Last, but definitely not least!
I’d planned for this guest post series to run on consecutive days. Giving birth the day before kind of threw a spanner in the works. But I’ve loved reading and posting these, and hope you’ve enjoyed them too. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed.
This post is brill. I am already laughing with recognition and I’m only two weeks in. It’s going to be one heck of a ride…
I was always amazed at the reasons people gave me for why I should have another child, when my first son Brodie was a baby.
“You’ve got a little boy – don’t you want to try for a girl?” (I’m the least girly person you could know. A lack of pink in my house doesn’t bother me.)
“He won’t be a sociable child if you don’t give him a sibling.” (Errr, I’m an only child, and I’ve never been short of friends.)
“He’ll be hard work, unless you have another child for him to play with.” (What’s wrong with playdates?)
In the end, when Brodie was around 18 months old, I realised I wanted to have another.
Because I felt I could manage two children (but no more than two).
Because I wanted to enjoy having a baby – PND had left me an emotional wreck for much of Brodie’s early months and I missed so much joy in my fog and panic.
Because I knew Brodie would be a fabulous, loving big brother.
And because I just wanted another child. Simple as that.
Brodie was two and a half when Blake came along, and the bond was instant.
I had no worries about jealousy from the big brother – more that Brodie might smother him from too much cuddling.
Nowadays they are still close – when they’re not fighting. But Blake is a very different character – headstrong, stubborn, fiercely independent and unable to accept the word “no”. So despite their devotion, they are bound to clash sometimes.
Which brings me to the five things I’ve learned about having two children – that no-one ever tells you.
They’re not clones
You can pat yourself on the back that you’ve used every Supernanny trick in the book to get a child to eat/sleep/behave. Kids are not dogs, and a method that works with one child will not necessarily work with another. Take it from a mum whose first child was sleeping through at 6 months – but who is still still up through the night with his 4-year-old brother.
You won’t treat them equally
I’m not saying you can’t love them both, but inevitably you’ll learn lessons from the eldest which will change the rules for the younger one. Usually you’re more relaxed, and the smallest benefits from that. Or maybe you’ve made some mistakes which means you’re stricter on the littlest. But it makes me laugh when parents say “I treat my kids the same”. Parenting changes you, and you’re nowhere near the same person when number two arrives.
PND can strike twice
It can come again – but it doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience twice. The first time around, I was tearful and panicky about whether I was doing the right thing, whether I was a good mother, and that feeling stayed with me for more than a year. With Blake, I enjoyed the baby experience much more and knew what I was doing. But I felt invisible and like my identity had been swallowed up. Counselling got me through it, with no regrets.
They will hate each other
Despite the fact they love each other, there will be days when they can’t stand the sight of their sibling. You’d better get your referee’s whistle at the ready to deal with the barrage of “It’s his fault” and “He hit me” and “Tell him to go away”. There will be days like these. But they will pass.
It’s still bloody painful
I’ve saved the best til last. And sorry to break the news, but don’t believe everyone who tells you childbirth the second time will be a walk in the park – because your body’s done it before. It’s quicker, I’ll tell you that. But as someone who was determined to go drug-free second time around (and failed miserably) I’d say don’t count on the pain being any less. Unless you were superwoman first time around, and got through it with just a light perspiration and a couple of grunts, don’t think you’re in for an easier ride.
Donna White is a Geordie, a freelance journalist and a lover of wine – not necessarily in that order. She has two sons Brodie, 7, and Blake, 4, and writes about the runaway train that is her parenting experience over on Mummy Central (http://www.mummycentral.com).