Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fears

I can't lie...as excited as I am about this baby, I am also scared to death.  I felt that way last time, too, but with each child the stakes are raised.  Not only does our parenting impact one child, but now we'll have two, with the added element of sibling-hood to complicate things even more.  We wanted another baby since before Jacob was born, as long as having or raising Jacob didn't prove to be too traumatic.  It's been hard, no doubt, but having an only child for over four years has also shown me that the lesson of not being the center of the universe is a valuable one...despite how hard it may be to learn.  Having your first child is a total unknown, but having a second gives you the illusion of having been there before...even though in the end it's a total crapshoot of how much of that previous knowledge will come back to you or apply to baby #2.  My fears are numerous and a little anxiety-inducing, but rest assured, they're not paralyzing...yet.  We'll get through one way or another...but here's what's weighing on my mind these days...

Going early - I was concerned about going into labor early last time, but I never thought it would happen.  In the end I had Jacob 10 days early.  Fortunately I had about 45 minutes or so (which is still discussed at work from time to time) to go clean off my desk before heading to the hospital, because that took a huge load off my mind.  I worry about not having that chance this time around (and I swear, if I came into the office on the way to the hospital again, my boss might kill me), and I have a lot to teach our research assistant at work before I'm gone for a month and a half.  There's a lot of complicated stuff that I wasn't doing last time around, so it's going to be a challenge to teach all of that in the next couple months, let alone if that time is cut short.  Timing in general is a lot trickier this time around, since obviously there's Jacob to consider.  My parents can get here relatively quickly if need be and I'm guessing Lori might be able to help us out in a pinch, but going to the hospital in the middle of the night is far more complicated than it would have been last time.  In addition, we still have a lot to do at home to get ready for this baby, and at the moment we have to accomplish certain steps before we can move on to the rest.  Last time we could just focus on the baby task at hand, but this time we're working on Jacob's room, the baby's room, and life in general--including all of Jacob's goings-on.  He starts soccer this week, for example.  We just have more going on and the less time we have to get ready and have things in place, the harder it's all going to be in the long run.

Time for everyone, including me - Having an infant can be all-encompassing.  On one level I was a little relieved to go back to work after maternity leave last time, because the round-the-clock care of a baby is exhausting and I was looking forward to having a little time to focus on me, even if it was at work.  It was a chance to re-establish my own identity apart from Jacob.  So...with that experience in mind, I think about how much time I dedicate to Jacob now.  I find it hard to accomplish all I want to on a daily basis and keep everyone happy.  It's hard to find a good balance now, let alone with an infant that will be taking over our entire schedule.  How can I make sure that Jacob's getting the attention he needs, the baby is taken care of, Craig still feels loved, and I don't lose myself amidst it all?  It seems impossible.

Jacob as a big brother - As I've said many times, Jacob can be an awesome kid...but he can also be extremely difficult.  Because he's such a wildcard already, I can't quite fathom how things are going to go when he has a brother.  He's so used to being the center of attention around here, and despite our best efforts, he's not very patient.  Sometimes the baby is going to take priority, and I don't know how he's going to deal with that.  Two screaming kids might be insanity-inducing.  My biggest fear is that he's going to get violent with the baby, even if it's just something passive-aggressive like "accidentally" throwing a ball at him or squeezing him just a little too tightly.  He's already insisting he's not going to hold his brother, and basically says that taking care of him is my job.  It's a far cry from most of the other older siblings I've ever seen who are beyond excited and eager to help.  Oh, and I'm also wondering how nursing is going to go when Jacob's around and already well aware of "boobies".  I don't want to have to cover up all the time because there are things I want to watch for and I want to be able to stare at the baby (and let him stare back), so though it might be a little thing, it's on my mind.

Dealing with a baby's schedule - Like I said, I remember all too well how all-encompassing taking care of a baby can be.  They need attention all the time, and during the rare times they don't, your main goal is recovering from the exhaustion.  Having to deal with Jacob during that time in addition is going to be difficult, but that's beside the point.  As needy as Jacob can be sometimes, I know we've gotten lazy.  Jacob can change his clothes by himself, both in the morning and at night.  He can play alone really well at times.  He sleeps in until about 7:30 or later.  He first slept through the night at 10 weeks and has slept through 95% of the time since teething ended.  We're spoiled, and we've been out of the baby phase for a long time.  On the bright side, we've had a little break from that exhausting phase so hopefully we're refreshed heading back into it, but we've also been out of it long enough that it scares me a little to go back to that.  I worry about dealing with every three hour feedings, frequent diaper changes, ill-timed blowouts, being up all night, and trying to get out of the house with one kid that won't listen and another that needs a lot of equipment.  I'm not sure how to manage two schedules (or more) that inevitably won't match up.  What happens when Jacob needs to be somewhere but the baby needs to eat?

