Tara Meddaugh Bouteneff’s feelings on having Baby #2 (Interview/Guest Blog)
|June 6, 2012||Posted by myfr8796 under Guest Blogs/Interviews|
My Friend the Midwife is very excited to post our VERY 1st Interview/Guest Blog!! A very dear friend Tara Meddaugh Bouteneff was kind enough to share with us her feelings on having baby #2! As exciting as a time as this is for a growing family, there are also concerns about losing time with your first child, child care, scheduling and the readjustment of your overall family structure. This time around that overwhelming joy comes along with the knowledge of raising a child, childbirth and concerns about your first child adjusting and accepting your newest addition. We couldn’t think of any better way of discussing this wonderful, yet challenging time in a families life than by talking with an experienced Mama herself. We’re sure you’ll enjoy Tara’s comments and as always My Friend the Midwife encourages you to share your own input and experiences!!!
What were your initial feelings once you and Mike found out you were expecting your second baby?
We were thrilled. When we found out I was pregnant with our first baby, I had that classic “movie moment,” alone, saying out loud something along the lines of, “Seriously?” Smiling and look around, as though someone were watching me. I had wondered if I would be as excited, as in disbelief the second time around. And in a lot of ways, the second time was more similar to the first time than I could have anticipated. Again, I was alone in the bathroom, late at night. I had already taken a pregnancy test a few days earlier, I didn’t feel pregnant, and I was completely expecting to see that irritating single pink line. I actually took the test, glanced at the single line, then took a shower, certain that when I came out, I’d toss the test away without thinking. But as I neared the end of my shower, I started to wonder, “What if the test is positive? What if I didn’t wait long enough?” When I got out of the shower and saw those beloved two pink lines, I actually did another double take “movie moment.” “Really, God? Seriously?” I actually said aloud. I smiled, and raced to tell my husband.Of course, this time around, we knew the more practical things to think of. I knew we had only two bedrooms, so we had to do renovations or figure out some sort of sleeping situation. I knew we needed to get a bigger car; I knew we would lose sleep those initial many months. I wasn’t as naïve the second time around. And yet, at least initially, I forced myself to push those nagging practicalities aside and simply enjoy the bliss of knowing we’d be bringing another life into our family.
Do you have certain fears as a mother, such as loss of one-on-one time with Dylan, scheduling, sleep patterns?? (please expand on any of these or add more)
There are many challenges I foresee in having a baby and a toddler. The practical ones are most commonly talked about among friends. Will my baby keep my toddler up at night? Will the baby’s naps be interrupted because I am taking my toddler to classes and activities? Will the baby be able to sleep in the car, in the car seat, on the go (after about 2 weeks, my first child was almost entirely a crib sleeper, bucking that stereotype of babies immediately sleeping soundly in the car)? How will I entertain my toddler while nursing my baby? How will my toddler (who nursed up until 7 months ago, and still remembers it very well) react when he sees me nursing the baby? How will I be able to nurture and devote enough time to both children? Will my second child be deprived of some of the stimulation my first received? Will my toddler start acting out because he has to share his mom, his dad? These seem to be concerns many moms talk about, and two points stand out to me from the book, Happiest Toddler on the Block. When a parent is worrying about giving their second child as much attention as the first, he points out that whatever attention you can’t give your second, know that your first born is going to give him that attention four times over (or forty times over!).
But a concern that I find most moms do not speak about is the loss of that one-on-one relationship with your first born. We think about how a new baby will affect our toddler, how he may be jealous, act out, become more clingy and needy. How he will have to share his parents. But we don’t talk about how a parent might feel losing the only-child-relationship with his or her child.
I have had these moments, looking at my toddler as he eats his lunch, staring out the window by his table and asking me questions about storm clouds, about different kinds of foods that owls eat. And I think—this is peace. This is the stillness of a toddler in a moment of tranquility. There are plenty of times when my son is running around the house, when he’s yelling that he will not go potty before we leave, when he’s zooming by me in a ride-on fire truck. These are the active moments that make up most of the day, and adding another child to the mix will increase this activity. But when he’s sitting at his table, calming drinking a smoothie and chomping on crackers, reflecting on the world around him, or we’re making a pom pom craft, painting a picture, or reading a book—these quiet times, our cuddle times, I think—I will miss this. I will miss having him all to myself, having these special times, these moments (quiet or loud) when it’s me and him, or his dad, me and him. Our small family of three that we’ve carved out for the past three years. It is special and it is just ours.
