Well, it's Facebook-official now, so I may as well make it blog-official too.
The next baby is on the way, due around the end of August.
I have had very mixed feelings this whole time, so that's part of why I haven't told you yet, even though I'll be 20 weeks on Sunday.
Was it planned? That's the sort of question people expect an answer to, but there isn't one. Certainly we knew it was a possibility. Certainly we didn't do anything to stop that possibility from happening. I usually answer "It seemed like a good idea at the time," which is true. I thought, with Michael 18 months old, it was time to stop being so scared of having another baby. I hadn't really processed that just because I should stop being scared, didn't mean I was going to stop feeling scared, just like that.
For a long time I just panicked. Michael is not weaned. He is not potty-trained. He is not sleeping through the night. I see no chance of getting any of these achieved in the next four months, except maybe potty training. And yet I can't nurse TWO! I can't wake up at night with TWO! So what am I going to do?
I tried denial for awhile. That worked until I started feeling sick. Then I tried whining, which didn't help. I felt guilty for robbing Michael of the spot of youngest child when he doesn't seem ready to leave it. I felt guilty for not wanting a baby that already existed. I felt guilty because so many of my friends have suffered losses and I never have, and it seems ungracious of me not to be over the moon that I have what they want to have. There was an existential phase. It doesn't help that pregnancy, three times out of three so far, makes me depressed for no reason. I told a few people, they would congratulate me, and I would cry because I didn't think it was good news, and I felt like I was supposed to.
I worried myself sick about John's job and travel and our lack of money, until he got a new job and then I started worrying about whether or not I should wean Michael. I woke up at night to nurse Michael, which hurts now, couldn't go back to sleep because I needed to go to the bathroom, and after I'd gone I would just lie awake staring at the ceiling, wondering how many minutes of sleep I could get before Michael woke up again, wondering what the heck I was going to do.
I've pretty much made up my mind not to wean Michael, because I think the guilt of doing it would be worse than nursing two. I still feel guilty sometimes about Marko, even though he had 19 good months of nursing and didn't fuss about weaning. He just had so many awful tantrums after that, lasting for HOURS, and I couldn't soothe him. I wonder how those months would have been better if I'd had the option to nurse him. And then after that he had a long anxious phase, and I wonder if that's the fault of not being nursed long enough, or if it's just his personality.
Michael is so much more attached to nursing. He rarely goes more than a couple hours without it. Even though there can't possibly be much there -- and he's finally eating and drinking to make up for that -- he insists on it when he's hurt, when he's tired, or just when he sees me. I don't like how needy he is about it. On the other hand, he's not really needy about anything else. He's pretty happy and independent so long as he never gets put off of nursing for five minutes. And I know from experience that you can't cure a child of clinginess by taking away what they're clinging to -- they will just demand other things, or just be miserable.
So I am trying to read up on tandem nursing, trying to make my peace with it. It's hard to imagine I won't be constantly nursing one or another child, or both. It sounds kind of awful to me. But then again, some people have told me it reduces jealousy and the difficulty of adjusting to a new sibling, so maybe it will be for the best. I am working also on helping Michael be okay with a brief delay, with knowing he will get to nurse eventually, even if it's not the moment he asks.
Night is another animal. I am not okay with night waking for two. I did it with Marko and Michael, and it was terrible. Each child needed one adult's total attention to get back to sleep, and the times there were only one of us there, no one got much sleep at all. The one thing that made it possible most of the time was that Marko didn't need me at night, John could take care of him. That .... is not the case with Michael. He wants to nurse at night too. And that is something we are working on. Sometimes John will try to handle a waking, and after a few tears he sometimes does get Michael back to sleep, but then Michael wakes up again half an hour later and wants the nursing he didn't get before. I'm working on switching him to a sippy cup if he's thirsty at night, which I think he must be, and working on not nursing him all the way to sleep, but just nursing a few minutes and then rubbing his back.
It's going okay. He still wakes up 2-4 times a night, every night. If he had his own room, we'd let him fuss a little before getting him, but he's either in with Marko or in with us. If he's in with Marko, he wakes Marko up. If he's in with us, he climbs right in bed and starts pulling my shirt up.
What else is there to do to prepare? After quite a lot of delaying and denial, I found a midwife who seems to be excellent. Michael loves her. Marko ignores her and then cries when she leaves. He also threw a massive fit over the doppler machine because it makes noise. I'm afraid he is going to find this whole thing more traumatic than Michael does! In any event, Michael says we should have another baby, and Marko says we never ever should. All I could say was, "Well, we won't just yet!" But the time is sneaking up on us!
I'm not planning on buying anything; we have all the stuff we need. Most days I don't think about it a whole lot at all. I've been pregnant enough before that it isn't that exciting, it's just something going on in the background of everything else. I struggle not to be crabby with the kids, not to yell at them for behavior that is age-appropriate but just worries me because I don't know how I would handle three of them.
I remind myself that I didn't think I could ever handle two, and now it's a great deal easier than one was because they play with each other all day. I remind myself that the two I have are getting older all the time. I reassure myself that John isn't traveling anymore and will be here to help. And I remember that even if the transition is every bit as hellish as it was when Michael was born, it won't last forever.
Meanwhile the pregnancy is going fine. I was about as sick the first trimester as last time, certainly no worse. I have been the most depressed of any pregnancy, despite trying all the cures people will tell me about, but I am beginning to feel better. I guess the winter was making it worse, and it is so nice to be able to get out in the sun again. And the really good news is that my back hasn't been bothering me at all. I can still lift Michael, take walks, push the stroller. The one thing that makes it flare up is kneeling down to garden; I don't know why. But I can work around that. Ditto for kneeling down to pick up toys or clean -- I can always squat instead.
So, there you have it, a heads-up to my loyal blog readers of what's coming up. I won't be offended if you congratulate me, but I'll be happier if you send a story about how going from one child to two was sooooo hard but going from two to three was sooooo easy. Everyone tells me the opposite and it makes me want to hide under a rock. Or send prayers, hugs, good wishes, boxes of chocolate. Whatever. It's all good.