When we become first-time parents, we are enamored with the idea of a new little baby. We fantasize about how the baby will look, which of significant other's favorite traits the baby will inherit, and we can spend hours debating the merits of several name combinations with our spouse. When the time for the sonogram comes, we kick anticipation into high gear, seeking to know the sex of our precious bundle of joy, so that we can proceed to decorate the nursery that can only be rivaled in Architectural Digest. If you are lucky, you experience no pregnancy related discomforts, have an easy delivery, and have an easy baby.
We forget several key points trapped under our flowery thoughts. We forget that these sweet little babies grow up, learn to use their mouths for stuff other than smiling and feeding, and often beat the daylights out of their equally precious siblings...Sounds like we've all been taking a dip in denial!
I should have known at the get-go that this was MY pregnancy. My husband and I "issues" (not horrible, but enough to make me sob every time I found out someone ELSE was pregnant) getting pregnant. I felt like I was a part of a small scale science experiment (which REALLY explain my older son Matthew's fascination with science). So finally, when I had enough hormones to kill a two ton animal, the first sign of pregnancy came about; a missed period.
My very specific directions from the specialist was to report immediately for a blood test. I did as told. And, although it was REALLY hard to wait, I even WAITED until two minutes AFTER the day and time that had been designated for me to call for my results. Did I mention that this was me...yeah, well, the lab LOST MY BLOOD ! I mean, seriously, folks! Who loses a
Needless to say, I went to the corner drug store, bought the first time mother's pregnancy test (+ or -, because you still have brains to figure out this particular code), peed on the darn stick and waited...big surprise, the test works fine and there's a negative, uh, wait a minute, is that a perpendicular line in the faintest of pinks?..OH S*%@! What do I do now?!! Not entirely the response that's documented in What To Expect When You're Expecting, is it?
You can very well imagine that every pregnancy malady that exists, I experienced. Sonogram, yeah, right. My kid, wanting to get a jump start in games children play with their parents, decided to cross his legs and not let us plan our Pottery Barn worthy nursery. Labor lasted 40 @*&%^$ hours! Only to have an emergency c-section. My precious baby had his mother's sense of direction and decided to go INTO the pelvic bone instead of THROUGH it...and we almost lost him. So, regardless of how crappy the last 36 weeks had been, Matthew's cry was the most soothing sound I had ever heard; because he was alive, he was healthy, and he was my son!
Motherhood was easy compared to what my body had gone through. He was the most perfect baby, slept through the night within the first month, hit his milestones, was a JOY! And me, I was a hard-ass. I wanted to keep a schedule, and I did. I corrected and modeled and he copied and took note. Then, I got pregnant again, faster than we had anticipated, because it had taken so long before.
Pregnancy #2 followed in suit with equal crappiness, but Andrew threw me a bone and was not camera shy at the sonogram. Father and son high-fived, and I grew concerned...another "oh, S*#@!" moment. Now, I am outnumbered, in so many ways... Andrew arrived at his scheduled c-section appointment time, and all was good. Except, you can't really be too much of a hard-ass when you are so tired. When all you are doing is changing diapers and feeding children. Did I mention changing diapers?
Now, all is still fine as #2 is confined to a play yard or pack and play. When he is kept separate from his brother. When you can no longer contain the second child, you are up the creek, because you have just entered an apprenticeship with the highly skilled, peace-keeping negotiating diplomats of the United Nations...and for any of you that have more than one child, you know exactly what I mean. Anything can set off an opportunity to practice your skills, and if you have a whiner, you will learn how to block from your mind any and all kinds of sounds emitted from your child that are not emergency related. Doesn't a college level course relating to this seem more practical than that Intro to Statistics you passed by the skin of your teeth?
Parenthood the third time around? No fertility drugs for once...the universe's cruel joke to turn me into Fertile Myrtle in my early thirties with two boys and a third child on the way...No concern for what sex he was. No, just concern for everything being okay and on track. No pregnancy maladies, mainly because I was so tired that I was numb to anything that wasn't sleep related or involved sick children...And really, pregnancy maladies are non-existent the third time around because you can't really take care of yourself the way you did when you were pregnant the first time...There are too many other bodies that need your attention. And if you did have any maladies, you are way too busy to deal with them. No delay in labor or waiting until the designated c-section day, because Joshua decided he wanted out, and wanted to get get mixed up the fray that was our family...And another healthy baby boy came my way.
Yeah, whole new perspective and mindset in approaching parenting went along with it. No more concerns for the superficial, because you are older and hopefully wiser. You know it doesn't matter if it's a boy or a girl, you are just joyful in knowing that everything is where is should be and there is nothing extra or abnormal. No more tightly held schedules and silly rules, because honestly, the kids are okay. It's us; the parents, that seem to need to feel like we have more control than we really do. Don't get me wrong, some things are non-negotiable. You MUST be polite, respectful. You must try your best at school and in every thing else that is worthwhile. You must follow rules that guard your physical safety. But the stuff that's hiding under the dresser, who cares? That every article of clothing is placed in its correct location, who has time for that? Do you want to be remembered by your kids as the mom who chased them around the house to get everything orderly? Personally, the best chaos is one that is created with joyful, happy, secure kids...
With each additional child, you gain more to love and less to fuss over. You simply don't have the time, energy or inclination to waste any time you do have on stuff that doesn't matter anyway. You let go of the stuff that inhibits you from actually ENJOYING your kids. Because we all know how fast it goes...because before you know it, they are preschoolers, then in elementary school, MIDDLE SCHOOL (a whole other set of rules, I'm sure) and then, high school and college...and then, they are gone. And if you've done a good job in focusing on what's important, you might actually miss them. And they might just turn out to be the kind of people that you like...and THAT is something to be proud of....