We’ve just had our second child (two weeks ago) and when we were in the hospital there was a thank-you note on a pin-board from another mother that read, “When you have your first child you spend all your time staring at them, when you have your second, you spend all your time trying to stop the first child terrorising the second child, and when you have a third child you spend a little bit of every day hiding from your children.” I already know what she meant about the hiding from the children – taking a little extra time alone in the bathroom, or walking a little slower when out on an child-free errand, but we haven’t experienced yet any direct displays of jealousy or resentment from our first (three years and three months) towards our second child. The change for her though has manifested itself with some ignoring of mum, as though she’s being punished for bringing someone else cute home.
Anyway, my first child’s birth was recorded in print, so I hope you don’t mind, if I use this blog to record my second child’s birth … then I can staple it into the back of the book as a short sequel so that in the future each child can feel their birth was given attention.
Rereading my blog ‘Once more unto the breach dear friends’ about my thoughts when we found out we were pregnant was interesting for me, and rereading our book ‘One Got Past The Keeper’ – available from all good bookstores – also gave me renewed insight to the experience, particularly Yari’s chapter as a father of one giving birth to a second child.
Second-time around was definitely easier for both parents although it added the extra logistical challenge of someone to look after our three-year old while we were both away for a day. We were far more relaxed and (so far) it’s made for a far more relaxed baby. While the first one was brought home like a fragile shell with a no-noise surrounding area of several metres, the second one is handled with confidence and left to sleep on the sofa while all manner of normal, noisy, daily life goes on around her.
We were to have an elective c-section as our first birth was a c-section which went very smoothly and Mette didn’t feel strongly to try a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). So, as before, we knew the date and this time also knew the procedure, although this time was at a different hospital – as we were low-risk Mette would give birth at the smaller country hospital of Murwillumbah (when asked, our new daughter will need to answer ‘born in Murwillumbah, grew up in Mullumbimby’ – we won’t be moving to Murrumburrah any time soon). We had a family weekend before the Tuesday of the birth, fully aware that it was our last together with that particular family dynamic. We were able to arrange day-care on the day of the birth and fully prepare our three-year old beforehand with notice of what was going to happen on the big day. Mette was nervous but knew what was coming so no mysteries and wondering, more acknowledgement and preparation. I was very relaxed and fully confident in telling Mette not to worry, and that everything would be okay.
A beautiful calm drive on a brilliant sunny day through the lush green hills of Northern NSW is a lovely way to go to hospital. The small, empty, maternity ward had a balcony with an amazing vista and was run by friendly ‘old world’ country staff. We settled in and waited for the various pre-op visits to put the thing that goes into the bladder, and the thing that goes in the back of the hand (sorry, I haven’t paid enough attention to recent episodes of Grey’s Anatomy to know the technical terms). We relaxed, talked names and got ready for our lives to change forever. At the allotted time we were taken down to the operating theatre, I was dressed in surgical blue (in the doctors changing room that had no pictures on the lockers – for those readers of One Got Past the Keeper who were wondering) and Mette had the anaesthetic injection (spinal block) – I was not allowed to be part of this which worried Mette a little because our previous experience was different, anyhow after about 20 minutes (which felt like 50) I was back with her on the unmessy side of the green curtain and we were back to a situation we knew where various doctors began preparing, poking and rummaged around in Mette’s tummy. The anaesthetist gave us a kind of commentary as he looked over the curtain and eventually told me I could look over. I was expecting to see our new born baby, but instead saw our baby starting to be pulled out of Mette’s tummy which was a little disturbing I have to say. If the previous birth had felt like a car crash (not the pain and blood part but the sense of time moving slowly part) then this was even more so. Having experienced it all before, this second time I felt very present and much more able to see, feel and hear everything around me. When the baby did appear and starting making a noise I burst into tears as I had during our first birth. What a very special moment it was to meet the little girl that we’d been communicating with while she wiggled around in Mette’s tummy for the last weeks. I cut the cord, she was wrapped up and I carried her over to Mette where she rested on her chest a few inches from her face and opened her eyes for the first time. We chatted amongst ourselves while Mette was sewn up and then after only about 40 minutes in the operating theatre and many ‘thank-yous’ and ‘congratulations’ we were taken out into the recover ward where our new little bundle of life quickly got skin-to-skin contact, got on the nipple and started gurgling happily. She was covered in the white waxy stuff which was to disappear into her skin over the coming days but other than that she looked perfectly beautiful – love, love, love was in the air again.
Meanwhile back in the real world, our three-year was picked up from family day-care by friends and was welcomed home by her grandmother who was visiting from Norway who fed her and then got her ready her for bed along with her other nana who lives locally. By the time dad arrived home all was good and a special night’s sleep in mum & dad’s bed with pappa was enjoyed by both new father and new big sister.
The next day, for the first morning of visiting, the new father and new big sister Zoe were the first to meet new little sister Billie. We had a couple of grandmothers at home who were champing at the bit to be there, but we wanted some new family time first so that Zoe could introduce them to her new little sister in the afternoon – which she did very graciously. The rest of the hospital time was pleasant and calm – apart from me losing my mobile phone, using ‘findmyiphone’ to locate it in bin at a random address in Murwillumbah, rummaging down the bin, not finding it but seeing muscle powder and dog food, getting scared, taking the bin in the car to the police station and returning later with the police to return the rubbish – but that’s another story!
Four days later Mette and Billie came home and it felt like we had a more crowded house, We definitely had a more crowded bed (what my brother refers to as ‘the dreadful bedful’) for a few nights as we all slept (a bit) in awkward positions (a lot) in one queen-size bed – uncomfortable but very satisifying (although I think I enjoyed it more than Mette).
So, another one got past the keeper – all good, all very very good – we feel more like a complete family now (as we are both from families with one sibling) rather than a couple with a child. It’s 2-0 and will remain so we think. It’s more work but not twice as much, and not nearly as hard as the first time. The rewards are obvious already and the winner is our new baby daughter who will get all the love and attention of the first time around, but with the advantage that this time the parents do actually know what they are doing (sort of).
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