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The Sh!t No One Tells You About Baby #2
A Guide To Surviving Your Growing Family
By Dawn Dais
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- ebook $11.99 $15.99 CAD
- Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
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Around the time your first baby turns a year old your brain will turn on you. For reasons that are still not understood by science, the sleep deprivation and postpartum hormones you barely survived with your first baby fade from memory and will be replaced with idyllic images of your growing child.
This is when your brain, having officially lost all regard for your well-being, begins to fantasize about a second baby. And for the first time since becoming a parent these thoughts don’t make you break out in hives.
Before you know it, you are dressing your first child in “I’m Going to be a Big Sister!” T-shirts and catalog-shopping for bunk beds. This will be fantastic!
But then that familiar morning sickness kicks in. And your adorable 18-month-old transforms into a two-year-old terror. That’s when those hives start to return.
With Dawn Dais’s trademark witty banter, The Sh!t No One Tells You About Baby #2 includes chapters such as “You Have Officially Lost Control of the Situation,” “Siblings Aren’t Nearly as Adorable as You Imagined,” “You’ll Have a Favorite,” and “Having Kids Looks a Lot Easier on TV.”
YOU ARE ABOUT TO ABANDON YOUR FIRSTBORN
This will come up in therapy later
PROCEED WITH CAUTION
YOUR POOR FIRST baby has no idea what is coming, and life has not prepared them for this transition. This child has been the center of the universe for quite a while now, and you are about to break the most unfortunate news regarding the population of said universe. And you are going to have to break the news in the most unfortunate way.
No matter how much you try to explain the concept of a new baby, your firstborn won’t really appreciate the reality of the situation until that damn thing comes through the front door. Even then, it may take a few days for it to really sink in that this little alien-looking thing isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, it appears as though everyone thinks the alien lives here now. Something has clearly gone terribly wrong.
And just like that, the Golden Child has been toppled from the throne.
Your firstborn will have some thoughts on another child coming into the home. And those thoughts will go a little something like this:
This is some bullshit.
It all started out as so much fun. How was I supposed to know what was coming? I got a new baby doll and a new Big Kid bed in a new Big Kid room. I even got to pick out a new comforter. Who doesn’t love a new comforter? I also got some cute new shirts with things written on them that I couldn’t actually read. But Mom loved taking pictures of me wearing the shirts, so I went along with it. She and I have always disagreed about the level of excitement that clothes warranted, so why was I to believe these outfits were any different?
Let this be a lesson to all of you that you should never trust anything you can’t actually read. Especially if someone else seems overly excited about whatever it says. Some of us have had to learn this lesson the hard way.
Looking back on it now, I probably should have asked more questions when we started reading books about how I was going to be a Big Sister. I was on board with the Big part, but I didn’t totally understand the Sister aspect. The Big Sister in the books seemed to be having a lot of fun with her baby doll, so that was cool. Yes, the entire family seemed a little too focused on the doll, but who was I to judge? Even baby dolls need love, I guess.
I wasn’t quite sure the doll warranted its own entire room, but I stayed quiet when my parents started painting my old room a new color and brought in teddy bear décor to replace what I thought were perfectly acceptable pink safari animals. These two watch a lot of HGTV, so it wasn’t out of the ordinary for them to completely overhaul a room for no apparent reason. Little did I know what was going to be in the “After” picture this time.
Sure, maybe I should have taken more notice of mom’s growing belly, but anyone can tell you that mom’s belly has a way of fluctuating in size even when a person hasn’t crawled up into it (I’m still fuzzy on the exact details of the belly enlargement). In fact, I just assumed I was the reason her belly was getting so big. She’s always blaming me for the fact that she doesn’t look like her Throwback Thursday photos anymore, so maybe I did something to cause this change in appearance too.
And yes, the suspicious number of babies I was made to hold and pretend to find adorable in the last few months should have sent up warning signals. But if you had any idea how many times a day these people make me hold a prop or put me in a ridiculous outfit just so they can take a photo, you would understand that a little hysteria over how cute I looked holding a baby did not stand out as noteworthy.
I look cute doing everything, obviously.
