On "The Sweetness of the Second Child"

Loved this post by Code Name: Mama on "The Sweetness of the Second Child"! It makes me even more excited for Little C's arrival. I especially loved these two passages within the post that were really meaningful for me:

"Unfortunately, I couldn’t go back and change the early months of tears and anger and desperation that marked my first months as Mama. My second child, though, she offered to me the power of redemption."

I had a similar experience with J. My lack of confidence in my ability to mother my child and my uncertainty of whether I was doing the right thing for J made me really sensitive, so I was crying a lot in the first few months. I felt like this tiny human being was so dependent on me and I had to be able to make it all better for him. When I couldn't, I felt a crushing mountain of guilt, and a sense that I had failed my son. My inability to produce the milk he needed only complicated matters further.

I like how the author expressed it; her second child offered her the power of redemption. Me, I would have put it in blunter terms: Little C is my do-over, my second chance. As I sit here, I look back on all the times that I let my own negative emotions get the best of me with J, and I thank my lucky stars that my son still turned out to be a sunny, sweet little boy whose smile never fails to brighten my day.

I've always believed that there are no such things as mistakes, only learning opportunities. My experience with J is no different. The pitfalls that severely hampered my breastfeeding journey with J will be the ones that I will strive to avoid in nursing Little C. All the things I did wrong with J become lessons on what I should do with Little C. Little C offers me the second chance to become a better mother this time around.

"Those first babies do the hard work of breaking us in and smoothing off the rough edges of who we thought we would be as mothers. The babies that come after owe an enormous gift of gratitude to those first-borns, I think, because they weather our anxieties, worries, and insecurities. With the babies that follow, we know better than to waste time with worry. Once we get a taste of how fleeting the baby days are, we learn the importance of savoring each moment, drinking in the sweetness of the second."

I always thought that Little C was short-changed. When I was pregnant with J, I took such good care of myself, health-wise. I ate all the right foods, watched my diet carefully, and I had all the time in the world to make myself strengthening and nutritious soups and concoctions required for mothers-to-be. I studiously avoided foods that were thought to be bad for my unborn child. I rested often and didn't wear myself out. But with Little C, nutritious meals went straight to big brother J. I was always tired; even though I wasn't the one watching J through the day, I made it a point to play with him and spend time with him, and anyone who's tried to take care of a toddler can tell you how exhausting it is. I didn't get nearly enough rest. With J, I could sleep in until 8 every morning, but while pregnant with Little C, I'm lucky if I make it past 6:30 am.

But after reading this article, I realized that Little C is lucky in his own way. As Code Name: Mama put it, J bore the brunt of my anxieties, worries and insecurities. While I think that moments of panic, indecision and insecurity will still arise, the lessons I learned when J was younger and the confidence I gained in caring for him day to day will be all for Little C's benefit.

Most importantly, I learned that infancy is really a short period in a human being's life. This time, I won't be in such a hurry to see him roll over, crawl, pull up, or reach all the milestones that mark his progression into becoming a toddler, then a child, then a teenager, then before I know it, an adult.

Now that J is almost 18 months old, I wish with all my heart that I could go back to the time when he was a little baby. As first-time parents, Big C and I were so excited by every new thing he did. But when we look at him now, we realize how quickly the days have passed. We think back to the time when we first met him and I know we both wish we had spent more time enjoying his days as an infant, instead of being so impatient for him to reach his milestones.

Without my noticing it, my firstborn has grown up, far too quickly for my liking. While I know the days will be as fleeting for my second child, I've learned enough to savor each moment as it comes, because my babies won't be babies forever.


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