Second Child Shortcuts
'We'll treat them both the same!' we said. As second children ourselves, we should have known this was a lie.
When I was pregnant with Jude, people were very quick to advise 'you'll be so much more relaxed this time round. It'll be a breeze in comparison.' Relaxed, I've discovered, is parent-code for slack.
I feel it necessary to put it out that I was not exactly precious with Henry. But I did at least attempt to do things properly. You know, like they say. Whoever they are.
And Jude? Well, not so much. But you know what, I don't feel bad. Because I've realised that much of what we practiced first time around was so bloody unnecessary.
We didn’t crack out cotton wool and water for nappy changes second time around. We used wipes, designed for use on babies' bottoms. 'As kind to skin as water.'
As first-time parents, we expressed grave concern at every slightly damp spot on the sleepsuit shoulder. We analysed every nappy noise, and where there was doubt, changed him anyway, even at 3am when he had drifted back to sleep (because a screaming baby was obviously less of an issue than a slightly bulgy nappy).
With our current bundle of joy (now ten weeks) the 'grey area' nappy noises are ignored. Unless we can smell something. Even then, in the sleep deprived early hours, I have been known to turn a blind eye (and ear and nose).
We used to change Henry into another outfit at night. As in, his daytime babygrow would be changed into a bedtime one. We clearly had too much fucking time on our hands. Or too much surplus space in the washing machine. Our rule nowadays is simple: if it is dry and largely stain-free, it stays put. Admittedly, last week we reached a new parenting low when we used the hairdryer to give the sicky wet shoulder patch a quick blast while the baby was still in it (not recommended, but it was on the cool setting and he quite likes the noise).
And then there are all the rules. You know, the stuff you are supposed to do. Or not do.
With Henry: 'He shouldn't really be in his car seat for more than an hour or so. We best get him out.'
With Jude: 'He's asleep. Leave him. LEAVE HIM'
With Henry: 'Let's give him another bath and a little massage with some of that nice lavender stuff'.
With Jude: 'He doesn't smell, exactly. Let's just give him a wipe.'
With Henry: 'I'll read to him as it's his bedtime feed'
With Jude: 'Stick Baby TV on will you; I'm having a shower.' To be fair the other day they were doing a counting song - it's practically a lesson.
Last time, we aimed for a feed/sleep routine. Some days, we paced the living room for up to an hour to 'stretch out the feeds.' On Wednesday this week, when the whole family was really rather poorly, I breastfed Boy Two pretty much every time he cried (every time he moved). No stretching out of feeds that day. In fact, I fed him into a stupor. Milk comatose. And sometimes, I give him an unnecessary top-up feed so I can do the washing (watch Made in Chelsea). Needs must.
And then there's the crying. Henry was picked up at the slightest grizzle. Which, to be honest, meant he was never bloody down. What could be wrong with him? Poor baby. I am not a fan of controlled crying (in general) but Jude is, regrettably, sometimes left to cry. It is more uncontrolled crying. As in, his newly potty-trained brother is shouting that he needs a poo, there are no clean muslin cloths in the house so the washing pile can no longer be ignored, the kettle has been boiled and re-boiled ten bloody times and I will have that sodding cup of tea if it kills me ...
For Henry’s first Christmas, we overspent. For Jude’s upcoming first Christmas, we are being realistic. He will be 15 weeks old, unable to yet sit up, quite probably no interest even in the wrapping paper. He does not need a fucking stocking.
So no we haven't been treating our second child the same. Occasionally, I do have a pang of guilt. But mostly, I reckon it will do him good. I'd put money on him being more laid back as a result. Henry will always be our 'precious firstborn' because he made us a family. But Jude is equally as precious because he completed it. The odd damp shoulder and suspicious nappy doesn't seem to have done him any harm so far.