But—and this is, of course, obvious—the reason our nuclear family is changing is because we are being given a gift. We have received a blessing that will change and affect our family for the rest of our lives—in a beautiful way. We will lose some of the nature of our relationships now. Children with siblings do not have the same relationship with their parents as an only child does. A parent of more than one child becomes a referee, a mediator, an enforcer, in a way a parent of an only child does not. But a child who has a sibling gains so much in so many ways. Most of all, he is given a brother or a sister. A lifelong sibling and there is no relationship that can compare to that. And we, as parents—we are given another child. Another being to mold, to shape, to nurture. We prayed for this baby inside my belly and are so thankful that we have been given him.
I allow myself to feel the way I do when I realize my relationship with my toddler will be changing. I try to resist the temptation to feel guilty for having these feelings. They are legitimate feelings and it doesn’t mean I love my growing baby any less. But I don’t wallow in these feelings. They are usually fleeting, just a passing moment. And when I imagine sharing these experiences with my two sons, I can’t help but smile. Seeing my boys sit at their table, my older son explaining to my younger son how lightning is formed, how owls eat skunks. It warms my heart, and I look forward to the changes this blessing will bring.
What steps if any have you taken to prepare Dylan towards becoming a big brother? (At 3 y.o. does he seem excited, worried, or ambivalent) Do you think he’s truly aware of what change is about to take place?
My son was unusually interested in babies from when I was only about one month pregnant. Several of my friends were pregnant with their second children, and he knew his friends were going to become big brothers. So at 2 ½ years old, he was already asking me if I had a baby in my belly. From there, he questions how the baby comes out of the belly, and how the baby goes into the belly. He is the type of child who will continue to ask questions until he gets a very scientific rational answer (i.e. he’s not satisfied with a fluff answer about magic, God or a stork). In the end, we got a book from the library a few friends had recommended which explained the scientific process by which babies are formed, grow, and delivered. We omitted several parts, and toned down other parts, but he did quickly understand the basics: Mommies have eggs in their bellies. Daddies give the mommies sperm which makes the egg grow into a baby. The baby eats food and gets air from the umbilical cord, and when he’s big enough, he comes out of the uterus. Then the doctor “catches” the baby as he comes out, and puts the baby on the mommy’s belly to cuddle.
From there, we bought a few books about how a baby grows in the belly, including one called “What’s Inside Your Tummy, Mommy?” by Abby Cocovini. This book has fold out pictures which you can hold up against your own belly to show the actual size of the baby in each month of pregnancy. As we indicate which month we’re in now, I think it’s help our son understand how close or far we are from the baby’s arrival. Other “Big Brother” (or “Big Sister”) books have been a useful tool in showing reasonable expectations when an infant comes to live with you. Our son knows the baby will not be able to play at first, or talk, but will mostly sleep, eat or cry when he wants something. He knows the baby will be able to grab our fingers and hold on, but not understand what he’s doing at first.
We recently brought our son to the store to pick out a gift for the baby. He poured over the aisle for a long time before finally deciding on some stacking cups with caterpillar eyes. He loved wrapping the gift for the baby, although he told me he knew the baby couldn’t open the gift, but he would open the gift for the baby. This shows me he understands the basics of a baby’s limitations. We have also been lucky enough to visit friends who’ve recently had babies, and our son has seen what his friends go through as big brothers. One friend even told him, “Babies cry a lot, so you have to cover your ears sometimes, like this. They can be very loud!” Our son also has gotten to pat a baby when she’s being burped, tickle feet and legs, and even stroke some babies’ hair. I’ve also written down some messages our son has for the baby, and put them in a little jar. Our son is excited about this, and says, “When he is older and learns to read, he will read my messages and be happy!” All these things have been helpful to prepare our son for his brother’s birth.
For our son, we have chosen to be very gradual in some explanations (e.g. the idea that the baby will actually live with us, and stay with us—we introduced that slowly over time and casually), and forthright in others. I think each child is different, and each child’s level of curiosity varies. Luckily, our son has displayed a great deal of interest (so far) in the baby, showering my belly with kisses, “I love you”s and requests to feel the baby move. A month or two ago, he commented, “The baby has been in your belly a long time now!” and more recently whined, “I want the baby to come out right now!” A few days ago, he even told me, “After you have this baby, I want you to have another baby. Actually, I want you to have five more babies!” While he does understand the basics of having a baby, I don’t think there is any way he can understand how much it will affect him. Right now, the baby is in my belly, quiet, not affecting him in any great way (other than he knows Mommy isn’t supposed to pick him up much now and can’t get up as fast or run with him). Once the baby is in our world, in our house, in our lives, we will be venturing on a very new journey. And there is only so much we can do to prepare him for something that big.
What are your plans for Dylan during labor? Do you plan on having him at the birth? If yes, how did you prep him? If no, do you have any concerns about your time away?
