column is the first of a two part series. The
second part will run next week.)
the thing is... there's a baby boom going on right now.
least six of my friends are either expecting their second children or planning
their second pregnancies. And for
some reason, they all wrote to ask me questions recently.
I guess just having survived qualifies me to tell you everything I know
about welcoming a second child into your family. Okay, here it is.
kidding. E-mail gives so few
opportunities to do visual jokes, I couldn't resist.
Seriously, though, I am more than willing to share my scant knowledge but
I would like to preface this whole column by saying that at some point, maybe
four weeks into my journey as a mother of two, I called my friend Linda (mother
of three) and I asked her "So, is the deal with parenting two kids that you
just sort of DO it?" And she
said "Exactly." On this
ever ever-so-clear-and-helpful note, here's everything I can remember that's fit
first thing my friends keep asking me is about spacing one's children.
Now, I will say that although I had given this some thought at some point
and even gathered some data from my own friends, my children were more the
product of a lot of red wine and inattention than they were of careful family
planning. (This approach seems to
work as well as any, frankly.)
and Jane are two years and seven months apart.
I now think this is the worst possible spacing.
If I had it to do over again, I would have either waited until Ana was
closer to four, or I would have had them even closer together.
See, if you wait a little longer, your oldest can conceptualize that a
new sibling doesn't REALLY mean the ruination of her life and she might even be
willing to help out by fetching a diaper every now and again.
At least she probably has some sort of life outside of you and the house
and there is also the well-made point that you won’t have both of them in
college together. (Theoretically.)
you have them closer together, yes, you have two in diapers and it's a lot of
sheer physical work but the oldest hasn't really realized what an enormous act
of betrayal you are committing by bringing her a new sibling.
She can't think much beyond the current moment and she's not yet smart
enough to think of devilish plots like, oh, standing at the top of the stairs
blowing her harmonica when you have finally gotten the baby to sleep after three
hours of walking her.
problem with two years and seven months is that it means your oldest is more
than likely still in diapers. So
you have the sheer physical demand on you of two tiny imps who depend on you for
everything from food to being carried around all day to potty training.
AND, the oldest is also in the most negative time of her whole
Toddlerhood and as such, she can mercilessly play on your guilt for introducing
this STRANGER into your lovely little life together.
don't know, maybe it's horrid for your firstborn no matter how old she is. I can't remember who first said this but it's been quoted
before: Imagine yourself sitting around the kitchen when your husband gets home
and introduces you to HIS NEW WIFE. He
carefully explains that this new wife is there for BOTH of you to love and
nurture and the addition of her to your family will not mean one iota less love
for YOU. You will, however, have to
share your toys --and look, isn't she the cutest thing??
can only imagine my reaction, and let's just say it has “Jail Time” written
all over it.
anyway, I have no real advice on the spacing of the kids.
Whatever you do, it'll end up being the best thing for your family.
Of course, it might take about thirty years for you to appreciate that
fact but there ya go.
CAN tell you that everything you remember about your first pregnancy --and that
won’t be much-- will be completely different this time around.
For one thing, no one cuts you any slack. In fact, when you go to the grocery store, the clerks just
assume from the way you are slinging your toddler about that you don't need any
help carrying your groceries to the car. Your
husband is less likely to treat you like a precious vessel --in fact, he might
just be a bit bored by the whole thing. He's
not spending the evenings talking to the baby through your stomach or reading up
on the latest how-to-be-a-father techniques.
He's upping his life insurance and trying to figure out how he can manage
to transport his family around safely without actually having to be seen in a
yourself, although you look pregnant about six minutes after the test comes back
positive, have absolutely no time to contemplate the emergence of your belly
button as an "outie" because you are directing your every non-nauseous
moment to preparing your firstborn for her new sibling.
And your hormones cut you no break the second time around either, so you
alternate between losing your patience with her and spoiling her rotten to make
up for it. In the end, there's one totally confused little kid who greets every
visitor with the question "Did you bring me a Big Sister present?"
you're pregnant and suddenly you simply can't believe that you are willingly
doing this to your oldest child. You
start to read everything you can get your hands on about going from a family of
three to a family of four. These
books are very helpful but since you have pregnancy brain, you forget everything
they say immediately and resolve to read them again before you give birth.
HAH! Because you have
just entered into the Sibling Preparation Zone and you spend the last six months
of your pregnancy reading “Zaza's Baby Brother” by Lucy Cousins to your
toddler six thousand times. Seriously, to prepare your child, you buy every single
children's book out there about becoming a big brother or sister.
I can still recite them all.
Next week, we'll bring the second baby home from the hospital. And then the fun of the baby boom REALLY begins.
subscribe or unsubscribe to this free e-mail newsletter, send e-mail to email@example.com.
(Your address will not be used for any other purpose.)
If you would like to forward this column on, please do so in its
entirety. Feedback welcome.
Barbara Cooper 2001
Barbara Cooper is the mother of Ana (3) and Jane (eight months). She lives in Austin, Texas and is grateful in a daily basis that she never had twins.