Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Looking forward, Looking back

Shortly before taking our first little one home from the hospital.

This evening I sat in the room that will belong to our second child. I had gone in there to assemble the pack-n-play that he or she will sleep in, relishing the undisturbed minutes of productivity that come after my daughter has gone to bed but before I hit my own exhausted state. I put together the pieces, quickly and without much thought--much different than the experience of putting it together with my daughter's birth. And as I stretched the oft-washed and well worn crib sheet over the patterned mattress I could hear my daughter singing from the next room, carrying a made up tune in the dark as she likely cradled her beloved puppy and worn pink blanket. 

I settled into the glider to read, while being serenaded by my toddler who is not yet two, who still sleeps in a crib, who learns new words every day but still speaks in sentences of gibberish a good portion of the time. In some ways she seems so old to me when I mentally prepare myself for the needs of a newborn. In other ways she is so young: completely unaware of the upheaval her life will experience when this new child comes along--a reality we try desperately to prepare her for, while we aimlessly seek to prepare for it ourselves.

It is a very different task to prepare for a child for a second time, when you know the challenges you faced the first time will now be complicated by the needs of your other child as well. Yet there is comfort in the known: the complete sleep deprivation, the experience of having nursed a child before, the survive-at-all-costs mentality that takes over sooner or later. And there's comfort in knowing what comes after the chaos, when full nights of sleep resume once again, when the child eventually transitions out of diapers, when he or she gains independence and conversational skills and is more than just a feeding, crying, pooping mess. Because one day, instead of putting the child to bed and crumpling in a heap of exhaustion that can't be far enough away for need of independence, I found myself hovering near her room to listen to her sing herself to sleep. And when she finally drifted off, I was almost disappointed. 

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