While I think it would be a very special experience for a sibling to see the birth of a baby, we are not having our child present. Our toddler is a very sensitive child, and doesn’t like to see me in any kind of pain or sadness. While we have explained that having the baby come out of the belly is “a lot of work,” we don’t want him to see me in so much pain.
I have never been away from my son for an extended period of time, so I do have some natural concerns about leaving him. My in-laws will be babysitting, and I feel confident he will be well cared for. But of course, I know it will be an adjustment for him, before another huge adjustment. This second time around, while I know I’ll want my husband to be with me in the hospital after the baby is born, I will also want him to be at our house more, to give our son some stability and consistency. And I look forward to seeing them visit us at the hospital.
How are you and Mike feeling about having a second child within your marriage? (If you can try and take Dylan’s feelings out of the equation and just think about the two of you
We are very excited to be expanding our family. We’ve always wanted to have at least two children, so we feel very lucky and blessed to have this opportunity. But of course, in this way, we are more realistic the second time around in how adding a baby to the mix is going to cut our alone-time down even more. We will be challenged. We know the tag-team aspect of our marriage will increase exponentially. But we also know that there will be an end to the sleepless nights and the sharing of our bed. We will get that back and we will eventually find a routine for our whole family. But we have to be patient with one another, and try to understand each other.
After I had our first child, my emotions were more raw than ever before. I was constantly running on only a few hours of sleep, breastfeeding so my hormones were changing, and adjusting to an entirely new life as a stay-at-home mom. I did not always understand my own emotions, so my husband certainly did not. I had to coach him on how to deal with me when I did feel so emotional, and while we hope that this second time around will be easier, we also want to be a bit more mentally prepared, in terms of the emotional challenges.
What resources if any did you utilize to help you and your family prepare for the birth of your second child? Which did you find helpful? Do you wish there was more info. out there?
Books, as I mentioned, for our son, and witnessing others who’ve gone through all of this before us. For myself, the comradery of other women has been essential. We didn’t take any classes this time around, but just speaking with women who have had multiple children has been extremely helpful for me.
Last but definitely not least, how has your second pregnancy differed from your first? Physically? Emotionally? Response from others (family, friends ect)? For example: Do you feel you got less attention or excitement this time around?
The second pregnancy is certainly different from the first in a few aspects. By the mere nature of being the second pregnancy, some things have been different. Physically, the pregnancy has been a bit harder. My first pregnancy was a picture-perfect easy nine months. I had acid reflux and a sore back, but mostly felt great and was active and energetic until the end. But I was able to rest, relax, take yoga classes, take naps, socialize at will and research many things. The second time around, my “free time” is limited to a few hours late at night, when I must choose between going to bed, catching up on various projects, spending time with my husband or doing one of the many other things in daily life. I haven’t been able to sit, or lie down at will, and while at first, this didn’t make much of a difference, toward the end of my last trimester, my body definitely feels the difference. Being on the go much of the time and caring for another being almost all of the time is harder when you are also nurturing a growing baby in your growing belly!
Despite that, I have loved some of the same physical sensations as the first pregnancy. It is amazing to feel the baby move in similar ways as my first child did. It’s also interesting to note slight differences in movements. I’ve loved seeing the baby at an ultrasound just as much as I did the first time, finding out the sex, hearing the heartbeat for the first time. These moments have been just as special. And while my husband has not been able to attend many OB appointments with me this time around (he attended almost all of my appointments the first pregnancy), my toddler has been able to go with me. He has only been 2 or 3 years old at the appointments, but he’s shown support and love and care for me already. And he enjoys the trucks and cars in the waiting room.
For this second pregnancy, my friends and family have still shown me a great deal of love and excitement. While there are some overt differences, such as not having a baby shower for the second baby (and second baby boy), I still have felt love and support in other ways. My husband threw a fun “Girls’ Night Out” party for me at a restaurant, which allowed me to celebrate the baby’s arrival without the obligation of gifts, like at a shower. My local church is having a cake in honor of my almost-born baby during the coffee hour after the service. These things are special to me and I hold them near to my heart, as I want this pregnancy and baby to be just as important and momentous as the first.
When I am out by myself, I have still noticed that people are really helpful to pregnant women. People I don’t even know go out of their way to help me or to talk with me, pay me a compliment, or offer me a word of encouragement. Having a pregnancy belly in public is an instant conversation starter, and I enjoy the kindness shown by others.
What I have also noticed is that moms of 1 or 2 children seem to take a greater interest and concern for me. They ask me more how I am feeling, if I have anxiety, they give me advice and tips. I have definitely found a great support system. If I felt like I were joining an elite group by having my first baby, I have definitely felt the same way in having a second baby. Going from none to one is a huge step. But going from one to two is also a huge step, and current mothers out there know that and recognize that.