10 Lessons My Second Son Taught Me His First Year.
My boys are fifteen months apart. When we announced we were expecting our second baby, we heard everything from – “they’ll be best friends,” “you’ll love having them so close,” to “was that planned?” and the always ever-incredible “wow.”
We thought that, too.
We were only starting to “rest” a little after our first son arrived, and ready or not, a little buddy was going to join him.
I think back on how I wore a brace to help hold my growing belly as I held up my sleepy toddler. I remember kissing him goodnight before heading to the hospital and kissing his baby brother for the very first time the next morning.
Who knew life could be so good?
As I reflect on another year of firsts in our home, I want to include a list of what I’ve learned, too. A Top 10 list of what my second son taught me during his first year.
1. How to nurse again. How to bottle feed again. Let’s be real: breastfeeding can be beautiful, and it can be painful – in every way. We struggled through a few months of exclusive nursing with our first son only to later learn he was born with a tongue-tie that made it difficult for him to drink and impossible for me to keep up my supply. Days after our second son arrived, we had the doctor check his tongue, and we were assured he would be able to nurse just fine. Prayers answered; he did. Not to say the process came without some second-guessing and soreness, but we figured it out together. After seven months, I had surgery that required him to bottle feed for a day. And with another illness three months after that, he had to transition entirely to bottle feedings and begin formula. He did not take the change easily, and I had to begin to distract him to drink. It took weeks and tears, but our prayers were answered again. Keep praying.
2. Enjoy everyone’s own miracle moments. We had them with our first son: those days filled with questions and concerns over what’s bothering him and bothering us. His battle was severe eczema, and it brought us to our knees. God heard his cries and ours for help, and He provided in His time. The first day i noticed his belly was smooth, days before we were scheduled to see his dermatologist for the first time, a miracle moment. The first time he slept through the night, first word, first walk. Our second son has them, too. Jaundice was his first foe, and weight gain our weapon. I attended a nursing class to help gauge his growth, and I held him as the sunlight reflected off his face. I still remember the nurse measuring him twice, in shock of how he had grown so much so quick. A smile and a tear and a thank you, God, for the miracles you make happen.
3. I’m stronger than I thought. I’m weaker, too. I remember my first attempt to take them to town alone. It was a spontaneous decision, although it took a good hour to get everyone dressed and out the door. It was not easy getting them out of the car; it was not easy keeping them quiet in the store; it was not graceful carting them back outside, but we did it. And we’re getting better at it. I realize I am strong enough to go and do, but I am by no means capable of doing it all – being their all. Yet, God is. I get tired more; anxious more; yet, in my weakness, He is always there to move us along and be the strong one. He is my strength – when I ask Him for it.
4. Second birth is not always easier. Faster, perhaps, but not easier. My first son was born a week late and weighed 9.2. Labor and delivery were long and hard on my body, so my doctor planned inducing a week early for our second. After a night hooked up to a medicine machine and a morning that seemed to move in fast forward, he arrived a little smaller and in about half the time as his older brother, but he arrived with his arms held high, and the pain was just as present. All this to say, no matter the planning and preparation, a baby will come however he’s supposed to. When I held him first in my arms, all that mattered was that he made it okay.
5. We cannot compare. It seems there is a standard for everything: weight percentages; naps; eating habits or lack there of. Not only is he being measured against the doctor’s chart, he’s also being compared to his older brother, too. I had to stop. His older brother drank this much milk per feeding, ate this much food, slept this much at night. He is different. My second son is walking sooner, got more teeth quicker and prefers not to bounce as much to play. They may both have their daddy’s dimples and do both have a piece of my heart, but they are each a unique work of art. Not to be compared but appreciated as they are.
6. Cuddling is okay. Even though the to/do list marches on and seems to increase, I will cherish the sound of his breath as he drifts away to dream in my arms. The list can wait.
7. You can love them all the same. I’ve heard it put – I adore my oldest and question whether I can love his sibling just as much. You can. Once you see him, hold him, hug him, hush his tears. You learn to balance time, attention, affection. Everyone wins.
8. Love their Daddy even more. I thought it was impossible. He had my heart years ago; he gave me his. He cheered us on with each new birth, held my hand, helped me out of the bed. Now, he’s up more with me at night, changing more diapers, giving more baths and filling this home with more giggles. So much more.
9. We all get jealous. Big brother attempts to outcry little brother. They both want the same toy, the same snack, to be held at the same time. Anticipate it, and be prepared to overcome it. I am learning how to teach them to take turns, how to share. I am giving them each a toy or a snack and letting them know what is his and what is not, to give thanks for all we have. I learn this, too.
10. Watch them. Not just make sure they don’t get hurt, but watch them love on each other, play with each other, chase each other around the kitchen table. I have seen them love, and it can be as gentle as a whispered “I love you” or as loud as a laugh after they wrestle. It is hard to look away.
As I prayed for each of my boys before we first met, may you grow to know and love the God who loves you more than even I, and He will be the desire of your hearts and your delight each day. Each precious day, little ones. May they be happy, precious days.