Having a second baby has been so much easier on me physically, mentally, and emotionally than having a first. Don’t get my wrong, my Nora is an angel sent straight from heaven and the sky opens and a beam of sunshine falls on her head and harps start playing the moment I look at her… As much as any two year old, but becoming a parent was rough! No matter how much you read, how much you babysit or nanny, how many parents you talk to, nothing can prepare you for becoming a mother. The highs are beyond anything you’ve ever dreamed of… As are the lows. I remember a night/morning when Nora was a couple weeks old. Ben was in Norman because he was in law school, and I was at my wit’s end, so I did what any sane person would do. I called my mommy. She rushed over as quickly as she could and held my screaming baby until she got her into a sound sleep, then sat on my bed and held me as I cried my eyes out. I just remember saying over and over “No one tells you! No one tells you it will be like this! There’s no way to know until you’re going through it!” The truth is, of course, people try to tell you. They try to give you a snippet, at least… No one wants to totally terrify a potential new parent into not experiencing the wonder that is parenthood just because a good chunk of it makes you want to pull your hair out. Even if someone could put into words exactly all the feelings you go through as the parent of a newborn, you childless folk would just sit back and think, smugly, that it will be different for you… And you would continue being wrong.
Next to having the experience of parenting a newborn before, the best part of having a second is that your first can help out! It takes a little work at first (read “We don’t pick up the baby by the neck! …Or at all without an adult!!”), but even one as small as Nora can be pretty helpful in a pinch. Case in point: showering.
With the first baby, even when she was dead asleep, not a freight train through the bedroom could wake her, I still couldn’t shower without another adult in the house for the first few months. What if something horrible happened?? Kidnappers in through the window, surprise tornado taking off the roof and taking my baby to Oz, or something plausible, like she wakes up and fusses mildly, not sure where that one person who smells like food went?! Eventually, I would bring her into the bathroom, put her in her bouncer, and take a 4 minute shower with the curtain halfway open, and even that caused me to hyperventilate.
Fast forward a couple years to this morning. The girls and I are home sick. I bathed them both last night, but haven’t bathed myself in a couple days… And Nora has taken to coming up, throwing herself into me, and telling me I’m smelly. Sigh. Anyway, Eme was mostly sleeping or looked pretty chill and Nora was in a Tangled trance. I put the baby in the middle of our king bed and put the big kid on baby monitoring duty. She was to report all change to me in the shower, maybe three yards away. Moments later,
Nora: “Mommy, her’s awake.”
Me: “SHE’s awake? Is she being sweet or is she upset?” (Never too awkward of a time for a grammar lesson, I say…)
Nora: “She’s crying”
Nora sounds pretty annoyed by my question, which conveys to me that she woke her up by prodding and poking, and duh, the baby is crying. I tell her to pat the baby’s belly and she runs off. A couple minutes pass…
Nora: “Mommy, her’s not crying anymore! Her is happy!”
Me: “I’m glad SHE is happy! Go talk to her a little bit, will you?”
Patters off, a couple minutes of silence… Then STOMPS BACK LIKE A STAMPEDING BUFFALO!!!
Nora: “MAMA!!! MAMA!!!!
My heart stops. Me: “What is it, honey??”
Nora: “Rapunzel’s mother turned to.. To… To DUST! It was SO FUNNY!!!”
Commence heartbeat, successful shower finished, two totally happy, though sick, children. I didn’t forget to rinse the conditioner out or anything!
Nora claims that her clothes also don’t feel well, so she shouldn’t wear them. Works for me, kid.