Now that I’m the mother of an almost 2-year-old with another baby on the way, I’m an expert at pretty much everything.
Ha! Kidding. That’s all those other blogs written by smug parents of small children that I can’t stop hate-reading.
I, on the other hand, almost take a kind of perverted pride in just how little I have figured out about life, let alone about parenthood. I mean, I have no less than four light switches in my house that I have no idea what they do and currently my toddler is begging me to throw his giant Mr. Bouncety-Bounce ball directly at his face. Then he laughs hysterically, chases the ball, hands it to me and asks me to throw it directly at his face again.
We’ve been playing this for 45 minutes and I haven’t questioned for a second whether this is a good idea or not.
And it’s only going to get worse. Take this second pregnancy. You’d think by now I’d know what to expect when I’m expecting since I expected not even two years ago. But this pregnancy is different from my first in a lot of ways. For instance, with my first one I was convinced I was pregnant with a ninja-trained dragon. And this pregnancy, I’m convinced I’m pregnant with Satan. (It would definitely explain all the projectile vomiting and all the chasing my husband around the house with a baseball bat because he forgot to get the big wheel of cheese from the super fancy grocery store).
Even my food cravings are different this time. All I wanted with my son, Riker, was cheeseburgers. All day, every day. And with this new baby, all I want are bacon cheeseburgers.
But perhaps the most striking difference is what my biggest fears are this time versus last time. Because now I no longer have the gift of ignorance. I now know what I truly need to be afraid of.
For example, the first time around, I can’t tell you how much sleep I lost over worrying what my son’s nose would look like, all because in his ultrasound it looked like he had the exaggerated nose of a cartoon witch. I had repeated nightmares the doctor would hand me a swaddled bundle and when I moved the blanket off his face, there was Miracle Max’s wife from “The Princess Bride” staring up at me, screaming “Humperdinck!”.
But now I know that having an ugly witch baby is nothing compared to dealing with the witching hour. And let’s be honest, it’s witching HOURS. Hours and hours where nothing else exists except the sun sinking into the horizon, burying your hope with it, and the banshee screaming ceaselessly into your ear.
I also wasted a lot of time the first time worrying about how fragile the baby would be and how likely it was that my giant troll hands would hurt it. And now I know that not only are babies tougher than they look, but they hold all the power. In fact, they’re tiny little dictators and I just pray that this one will be a benevolent ruler, unlike his/her brother who was a ruthless albeit charming despot.
And unlike last time, I’m not wasting any energy being afraid of labor or delivery or even another C-section. Because now I know that no matter how my body is violently ripped open to provide an exit for little junior, the pain pales in comparison to the utter mind-blowing torture that is the first six weeks of breastfeeding. Now, I know I’ve complained about breastfeeding before (here, for example, and here and here). But this time around is so much worse. Because now I know what’s coming. I survived the first time only because I was naïve enough to think “it has to get better” every day. But it doesn’t get better. It doesn’t get better until two weeks past forever. And even then you’re too sleep deprived to notice.
To put it in Hollywood movie terms, it’s like escaping from an angry psychopath’s dungeon and realizing with increasing horror that in less than six months you have to go marching right back in there VOLUNTARILY and undergo the torture all over again. Only this time you can’t scream at the top of your lungs the whole time because your husband says it, quote, “stresses him out.”
Luckily, however, I also know that it will all be worth it. Because no matter how bad things get, no matter how much pain or crying or forgotten wheels of cheese there are, one glance at your sleeping baby’s face makes you forget everything else.
That is, until it’s time to breastfeed again.