A new mom-of-two does a 180 in her approach to parenting—and discovers that the new approach has its benefits.
Welcome to the world, little one! We're beyond overjoyed to have you here. You blew into town, fast and furious, at 6:21 on a Saturday morning, a 7 lb 4 oz bundle of high-APGAR energy. I'm not going to lie, those contractions were a bitch. There's a rumor that I actually screamed to my husband "I'm never eating cake again!" (The last thing I ate before labor started was a takeout container spoonful of buttercream frosting, and with each contraction, I was smacked with a new wave of sugar-coated nausea.) It takes a lot to make me swear off cake. A lot. But I'm not holding it against you. And I swear that's not the reason why—let's just be blunt—it seems like you're getting the shaft.
With your big sister, everything was planned. Precautions were taken. Baby books were read. Booze was avoided. I signed up for weekly pregnancy newsletters that let me know exactly what sized baby was percolating in my belly. I attached special in-utero headphones to my bump and played classical music guaranteed to secure entry into an Ivy League school. I avoided working out until I was 9 weeks along because the fertility specialist told me "embryos don't like heat."
Then, you decided to shake things up and surprise us. Too bad I didn't realize someone was hitching a ride inside me until a few weeks after your dad and I threw a Breaking Bad finale party, complete with a likely-unpasteurized cheese plate and copious amounts of wine. Oh, and I inadvertently got vaccinated for typhoid —TYPHOID—during the very week you were conceived, because I was about to travel to India for work, and a precautionary pregnancy test had turned up negative. Besides, I only have one fallopian tube, I don't ovulate and it took us two years to conceive your sister. So why on earth would I be pregnant?!
Pregnancy with a toddler running around was a far cry from pregnancy as a non-parent. I mean, sure, I took a prenatal vitamin every day and attempted not to stroll in the direct path of a garbage truck's exhaust pipe. But no books were read other than those that started with "My name is Emily Elizabeth, and this is my dog, Clifford..." Between work and potty training, I devoted my few spare minutes of free time to scouring the internet for advice on WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ACCIDENTALLY GET VACCINATED FOR TYPHOID WHILE KNOCKED UP. (The answer, thankfully: Don't worry. Our OB was completely unfazed.)
But you didn't seem to mind. Week after week, you developed beautifully, acing all of your prenatal exams, impressing the doctor with your perfectly shaped limbs and a strong, steady heart-beat that was music to this tired mama's ears.
Three weeks after a very successful VBAC (We did it!), I noticed some more differences in my parenting approach:
Baby #1: We sterilized bottle parts, used baby detergent and cleaned the counters with vinegar and water.
Baby #2: As we speak, there is a Costco-sized jug of ant killer literally sitting on the kitchen table, seven inches away from the bananas and avocados with which I am fueling my breast milk.
Baby #1: When her pacifier fell on the floor, I washed it with hot, soapy water.
Baby #2: The pacifier currently in your mouth was found under the slide at the playground.
Baby #1: Daddy and I actually wrote a clause into the nanny's contract stipulating that she not have a cell phone on her when she held your sis, out of concern over radiation.
Baby #2: At three o'clock this morning, I nearly concussed you with my falling iPhone as I passed out while groggily nursing and simultaneously attempting to check Facebook in an effort to stay awake.
It's not all bad, is it, little lady? Sure, you don't have a stroller to call your own and my breast milk might have notes of artificial sweetener, but there are plenty of advantages to being our second child. Health-wise, I haven't touched hand sanitizer since you were conceived, but being exposed to germs will fortify your immune system in the long run. Getting left in the bouncy seat for 15 minutes at a time with Dora the Explorer playing in the background while I hurriedly slap dinner together will teach you how to self soothe (and speak Spanish!). Surely you will benefit from having a mom who no longer feels like she needs to do everything by the book, who is okay with her toddler occasionally eating Skinny Pop for breakfast and doesn't freak out if hands are sometimes not washed after going pee pee. I'll be more relaxed, more easy-going, more fun. You're welcome.