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And Baby Makes 4

While Jen is on vacation this week, I'll be guest blogging.

Jen's friend, Abby, mother of Joshua (11 months) and Isaiah (3 1/2)

Joshua awoke at 5:00 this morning, as he often does, to nurse after a long night of sleep. He is now 11 months old and has been sleeping somewhat reliably from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 or 6:00 when he wakes up to nurse. He has been doing this since he was 9 1/2 months old. If he wakes on the early side, he will often go back to sleep for another hour or two. This morning as I picked him up, he sniffled a long wet inhale which could mean only one thing. He’s got a cold. “Oh well,” I thought, “We can’t go to church.”

I am less concerned about my kids and illness than I used to be. When Isaiah was a baby, we squirted saline up his nose and took his temperature every few hours at the first hint of a cold, hoping that something that we did would make a difference. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the most I can usually do is keep the kid as comfortable as possible and employ every distraction technique available to subdue an unhappy patient. And when all else fails, as much cuddling and nursing as possible for the younger ones, and videos for the over 2 crowd.

I am comfortable with having a baby now, so much more so than I was with Isaiah. In that first year of parenting, I agonized over unexpected night wakings, how much or how little food Isaiah consumed, and how everything affected Isaiah’s world. It took me 6 months before I left him with a babysitter so that I could get out for a haircut and then I called twice to make sure that he was surviving. I remember that second night in the hospital with him after he was born, passing him off to Paul to do the diaper changes, slightly ashamed. I was tired, overwhelmed and I felt unprepared and inadequate. I was reluctant to go home with a newborn, away from the call button where I could summon a nurse if I had a question. It all seemed hard and foreign, even though I had previously thought myself to be somewhat experienced. After all, I had done a lot of babysitting.

Joshua joined our family and we took the change in stride. I sent Paul home the night I gave birth after I was settled into my hospital room. I spent the night awake, listening to Joshua’s little noises, free of anxiety, enjoying the first moments together. When he needed to eat, I confidently nursed him. When he needed his diaper changed, I took care of it quickly, unbothered by the cord or his delicate size. It was the way that I expected it to be the first time around—natural, second-hand. Much of this year with Joshua has seemed that way. Even the new things like finding and dealing with his food allergy (soy), have not seemed too difficult. And time has raced by us. With Isaiah, I was reading ahead in the baby books to find out what came next. Now I find myself surprised to see Joshua hitting developmental milestones. Smiling already? It seems like you were just born. Sitting up? Eating solid food? Crawling? Cruising? Where does the time go?

The hardest parts of this year have been the new stages and adjustments with Isaiah. He will always be the likely one to take us through uncharted waters. It was no problem to get Joshua in his bunting and out the door last winter (why did it seem so hard when Isaiah was young?) or to seamlessly flip open the stroller with one hand while holding a baby in the other. It was hard convincing a three year old to put on his shoes and come outside so that I could get somewhere before I needed to nurse the baby again. Isaiah at two was a compliant, content child. Some invisible switch went off when he turned three and he has been testing the boundaries every since. For a day or so I actually wondered if he had some rare illness that changed his personality. Parenting with wisdom, patience and consistency has been a challenge, particularly on those days that do not follow restful nights. Some days it takes every ounce of logic to trust that consistency will ultimately win after you have had to calmly dole out 3 time outs in a row (“No, Mommy, I will NOT apologize for hitting you.”). At least I know that I’ll be a little more prepared when Joshua turns 3.

I love having two children. I love watching them play together. I love watching their different personalities emerge. I love the way they make each other laugh deep, bubbly, infectious laughs, the result of jokes that I don’t understand. But I laugh, anyway. I can’t help myself.

When we had Isaiah, a German friend said, “Oh, you're just a couple with a kid. When you have 2 kids, then you become a family.”

I found the statement deeply offensive at the time. I still don’t agree, but I can see what he meant. With one child, your life can focus on that child. When you have two kids, you must constantly balance the needs of everyone in the family and everyone has to make sacrifices. I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow.


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