Friday, February 1, 2013

The Others

Pregnancy is a time where it's very easy to focus on yourself.  You're hyper-aware of your body, you're making constant doctor's appointments for yourself, and answering lots of questions about how you're feeling.  Much of what doesn't have to do directly with you has to do with the little person hanging out inside you--buying things for them, preparing for their arrival, etc.  The first time around this isn't such a big deal.  You're mostly just concerned with yourself, the baby and your spouse anyway, and that's to be expected.  But once you have a child already, it complicates things quite a bit.  Not only is that child full of needs themselves, but their mere presence means that your attention is divided further and it means that more people are impacted when you need reach capacity and need to pass off responsibilities. 

Last time I was pregnant, I spent my spare time pondering our baby registry, shopping for maternity clothes, and hanging out with Craig at baby classes.  This time it's been an exercise in survival.  From feeling so horribly early on to the insane discomfort I'm dealing with now, it's made it very difficult to manage Jacob.  He's a high energy little boy who asks a lot of questions and needs a lot of direction to keep him on task.  There are moments when it's incredibly difficult to deal with him.  In fact, right now I can barely do some simple things for him--I can't bathe him, I can't pick him up, and it's hard to even reach to undo his car seat buckle.  I pass off a lot of responsibilities to Craig, of course.  I know he's tired from long days of work, so sometimes I feel guilty.  But I literally can't do some things--or perhaps could put myself into labor trying--so I don't have much of a choice.  The worst part may be that I need Craig as a "helper", so that role has probably overtaken "partner" and "husband" more than it should have.  I look to him as a necessity to manage Jacob more than anything, and it probably means that we haven't had as much "couple time" as we should have.  We're both tired and it's all too easy to veg out in front of the TV at night and miss out on prime, child interruption-free conversation time. 

Interestingly, one of the things that I miss most right now is the ability to comfortably snuggle both Craig and Jacob.  My belly gets in the way and I can't always sit or lay in a way that's comfortable.  Jacob's big boy bed is big enough for both of us, but because of the bed rail and the dozens of stuffed animals (still), it's too hard for me to get in to it to snuggle with him.  Even having him sit on my lap or give me a hug is awkward.  My snuggle time with Jacob was hard enough to come by before, but now it's extra tough.  Even with Craig, most nights by the time I get into bed I'm lucky if I can get comfortable laying alone, let alone with someone else in close proximity.  We've had a body pillow between us for months, and some of the physical issues I had earlier in this pregnancy meant that we couldn't keep up the same level of intimacy we did last time.  I miss the physical closeness with both of them. 

Last time as we awaited Jacob's arrival, we knew that when the moment came, we'd just grab our stuff and go.  This time we have to figure out what to do with Jacob.  Will there be someone to watch him while we're at the hospital?  Who will we be inconveniencing with that desperate phone call?  Will Jacob feel slighted when he's dumped off with someone else?  Once we're home I wonder how Jacob will adjust.  I wonder how Craig and I will ever find time for each other when we have two kids to manage.  It will be a difficult balance to make sure that both kids' needs are met, as well as our own, individually and as a couple. 

As a whole this pregnancy has been far less reflective and peaceful.  Instead of enjoying the experience and carefully planning each detail, it's been about focusing on Jacob's needs and just getting through as best we can.  Last time I read books, took classes, and thoughtfully pondered what we might need.  This time I'm lucky if I read my weekly pregnancy email.  I can't remember much of what we talked about in class, so I'm nervous that parts of labor and delivery that I blocked out will take me by surprise this time.  I did a small baby registry based on things I knew we would use or could stand to be replaced.  The rest is just going to be filled in with whatever I have stuffed in the crawl space.  It's a bit of a "make it work" moment, as opposed to planning every little thing.  All that time has been filled with Jacob's needs and battling my own body, so it's been a decidedly different experience this time around. 

Despite spending all of this time on Jacob, I still worry about how this experience has been impacting him and how it will affect him in the coming weeks.  At the same time, I wonder what kind of things this baby is going to miss out on because he's not going to get the only child treatment that Jacob did.  Even though we've done all of this before, it feels like such a different experience and seems to have greater potential to impact other people far more than it did last time.  It's intimidating, but I'm just trying to take it one day at a time right now.  I think that's all I can handle!

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