Sleep deprivation - This just sort of rolls into the rest, of course, but sleep deprivation scares me more this time than before.  I learned last time around how the lack of sleep impacts my entire outlook on life.  If I sleep well, all is right with the world.  If I don't, everything is falling apart.  I don't like the prospect of having that dynamic impact how I deal with Jacob's ups and downs.  In addition, the stuff I do at work is even more detail-oriented and thinking-dependent than it used to be, so it becomes extra hard to do when I'm tired.  And even though Jacob is a pretty good sleeper, I feel like I'm already dealing with over four years of sleep deprivation.  I suppose it's a combination of staying up a little later to maximize my "me time" after Jacob goes to bed, sleeping less deeply because having a baby tunes you in to every little noise, and missing out on the long weekend sleep-ins I once had.  I've gotten used to sleeping in again, albeit until about 8am instead of 11, but the thought of giving that up again in a matter of weeks is scary.

Things not going according to plan - This is sort of an offshoot of the "going early" issue, because that is one possibility within this realm, but I also worry about any issues with my health that might contribute to that, or anything that might be wrong with the baby, either due to going early or just in general.  Being in the hospital for an extra week last time was really hard, but this time it would be a huge challenge because Jacob would still be back at home.  Since we went through that with Jacob, I've craved a "normal" first week experience where I could get to know my baby at my leisure, rather than having to do it in a less-than-comfortable hospital setting with nurses looking over my shoulder.  I want to snuggle my baby on my couch at home, take naps when the baby naps (which was my major downfall last time during that week, leading to a total breakdown), and take as many cute pictures as I can muster in my sleep-deprived haze.  Yet as much as I want that time this time, I want a healthy baby even more.  God forbid there are any unexpected issues, whether long term or short term.  Babies change your life enough, let alone if there's some problem we wouldn't have anticipated.  It's scary.  Another issue that I worry about popping up is postpartum depression.  There's no reason to expect it to strike, but it can come out of nowhere and I worry about that stealing the joy out of those early days.  I've read a lot about it in the past few years and know how horribly it can impact totally normal people.  It's not a major concern, but it is in the back of my mind. 

The baby being too much/too little like Jacob - One of the reasons I wanted to have a girl was because it would start us on a clean slate.  I would just assume that raising a girl would be a totally different experience than a boy, so it wouldn't really throw me for a loop as much when things went differently.  But with having another boy, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking it's going to go similarly.  In reality, I know that this baby could be totally different and yet I don't want that reality to catch me off-guard when it actually happens.  On one hand I worry about dealing with some of Jacob's more difficult quirks with another baby, but at the same time I wonder how many bullets we dodged with Jacob that we'll encounter with this baby.  For example, Jacob was never much of a climber or cabinet explorer, so we never had to worry about doing a ton of baby-proofing along those lines.  I don't want to assume this baby will be the same and have it come back to bite us if he gets into trouble before we're prepared for it.  I worry about this baby being a terrible sleeper, having trouble nursing, or being hardcore colicky.  We didn't have to deal with those issues (at least not consistently) last time, so I'm nervous about possibly facing those issues again.  We've been through a lot of illnesses, and probably missed a handful of them, too, and now we'll be dealing with all of that again...and we'll have two kids to share germs, too.  I don't want to fall into the trap of comparing them, but sometimes it seems inevitable.

I'm sure there are more I'm forgetting, but this is enough to think about for now, huh?  Rest assured, I'm not preoccupied with all of these issues all of the time, but as I encounter issues along each of these lines that challenge me now, I think about how a baby will complicate things further and I get nervous all over again.  At the same time, I do remember that no matter how hard it was to have a baby last time around, I found those early days so rewarding and fulfilling, probably because I didn't have a disobedient kid talking back to me at every turn.  I know it's hard, but there was something unique about those early days and I look forward to exploring that time again.  I know it's going to be hard, though like last time, I truly have no idea how hard.  We'll just have to take things one step at a time around here, and I have (hopefully) two months to prepare myself for the challenge. 

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