Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Meet your new brother..."

I just melted when I saw this photo of a client with her two sons. It brings back memories of her youngest son's birth, at home, in the heat of a summer night, the fan blowing hot air around the room, the cool sound of the water in the tub, the midwife fanning herself, the speed with which this little one came... I believe the birth was everything that they could have hoped for. Complete joy.

But, what this photo also brings to mind are the many phone calls and emails I receive from clients who have just had their second baby...whose births were so beautiful, but are now reeling from how busy life has become, how challenging it is to manage two children, how guilty they feel at giving less than 100% to their firstborn child, how it tears at their hearts when their firstborn just wants grandma or daddy, "NOT mummy!"

They ask me if they're the only one who is feeling torn between the love for their firstborn, and the awe that they have for their new baby. They are missing their partners, who invariably have to go to work. They are wondering how they can cope when grandma leaves. They can't remember what seemed so engaging about newborns. This new baby doesn't seem as entertaining as his older sister, who, at age four, is dramatic and articulate (certainly VERY articulate about "how life would be much better without that baby") and fun...and so very confused about this new life.

These clients ask when life will return "to normal." It won't. A "new normal" will gradually emerge. Grafting a new limb onto a strong and vigorous tree takes time. It will happen, but slowly, and definitely with some challenges. And at some later date, after the postpartum fog has cleared, clients call me and say: "Before, we were a couple with a, we are a family."

Just know this...when you're in the fog of postpartum and you see another mum out on a walk, laughing while carrying her two babies - you're just looking at a moment of her day. What you don't see are her tears when the door closes behind her, or her midnight fears, or that she got home from that walk and called me, and said, "I was carrying both girls in slings because Lola wouldn't sleep and Addie wanted to pretend she was a baby, and I just wanted to cry. Then, I saw a woman, pushing a sleeping baby in a stroller, with an older child holding on, and wished I was her. I laughed at how I must look to her - how she would admire my chutzpah at carrying the girls. She wasn't seeing the truth of it."

The transition from one child to two is different for every family. It depends on the age difference, the childrens' temperaments, family dynamics, and so many other things. Draw strength from other new mums with two babes during this time, and don't forget to call me. I'll connect you with someone close by who's sharing a similar journey.

- Jacquie Munro, Vancouver Doula

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