Woah, as of today, I am considered full-term! 37 weeks is certainly not when we hope to have a baby, but today is the earliest our birth center can welcome laboring mamas. Wait… laboring mamas? Are we really about to go through this again?
This pregnancy has really flown by at a staggering pace and this little 37 week milestone reminds me of all the things I would love to do before we become a family of four (did I just write that? Crazy!). This colossal event will inevitably take place sometime, anytime now, within the next five weeks.
We’ll eventually need to set up a crib, finish Christmas shopping and I’d like to make Ayo’s room a little more fun and “big brotherlike”. Come to think of it, we should really think of filling out outstanding medical forms and perhaps freeze a couple postpartum meals. All the same, I wish to be at a place of peace and rest if these things can’t get done in time. Truly, all babe will initially require is mama, diapers and a car seat, right?
Despite all the other little irritating items gnawing on my tired brain at the end of the day, a much bigger question is at the top of my mind anyway: How on earth will we manage two kids under 21 months and preserve our couple’s sanity?
That question unveils many more:
Will we ever have time as just lovers ever again?
How can we not just survive the chaos but thrive as a family of four?
Will I ever shower again?
Will I ever sleep again?
Does a growing family imply a sedentary lifestyle?
How will we ever travel again?
Will I ever have a real career again outside of motherhood (the hardest career ever)?
Based on decent Amazon reviews, I recently borrowed the book Twice Blessed – Everything you need to know about having a second child – preparing yourself, your marriage, and your firstborn for a new family of four by Joan Leonard from our local library. It was one of the few books I found that spoke about changes to expect in your family and couple, not just how to help your first child to adjust to having a sibling. It talks about how the year following the birth of the second child is statistically the most stressful year in a marriage. Leonard states that a firstborn may transform a couple’s carefree life, but the second places huge strain on both partners. For her, adding a third or fourth is ‘just’ a continuation (multiplication, I’d think!) of the balancing act learned from having two.
While I am enjoying reading the book, mainly thankful for its brutal honesty and occasional survival tips, I find that I have to constantly remind myself that people have gone before us on this journey and have not only survived but thrived and have chosen to have more children! Sadly, in the same way that not-so-thoughtful-strangers offloaded their birthing trauma when I was about to give birth last time, several individuals now warn me about the apparent misery we are about to embark on – especially with two children so close in age. Two in diapers. Two unable to dress themselves. Two little beings completely unaware of danger…
In these final weeks of pregnancy, I really question the benefit of listening to those comments. (Duh, of course two munchkins will keep us busy!) Instead, I want to choose to approach this new phase with anticipation, delight and gratefulness and listen to the encouragement of those who have been in our shoes before. I choose to see this as the perfect, intended time for our family to grow. To be forever thankful that we will soon be twice blessed, especially, when I once thought that we might never be able to have kids.
Instead of the obvious, dreaded questions, that will eventually sort themselves out, I want to ask ourselves deeper, more important questions:
What lessons will this new little one teach us?
What are the huge benefits of having two so close in age?
What new relational doors will be open as a result of having another child?
How will our second child transform us and our family’s values?
How can this little one strengthen rather than weaken our marriage?
How will we intentionally choose to enjoy this transition, despite all its challenges?
How will we steward this precious new gift of life?
How will our second babe enrich our lives? I know this addition will do that, including for Ayo, who will soon have the immense privilege of becoming an older brother!