Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stop telling me that "things are going to be so hard"

I am pregnant with my second baby, due in October.  Here are some things that I know about having a second baby, not from experience, but because I am a logical, semi-intelligent person:  It will be tiring, because new babies are tiring and having an older child who runs on a schedule will make sleeping while the baby sleeps less of a realistic possbility.  It will be demanding, because both children will need attention and I will be newly learning how to juggle their needs.  It will be sometimes overwhelming, in the way that any major life change is.  You know what else I know about having a second baby?  It’s not rocket science.  And we will handle the transition just fine.

Why am I stating these fairly obvious truths?  Because I have started to encounter an odd group of people who seem intent on trying to bring me down.   The conversations generally go like this: they offer their congratulations on the pregnancy, I thank them, and then they start catastrophizing what it’s like to bring home a second baby*.  Then I smile and brush it off, instead of saying all of the things that I’d really like to say.  So now I’ll say them here.  Below, some of the gems that I’ve heard, and my inner responses.  Stay tuned for the big bitter finale.

*Important note: I’m not talking about friends/family who will crack a joke about the chaos of more than one kid, or who will shout over their wrestling children, “I hope you’re ready for this!” with a wry smile.  That’s funny and sarcastic and tongue in cheek and harmless.  I’m talking about the seriously negative, not-at-all-joking, joy-sucking people who deliver the gems below straight faced and in a grave voice.

1. You think one kid was hard---you have no idea.  Just wait until you have two. Of course two kids are more challenging that one kid, that’s why we waited this long to have another.  Does anyone really think that adding a new baby to the family would somehow be less work than just having one?

2. I hope you have earplugs, because they will fight constantly.  Of course kids fight. I have a sister of my own, and nieces and nephews, and ears, and common sense.  Will they fight constantly?  Maybe, maybe not.  Who cares?

3. The beginning is impossible—the baby cries, the older one wants attention---it was the worst time of my life.  I’m sooooooo glad to be done with that.  Uh  . . . congratulations?  I’m not sure how anyone could even respond to this.  What I’d like to say is “if having a second baby and an older kid was the ‘worst time in your life’ then aren’t you lucky” . . .but I feel like that would be poorly received.

And you know what I’d really like to say? 

I’d like to widen my eyes, and look over at Maya, and say to them “Did you really just imply that I have it easy with my ‘only one’ kid?  That my mothering experience has been simple compared to yours, because you have two (perfectly healthy) kids and I have ‘only one’?  Are you that unaware?”

And I could keep going . . . here are a few factoids that illustrate how much easier things are for me, since I have “only one.”

-We have seen more specialists that I can keep track of, literally.  When I get doctors’ bills I squint at the practitioner’s name and think “Hmm, which one are you?”  We switched pediatricians this week (insurance related) and I couldn’t send Maya’s medical file to the new office (as one is supposed to do, per their policy, before scheduling an appointment) because it’s not a file, it’s a full binder, way too large to be faxable. 

-We have had (and continue to have) hours and hours and hours of therapy.  During the first year that I left my job to stay home with Maya we had 3-4 appointments per day.  Most days we barely had time to leave the apartment, because we were in therapy, or she was napping, or I was trying to feed her.

-We had years of feeding therapy and practice (practice meant that every snack and meal was work and exercise) before she was able to move to solid food, and she still can’t completely feed herself.  So we still feed her to some degree at every meal.

-We’re still changing diapers.

-Maya has been playing with her princess dolls all week.  Since I’d like to talk to her about them, I spent half an hour making buttons for her talker so that she would be able to say Belle, Tiana, etc.  I have to make buttonson an iPad, then teach her where to find them, then practice using the new buttons with her, in order to talk to my kid.

-She didn’t walk until she was nearly three, and even now walks very unsteadily.  She tires easily.  She can’t walk up and down stairs (a few stairs at the playground, yes, a flight of stairs, not without a lot of help).  She goes completely limp when overwhelmed.  All of this means that being Maya’s parent is a very physically demanding job.

I don’t need to keep going, right?  That’s enough to get the idea.

So when someone tries to rain on my parade by telling me how inconceivably hard life will be when I add a second, it’s hard not to laugh at them.  The truth, as I see it, is that these parade-raining types, the ones who see so much of life’s negative side and love to point it out to a captive audience, they would find a day living my current life to be “inconceivably hard”. 