Which is why I didn’t bat an eye when mom set up that photo shoot. The woman enjoys a photoshoot. Yes, it seemed a bit out of character that she would want to take so many photos of her large belly, but I was proud of her for finally accepting that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Posing naked for a picture in a field while cradling that belly did seem like a little too much self-acceptance in my opinion, but hey, you do you, Mommy.
I feel like such a fool that I was worried about Mommy when Grandma said we were going to visit her in the hospital. I thought it must be pretty serious if both of my parents had stayed there overnight. But now I know that not only was mom okay, but the two of them had been cheating on me by having a sleepover with another child. As I said before—some bullshit.
Since we have been home, I’ve slowly started to accept that no one but me wants this new kid to leave. In fact, there seems to be a parade of people coming to the house to welcome the thing. I’m calling it a “thing” because it doesn’t actually do anything that an actual person does.
People keep asking me if I’m excited to have a new friend to play with. These people are really underestimating my playing abilities, or perhaps they are unaware of the sort of head control that is needed to ride a scooter around the backyard with me. Either way, I feel like we could have just adopted a dog if the primary goal was to give me a playmate.
And we could have just put the dog in a crate at night, instead of the entire neighborhood needing to be awake while my playmate screams his face off for no reason. Dogs are notoriously great sleepers, you know.
Perhaps if I had been consulted at all about this addition to the family, I could have brought up some of these points that were clearly not given enough consideration.
That photographer is back today, the one who convinced mom to get naked in the field. Most people would consider that to be the type of person that shouldn’t be allowed around children. But, in keeping with bad ideas, mom has invited this person into our home. At some point soon I’m going to have to get the authorities involved in this deteriorating situation I’m being made to live in.
This photographer, in addition to her questionable morals, clearly has no artistic eye. Which is a much greater sin, if you ask me. I look as cute as any kid has ever looked. My hair is bouncing with ringlets and has just the right number of bows. My outfit is on point, and even my shoes are off-the-charts adorable.
But who does this “photographer” want to take pictures of? The blob. Seriously! The blob isn’t even awake, and this lady is putting ridiculous hats on its head and standing on chairs to get the best angle of it sleeping naked. I can’t say I felt bad for her when the blob pooped all over that pretty blanket of hers. Even I know that the only thing this kid really knows how to do is soil things.
In a sign of what my life has now become, this hack is only interested in taking photos of me if the blob is also in the shot. Does she not remember how I rocked those pre-nudity field photos all by myself?
My parents look as if they haven’t slept in a week (this is most likely because they haven’t slept in a week) so I’ll do them a solid and play along with this photoshoot. When the wall-size canvases of these photos are delivered, it will be clear to everyone who the real star is. (Hint: it’s not the one pooping himself.)
And if that isn’t enough to bring the spotlight back to me, I have one more trick up my sleeve. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, but suffice it to say my parents might want to start Googling the word “regression.”
SOME PROFESSIONAL HELP
Introducing a new baby to the family can be a delicate process. This new child won’t change how much you love your first child, but your firstborn may not see it that way.
I asked psychotherapist Gail Marie Poverman-Kave for some advice on how to ease kids into the idea of welcoming another child into their space. She recommended a lot of discussion leading up to the arrival: “Discuss names, what the baby will look like, whether it will be a boy or girl. You can have the older sibling help get the nursery ready.”
When it comes to making a place for the new baby, you may need to move Child #1 out of their room or crib. Try not to make it too obvious that the older child is being kicked out because another kid is coming to take their place. That’s the less-than-sensitive approach. Instead, trick your child into thinking the new Big Kid Bed and/or Big Kid Room is an exciting event that is in no way connected to all those tiny onesies that have been piling up.
Making the transition well in advance of the new baby’s arrival will be in the best interest of both you and your child. A new bed or room can take some time to get used to, and you definitely don’t want to be working out those kinks while also dealing with a newborn.
Poverman-Kave warns that the age of Child #1 can affect how he or she reacts to a new sibling: “Children of different ages will experience the baby’s arrival differently. The older a child is, the more challenging it may be for them to share your attention. Children under two years old really won’t understand the concept of having a new baby, whereas school-aged children may experience blatant jealousy. Making sure your older child has enough attention and is included in pictures and videos is very helpful toward alleviating their fears.”
