It’s amazing really, people tell you that no two babies are the same, but I’ll be honest … I went into newborn’hood round two basically anticipating that we’d just be having another Max baby. Sure, she’d be a female version, & I’d get to have a little bit o’ fun with pinks & florals & other such things, but when it came down to what I expected from a newborn? Well, all I had to go by was baby Max, & so that’s just what I expected we’d be doing all over again.
Nine weeks into life with Frankie Jean, & I can tell you that my eyes have been well & truly opened to just how different two babies can be. I’m going to make a confession now, & I’m going to admit that the thought of having another ‘baby Max’ left me feeling more than a little bit cool & clammy, & maybe even a little bit anxious.
You see, Max was a beautiful looking baby. He was all jet black haired, & big blue eyed, & he had these jet black eyelashes to match his jet black hair. But he was also an angry baby. And it was my fault, honestly. It all began in hospital when I was trying to learn to breastfeed, & failing miserably. Every attempt of mine to get him to latch the flip on would only result in him screaming, & thrashing around in a desperate attempt to simply fill his hungry 9 pounds & 4 ounces newborn body with milk. But I failed, every time. There was just no latching on, & I remember saying to Dave ‘my God. He is just so angry’. I kept trying, & midwives kept trying to teach me, & they’d be saying things like ‘you need to relax. Relax your shoulders, or else your milk won’t letdown’. And if I wasn’t so anxious, I’d have almost laughed at the irony that was advising a brand new Mother to ‘just relax!’ while her all screamin’, angry baby is unable to latch on to the breast.
The anger though, it continued. We brought him home from hospital, & I pumped like the dairiest of dairy cows, holy shiz, I pumped like a woman possessed, & I was actually managing to pump a lot. But my chubby newborn Max still managed to surpass my output, & so he was angry. We topped him up with formula, & he’d settle for a little while, but then the reflux began, & that was a whole new level of angry.
Of course there were smiles, & baby coo’s, & milestones celebrated, & countless photographs taken of his perfect little face, but the photos? They never told the story of my endless expressing, & our need to have him permanently upright to curb the reflux (which ultimately didn’t do much to flipping improve it anyway!), & how we’d put him down (even for the briefest moment) & his crying would be instantaneous – so it would be back to holding, always with the holding, & the hours we’d spend rocking him to sleep just to get twenty minutes of sleep out of him. In fact, for three months straight he actually woke every thirty minutes.
It wasn’t until Max was 7’ish months that the reflux ended, & some of his anger subsided, but his sleeping remained to be pretty awful. To this day, he’ll still wake multiple times throughout the night & so there will be multiple resettles throughout the night, & then his infamous 5am’ish start that he’s since become reknowned for.
We wouldn’t have him any other way, but as far as ‘welcome to parenthood’ goes? Well, we were welcomed with all the things really; the poor introduction to breastfeeding, the reflux, the all day crying, the all day needing to be held, the sometimes breaking of my Mama spirit, the sleep deprivation, & just … all of the things, really.
In the last trimester of my pregnancy with Frankie, I’ll be honest, I had to have internal words with myself to pep myself up & tell myself that I got through it once, & so I sure as hell could do it again. And please don’t for a minute think that I didn’t enjoy Max’s newborn’hood, or infancy, or toddler’hood, because I did, & I do. I’m just also an incredibly honest person, & so honestly? They were some Mama spirit breaking/character building days/weeks/months. And even now that he’s just shy of his third birthday, I still remember those spirit breaking/character building days like they were yesterday.
Frankie though? Different kid. She breastfeeds with gusto, she smiles when we put her into her bassinet as if to say, ‘thanks guys! Can’t wait to sleep! See you in a few hours’, she sleeps well, she self settles, she feeds two hourly during the day & then pulls this 8’ish hour stint at night (& we don’t know what we’ve done to deserve such a long stint of sleep?!), she cries for milk & that’s about the most I’ve heard her cry really, she smiles – my God, she smiles all.the.time, she loves being worn in her sling, she is just … content.
Dave & I, ever the pessimists, are wondering when it will all change though? When will we start having to deal with … y’know … all of the Maxie Boy things? But deep down, I’m quietly hoping & wondering (& touching every piece of wood while I’m hoping & wondering) if perhaps we just won the baby lottery? And I’m hoping & wondering if the stork has just thought to himself, ‘these guys have done the hard yards – let’s give them a Frankie for their efforts, shall we?’.
And so we say to that stork, hey … thanks for our Frankie. And thanks also for our Max. Because we love our children, & we love all of their (already obvious) differences, & we wouldn’t have them any other way.
… I’m just secretly grateful that we did Max before Frankie, ha!