Obviously showing at 8 months pregnant with baby #2 pushing a grocery cart while strategically shoving cheerios into the palm of, and in between screams of, baby #2 always attracts the attention of ‘those’ mothers and their unsolicited advice. Most say, ‘the more you have the easier it will be.’
Sometimes I was asked, ‘are you ready for two?’ This personal question has always made my brain throw it’s neur-arms up in the air, as a lesbian parent, neither were unplanned. To which I respond with a polite “thank you” and a healthy attempt to disengage before other parables are shared and continue on my way.
Going from 1 child to 2 children is not as easy – how soon those public well-wishers have forgotten- as you are made to believe. For me, this difference started during the 1st trimester of my second pregnancy, and presented itself as pure exhaustion!
I then realized that with #1 I would enjoy a relaxing couch nap each day between work and beginning dinner. With pregnancy #2 this was an impossibility. At this point in our timeline, baby #1 was now a rip roaring, head spinning 360o, potty training toddler demon!
After the birth of #2, I experienced, what we later admitted to be Postpartum Depression. I did not exhibit the stereotypical disinterest in the baby, but myself and my toddler. My toddler was difficult, demanding, and starting to show signs of an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The first notable time I felt out numbered, 2 to 1, was when the three of us, infant, toddler, and I, had Hand, Foot, and Mouth. Imagine if you will, child #1 with a fever, itching, and wailing about a sore throat; child #2 was nursing constantly to relieve their sore throat all the while producing diapers to rival any forgotten Porto-Jon, and myself running a fever of 104.5oF and trying to keep it all together!
In the end, the four of us got through the first year. I also received help and good medication.
We also eventually reached a point where carting around extra baggage – clean clothing, snacks, diapers, wipes, first aid, etc.- was no longer necessary; at ages 7 and 4, we still do not leave the house without many false starts. We find repeating ourselves and gradually increasing our volume works best.
Often it is still hard with two, amid being more costly and taking up more space, we have to teach them to get along and to become good people. At the same time, it is sometimes easier – when you do not need to be the only source of human entertainment or companionship for them.
The corny response would be that without the experiences of going from 2 to 3 and from 3 to 4 we would not be as strong as we are as a family. Equally, that if we had only had #1 we would not have ever known the joys of #2…or something like that.
Parenting is difficult, we do not acknowledge this fact enough. We are lead to believe that it is the most rewarding thing we will ever do and that we will never know a greater love than that of being a parent. This is not true for everyone and not all children are likeable or easy, mine aren’t. Go into it with a realist perspective that way if it doesn’t turn out the way you dreamed it would it will be easier to adapt to the way it is.