And you know what?  It’s not at all.  It’s just life.  It has its challenges and it has its joys---just like every person's life has challenges and joys.  I would never try to tell someone that my life is harder than theirs is . . . because, well, first, that’s the weirdest competition ever . . . and second, I’m smart enough to know that no one can ever really understand someone else’s baggage without trying to shoulder it themselves.  Who am I to claim that mine is heavier than yours?

At the same time, if your kids are able to climb out of their own beds this morning, get dressed, eat breakfast independently, walk and run and wrestle, speak intelligibly to you, yell at each other, climb in the kitchen to get a forbidden snack, throw things, play video games, get into trouble, use the bathroom, whine at you, whatever . . .  well, to me that sounds like a damn good day.

So I’ll concede that two kids will be more complicated than one, if you would kindly stop telling me how easy I’ve got it now, having “only one.”  Because, really, you have no idea.


Just the Tip said...

Some people..I honestly don't know what they are thinking when they say stuff. Kind of like "oh you'll hate it when she starts talking, she'll never shut up." Yeah, you're right bc non stop chatting will be sooo hard to deal with opposed to screaming fits and take 15 mins to figure out my kid wants water! Our #2 was not planned, and I won't lie, I freaked out like no other. But H said, Tons of people have 2 babies, we will be fine. He's right, if other people can do it (and we do it, I juggle dr. appts for 2 sick kids/hospital admits/surgeries/etc) then I'm sure you can do it too. You are super mom, after all!

joee_t said...

i'm sorry you're running into these weird, negative people. i can see your annoyance, especially given Maya's current challenges.

i, too, have an older son (5 years) with a disability (mild CP), and then we have his neurotypical sister (2.5 years). i was just thinking the other day how wonderful it is to have two. before his sister came along, my older son was much more needy and did not like to play independently. now they have each other. sure, they fight, but they also make each other giggle like nobody's business. and i can't believe how much my older learns from my younger. i had thought since he was in daycare he was already learning from other kids, but somehow something is more motivating when one's sibling is doing it. best of all, my son has a peer who will love him as he is; she has grown up accepting that her brother can and cannot do certain things, but that he's her brother anyway. and they love each other so much. that makes a momma proud.

a big congratulations to you! hope the rest of your pregnancy goes great!

laurelsmom said...

Well Said!

Siobhan said...

Well, I would like to say that while I don't have a child with a disability, having 2 kids is awesome. It's one of the coolest things watching them play with one another and read to each other, and just be with the other. It makes me so happy to know that they'll have each other through good times and bad. Of course multiple kids is hard, but the best things in life don't come easy, right? You seem to have an amazing support system around you and you are a strong intelligent woman, you will be better than fine - you're going to be amazing. Congratulations again!

Nancy Cavillones said...

Sometimes other moms with kids close in age complain how hard it is to have two or three or a million, then ask me if it was hard. You should see the glares I get when I say, "No, not really..." :) Challenging, for sure. And I know from my parents' experience that the hard part is not having more than one kid but balancing the needs of non-neurotypical kids with the needs of neurotypical ones. If anything, having two or more is easier in some ways because they play with each other and leave you the heck alone. :)

Amanda said...

I've been down your road girlfriend, and I made it through! My (10 month old) Caleb, really gets Sarai (3 with CP) moving. He started pulling to stand, suddenly she wants to do what he's doing! He climbs the stairs, suddenly she does too! Sibling rivalry can be a wonderful thing!

Alisha said...

Right on!!! This post was exactly what I needed to read right now, so thank you! I too am mom to a special needs little girl who is 4 1/2 and am finally pregnant with our second due in November. I wanted to pass on my personal congrats to you! I know how elated we are, and I'm sure you feel the same!

Tui said...

Print off copies of this post, and whenever anyone starts raining on your joy, give them a copy.

I have 2 sons, the oldest is almost 6 and "normal" (don't hit me for using that word!) and my youngest who is 2 has CP. They are the best of friends, they both idolise each other, and they can make a lot of noise. Occassionally I have to remind myself to appreciate that noise.

Anonymous said...

And why are they even telling you this? I mean, I'd you were THINKING about having a second kid, maybe say something to talk you out of it (although it's still incredibly rude), but when you're this far along? What are they expecting you to do? Decide you don't want the baby? Stupid people make me crazy.


Foxxy One said...

I hate people sometimes.