To help your older child feel involved and important when the new baby arrives, she suggests: “Allow the older child to participate in caring for the baby; bathing, singing, feeding, changing. Don’t make this a chore or the child will resent the baby. Make it a time to bond with both children and encourage a healthy relationship between them.”
Also, take time away from the new baby to shower Child #1 with attention. Give lots of hugs, head out for a quick fast food date with just the two of you, or offer praise for both the help he or she gives with the new baby and for things that have nothing to do with that annoying kid. These gestures don’t need to be grand (you probably won’t have the energy or time for grand), but even taking a few seconds to acknowledge your older child or give them a big hug will remind them that they are still important.
Making sure you are doing right by your new baby and your firstborn can be overwhelming. Most of the time, it can feel like you are giving both of them less than they deserve. Be forgiving of everyone in your household during this time of transition; you’ll all get the hang of it eventually.
And no matter how hard it is now, never forget that someday you’ll think to yourself, “Man, it was easier when only one of them was mobile.” These, my friend, are the good old days.
A LETTER TO VIVIAN
In a little while you will move from being an Only Child to a Big Sister. How is that possible? You are still a baby in my eyes. I think you’ll always be, to tell you the truth. No matter how big you get I will always think of you as my bean. We gave you that nickname when you were still in my belly, when we could barely see your tiny little beating heart on the ultrasound. My pregnancy books said you were only the size of a bean. We didn’t know your gender, but we talked about you constantly, so a name was needed. “Bean” it was.
When you point at my belly these days, I tell you that there is a baby inside. I tell you that you were once a tiny baby in my belly too and that soon this baby will be out of my belly and in our house. You nod, but you don’t have any idea what the hell I’m talking about.
I don’t blame you. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either, and it’s happening in my belly. When I quiz you about the location of the baby, you instantly pull up your shirt and point to your own belly. Close enough, really.
I’m scared about bringing this new baby home. But not for the reasons I was scared to bring you home.
When I brought you home, I was just as new to this game as you were. I had a little more head control than you, but other than that we were both blank slates. That scared the crap out of me because the one thing I knew for sure was that nothing was more important than doing right by you. It didn’t seem fair that you had been given a mom who had no idea what the hell she was doing.
But you didn’t seem to mind. You nuzzled into the bend of my arm and snuggled your face against my breast as soon as you popped out. What you lacked in head control, you more than made up for in confidence that we were going to be okay. And what I lacked in confidence, I made up for in determination to prove you right.
So we headed off together, you and me. My beautiful little girl and a woman who never even liked babies before she met you. And together we figured it out. Eventually you even held up that head of yours. It was an exciting time indeed.
We had hiccups along the way, to be sure. You spent your first New Year’s Eve repeatedly projectile vomiting all over both of us. I accidently let you roll off the couch a couple of times. I tried, and mostly failed, to figure out how to keep my clients happy and also be a good mom to you. And let’s not forget about our difference of opinion regarding acceptable sleeping habits. It was rarely easy. But you never promised it would be easy. You only promised it would be worth it.
And, man, has it been worth it. Every second has been worth it as I’ve watched you grow more into a little person with each passing day. You are funny and kind, gentle yet brave. I see so much of myself when I look at you, but it’s even more exciting that every day I get a glimpse of the woman you are going to be.
We have a good thing going, our little family of three.
And that is why I’m scared this time.
What is going to happen when we bring home another kid? When you are no longer my one and only? Will he take up too much of my time, leaving you feeling abandoned? Will you know that I still want to hold you close, even though there is now another baby in my arms? Will you even remember the time when you were the only one, or will your childhood memories always play back with a cast of four?
I don’t know exactly how things are going to go once your brother arrives. But one thing I know for sure—there will always be a place in my heart that is only yours. It’s the place that holds those two years we had together, when we were both brand-new. I will never forget everything you taught me in those years about babies, about parenting, and about my own heart.
That heart, once closed off to so many of life’s joys, was burst wide open the second I saw a positive symbol on my pregnancy test. From that moment on I have loved you with every ounce of my soul.
