February 29, 2012
If Millie Became a Big Sister...
I think a lot about having another baby. There are new pregnancy announcements popping up nearly every day in real life and here in blogland, and it sometimes gets me thinking about how I'd go about it all if we ever have another child. I've been mentally jotting down things I want to do and things I want to avoid.
This is a long list, and it needs to be prefaced by me simply saying no one person has made me think these things, and pregnancy is obviously a very personal thing. Some people need to talk through it more, and others don't want to say much at all. Some people enjoy it all, some enjoy certain parts, and some people don't. These are just the thoughts I've been gathering along the way.
-Understand the mothers-to-be who always claim they "just want a healthy baby". It used to drive me nuts- just pick boy or girl!- and while I still think most people secretly have a preference, I finally understand that there is no fear like the fear of something not being right with your child. Do I have a preference if we have another baby? Yes. Do I ultimately just hope that they would be born healthy? Absolutely.
-Take just as many pictures of the next baby. I haven't regretted a single moment spent behind the lens taking photos of Millie. There are so many memories we'll always have. They are priceless to me and my family of course, and they will wonderful for the baby to look back on as they grow. I've never thought to myself, "I wish my parents hadn't taken so many pictures of me." (Um, there are a few I could do without, though!)
-Be more aware of myself. It's overwhelming to care for a newborn no matter what the situation. However, coupling that with a marriage in crisis, and I really felt like I was falling apart. I lied on every single postpartum questionnaire I was asked to fill out at the doctor's office, because the truth was that I had no idea what my emotions were, or rather, where they stemmed from. They would ask me questions such as "Are you depressed most of the time?", "Do you cry often?", "Do you feel more tired, anxious, or upset than usual?" And because I couldn't separate the feelings of new motherhood (and most likely, looking back, postpartum depression) with the feelings of my marriage falling apart, I simply marked Xs in all the 'no' boxes and smiled my way through the appointments until I could cry in the car on the way home. I was so unhappy for so much of Millie's beginnings on this earth, and I hated myself for it, too, because I didn't want to be a depressed mother to her. I want that to all be different the next time around.
-Try to cherish the things I wasn't so fond of before. One of the hardest things for me was waking up every hour or two for months, and losing hours of sleep every night. I'm sure it didn't help the depression, either. But I spent a lot of that time frustrated, and even in tears some nights- not upset with Millie, but just feeling helpless and alone. And while I doubt it will be any easier to stay awake more than I'll ever sleep, I want to try to remember that those moments I'll have with my child are so fleeting, and they'll be gone before I know it. I want to remind myself that I will someday long for quiet hours to just hold and rock them.
-Take what I've learned with Millie and use it. So many people love to give pregnant women advice, and most of it is well meaning, but the best ideas come from the every day living it out. Millie hasn't made me an expert in motherhood by any means, but I feel a lot more confident as a parent now, and know how I want to raise my children. I'm not the kind of girl who wants to blog about the specific brands of bottles we had in the house, the kinds of diapers we used, and all the other mundane details, but I can at least say I feel slightly more well-versed on them.
-Hope that Millie and the next baby would be lifelong friends. My siblings and I were naturally close during our younger years, but while most of us live within a few miles of each other, we just don't have the same relationships anymore. I would love for Millie and her sibling to have the kind of connection that keeps them together, at least in spirit, throughout their adulthood.
-Give the next baby as many memories. I want to do another daily diary for them, another baby book, and everything else I do for Millie. I think it can be easy to slack after the first child because there just won't be as much time, but it's important for me.
-Try to remember that it's okay if my kids don't grow up in a wealthy home. It's not the point of life.
-Re-use. If I had a girl, it would obviously be easier in this department. In fact, the bigger things I already have, like our stroller, high chair seat, etc., were picked because of their neutral colors so they could be re-used. But no one sees Millie's crib but Sky and I, so if the next baby was a boy, it's okay if he sleeps on flowery sheets. It's even okay if he has to wear pink socks around the house. It won't be the end of the world.
-Feel like I need to have professional baby pictures taken. We took them one time when Millie was 6 months, and though I like them, I actually like all the photos we've taken much better. They were very expensive and didn't capture her any better than we did. I felt like it was something I was supposed to do to be a good parent, and looking back on it now, I know it really doesn't matter. Which leads me to...
-...Do something just because 'it's what good parents do'. The picture thing? I don't see Millie looking back on her childhood and thinking to herself, "If only they had gone to Sears and taken a few more sets of forced, posed photos." I want to do the things with Millie that I look back on my childhood and remember. There are things that are important to parents because it's a guilt thing- and then there are the things that are actually important.
- Blog my daily or weekly progress as to what my weight is, what I'm craving, or what parts of me hurt or have enlarged. This is a personal choice, but I feel like there are things that only my husband, my doctor, and maybe my mother would want to know (and often times, not even them). Will I blog about pregnancy in general, reflect on Millie having a little sibling, write up the birth story, etc.? Of course. But I won't want it to be an every day conversation where the rest of life gets lost. There are a lot of topics which I believe online pregnancy forums are great for- but my blog will not be that.
-Do a big gender reveal (if we were to find out before). Not a fan. Also on the topic of announcements, I would want to think of something cute but small, and definitely not do it the way I've seen all over Pinterest, with the firstborn holding the new baby's sonogram picture. To me, it always looks like the kid is announcing they're pregnant. Is that weird?
-Feel guilty if I have an epidural. I wanted to try so hard to have Millie naturally, and after nearly 24 hours of labor, it just wasn't going to happen. Having babies naturally seems to be a big badge of honor in mom circles, and while I think it's great if it can be done, I think it's silly for me to feel like I failed. I'm sure Millie didn't mind, so why should I?
- Complain about my pregnancy. This won't be easy for me, to be honest- I complain about migraines and other things much more than I should already. I'm not perfect, and I know for a fact I whined about kicks in the ribs or heartburn with Millie. But one of the most important things I've realized through the blogging world is that having a child isn't something that is just handed to everyone. Some people will never get the chance, and some people will wait years before they get it. Millie came to us easily, and if I'm blessed enough to have that experience again, I will not take it for granted. I wasn't one of those women who enjoyed every second of pregnancy, but I will constantly try to remind myself that the morning sickness or the stretchmarks mean I am blessed. I am thrilled to have Millie, but I also want to feel the full weight of what a privilege it is to carry a baby. I didn't fully appreciate it with her I think, and I don't want to make that mistake again. So I am sure I will slip up sometimes and whine- but I'm stating it all here, so you all can keep me accountable!
-I might like to be surprised. The suspense would be torture, but another pregnancy would quite possibly be our last. I think it would be so amazing to have the experience of knowing nothing until the doctor holds up a little, pink baby and announces if we have a boy or a girl. I can't imagine a moment topping Millie's birth, but that could just be the icing on the cake. However, I'm impatient and like to plan every detail of my life, so we'd just have to see if I could handle 9 months of the unknown.
It's oh so easy to say I wills and I won'ts without a newborn in my arms. I know. I hope this post comes across to you as what I intend it- a sort of hopes and dreams list instead of sounding self righteous. Because, of course, babies will do their own things, and I definitely didn't do everything the way I wanted to with Millie. But these are my hopes, and above all, I hope I can carry through with them all with grace.