Emily Writes: And then there were two

Spinoff Parents editor Emily Writes looks back on the change to her family when she had a second child.

When I was pregnant I really worried my relationship with my first baby would change. We were so close, and I was concerned that a new addition to the family would put a strain on us. If I was stuck feeding I wouldn’t be able to be his everything 24-7 .

A lot of my anxiety around my second pregnancy was fear that our perfect little family would be thrown into disarray by the birth of our second child.

I was right.

I was right that it did change our relationship. It did put a strain on us. We were thrown into disarray.

But I was wrong about everything else.

My relationship with my oldest baby is even stronger now. I have had the wonderful good fortune of seeing Eddie’s caring, loving, gentle nature emerge even more than it did before.

He has always loved babies but he adores his baby brother. On the days when I feed he sits by me and “feeds” his baby. Holding his raggedy teddy to his chest he yawns and says things like “It’s so tired being a mama aye?”

I have to bite my lip to try not to laugh. He pushes his pram and says – “gosh, I just not git dis baby to sleep!” and he puts his hands on his hips and says “I need a coffee!”

I never imagined all these little scenarios. I didn’t imagine I’d find him sleepy, dragging his blanky, into his brother’s nursery at 4am to check “his baby was having good dreams”.

I didn’t think it would be so soon that the baby would reach for him and coo. That the baby’s first smiles would be for his brother. That Eddie would wander past the Moses basket and lean in and kiss his forehead as he went to play with his trains.

Absent-minded, ordinary, everyday sibling love.

The strain of having a non-sleeping baby, having two children very close together, has been immense for us. I won’t lie. It has been exhausting – as all parenting is. But we are out into the sunlight now, the other side.

Looking back, I know that under the strain we felt we still held each other up. We still held space for each other. We still loved each other. I’m proud of us.

There are many clichés about diamonds in the rough or tea bags – hot water or stress or something creating something else – and that’s all good and wonderful. But back then those platitudes meant nothing when I was too sleep deprived to remember to swallow the Hallmark card inserts.

Now, I definitely know that we fit together like puzzle pieces and we weren’t whole at just three. Four is our number. A baby that looks like a ham completed us.

And while I carried him I imagined sleepless nights and there’s that, empty bank accounts and there’s that, playing together and holding hands and there’s that, arguing over toys and there’s that, hand me down clothes and there’s that, extra cuddles and kisses and there’s that…

There’s definitely fighting. And one kid hitting the other over the head with a Paw Patrol Mega bus. There’s “You are not my best baby brother any more!” yelled down hallways and “GET OUT OF MY ROOM” yelled through slammed doors.

But there’s more.

So much more.

I didn’t, and couldn’t have imagined just how many lovely little moments of sweet affection there would be between our babies. I see now how we flourished as a family with another baby even through the hardest bits.

Maybe I couldn’t imagine because the reality is so much more wonderful than any dream.

If you’re cradling your belly, growing another baby, and wondering how it will all work – know that somehow it will. Love finds a way.

Emily Writes is the editor of The Spinoff Parents. Her book Rants in the Dark is out now. Buy it here. Her second book Is it Bedtime Yet? is out in August. Follow her on Facebook here.

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