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Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Second Time vs The First Time

One of the things I have pondered over the past few weeks is how different it can feel preparing for the birth of a second child rather than the first.  The first time there is magic in all the unknowns; feeling that first kick, that first contraction. The second time around they’re knowns, still magical moments of course, still special, but perhaps a different kind of special.  Likewise, the first time, everything you do to prepare for baby pre-birth; the shopping trip to the John Lewis baby department, the NCT classes, is filled with the joy of a journey you’ve never been on before. The second time, I’m finding that the journey is still enjoyable, but, I’m certainly more grounded and practical; which appliqued muslins to choose from Mamas and Papas is certainly not keeping me awake at night like it did the first time. (This time it's just an aching groin and dodgy hip.)

I’ve been thinking about Pip’s pregnancy.  I was able to do so much more then to prepare for his birth. Once I hit maternity leave, I had no other focus or commitments, other than getting myself ‘birth ready’ for him.   I practised my hypnobirthing exercises, I sat on the birthing ball for hours to in the hope of getting him in the ‘right position’, I read copious baby books.  I decorated his nursery, I bought a cot, a pram, a car seat, a baby bouncer, a changing table, researching each item in meticulous detail.

I think about EB’s pregnancy and it couldn’t be more different. As yet, despite my best intentions, I still haven’t successfully listened to the hypnobirthing CD from start to finish, the birthing ball is lying flat in the spare room as I can’t find anything to pump it up with.  I haven’t read a single book.  I don’t have a nursery for EB and I’ve bought very little new clothing as he’s getting all his brother's old cast offs. 

When I was pregnant with Pip, we had a name for him by 16 weeks.  EB is still nameless. At 36 weeks with Pip, I had a wonderful maternity shoot to photograph my bump.  Three and a half years later, and considerably less elastic than I was the first time around, I gave it fleeting consideration and decided not to bother.  I decided that surely he’s not going to want to see a maternity portrait of me anyway, and I certainly have no desire to look at my gargantuan naked bump in side profile.  Then my mind turned to the newborn shoot I had done of Pip when he was just a few days old.  I spent a fortune on purchasing the entire portfolio of photographs, so besotted was I, I couldn’t bear to not own every single shot.  The reality was, only three of those photographs ever made it into frames, the rest are still stored digitally on a CD three years later, still waiting to be printed out.  Lovely as they are, I wondered, do I really want to spend that money again? Is it really necessary to have a ‘newborn shot’ done?  They wouldn’t be as good, but surely I could just take some pictures myself?

In a rare moment of solitude this week, I pieced together all these fragmented thoughts, and when I considered them in their entirety, I felt really rather bad.  I thought, is this reflective of what EB’s life is going to be like?  A mother with a ‘been there, done that,’ attitude, so he gets shortchanged continually versus his older brother.  Truth be told, I felt a little ashamed; perhaps I’d let practical considerations weigh a little too far.

All Pip’s old baby equipment is clearly good enough - it would be ridiculous to buy new. But, really, I think I can stretch to purchasing EB some new babygros of his own to wear home from hospital.  And frankly, I’ve got a spare bedroom with a changing table in it, would it really hurt me to buy some cheap fabric and make some curtains even if they will only be used for 6 months, to create somewhere that does feel like his little space and place?

Then I got to thinking about the maternity and newborn photography and I thought; how am I going to feel if in years to come if EB says; “Did you have any photographs taken when you were pregnant with me?" Or, "Where are the newborn shots of me?”, and I say, “No son, I didn’t.”  “Why?”  “Erm...“  Why indeed?  I was too busy, too tired, couldn’t be bothered?  Will he then think I didn’t care as much or that he wasn’t as special?

I cannot bring myself to pose in full naked splendour with my bump this time. It’s too much.  But instead, I have decided to arrange an outdoor (clothed) shoot with Pip and I at a local beauty spot, with a local photographer, showing off the resplendent bump.  They won’t be Demi Moore shots, but I’m not either, I’m not the woman I was when I had them done the first time, these pictures will reflect me as I am now, as a pregnant mother with a little boy looking forward to the arrival of her second son.

I’ve also decided to book a newborn shoot too. The photographs from the first time were incredibly sweet.  Although this time, I’ve promised myself I’m only going to buy a handful of photographs.  Just the ones I plan to frame. 

Filled with a sudden surge of positive energy and a desire to do right by my second son, I’ve also signed myself up to a ‘second time mums’ coffee morning group, because I don’t know anyone locally who is going to have a child EB’s age.  When Pip was one and two he had lots of little friends to come to his birthday party and I did wonder the other day, will EB know anyone? Who will I invite to his birthday? 