I loved feeling your endless flips when you were inside my belly; I loved how you burst into the world kicking and screaming. I love that once you were here, you always looked at me as if I were perfect, and you were quick to let it slide when it turned out I wasn’t. Most of all, I love that no matter how big you get or what changes come our way, you will always be my bean. My sweet girl who fit perfectly into the bend of my arm. Just one of my many parts I’ve come to realize was made just for you.
BABY #1 WILL HAVE NO PATIENCE FOR YOUR PREGNANCY
Less nausea, more hustle, lady
OPTIONS FOR TRANSPORTING YOUR KIDS
EVEN IF YOU had a rough first pregnancy, it tends to fade into the background as soon as your baby arrives. Your child’s tiny button nose and easy giggles make any pregnancy struggles seem worth it. So much so that eventually you think embarking on another forty-week adventure sounds like a fantastic idea. (There is a good possibility that you are making poor decisions because you haven’t slept since your first child arrived.)
But, mentally impaired or not, you forge on.
I know many women who enjoyed the process of making a human inside their body. My MOFL said things like, “I loved being pregnant!” and “I would totally do it again!” There is endless talk of all the “glowing” women do when they are gestating. I tell you about all of these things because there is a very good possibility you have had or will have a similar experience. And if you do, I don’t want to hear about it.
For those of us with unpleasant pregnancy experiences, nothing inspires our rage quite like hearing tales of how others “loved” the process. We would come smack you for daring to utter the words, but we are pretty busy putting our head in a public toilet right now. We’ll catch up with you later.
My first pregnancy started out with five months of all-day nausea and was generally an unpleasant experience. But even with that advance notice, I was still in a bit of denial when the excitement of pregnancy #2 gave way to the familiar nausea I hated so much.
I started stockpiling crackers and Tums. I hoped that maybe this time I wouldn’t get hit so hard. Maybe a little ginger ale and some saltines would do the trick this go-around. Nothing to see here, people, just a woman keeping up with any and all of her responsibilities despite the fact that she is growing a placenta!
And if I were to compare my pregnancies, I would say my second was a bit easier. During Vivian’s gestation I had to sit down and force myself to take bites of food. I would breathe in and out heavily, then chew, chew, chew, and swaaaaaallow against every vomiting urge my body was throwing at me. I lost ten pounds in my first trimester.
With Daniel I had the same twenty-four-hours-a-day “I’m going to puke” feeling, but I could calm it a bit if I just kept eating. I didn’t quite shed the pounds with his pregnancy.
But what Daniel’s pregnancy lacked in complete nausea misery, it made up for in unstoppable toddler energy.
This time I couldn’t just climb into bed and pull my covers over my head for the entire day if I felt like crap. Because this time Vivian was sitting on the bed next to me bouncing. “Mommy, get up!”
So up I would get. And by “up” I mean “propped up” on the couch while letting the child watch as much TV as is allowable by law (sorry about your brain cells, Vivi, mommy was growing a placenta).
Vivian was not a fan of Mommy’s new couch affinity and because she was only eighteen months old, she could not comprehend why I was suddenly no fun whatsoever. I told her that her baby sister or brother was inside my belly and that was why I was so tired, but she had no time for such explanations. “Less excuses, more chasing me around in a circle for twenty minutes, lady.”
I did my best to keep up with her, but most days I couldn’t muster up the energy for anything other than saying, “Instead of hide and go seek, let’s play a game where mommy lies on the floor and you bury her in pillows!”
It was actually a hard time in my relationship with my daughter; I think she felt abandoned by the mom she had gotten used to. For the duration of my pregnancy I wasn’t much fun, I had very little patience, and I was exhausted. All. The. Time. Also, in a weird way, as my belly got bigger and bigger, her sibling was literally pushing her farther and farther off my lap. She pulled away from me and grabbed on to Becky during my pregnancy, and it absolutely broke my heart. (I had a few hormones helping out in that area.)
- "Covers all the basic questions about the differences between having one child and two. It gathers advice from mothers who share the information they wished they'd had before their second child, and it provides anecdotes that are both funny and practical...From changed parenting decision processes to common assumptions about having and handling two children, this book offers a range of thought-provoking insights about the process and how it can better be managed." —Midwest Book Review
- On Sale
- Oct 25, 2016
- Page Count
- 256 pages
- Seal Press