Having two kids is an interesting experience. I don't think it's quite what I expected, to be honest. I haven't really obsessed over the added responsibility as much as I thought. Perhaps that's because I've been more preoccupied with Jacob's issues, but other than juggling the simultaneous needs of two kids at certain moments, the two-kid situation hasn't been that bad. For example, Carter wants to eat all evening, which makes Jacob's bedtime a little bit difficult.
However, I do have some random, odd, unfounded fears that have been nagging at me since Carter arrived. Even though most of this experience has been relatively easy-breezy compared to how I felt the first time around, I suppose there is always some fear and irrationality that goes along with being a parent of a new baby. I haven't let the fears get the best of me, mind you, but they do go through my mind more than I'd like. My biggest fear is obviously something happening to one kid or another. I pretty much insisted through most of this pregnancy (and particularly after labor) that this was the last time I'd go through all of this, but if something happened, I'd definitely have to consider doing it again. I don't want that declaration to come back to haunt me.
One of my biggest fears as a parent is SIDS. It's something that we're ultimately powerless to stop, no matter how many precautions we take. We have a smoke-free home, I breastfeed, and Carter is put to sleep on his back. Even with all that, SIDS could still strike and there's nothing we could do about it. It's always a little bit of a relief to hear baby noises after a long stretch of sleep, and I'm always relieved whenever I come back to where I've left Carter for a bit and all is well--whether I've let him nap in the swing while I showered or check on him in his car seat after a bit of running around where he slept peacefully the whole time. I worry about him slipping out of my grasp because he's so tiny and squirmy, or losing my grip on his car seat when I'm carrying it around.
I worry about Carter suffering from the same issues that plagued Jacob, from the reflux and possible milk protein issues (still not sure on that), to the breathing issues that Jacob had dealt with. Even worse, I worry about what bullets we dodged with Jacob that we might have to deal with with Carter. Every time we made it past a certain threshold with Jacob where we didn't have to deal with something (say, he never got into pacifiers or thumb sucking, so we never had to give them up), I breathed a sigh of relief and considered us very fortunate. Of course, I never thought ahead that we might have to deal with it this time around. There are illnesses, bad habits, and less-than-glorious parenting moments that we avoided previously that we may have to tackle with Carter. I'm already dreading having both kids puking at once, and I won't lie--every time I hear about a kid with cancer or some other horrible illness, I cringe and wish there was a "safe point" we could get past where those illnesses wouldn't be a threat. But there isn't, and that's scary. Having another kid opens you up to another chance at those problems, and it's a risk you have to take when you have another child.
The thing about having two is that you have "before" and "after" on display. The beauty of a newborn is that they don't talk back. They're perfectly innocent despite their capability to exhaust able-bodied adults. It's part of what makes the new baby period so magical. As they grow, they disobey and acquire the ability to actively frustrate their parents. It's easy to forget the early perfection amidst that, but having two kids you get a vivid reminder of what you once had with your older child, in contrast to what you have now....and it's a preview of what might be to come with your new baby. And given Jacob's recent behavior, it's been sort of a sad reality of how far we've fallen. I don't want to make the same mistakes twice, assuming I can figure out what those were.
Whenever I see some sort of troubling news story, like all the recent mass shootings, I think about the perpetrator's parents. Once upon a time, this person who is now the embodiment of evil, was their perfect, precious baby. I can't imagine their sadness and how they must replay everything in their minds, trying to figure out where they went wrong. I'm not saying I expect that sort of extreme scenario from my boys (God forbid), but I'm sure even the most normal parents have those reflective moments when they don't see eye-to-eye with their kids.
When you have a new baby, it's evident what a precious gift you've been given. They're amazing and helpless little miracles, and they only stay tiny and perfect for so long. They're always the center of your world, no matter their age, but those early days are unique. It's easy to consider them a bit of burden (albeit a welcome one) later on when they make you pull your hair out, in sharp contrast to the gift they were in the beginning. I remember blogging a while back about the realization that I was a happier parent when Jacob was a tiny baby, as opposed to the frustrated parent I became as he grew up and got defiant. You'd think the parenting experience should only get more rewarding as your child grows, learns, and begins to express their love for you. There are moments, certainly, but it's not always like that. The first time around you don't realize what may be ahead, but once you have a second child, knowing where you've been and having an idea of where you could be headed changes perspectives a bit. The experience has certainly been different than I expected.
Still, I have moments where I'm so hopeful. We're heading into spring, my favorite time of year. I still have a few weeks off with Carter and I'm looking forward to Easter. I'm hoping for a little more sleep and some real smiles in the weeks to come. I'm hoping that Jacob will come around soon, and I'm looking forward to a fun-filled summer. I'm excited for another set of milestones, and lots of fun holidays with two boys to share them with. I look forward to eventually watching them interact with each other, since so many parents count those moments among the best part of parenting. We haven't had those moments yet, so it leaves me with a lot to look forward to. I know there are many hard times to come, but for now I'll focus on the good. I'm blessed, and there's no denying that as I look at this tiny little boy sleeping in my arms.