By Christina VanGinkel
Calling up a friend recently to ask how it was going with the new baby in the house, I could instantly hear thee tension in her voice when she answered. This was her second child, an adoring little girl now almost three months old, sister to her son who was currently in the seventh grade. Quite a stretch in time between the birth of her two children, but both children planned for and very much wanted.
To say I was surprised when I heard her give a big pause as I asked how things were going, would not be an understatement. She had been upbeat throughout her pregnancy, and immediately after. Her husband was thrilled to hear that they were once again expecting, after years of trying, and from what I heard and knew of him, he was extremely helpful with the baby.
Their son had been born without much effort. They had intentionally waited a few years before trying for another, then when they did try for a second child, it seemed like it might never happen. There followed several years of tests and trials, and finally, they had given up, only to be surprised about two years after that with the news that they were expecting. Their doctor had never found any reason why they had not become pregnant, so mysterious low sperm count, or hidden issue with her, and had told them that it just worked that way sometimes, and who knew, a pregnancy still might occur, and it had.
So now, with their new daughter home, healthy, and the family seemingly of the ratio that they had hoped and wished for, there was definite hesitation when I asked her how it was going. This hesitation was followed by a squeak of sorts, and then a gush of jumbled words as she tried to speak through the tears. The baby was colicky, she cried constantly, it was difficult to get any sleep, she was having difficulties finding a daycare she was comfortable with, and she had to be back at work in two weeks, already off much longer than she had originally anticipated.
We ended up talking for quite a while, with spurts of interruption by, you guessed it, her new daughter screaming ferociously in the background like the world was ending.
I reminded her that her son had been colicky too, not that there was any correlation between the two, other than she had been through this before. I asked her how she had dealt with it the first time, as we had been friends back then, but not as close as we were now. Her mother had been around back then I learned, and would stop by each day, sending her out for a walk, to the store, even to the shower. Anywhere she wanted to go basically, for a breather. Her husband worked a different job then too, and was home much earlier than he was now. He was currently picking up as much overtime as he could to help make up for her lost wages. She also had to deal with a teenager this time around, a commodity that is enough to stress the most balanced adult anyway, and add in a screaming newborn, and I could fully understand why she was crying.
I had no magic answers for her, but after talking for nearly two hours, she told me thanks, that talking about what was different had started to put things in perspective,. She said she had been guilty of comparing the two times she had a newborn in the house, even though the time between the two was enormous, as were the differences in her circumstances in nearly every way she could imagine. Same loving husband, but a life changed in nearly every other way.
I talked to her again a few weeks later. She had found a daycare, though she was still not sure if she felt it was the right one for long-term care, they had an excellent facility and staff to child ratio for infants. They were also communicative with her and her husband about their daughters care during the day, and were always welcome to have them pop in when they could during the day, such as during her lunches, and even a mid morning break when she could swing it. Her husband was making it home earlier now that she was back to work and he was not picking up so much overtime, and finally, her daughter seemed to be settling into a bit of a routine, even though she still had bouts of screaming. Some things had not changed, such as dealing with a teenager, but she said life was good. Our talk had been a help she went on to say, that just hashing things out with someone else had been the push she needed to put it all into perspective. Having kids is tough sometimes. Having kids far apart in age can be a blessing, and it can be an adjustment. If you find yourself in this circumstance, all I can say is remember the old adage that no two kids are alike, and neither are the parents. With each child, you become a bit different from the parent you were before. Your family unit changes and evolves, and change is the key word with any number of children. Each day is a change from the day before. Each day is new. Oh the joy of raising children.