This whole mom thing is a little easier, in some respects, the second time around. And it’s simultaneously harder by a frigging long shot.
It’s easier because my son’s arrival wasn’t as jarring as his sister’s. Going from no kids to one kid was like WHOA. Going from one kid to two kids was lowercase whoa. Chris and I are already six years into parenthood, so we weren’t shocked by the boxes of diapers that stashed themselves in the closet. (We were slightly shocked to discover what we’ve saved for the last six years, like the stroller. Blew cobwebs off that sucker. And the high chair. Found six year old puffs tucked into the hinges. Very thankful we saved all of Birdy’s little bird clothes, because so many of them have been repurposed for his tiny butt.) So all the “stuff” that comes with little babies was expected. We also knew a lack of sleep was to be expected. In addition to a marked uptick in discussions about poop.
What people told us about parental reactions to second kids seems true so far, too. We aren’t as scared to hold him, or to hand him to family members to hold. The little wobbly head and neck feel familiarly easy to support. Changing a diaper is business as usual (except for the different set of parts in play, where the fear of being peed on takes a whole new trajectory … quite literally). We even assembled the crib without too much trouble, despite needing to reorder the hardware kit because that somehow disappeared in the last six years. Yet we easily found the old bottle warmer. Whatever, storage wars.
Even recovering from the c-section was familiar, though no less annoying or uncomfortable. Now, two months later, my scar is light pink and fading and doesn’t feel as if a sneeze would rip it open and send my organs shooting across the room. (A real, yet unreasonable, fear I had this time around.) I’m able to walk on the treadmill and go up the stairs without pain. Feeling more human and better armed to take care of my kids.
But those first few sleepless weeks? Holy hell, they hurt. Sleep was not a thing for many, many weeks. I started to crack up a little, only sleeping an hour at a time. Add that to the established needs and schedule of the Birdzone and my brain was slowly refusing to think thoughts due to lack of sleep. I was once again confused about how the hell to snap up his overnight pajamas. So much so that I ditched snaps entirely and the little guy been sleeping in those lovely sleep sacks for the last two months. (We have an arsenal of them in rotation, because he has a tendency to tear through them with reckless, spit-uppy abandon.) I may have cried at random a few times because I was so damn tired. Thankfully, the little man has given in to sleep for three or four hours at a clip at night, so things are improving.
I also sort of forgot about breastfeeding. I forgot the sound that the pump makes (that hiss-hiss-hiiiiiiiiss) and how cumbersome it is to use in public. I forgot about the weird combination of pain and relief it physically provides. And I forgot about the constant need to either feed or pump.
Last week, I officially started traveling again and for the first time used the pump in public places, like an empty conference room in Boston (thanks, Anna!) and the airplane bathroom. With Birdy, I was reluctant to do anything breastfeeding-related in public because I was so unsure of myself, but this time necessity dictates my actions, so no time for shy. On a plane this past Friday, I needed to pump and took zero time getting into the airplane bathroom and pumping for a few minutes. Same in the airport (thank you, Mamava in the Atlanta airport). Same at the meeting I attended at the University of Georgia, where I walked onto a college campus with my insulin pump in my pocket and my breast pump in my bag. So far, we haven’t needed to bring formula into the equation (save for an ounce we needed to administer in the hospital – thanks, diabetes, for the delayed milk arrival and a dehydrated baby), and I’m hoping I can keep up with breast milk production despite returning to work travel. Traveling with breastmilk through TSA is a hassle, though, so adding that to my already-diabetes influenced TSA troubles makes getting through security its own damn trip. Still working out the kinks there.
However, I do definitively recall the chaos that an infant brought to my diabetes care. Until just a few days ago, my body was still adjusting to breastfeeding, so weird low blood sugars would come swooping in unpredictably after feeding or pumping. Jars of glucose tabs were ripped through in record time. I’m only now starting to even out and predict the hypos, which helps a ton. But staying on top of things like checking my blood sugar and eating regularly remains tough. Throw in a broken Dexcom receiver and a suddenly-dead transmitter and I’m in a world of data-free diabetes hurt. New receiver should arrive tomorrow, along with new transmitter hopefully this week. Setting an alarm on my phone to check my BG every two hours is helping me stay on top of things, but I’m having an A1C drawn this week and I know it’s going to be a far cry from the numbers I saw before and during pregnancy. I’m actively and aggressively trying to stay on top of diabetes needs despite wanting to shelve all that shit for a while.
But I also remembered that, with a baby comes this strong and steady flow of love. Like so many other parents, I was a little worried that my heart would have trouble making room for another kid. I was so, so wrong to worry. There’s more than enough room for love this time around. This baby boy smiles at me and I become instantly stupid, all washed over with love for him. He’s been here the whole time, only now I can hug him.
… he’s quite a dancer, too.