development. I found myself often distracted by the baby’s movements or worried about the (perceived) lack of. I dutifully signed up for my 8-week childbirth ed class and my husband and I attended every one without fail. I planned and prepped for the baby’s arrival, making shopping lists and to do lists and folding and refolding little clothes and diapers. I blogged and journaled about the pregnancy and shared regular updates with my Facebook friends.

This time around, I still think about the babe a lot and I still talk about it with friends and family, but it’s far from all-consuming because, frankly, I’ve got too much else on my hands at the moment. Most notably my 2-year old daughter.

While my best anecdotes and oversharing came from the growing babe in my womb 2+ years ago, they now come from this precocious kid I share a home with. And at night, when I would be attending childbirth ed classes or dreaming about this little one’s arrival, I’m instead wrestling the bigger one to bed or cleaning the house or trying to catch up on any number of things that I have no other time for because she fills my days so completely.

It’s sad, but it’s like this second kid is already getting the shaft.

My husband and I are working on improving in this area, although often still failing miserably. We keep swearing we’re going to sit down and start listening to Hypnobabies tracks (whoops), but have yet to actually manage it. And I keep bringing home new books and videos from my midwife’s office for us to look through and/or watch, but so far… nada.

I feel like we did make one breakthrough the other night, though. Once Poppy was asleep in bed, my husband joined me at the kitchen table – where I was mindlessly surfing Facebook on my phone and trying not to fall asleep sitting up – and asked, “How are you feeling these days? I mean, about the baby coming soon and everything that’s going to change?”

I put down the phone (for once) and we ended up spending the next half an hour just chatting. About the baby and how excited we are. About how terrified we are of having a second child to raise alongside the one we already feel we can barely manage sometimes. About what sort of support network we have here in NYC and how we can strengthen and expand it in the months to come.

After a while, the conversation shifted back toward Poppy (as usual) and then on to holiday plans and grocery lists and the usual stuff that consumes our little free time, but that half hour talk just about Boo felt fantastic. We’d finally managed to focus on this new baby, check in with each other on what’s to come, and to do so without distraction. Hopefully it’s not another three months before we manage again or we’ll be doing it as a family of four.  Eep!

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Follow Jo on Twitter at @outtajo or visit her personal blog, Outta Jo, Onto You.

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