When Babies Are Born A Little Too Close Together
12.08.11 Ashley’s e-mail
Here’s the best reader email I’ve received in a while:
Hello my name is ashley and i just had a baby 8 months ago and i just took another pregnancy test and it was positive. Today
Yep, that’s all of it—the sum total of Ashley’s message and I’m not going to edit, punctuate, or embellish it in any way, because Ashley, I totally get it. It’s going to be OK, honey. You’re going to be fine. You really are.
It’s really, really, hard to put your feelings into words when you have one baby in your arms (and maybe not even crawling yet) and another on the way. It’s a mind-numbing, mind-blowing experience that not only takes your breath away it takes the words right out of your mouth. But, millions of women, including myself, can say that we’ve been there, done that, and eventually regained our ability to formulate complete sentences. And one of the first things you need to say is: “It’s going to be OK. I’m going to be fine.”
Since I don’t know anything else about Ashley’s life, I can only guess how having two babies a year and a half (or less) apart will affect her. I’m drawing on my own experience and that of my friends who’ve done it. It goes kind of like this:
· OMG, the condom broke. But, I’m still breastfeeding so there’s no way I got pregnant, right? Right? Just say, “right.”
· Expletive, expletive…(fill in your own, I prefer the S-word and said it at least a hundred times over the weeks after the broken condom), I don’t feel right. I don’t feel good. I know what this feels like, but, there’s no way I’m pregnant. I’m just not.
· Please-oh-please-oh-please, make this test be negative. Please…. I’ll be the best mother in the world. I’ll never say the S-word again. I’ll donate all my new clothes (that I just bought because I’ve finally lost some of my pregnancy weight) to charity if you just make this test be negative.
· The test is positive. OMG. Oh S-word.
Over the next many months, emotions will run the full gamut from shock, to denial, anger, fear, resignation, acceptance, excitement and even empowerment. Eventually, you might even feel delight, though for most of the women, I know, including myself; that took a while. Just keep telling yourself, “it’s going to be OK. I’m going to be fine.”
Once I got used to the idea of having another baby, I worried a little about my stamina, personal sanity and whether I’d ever have a waist again, but more about how my daughter would feel. Would she be jealous? Would she feel slighted? It didn’t even occur to me that she might be thrilled.
I worried about how I’d ever finish nursing school, how I’d ever find a job with two babies under two, how we’d ever be able to buy a house and how my husband and I would ever find time to be a couple again. I worried what my friends would say and about going through labor again and about who would take care of my “old baby,” while I was giving birth to my “new baby.”
I worried and worried until one day, my sister said, “You have to knock that off. Don’t you remember what Mom used to say?”
I didn’t remember, so she reminded me. “Nothing bad ever happens from welcoming a child into your life.”
“Yeah, but…” I started.
My sister stopped me, “Yes, it’s going to be challenging and things might be tough for a while, but it won’t be because of the baby. It’ll be the rest of life. The baby will be wonderful, just like all babies are. That’s just the way life is.”
Sometime later, but before I had the new baby, I was taking care of an old woman at the hospital who said something else that changed the way I thought about having babies so close together. “You girls today think babies have to come at the perfect time. When I was growing up, we didn’t have any way to stop them from coming unless we gave up sex. Nobody I know wants to do that so we just accepted that babies came and once we had them, we were always glad we did.” She was so right.
So Ashley, there’s nothing wrong with having two babies so close together. You’re joining a special sorority of caught-by-surprise women. And guess what? It’s better than OK. It’s better than fine. It’s absolutely fabulous. For the rest of their lives, those two babies will play together, entertain each other, support each other, share friends, clothes, toys, bedrooms, and talk about you behind your back. They’ll have each other and you’ll have them and it’s all going to be all right. Welcome to the club, Ashley…we’ve been expecting you.
Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and five children. Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it may be answered in a future blog post.
This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.