Guest post by Joy Curzio
So much was attached to having a second child for me. Being an only child, I find the sibling relationship very interesting. As I’ve gotten older—40 is almost here for me—it would be nice to have someone to commiserate with, who understands me based on our shared experiences. I wanted my son to grow up as a “brother,” having that person in his life who would be a playmate and friend. And after having my second son in July, I am so grateful that our family has “brothers.”
But here’s the thing…I thought it would be easy. I thought that because there was a five year difference in age that it would be smooth sailing. I really and truly thought that after almost four years of working long hours in an intense environment, fertility treatments and adoption paperwork, a newborn would be easy. I’m sure that I don’t need to tell you that I was completely delusional.
My five year-old was beyond easy as a newborn. He hardly ever cried, he napped the day away (and still slept well at night), and he talked really early so I never had to guess what he wanted. I thought I knew what to expect. I was looking forward to that one middle-of-the-night feeding, after which this baby would fall gently to sleep as I placed him in his crib and stared at him adoringly.
After leaving work to stay home with both boys, I was looking forward to getting the house organized, getting in shape, and doing all of those crafts that are pinned to my Pinterest board. CRAFTS?! Can you believe I thought I’d have time for CRAFTS?? I barely have time to sleep let alone knit that adorable baby blanket that will be handed down for generations.
Despite the fact that two out of every five people you encounter will tell you that every child is different—I made that up, but it feels accurate—I thought that this baby, from how he acted to how I felt about him, would be exactly the same.
My second baby had colic until he was about 12 weeks old, so to say that he cried more than our first child is a huge understatement. Well, he didn’t actually so much cry as he just screamed for hours on end with no apparent cause or solution.
The next several weeks after the colic ended were spent just getting to know him. I realized that I was a little afraid of “setting him off,” and so I wouldn’t pick him up or talk to him much. I walked on eggshells around him because honestly, as silly as I feel typing this, I felt a little betrayed by him. I had expectations, and the reality was so different that I felt like I had gotten the wrong baby. So lesson one—a lesson I truly thought I already had learned by this stage in my life—do not have expectations about newborns (or swim suit shopping, but this is a topic for a different day).
Lesson two – they wouldn’t write and sell millions of copies of sleep books if the books weren’t necessary. Some babies don’t sleep as well as others…did you already know this? I THOUGHT I did, but what a surprise it has been to have to work on schedules and longer and better sleep. Whereas my older son loves sleep like peanut butter loves chocolate, this one hates to nap. I actually think he’s offended by the act of being placed in the crib during daylight hours. The look of betrayal on his tiny round face is enough to break my heart, but the screaming is enough to break my sanity. Where is my time to bond with the baby, clean up the house, take a shower, have some “me” time, exercise, run errands, play with my older son, spend time with my husband, and, you know, DO CRAFTS? Laughable.
I’m more tired than I’ve ever been ever in my entire life. And I’m crazy because of it. Nuttier than a chestnut tree in full bloom. I cry without knowing why, I curse in front of my older son like I’m on the Sopranos, and to say that I snap at my husband isn’t doing justice to the fury I display. So I’m reading several of those sleep books and talking to the pediatrician. I feel like a new mom again…actually maybe for the first time in the sense that I am working through things I didn’t have to work through the first time.
But each day, I learn something new about the baby. I’m learning that this funny little Tarzan noise he makes means that he’s hungry. And that he fusses for a few minutes before falling asleep every single time. He likes me to smell his stinky little marshmallow toes when I change his outfits, and he DOES NOT like raspberries on his belly. Some of these are the same as what I remember with my first son, and some aren’t, but the most important thing I’m learning is that I don’t need to feel the same way about him or about any of it. Really, would I even want it to be the same? Wouldn’t that take all the specialness away from each child?
Even though this—having two boys, having a newborn at almost 40 years of age, being married and being very tired at the same time, taking care of the house, even just making sure the cat doesn’t starve—even though none of this is remotely related to anything that vaguely resembles easy, it’s worth it. It’s worth it for my son, who is now a brother, for me and my husband as parents, and our brand new baby, who is alive and part of this world. The lesson I’m learning every day through this new adventure is that yes, it’s totally hard and humbling and scary. And yes, it’s completely, 100% worth it.
About the writer:
Joy Curzio is a mom of two sweet boys ages 5 years-old and 5 months-old. She’s a freelance writer living in Northern Virginia.