|BRAGG: There is nothing easy about second babies
|Posted: Sunday, July 8, 2012 5:45 am
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|I have spent the last couple of weeks welcoming a new grandchild into the world.
Actually, I was there for her birth, but because of job responsibilities, we had to come home for a little while; then we went back to help.
There is nothing easy about having a baby, in my opinion.
There is no greater JOY, but there is no harder work for a mother than experiencing all the above, especially when an older sibling is involved.
Heaven only knows how you mothers of more than one sibling handles it (although as Tommy reminds me, I did it with three and had a job, too).
The month after I got married I thought my mother was the smartest person in the world.
I learned what it's like to give and take and bend and make it work like she did (happily) all those years; but that opinion changed the day my first child Beth was born.
At that time my mother rose to sainthood in my eyes. It was then that I realized everything she did to raise eight so happily – and with such limited means. What a woman!
Times surely have changed since I had my children.
First of all, it really wasn't "OK" to be pregnant at work back then.
Now paternity leave is granted to fathers.
My son-in-law Chris had two weeks of paternity leave and while he took most of it he was on the phone to work a lot. But he was home, helping fuel fires.
And speaking of "fueling fires," that seems like what the first weeks are all about.
When a new baby comes upon the scene there is no "normal."
Everything is new, all routines have changed and life is turned upside down.
Like all grandmothers I adore my only grandchild Jeanne and I must say – with no prejudice – that she truly appeared not to be jealous of her sister.
She hugs her (sometimes a little TOO tightly) and kisses her (sometimes a little TOO hard) but honestly and truly seems to be glad to have her there. And she suffers when her sister cries.
We read all those "Big Sister" books (and there are some great ones out there), talked about it when Mommy's tummy started to bulge and did as much preparation as possible. It seems to have paid off.
What we were not prepared for, however, were the endless wails of a newborn, the sleepless hours and the realm of the unpredictable that awaits you 24/7/365.
There is a lot of physical work to be done when a new baby comes on the scene.
If the sex of the baby was a surprise (as it was in our case) you have to find appropriate clothes (none of which never fit), wash them every day (not easy when you have to take the elevator up and down to the laundry room to remove them from washer, put them in dryer, etc.) and learn to lose any semblance of sleep.
Baby Mary Mac was good for the first two weeks, but when week three came she started crying ALL THE TIME (as did her big sister).
Anne adjusted to it better this time (so did I) but we all suffered when she appeared to be in pain.
We tried everything –every pacifier, baby Gas X (prescribed by her physician), every contraption out there.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) we did not have the "luxury" of driving her in a car or putting her on the top of a shaking washing machine (those were in the basement for use by tenants with tokens: no future in it).
And I must say that despite her crying she did manage to sleep when we went to Anne's favorite diner on two occasions.
And on the last day she did manage to keep her pacifier in for more than three minutes – a veritable coup d'etats.
On the first night Jeanne was born, we were at dinner with Anne's in-laws and Anne's mother-in-law said, "I kinda understand what they mean when they say it's great because you can leave them."
And on several occasions I have known what she meant.
But instead of relief when I left I felt a great big void of worry about how they could cope with sleepless nights, endless crying and chaos.
What "fun" is there in leaving that?
Anne called last night to say that as they were walking home from the park her (incredibly helpful) husband Chris said: "Anne, I think we can do."
And I have a sneaking feeling that they truly can.
'Til next week.