What on earth were we thinking? (Part 1 of series on preparing for baby #2)

by annie on June 9, 2009

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Panic.

Complete panic.

It’s 3:00am. I’m 30 weeks pregnant. My 2 year old son wakes up again and wants Mommy. I nurse him back to sleep, get up to pee again (pregnant bladder) and try to find a comfortable position to sleep where my huge belly is neither making me uncomfortable nor in danger of being kicked by a restless toddler.

What on earth were we thinking?

What the hell am I going to do when a newborn and a toddler both have nighttime needs?

Were we wrong to want another baby when our boy was still so much a baby himself? Should we have listened to “mainstream” parenting advice and pushed him away, made him independent, toughened him up?

My intuition said no. My body and my mind had told me the timing was right for another child. We wanted our children to be close together in age too. It felt right when we decided to get pregnant. It felt right to be there for our son when he needed us. But it didn’t always feel right on those nights or those days when even one child seemed like more than I could handle. When that one child seemed to need 100% of me and I didn’t think there was anything more to give to a second one.

I’m not the only one that has felt that way. Others have been there before me and others have lived through it after me. That doesn’t make it any less scary, any less difficult. So when a reader wrote to me, exhausted and concerned, and in this exact situation, I wasn’t sure exactly what to tell her. Our child, our techniques, our decisions, our experience is just ours. It may help someone else, but it may not.

So I called in the army…a small army of my attachment parenting friends that I remember discussing these exact things with. I knew they had worried and I knew they had survived. Let me introduce them to you.

Jane otherwise known as @janefriar:

My daughter was almost 2 years old when I got pregnant. She was still nursing like a newborn and preferred breastmilk to solids most of the time. Although she has always been healthy and thriving, her lack of interest in solids would occasionally make me nervous, and when I was pregnant I wondered if she would wean (and start eating more solids) like I had heard many children do. She was an intense nurser, though, and in my heart I knew she wouldn’t wean, although I mentioned that she “probably would” to anyone who knew I still nursed her and asked ominously, “What on earth will you do when the baby comes – nurse them both?”

Naomi from Mama’s Applecores:

Our spirited son was 23 months old when I got pregnant.  My excel spreadsheet titled “40wk” told me that he would me 32 months or 2.6 years old when the baby arrived.  Nine months is a significant amount of time in the life of a toddler, and we were sure that he would have grown up some by then. And he did.

robin from woowoo mama:

when i was about 32 weeks pregnant with chickpea i suddenly decided that having a second child was a very very bad idea.  the bean (then about 2) was still nursing a lot (although my milk had long since dried up), he still really wanted to cosleep with me, and he still would fall asleep for me and only me.  i felt that the bean was very dependant on me and i was concerned that this was a major problem.

when we had decided to go for the second child i imagined that by the time she was going to be born the bean was going to be slightly more independent then he really was.  i was up a lot at night worrying that the decision had been unfair to the bean, or that this whole idea of having a second child (which i was the driving force behind) was going to blow up in my face.  i had wanted him to be more flexible about who slept with him and comforted him day or night and he simply wasn’t.  in fact, as the spring turned to summer and our baby pea was getting closer and closer to being born the bean seemed to need me more and more.

Join me over the course of the next few posts as Jane, Naomi, robin and I share how we navigated nursing and co-sleeping as we prepared for and welcomed baby number two into our lives.

Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at PhD in Parenting. She is going through the 2 year old stage all over again, but this time not pregnant.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Edda June 13, 2009 at 3:04 pm

When pregnancy #2 occurred, baby #1 was 1 year and 3 months old. At first I thought I had to wean her before baby #2 had nightime needs, soon I realized we could keep up nursing and found creative ways to wean baby #1 from nightime nursing and still be with her every night. When baby #2 arrived, she simply stopped nursing, I offered the breast often, she refused. We engaged in our new nightime routine, nursing baby #2 while singing for baby #1 to fall asleep.

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Yoko June 14, 2009 at 11:39 pm

My daughter turned 18 months at the end of May, and now we’re thinking of trying for number 2. My husband is the driving force for this decision, while I wonder how my daughter would respond… She still breastfeeds during day & night, we co-sleep and I don’t really want to move her into a separate bed yet. To me she’s still a baby! But then I don’t know whether I want a longer gap between our children either. I wonder how other people decide that they are ready for the next bub?

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Patricia February 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm

My daughter is 15mo. and we are just starting to discuss this at our house too. We will wait until she is a little older, but I think my biggest fear right now is the birth! What do you do with your older child when it’s time to deliver the second baby? When you have a child who nurses to sleep every night and needs you to fall asleep how on earth do you go into labor? And it all seems so unfair to the new baby, those first few hours were so precious with my daughter, I worry how could it possibly be fair to this new baby when there is already someone who needs so much of me. Great series I look forward to more!

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