Monday, June 14, 2010

The Second Time Around

As Frank Sinatra will tell you:

...and you know something? The guy's got a point.

When you tell people that you have a four-week-old baby, they inevitably give you a deeply concerned look, often lowering their voice before asking with all due gravity:

"How is it going?"

And, of course, if I'm being honest, it's going ridiculously terribly.

I'm barely sleeping, Crinkles is often fussy and difficult to soothe, and two days ago I found myself breastfeeding in my front yard WHILE pushing the Snood around the driveway in his oversized plastic car (much to the displeasure, I can only assume, of neighbors and passing motorists).

But, in spite of all of this, I have to admit - things are easier the second time around. Not because anything is ACTUALLY easier, but because I have something I didn't have when Snood was born:

Expectation management.

You see, when Snoodie was born, I had an expectation (based mostly on the glowing reviews of others) that motherhood would instantly fulfill me and transform my existence into one of perma-satisfaction.

Instead, what I felt was the less-than-satisfying sensation of being trapped at home with an angry infant who could only be comforted by bouncing for hours at a time on what came to be known in our household as "the Yoga ball of doom".

Also, I felt quite a keen sense of the door closing on my pre-motherhood existence (which had, all things considered, been pretty great in that it involved things like drinking, adult conversation, and leaving the house, none of which I was doing as a new mom).

What people forget to mention when they are busy telling you about how wonderfully fulfilling motherhood is that they mean, like, 21 YEARS DOWN THE ROAD, when your kid starts doing stuff like graduating from college, or, say, thanking you when their team wins the Superbowl. But there are A LOT of moments before then that are, shall we say, less than totally fulfilling.

At least with a second child one has the enormous advantage of being prepared for this stark reality. I went into it knowing that the first eight weeks would pretty much suck in the extreme, but also with the promise that life with Crinkles would eventually get better and easier.

I knew this to such a degree that there have been moments of Crinkles' newborn-hood that I swear I have actually enjoyed. During last night's 3a.m. feeding I even found myself smiling, because I realized that it won't be long before Crinkles stops letting me hold him for extended periods of time (and, if he's anything like his brother before him, will punch me repeatedly in the trachea if I so much as even try for a brief hug).

So while I'm still struggling through these early days I am at least able to appreciate them in a totally different way. Mostly because I am able to recognize this time for what it is...and that's fleeting.