I recently acquired a second child. I know. I also questioned the wisdom of letting me raise a second child but it’s too late now. Plus she is really cute and smells like strawberries so I want to keep her. And sniff her. All the time.
What were we talking about? Oh, right. Children.
In a true representation of my attitude about parenting, I was not that excited to find out I was having a second child. I wasn’t sad or mad. Mostly surprised. And panicked. So, so panicked. The kind of panic you feel when you realize you have to make a sacrifice to the porcelain throne while you’re in the middle of the check-out lane at the grocery store with a week’s worth of food and a child who is trying to eat the handle of the buggy.
But I had a good reason. Most people who read my posts know that my first child (the afore-mentioned buggy-eater) was born very early at 26 weeks and spent a long time in the hospital fighting for his life. My husband and I had decided to wait for several years to even discuss a second child. Except then God was all “LOL you guys are totes hilarious” and we found out we were going to be parents for the second time in as many years. Cue the panic.
Everyone said the same thing: “It will be totally different.” The odds of the same thing happening with this pregnancy that had happened the first time were probably pretty low. The doctors, friends, family members – they all repeated that to me over and over. It will be totally different. And as things progressed and continued to go well, I believed it. This time would be totally different. None of the fear, no NICU stay, no wondering when my baby would be home, no driving back and forth to the hospital every day. This time, I promised myself, would be great.
And then I realized that I didn’t like that attitude very much. Not that I wanted this baby to stay in the NICU or have any problems, but I was starting to look at my experience with Josh as a bad thing. Slowly but surely I had separated the birth experiences of my children into Things You Never Ever Want To Happen and The Super Best Thing Ever Yay For My Baby. You can guess which one goes in which category. And I really started to hate that distinction.
I get asked all the time if I would change Josh’s circumstances at the time of his birth and during his hospital stay. I always answer no, and that is the honest truth. But over the last few months I began to realize that not only would I not change it; I want to celebrate it. I want to shout from the rooftops that while it didn’t go the way I had planned, I still got to meet my beautiful baby boy and fell in love with him from the get-go. I want to be just as thrilled over his birthday as I am with Jenna’s. When people ask me his age, I want to give his real one, the one that goes with the birthday we will celebrate for years to come as we remember what a blessing he is. I want him to know that even though it was hard, the day he was born was one of the best of my life, right up there with my wedding day and the day Gilmore Girls premiered.
It doesn’t bother me that people remind me how different the experience with each of my children was. It was my own attitude about the situation that bothered me the most. Was it different this time? Yes, so incredibly different. Was it better this time? Not even a little. It was just as exciting, just as amazing, and just as incredible the second time around. Because the thing about having kids is that there are ups and downs and everything in between, and you never really know what lies ahead of you. And at the end of the day none of that matters anyway. All that matters is that on your child’s birthday, whether he celebrates it in the NICU or asleep in your arms, you have something so fantastic that the rest just kind of fades away. That’s is what I want to remember about both of my children. I never want to forget the rest because it’s important, too. But the most important thing I can ever take away from both of my experiences is how amazing it was to see them with my own eyes for the first time and feel a love so deep and immeasurable that I knew I was a goner from the very first seconds of their lives.
So, yes. This time around it has been totally different. I wouldn’t have it any other way…except for how it was the first time.