I’ve even bought some curtain fabric at a knock down price, and my mum, a much better seamstress than myself, has kindly agreed to make them.  The material is simple; printed colourful cars and diggers, but I'm sure it's going to make the room seem a lot more homely. More so than the bare window that is there at the moment.

Taking these steps has made me feel much better about things.  Yes, EB still hasn’t got a name, but he will have one, he won’t remain nameless forever - her majesty’s government simply won’t allow it. 

I’m sure once EB is here and life takes over, there will be times when I think about all the things I did with Pip that I haven’t done with EB, and feel guilty, but in some ways, that’s just the way it’s got to be. EB’s experience will be different, because he is my second baby, not my first, and because he’ll have an older brother and we’ll have to fit in with his needs as well.  That said, at least, for these precious few pre months and post months, I now feel that I’ve made the effort to ensure he’s going to be treated as royally as his brother was. Possibly none of these things will matter to him, but at least I feel a bit better about myself as a result.

13 comments:

  1. Lovely post, and just remember EB will have a big older brother to adore and look up to - something that Pip never had!

    I live your Blog Redesign too, lovely blossom on the header.

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    1. *like not 'live' - that would be scary!

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  2. This is something I've realised, that if I decide to have baby number two, I will have to do somethings the same - like the photography. We had photos of Little A too when she was about a month old, paid an arm and a leg for them, and most of them are still in the folder, nearly three years later, waiting to be hung on the walls. Don't feel bad - it's always different second time around - and there will be things, maybe in your parenting style, that you will do differently, that you didn't do with Pip, things that EB will benefit from. Anyway I love your resolve and down to earth approach to EB's first weeks - the photographs with Pip, who you are now, not who you were then. In its own way, everything will be brand new again, an unknown, with EB's totally different personality..... Good for you not reading any books - you don't need to - trust your instincts even more this time around. Ps. Are you going to have an on line baby shower :o). X.

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    1. Online baby shower? Lol - I can't even manage to set up a facebook fan page! x

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  3. I have been feeling a bit guilty about cast offs etc this time around too, I think it's natural to feel different the second time around though-too much else to think about with a toddler in tow, and also you know which products you do and don't need! I bet the maternity shots will look great. I really wish I had taken some (not necessarily professional ones) when I was pregnant with Alex, but I only have one photo of me with a bump, which is funny because this time around I feel I can't take many in case Alex says 'why didn't you do that when pregnant with me'.

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    1. The other side of the dilemma :0). So difficult trying to please everyone. x

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  4. I'm so glad you've resolved to do the pics and the bedroom. It's best to get as organized as you can now, because after he's born two years will fly by and you'll never get around to anything. a friend told me we've all got photos hanging around waiting to go into albums / be framed and that made me feel better! We have. But I know what it's like to be Miss Organized and then not be! My eldest loves looking back at photos of when I was pregnant with his brother and we remember the special time of when it was just us. So will Pip XXX

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    1. You're right. Thanks for your lovely comment. I hope Pip feels the same at looking back at the photos of me, him and bump. x

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  5. I was exactly the same as you, bump photos, newborn photos, nursery, everything pristine and new - the whole caboodle. This time around I don't have one bump photo which saddens me a bit, must make the effort to do one in the next couple of weeks! I think we will definitely have to get some family shots done of the four of us though, otherwise I know I'll regret it later on. And the pram? Busy scrubbing it to get rid of the mould! Poor Peanut :(

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    1. This really made me laugh. I have been doing exactly the same thing...scrubbing to get rid of the mould!

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  6. You had shots taken of you in the nud complete with bump? You go girl! Love the idea of a proper shoot when the new one arrives. I think it seems the biggest complaint from younger siblings is the lack of photos of them (and the enormous pile taken of the oldest). As for names - do you know you are having a boy? If so, you are welcome to nick the little man's name. It has proved fairly unusual, and really suits him so might work for you. It's Leo. I love it but I'm biased! Others I love - James, Benjamin, William. All classics.

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    1. Yes, it was most liberating! Leo is a lovely name. Your chap is very lucky. Since writing this post think we may have tentatively got one we agree on. I'm not in love with it at the moment but at least we both like it!

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  7. But you must remember as well that EB will be born to a more confident mother and have the most amazing brother. Think of all the early adventures he'll have with Pip that Pip never got experience. A few hand-me-downs are fair trade for all the excitement he'll experience.

    On a slightly different note, my favourite photo ever taken of CK is a quick snapshot on a very basic camera taken in the hospital. I've had it blown up and framed - no professional shot could match it in my eyes.

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