I'm going to tell you what it's really going to be like having two.... Your new baby is going to sleep and eat like a champ, Maya is going to be a rock star big sister and learn new and creative ways to help Mommy. They are going to be the best of friends and you, Maya, the baby and your husband are going to be wonderful.

A good friend of mine had twins prematurely. The first year was very rough as they had severe feeding issues (as you can relate). They had to sleep feed them for the first year due to their aversion to food. Like you, your husband and Maya they had a lot of obstacles to clear. She was shocked when the girls were 2 to learn she was pregnant. She was besides herself. She had a lot of the negative comments as well.

After the baby was born I asked her how things were going and she said "she sleeps, she eats and only cries when she's hungry, wet or tired. What's up with that??" The new baby is very much a blessing in their family just like your little one will be a blessing to yours.

Congrats again!

Unknown said...

Hi Dana,
Congrats! As everyone else said, it's going to be amazing. In my mind, there's nothing better than seeing how much Kelsey adores her sister Mackenzie. Maya is going to be an incredible older sister. And speaking as a second child, we are often very good sleepers, eaters, etc. :) Yup- still a good eater, here! Take care,
Kaitlin (and Colin) Vogelgesang

Jen said...

I don't know why people feel the need to do that, but you aren't alone. Lots of people told me similar things, while smirking. It made me so worried and stressed, and I don't know whether to thank them because being so worried made the reality not bad at all, compared to what I was imagining? Or whether to thank them for giving me many sleepless nights for no reason. You do have a very special circumstance....but each difficult time that comes up will pass, and your family will adjust and you will know that you will never say such silly things to someone who is expecting their 2nd.

CompatibleWithJoy said...

I'm kind of at the other end of this. My special needs kiddo is the baby of 9. But my oldest three, while "normal" came 14 months apart each. Yikes! But can I tell you, 3 in diapers was much easier than 1 trying to potty train. It's not that bad having more than 1 in diapers. Just assembly line (or chase, or tackle...) Each time I was pregnant, I'd get similar comments. And I'd tell them it was just a bit more chaos, but a lot more love. Besides, I loved having the newborn w/ a toddler. The older wanted to help, and the baby would sleep enough that it was a gradual transition. I never saw sibling rivalry until the baby was old enough to get into the older's toys. Then, watch out. Oh well. Anyway, I'm thrilled for you, and for Maya. What a blessing

Súkí aquí said...

Reminds me of the time I was complaining to a new acquaintance how hard it was to care for a set of twins. She then mentioned that she had two sets of twins, and both sets were below the age of 5!

Lucy said...

I know, right?! I get so frustrated (and I'll admit, sometimes discouraged) when people tell me things are just going to get harder from here on out. Definitely not what anyone needs to hear.

And: Sure there will be challenging things about having two kiddos "on the outside". That's life! But there is even more awesomeness, in my experience.

the mommy psychologist said...

I'm not a fan of parade rainers either! And I absolutely hate it when people make assumptions about others whose situations they have no clue about.

Anonymous said...

Good for you for saying what many special needs mommas who have or are having other children are thinking. Case (rare chromo duplication and other anomalies lots of similar symptoms to Maya's symptoms) is 2 1/2 and my daughter, Claire, is now 7 months old. 2 years definitely was not long enough but we figured that Claire may catch up to Case sooner than we think and are hoping that it motivates him (or so that's how I'm rationalizing the craziness!) It is hard work to be a special needs momma (in every way!), and it will be hard raising two (completely differently). But you will not believe how much Maya will grow up (almost in an instant) once your little boy (!) arrives. I am so excited for you and if you have any questions regarding juggling two (Maya and Case are on pretty similar tracks right now), please do not hesitate to ask (although I can't promise the RIGHT answer!). Negative nancies beware, Dana's got fightin' words!

Anonymous said...

I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy and natural everything will be for you. I found having our second child much simpler than having the first. God bless you, your family, and your newest addition.

Nancy said...

I've been following your blog for awhile but never commented. Its amazing the things people say! My son is 4 and developmentally delayed. Our daughter is 14 months old. I heard similar things as well. Erin has been so good for Noah and vice versa. They love each other so much, it just makes my heart melt. Erin loves to watch Noah and try to imitate him and Noah has started doing new & different things because of her! Congrats on your pregnancy, it is such a blessing! Thanks for your honesty!