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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Momster of Two

After sliding the two 9" rounds of Husband's Best-Ever-Coffee-Chocolate Birthday Cake into the oven just moments ago, I find myself taking a peaceful break from my new life by relaxing for a rare moment alone in my favorite recliner, sipping my second (or is it third?) cup of coffee for the day, and watching my sweet 3.5 week old baby girl with her breastmilk-full tummy dozing angelically in her bouncer chair as I'm serenaded by the alarmingly loud sounds of my 2-year old son pounding on his door while screaming desperately to be freed from the terrible entrapments of nap time. Ahh, the blissful world of a stay-at-home-mom.

So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed becoming the mother of two small humans. The invasive and ubiquitous fears I had with Boy are seemingly non-existent this time around, for several reasons. First and foremost, Boy is still alive. Second, Husband is one trimester short of being a real-life Physician Assistant, and consequently now has the knowledge to correctly answer my constantly nagging and most feared child-rearing question, "do we need to go to the ER for this?" And third, Boy seems to have successfully accomplished the enormous task of wearing down my tolerances. His incessant screaming for the first 8 or so months of his life, if nothing else, taught me that babies won't die from crying. Although, that doesn't keep me from trying to eliminate all crying (if you can make it stop, why wouldn't you try?), it has given me the confidence to laugh at and relax about the second child's (thankfully) occasional hysterics.

Husband first pointed out this drastic change in parenting style a few short minutes after Bean was born. They placed her on my stomach, and she instantly started wailing - this high-pitched, jerky, goat-like wail. Through my tears of incredible joy, my initial reaction was to mock her. Within moments of her birth. It took us nearly a year of parenting Boy before we felt confident (or numb) enough to mock his cries.

With Boy, I remember being terrified to do anything for fear that I would do it "wrong." His first bath at home was done on the bathroom counter after reading and re-reading "What to Expect the First Year's" passage on "Baby's First Bath," laying out all the supplies, placing the baby on the first of five towels we utilized, and then sending Husband in a panic to grab the book so I could prop it open next to my bath station and read the instructions as I performed each act of cleansing - just to ensure I did it "right." Although this might give you the impression that a baby's first bath is more complicated than a simple sponge bath, let me assure you, it isn't.

I was terrified about how to dress him. Baby clothes seemed to complicated, and there were so many types. Onesies, front-buttoning shirts, gowns, footie pajamas, even baby socks intimidated me. Alternatively, Bean is lucky if I remember to change her clothes once a day (with the exception of countless "photo op" outfit changes a day, it's just so easy to leave her in her footie pajamas...).

I was terrified about how to entertain him. What do newborns like to do? How do you play with a baby, much less a newborn? What the hell is swaddling? Why is he screaming inconsolably and incessantly for hours on end? Boy was colicky. He would scream at least three straight hours, every day, regardless of what we tried to do (and we tried EVERYTHING), sometimes as much as nine hours a day, from when he was three weeks old until he was five months. I held him for 90% of that time, often crying right along with him. The only place he would sleep was on me. Consequently, I got very good at holding him and doing everything else, including going to the bathroom and baking cookies (not simultaneously). I've since read that firstborns tend to have higher rates of colic, possibly because of parents' uncertainties and lack of confidence (newborns are evidently empathetic and insightful enough to pick up on these subtleties). We fit that description exactly.

It's a wonderful feeling to have an established parenting style. I've discovered the cries don't stress me out - she's going to cry sometimes, regardless of how attentive I am to her every need - the clothes are simple - and adorably pink this time! - and I just like to hold my babies. So far, she isn't crying for hours on end (thankfully!), but I still hold her 90% of the day. There's just something so precious about a tiny little newborn. I can't describe it exactly, but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with their inability to dramatically pound on their door and scream bloody-murder as a protest to nap time. Nothing like a 2 year old to make you really appreciate a newborn's inability to do much of anything.

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