The other night, I was at a relative’s house with the kids when the unthinkable happened. My eight-month-old, who was enjoying a slice of an apple, choked on a piece. And I don’t mean that he made a funny face and heaved, like he does every time I give him something to eat (that is the general reaction my cooking gets anyway), I mean that a small piece got stuck in his throat, he went bright red and was gasping for breath. I’ve seen a few children’s first aid videos and so tried my best to mirror what I’d seen on them and, thankfully, by luck more than skill, the piece was dislodged.
When I told my husband about it later, it struck me that I had been remarkably calm when it happened. After the piece came out, I put the baby back on floor to play, gave him another slice of apple and then just carried on watching TV whilst periodically looking back at him. Don’t get me wrong, obviously I was worried for the split second when I saw what was happening, but I sprang into action, dealt with it and then resumed my active effort to avoid social interaction. When something similar happened with my daughter a few years ago with a toasted finger, I remember how much it unnerved me for the rest of the day. In fact, I unfriended toast for about a month after. It got me thinking about how different everything is with the second child.
The differences started right from the beginning. I remember finding out that I was pregnant with my daughter; how I took the test as early as possible, how excited I was to tell my husband, how he flung his arms around me and was overjoyed. Come to think of it, that was probably the last time he embraced me in that way…possibly because it was the last time he was able to get his arms around me! When I came downstairs after taking the test for my second pregnancy, our conversation went something like this:
Husband: You were ages in the bathroom! Was it that chicken that you made last night? You better not have stunk it out because I need to go now. It must have been that chicken.
Me: No, but thank you for your positive appraisal of my cooking. I was taking a pregnancy test, actually! And it was positive.
Husband: Oh…Well, that’s good, I suppose. You better make an appointment with the doctor or someone.
[Goes to the bathroom]
Throughout my entire first pregnancy, I was so in tune with my body. I knew exactly what was going to be happening at what stage, the exact gestation to the day, any new pattern of movement and worried over every new symptom. I packed my hospital bag a month in advance, even though I had got all the things I needed long before that and was itching to put them in the especially purchased travel bag, but the baby books I read said to pack it when you’re 36 weeks, so I waited until that exact day. During my second pregnancy, I struggled to remember how many months pregnant I was and when the midwife would tell me that I should inform them if I notice anything different about the baby’s movements, I remember thinking ‘Unless the baby suddenly decides to start doing the Cha Cha Slide, I am not going to notice anything!’ Also, as soon as my son was born, my husband had to run to a chemist to buy me maternity pads (that felt like they were made from steel) because I had forgotten to pack half of the things I needed.
I had an 18 hour labour with my daughter, but, despite this, I was really calm throughout. My husband was really unwell himself, but he was uncharacteristically great at every stage; he said all the right things, was reassuring, encouraging and comforting. He’s not someone who wears his heart on his sleeve, but I’ll never forget how emotional he was when our beautiful daughter was born and how he was beaming with pride when he nervously held her for the first time.
When I went into labour the second time, it would appear that the calmness and patience I displayed first time around was taken away with the placenta. It was so quick that I literally had to hold the baby in until I got to the hospital. When we got there, the nurses that came to the car to fetch me didn’t even bring a sodding wheelchair! One kept saying, “Come on, we need to get you to a room quickly. We don’t want you having the baby in the carpark now, do we?” I remember thinking, “You try walking with a little person dangling out of you! Let’s have the baby in the carpark, let’s invite the 3am crowd over at A&E to watch, I’ve even brought snacks for them (Yes, I remembered to pack crisps and chocolate, but forgot maternity pads), just let me get this baby out!” I delivered my son just three minutes later. My husband’s reaction was priceless:
“I can’t believe you just pushed out a baby in less than three minutes! I’m not being funny, but some of my poos take longer than that to come out!”
I should point out that, for those of you that are familiar with my blog, it may seem like we talk about poo a lot in our family and, truth be told, we probably do! My husband has Colitis, which affects his bowels and we have two children under 4, so the things we say are, literally, full of (sh)it!
I don’t want to bore you with endless anecdotes of how things changed between my first and second child, so I’ve come up with a handy table to save the strain on your eyes.
|Event/Stage in Development||First Child||Second Child|
|Choice of nappies/wipes||Always named brands and even considered using cloth nappies because of the chemicals supposedly used in disposable nappies (What a tit I was!) I didn’t even use wipes for the first 6 months and would clean with wet cotton pads.||Asda own brand nappies and wipes after about 3 weeks.|
|Night time routine||Bath, milk, story, lullaby whilst being rocked, ear pressed against the monitor for most of the rest of the evening, going up at the slightest sound.||Milk, nappy change, cuddles, cot.|
|Dealing with poo explosions||Another bath and change of clothes||A bath only if one was due anyway, otherwise cleaned with half a packet of wipes. Clothes only changed if they can’t be cleaned with wipes.|
|Sensory activities/stimulation||Baby groups, sensory room, daily walks, books with flaps, swimming, a little tummy time because she didn’t like being left on her own.||Trips to and from nursery, weekly shop at Asda, books with the flaps ripped off, half an hour a week at baby group, plenty of tummy time because he spends most of the time on the floor.|
|Weaning||Homemade purees made from fresh fruit and vegetables, organised into labelled freezer pots, given at specific times. Absolutely no salt or sugar for the first year.||Sliced fruit and veg that he fed himself for the first 4 weeks and then he just ate what we ate, when we ate it.|
|Parenting style||Involved in all types of play for most of the day, always watching/hovering over child, promptly removing child from any situation that could cause as much as a hiccup.||Involved in play