Pregnancy Diary Week 34: Birthday
My son is two today and this is strangely and unexpectedly very emotional. I feel joyful and proud of the little human he is, reflective and nostalgic that he’s no longer a baby, and somewhat euphoric for actually keeping him alive for two whole years. A heady mix. These feelings are all heightened by the not too distant arrival of baby number two, and so I am a bit all over the place. I may well be coping better if I weren’t 34 weeks pregnant but really who’s to tell. Hormones are certainly playing havoc with my crazy dial, but pregnancy aside, children’s birthdays are emotional. And I’m not talking about an intense love of bouncy castles or an unexplained fear of clowns, or jelly (true story). Birthdays are cause for taking stock, and that can be wonderful but also really difficult. Parenting is such an intense, exhausting, delightful and not entirely explicable experience, and one that we can sail through blindly, head down through the day to day struggles, not fully acknowledging the wins. It can take an important milestone like a birthday to make you pause, look up, and realise that you are doing an amazingly tough job and that because of that, you are doing amazingly. It is a job that if set out in black and white, surely very few people in their right minds would apply for (long hours, low pay; read 24/7/365, debit not credit). Thinking about it in those terms makes me wonder if I really have the energy to do it all again. And I’m not entirely sure if I’m honest, but it’s a bit late now. Second time round at least I know I can do it. The nappies and the sleep and the feeding aren’t as terrifyingly alien this time, and knowing first hand what’s to come helps me feel more excited about all the loveliness too, of which there is bucket loads. What will be brand new this time will be juggling two and coping with the changing family dynamics. The emotional spectrum of a two year old is pretty broad at the best of times (watch the pendulum swing from utter delight about a ride on a roundabout during a trip to the park, to hot rage that said roundabout is travelling in the wrong direction; give me strength), so throw a new sibling into the mix and I expect we will get fireworks. I also don’t know how my emotions are going to fare. At the moment I can’t quite fathom how it is possible to love another baby as much as I love my first. I know this is something that many second time parents to be experience, and that parents of more than one laugh off as a passing phase, but right now it feels really real and pretty scary. Despite the exhaustion and exasperation, I couldn’t love my two year old any more than I do, and to me he is completely and utterly perfect. This feeling of love is encapsulated by an anecdote that my Mother told me shortly after I had my first baby, and which really resonated with me. She told me that when she went to her first baby group after having my older brother, she would look round the room and feel sorry for all the other Mums that their babies weren’t as wonderful as hers. When she told me this, I thought it was so awful and yet so lovely and so beautifully honest. I have to admit that I have found myself thinking the very same thing, happy and safe that everyone else is doing it too, sharply aware of our terrible yet delightful bias. But having a perfect firstborn comes at a price. How on earth can a second child match up? Particularly as we are having another boy, I can’t imagine him any different to my beautiful, flawless first born, but I also can’t imagine him being the same. And how will I love him if he isn’t?! Urrrgggghhh, hormonal pregnancy meltdown. The truth is, he will be his own amazing and unique little person and I am reassuringly informed that I will love him for him, just as much as I love my first. Love isn’t finite and manifests in all kinds of ways; and although I can’t quite fathom how this works right now, siblings don’t have to share love like some kind of commodity as there is more than enough to go round. But as I watch my two year old open his birthday presents gleefully, proclaiming every one as “mine!”, I realise that they will have to share toys and space and playtime, which I’m sure will bring its own fresh chaos. And we will cross that bridge when we come to it.