The first night home from the hospital, after The Lad decided to eat every hour, on the hour between 3 and 5 a.m., after the baby's angry wailing about a diaper change woke The Boy, after the husband found me on my knees in front of the changing table with one arm around the bawling Boy and the other patting the screaming Lad, I asked the husband how he lived with me after The Boy was born.
"Because I was crazy," I said.
The husband wisely didn't answer my question.
But I was crazy with The Boy. When those things -- the clusterfeeding, the screaming, the confusion of early parenthood -- happened with The Boy, my response was to sob and gnash my teeth. "I can't do this! I'm never going to sleep again! I'm a horrible mother!"
This time, my response is to laugh. Or sigh resignedly as I roll out of bed to feed the kiddo. I'm not so anxious about being the perfect mother. I know that doesn't exist. I'm not so caught up in the horrible moments. I know even the worst ones will pass. Everything ends -- even colic (though I sincerely hope The Lad skips that). Maybe the postpartum hormones aren't affecting me as strongly this time. Even my body feels less beat up after The Lad. Knowing what to expect cushions the blows -- both physical and emotional. Lowered expectations also help. A two-hour window of sleep seems like an accomplishment this time.
The husband thinks The Lad might be an easier baby than The Boy. But I'm not convinced. What comes first? An easy baby or a relaxed parent? Either way, I'm grateful to be able to enjoy this time.
What about you? Were you an anxious first-time parent? Was it easier the second (or third or fourth) time around?