Throughout my second pregnancy, my husband and I would talk about how we hoped the baby would be just like our first son. When I mentioned this to my mom, she simply replied, “It won’t be.” Of course, I knew this; no two people are alike, and no two infants are the same. However, for ease of baby rearing and out of sheer love I have for my firstborn, I hoped so. I hoped the baby would be sweet and laid back like my then two-year-old. I never allowed the idea to consume me, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried from time to time about having a baby who was the complete opposite of him.
How would I mother anything opposite of what I knew? I never worried about loving another child, but would I like him/her? Would adjusting to life with another newborn be as terrible as some people say? I gave myself no expectations, but would I ultimately regret having another child?
Flash forward to September 12, 2019. With one long push, our second baby was born into the world: a boy! Holding the baby on my chest I realized how happy I was to have another boy. How easy it was going to be to continue being a boy mom, to put the baby in hand-me-downs, to play trains and tractors and talk all things “boy.” It did not take long, however, to find out how my second baby boy was nothing close to the first.
Leaving the hospital, I felt a smug confidence. The baby latched great for feeds and my husband took a few days off to help me at home. Snuggling on the couch was my only job for a week; I was blinded by newborn bliss. Days later, Cole became my “second baby.”
He screamed unless held, gas bubbles rippled through his belly, and his seemingly good latches while nursing were followed by a very shallow suck. My baby was clearly uncomfortable and I felt helpless when gas drops, belly massage, and cutting dairy from my diet made no change. My three-year-old son was the ultimate trooper during the baby’s bad days, singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” while I bounced the baby.
And then I thought it:
This is hard.
Life was one-handed. Life was reading my toddler bedtime stories over a screaming newborn, and feeling guilty for having to pee while listening to the baby hold his breath then belt out a banshee cry from his bassinet.
I started living life by just going through the motions and not thinking. If I thought, I would lose it and losing it was not an option because these boys needed me. That screaming baby needed me.
I started to search for reasons for my baby’s constant fussiness because I had nursed my toddler for 15 months with zero issues. I knew my baby’s suck wasn’t the same as my older son’s, but he was a different person, right? During a checkup with my midwife, she asked how breastfeeding was going and I told her, quite frankly, that my baby’s suck, well, sucked. She peeked inside his mouth and low and behold, a lip tie. The source of the gassiness, the fussiness, and it was a pivotal point in my second postpartum experience.
With a referral to an ENT and twice-weekly visits to a chiropractor, the tummy issues subsided. Finally! Improvement in his overall attitude. Improvement in my family’s lifestyle and improvement in my lifestyle.
No, my experience with him has not been the same experience it was with my first, but bringing home my second baby was not going to be. I’m glad I did not give myself these massive expectations, a been there, done that, this works expectation. If I had, I know I would have felt like a bad mom; I would have regretted having had that second baby. Bringing home another baby is hard. However, we can do it with a little patience, some support, and a whole lot of grace! Looking at my second son’s toothy grin, those first few fussy weeks seem so far and away, and he is more than worth it.