A friend of mine is having her second baby on Tuesday through a scheduled C-section and it’s bringing back so many emotional memories of my last days just with Hannah before my scheduled C with Luke. First, before I get to the emotional part, let me just talk for a second about how weird it was for me to have a “scheduled” C-section. I mean, “scheduling” when you are going to have a baby is just so unnatural. No build up, no “Honey, it’s time!”, no, “Oh shit, I think my water broke”, etc. I don’t even know what a contraction feels like! I feel like I didn’t really “pay my dues” for entering mommie-hood. Not that a C-section is a walk in the park but without my labor “war story” it’s just not the same. I remember telling people on April 22 that I’d be having my baby “tomorrow” and getting some weird looks like, “How do you know you’ll have your baby tomorrow?” It’s hard to explain to some people that I scheduled the birth of my child. I actually don’t refer to having gone through labor, I say I had a “removal” of my child.
I remember packing my bag the night before and going to sleep thinking, this is my last night of sleep as a mom of one – tomorrow I will have another baby. I remember dropping Hannah off at school and looking at her long and hard with tears in my eyes as I walked away knowing (but not really KNOWING) that things would never be quite the same between the two of us.
And now as I think about my friend about to have her scheduled removal of her second baby, I’ve been wondering what advice I’d give to her (not that she’s asking)… what, if anything, would I do different with Hannah in those couple of days before Luke came along and in the months after he came along that maybe could have made this transition a bit easier. I do know that the age difference between the 2 is a little hard. In many ways I can see how it’s easier (only one in diapers, Hannah can “fetch” things for me, she’s able to fend for herself at times, etc.) but in many others, a 3.5 year age difference is much more “traumatic” than a smaller age difference. It may be easier for the mom with an older first but I also think it’s much harder on the first born. Hannah remembers VERY clearly what it was like when it was just her. She actually states somewhat frequently, “I miss when it was just us, mommy”. She misses the special one on one time when I didn’t have someone else taking special time away from her. She constantly tells me to stop looking at the video monitor while he sleeps, to leave him in his crib when he wakes if he’s not crying, “he’ll go back to sleep mommy”, to hold her hand while I’m feeding him, to hug her when I so obviously can’t because I’m caring for him.
I will never forget the day I brought Luke home from the hospital and was trying to adjust to this new turmoil in my world. Hannah was trying to tell me a story and I was trying to get Luke to nurse (which in those early days with him was like torture for both of us). I just wasn’t able to respond to her, I don’t even think I HEARD her story and all of a sudden she fell to the floor and sobbed, “but who is going to love ME now??”. It literally broke my heart. And this is when I knew this new road was going to be a bit bumpy. I absolutely knew I had a big enough heart to love both of my kids equally but just didn’t know how I was going to show it with only two arms and only 24 hours in the day.
So would I do anything different (sorry I keep getting off track here)? Honestly, no. I could not have hugged Hannah more than I did PL (pre-Luke). I would not have prepared her any differently. I read her all the “right” books, I explained to her what a new baby does and doesn’t do, I shared my fears and hopes with her, I told her I’d always be there to love her just the same. I guess I could be faulted for loving her TOO much, which is why having this other little guy around is so hard for her, but I wouldn’t do it any differently if I were to do those days PL over. I only wish I would have prepared MY head better. I didn’t realize how much I’D miss that one on one time with Hannah or how hard it would be to see her struggling with the changes. I knew I’d be physically tired and drained from a new baby but not how emotionally drained I would constantly be.
So what would I tell my friend (who doesn’t read my blog and will never even know these thoughts?)? I’d say, it’s the most wonderful, special, amazing thing to have happen. I feel honestly blessed to have had the chance to have 2 kids (after 3 miscarriages, an ectopic pregnancy, and 2 rounds of IVF) and to witness the love and adoration the younger has for the older is priceless. I feel I notice so much more with the second because I am also watching him through Hannah’s eyes. I am watching a bond form that hopefully will last a lifetime. One which I hope is even stronger than the bond I have with either of them separately. Although I have trouble finding the energy on many days to laugh at her 4 year old jokes or play dress up with her and I certainly don’t read Luke nearly as many books as I read to Hannah and that special bond I had with Hannah when I nursed her (like we were the only 2 people on earth) was most definitely not there with Luke (I actually remember saying out loud him, “suck faster Luke, FASTER!”), the days when I can sit back and just watch the two of them “be” is priceless. Today watching her hold his hands as he took some of his early, drunk, wobbly steps makes her tearful, jealous tantrums less painful. So, Marci, in your last day with Nicole… hug her tight, notice every big smile she gives you and give her big big smiles back. Hold her hand tightly and notice what it feels like to hold just HER hand. Just BE just the two of you and revel in it. But also know that although your bond with her may change… it will be more special in the days to come even if she can’t quite see it yet.