Today a friend of mine asked for a favor: her son has to interview the parent of a child six months old or younger. Would I be willing to participate? Of course, I LOVE to talk about my kids, so I agreed. The questions were pretty good, and I thought it made for a decent blog, so I decided to post it:
What are some of the challenges you face as a new parent?
The biggest challenge with this baby is finding the balance between him and his 2 year old brother. James (no. 2) is so helpless and needs me for every physical thing he does. Walker (no. 1) sometimes has a hard time not having my complete attention anymore, so his emotional needs are greater right now. I find myself getting upset because I feel like Walker is taking away my attentions from James, or that James is requiring too much of the time I feel I should be giving to Walker. So making sure they both know that they're equally loved and important to me is hard.
Is it hard to adjust to having a baby around the house?
Not as much this time, no. When we had our first baby, it was really hard. I was nervous to leave him in a room alone, for fear he'd need me and I wouldn't be there. I found myself spending my days just sitting next to the bassinet wondering what I was supposed to be doing. SIDS was also terrifying to me (still is, really), so when he slept, I found myself checking him a million times to make sure he was still breathing. I do that with James, our second baby, but not nearly as obsessively.
What were your first thoughts when you saw your baby?
"Wow, you don't look ANYTHING like your older brother!!" With both babies, I had a preconceived idea of what they would look like, and neither of them looked even close to what I thought. Of course, they were much better. And then, after the "so you're the one who's been living inside me for nine months" moment, it was very surreal. I once heard it described as being like there was suddenly a giraffe in the room. Very accurate. Suddenly there was one more person in the room and I made that person. It was weird. But wonderful and amazing at the same time. It's hard to describe. And I never thought I could ever love someone as much as I loved this person who I had only just met.
What are some names that you thought you would name your baby?
I'm a big fan of family names. I think it's a nice way to remember where you came from. So if James had been a girl, we were going to name him Grace Evelyn, after our grandmothers. When we found out he was a boy, I jokingly said that we could call him Grayson. We seriously considered that, but my husband like the idea of naming him James Dennis, after our fathers. Now, regardless of what our next baby is, we have names all picked out.
Is it really as hard as the computer babies they give students at school?
I would imagine it's much harder. If you forget to feed the computer baby from school, worst case scenario, you're going to fail the class. If you don't feed the baby in real life, you're going to kill it. So maybe it's not that it's harder, but that the stakes are much higher.
If you could teach your baby one thing, what would it be?
Compassion. I want my boys to grow up being kind and generous to people just because they're people and they deserve respect. Now if I can just figure out how to do that!!!
Do you think if your child had been born with a handicap of some sort, you would still feel the same way about him?
I know I would love James just as much if he were handicapped, however I do think that my instict to protect him would be much stronger (which is hard to imagine, the instinct being pretty strong as is).
What has been the hardest thing to overcome with the new baby?
Guilt. My nature is to feel guilty about things, even when I have no control over them. So I have a tremendous amount of guilt that I can't spend every waking moment caring for my baby. I feel guilty that I have to return to work and leave my children with a stranger. I feel guilty that I have another child to care for and thus I can't devote myself completely to the baby when I'm home. I feel guilty that I sometimes want to just get in the car and drive around to have a few minutes to myself. I feel guilty that I didn't generate enough milk for the baby and had to switch to formula.
What has been the most stressful thing the baby has done?
James got a cold when he was two weeks old, which isn't that big of a deal in an older baby, but when they're that little, the doctors are extra cautious about their health (especially with H1N1 and RSV). So what was a case of the sniffles landed the poor little guy in Primary Children's Hospital for the day getting IVs and lumbar punctures. I suddenly understood the parents you read about in the paper who just leave the hospital with their sick children and take them home. I knew he needed to be monitored and that all the pain they were causing him was just to avoid a greater amount of pain later, but I just wanted to take him home and hold him and protect him from the things they were doing to him.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the baby and its needs?
Absolutely! Every single day. It's hard to not be able to come home and just sit on the couch and watch TV, or run errands, or even just run to the gas station for a beverage. Instead, you have to come home, change diapers, clean messes, make bottles, do laundry, bathe little ones, and get them to sleep HOPEFULLY through the night. Sometimes I just don't want to be the mommy anymore.
People tell you that when you have a baby, your life is over and suddenly your entire existence is about the child. It's hard to put my needs second to the kids' needs. My mom told me when I was pregnant with my first son that I was no longer going to be "Kelly," but rather "Walker's Mom." Completely true. Obviously, in order to maintain some sanity, you have to still have things just for you (a hobby, or a monthly girl's/guy's night out, etc), but at the end of the day, those things come a distant second to what your child needs. I don't think a lot of people think of that before they have kids. And if they do, it's still just an abstract idea that, when it becomes concrete, knocks you down and steps on your face.
But then the baby will smile when he hears me, or giggle and coo at me, or the two year old will hug me and say he loves me, and the other things don't seem like that big of a loss. Being a parent is the most thankless and yet the most rewarding job in the world.