A neighbor once told me very directly – almost accusingly – “You know, your son looks nothing like you.”
It hurt a bit. I’m not really sure why. It’s a fact, after all, sort of like saying “his hair is brown”.
I know we don’t look alike at all. I love that he looks like a complete, tiny replica of my husband.
Yet there’s a nagging feeling that our son is mine, too, so why can’t anyone see me in him? (It’s there! Really, if you look closely, you can see he has a small patch of red hairs, maybe 5 or 10, right in the midst of his deep chocolaty brown head of hair.)
As fate would have it, our second son looks just like me. In fact, the nurse in the hospital referred to him as a “little white boy”, pretty much counting out my husband’s Indian heritage.
My husband figures that the first child always looks like the father, at least at first. It’s an ancient evolutionary fact, he says, that keeps the dad around. The thought is that if the child looks like the dad, it serves as confirmation he’s the real father, preserving the family.
I’m skeptical. I don’t know that you can tell who a newborn looks like. Though I’m a mother two times over, most newborns look the same to me. It’s after a few weeks when their features start to become more distinct, I feel.
Regardless, now my husband and I joke that we each have one. The funny thing is, though, the little boy who looks like his dad seems to have his mom’s personality while the one who looks like mom acts like dad through and through in his mannerisms.
And in the end, it doesn’t matter one bit who each of our children looks like. We love them just the same and wouldn’t want them to look any different.
What about your family?
During my first pregnancy years ago, my husband and I talked about getting the baby’s ears pierced if the baby turned out to be a girl.
He thought we should go ahead and do it soon after birth. He is from India, where babies’ ears are pierced very early.
He even approached it from a practical standpoint: she will likely have her ears pierced at some point in her life. Why not help her avoid the pain later and have it done for her when she’s a baby and too young to remember?
I argued that we should wait and let her pierce her ears at an “appropriate” age.
I had to wait until I was a teenager before my parents would let me pierce my ears. It was a grownup privilege, to be earned, in my parents’ way of thinking. Not the least because it’s a (mostly) permanent – and cosmetic – change you’re making to your body.
It was thought to be along the lines of wearing makeup, which was also a no-no until I reached a certain age.
Now that I’m actually a grownup, I can understand why they felt like that. I agree that it’s important to avoid focusing on physical aspects of beauty from too young an age, to give girls a chance to develop confidence and a sense of self that doesn’t rely on cosmetic enhancements.
But do earrings even qualify as something along those lines? What about cute girls’ clothing, then? Where would you even draw a line?
From a practical view, I worried about the baby’s clothing catching on the studs in her ears.
To be fair, I hadn’t done any research. I hadn’t really taken notice of babies with earrings or talked to other moms who had gone ahead and pierced their baby’s ears. I am mostly going on a gut feeling here.
Well, my husband and I never had to disagree for long – we now have two boys, so the question never came up again.
But I always wondered, what if we’d had a girl? Would we have ended up piercing her ears?
What about you? Did you pierce your baby’s ears?
I was lying down with my baby after our walk this morning, getting in some quality cuddling before his morning nap – and basking in all the wonderful magic that is a baby.
Babies are completely enchanting, wouldn’t you agree? Whether you have one baby or you’ve had five, you can never get enough of those squishy legs, that soft hair and sweet baby smell.
Their little fingers, so curious about everything. A gentle touch from baby sends a mother thrills of joy. (But watch out when those little fingers go for your hair!)
Padded little feet, plump and rounded, yet to take real steps. You wonder how those fat little toes all fit side by side!
Knees and elbows that you can hardly see for all their squishiness. A bellybutton in the middle of a big, rounded tummy, contentedly filled with milk.
Milky breath. A soft mouth that plants sloppy wet kisses on your cheek.
A baby’s sweet little head, protected gently by the softest of baby hats, turning to see every noise. That rounded forehead and cute-as-a-button nose. Sleepy eyes peering out from under long eyelashes.
A soft, warm little baby cheek pressed on yours.
When your baby turns toward you and smiles, it’s hard to imagine anything more beautiful. You want to freeze that moment forever.
Indeed, babies cast a spell on moms everywhere.
Oh, what to do as your baby takes on the form of a long, bony, busy preschooler, the independence of a teenager and finally a real grownup?
What magic it must be to become a grandmother, so many years after!
My doctor said she felt that having a second child was easy, since she’d already been through it all with her first.
Me, I feel like it’s been harder than anything I’ve ever done. I’ll share here a few of the things I have discovered the second time around. Let me know how it was for you – or if you’re just contemplating growing your brood!
Your relationship with your firstborn changes
This one hit me hard. My son and I were so close, but suddenly I was relying heavily on others to keep him occupied when I had the new baby.
When I finally found myself alone with both of them after the relatives left, he had changed. It was inevitable – he was also growing up, and I was now in charge of two kids. Never again would we spend our days as we had before.
Your life changes in unexpected ways
I am an introvert, and I like to keep my days slow-paced. Well, good luck with that when you’ve got a newborn and a preschooler! By then your first child needs more social and physical activity, and if you’re a SAHM like me, you’re the one providing the entertainment. Meanwhile, your new baby needs a schedule of his or her own… It’s not always easy to keep up.
You have more confidence
Sayings like “this too shall pass” and “it’s just a phase” bring you real comfort. You did it once, and yes everything did pass eventually.
My first child didn’t sleep through the night until he was over two years old. I remember wondering if he ever would. You now know that whatever you’re facing is going to disappear (and right around the corner is a new challenge!)
Your second child may see a side of you that your first never did
Somehow I kept my cool through the most trying of times with my first. Now that there are two of them, I’m outnumbered. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t display some sort of frustrated outburst. I never feel like I’m able to give the attention to my second child that I did my first at the same age.
You’ve already got an infrastructure in place
You know what sort of parent you are and you’ve figured out what works for your family. Now the new one just needs to fit into what’s already there.
Hopefully you saved all your gear from the first baby. If you jumped on the cloth diaper bandwagon or did EC with your first, for example, you’re going to find it easier with the second.
Whatever your second child misses out on from you is balanced by having an older sibling
Your second baby will never know what it’s like to be the only one, as your first did. They won’t have the benefit of your full attention day in and out, as you’re stretched among so many more things when there are two.
But an older sibling can provide a different kind of stimulation and help advance your baby’s development. I know my baby just loves staring at his big brother, who also adores him in turn.
As a mom, it’s incredibly satisfying to see them together, and to know that they will always have each other to laugh with, lean on, and learn from.