One Boy or Two?

>> Thursday, 12 June 2008

Elsie Button put up a hilarious post recently touching on, amongst other things, how a friend of hers is coping with going from one child to two. She also wrote very amusingly on the extremely common-place phenomena of 'Husband Down-Time', which is when men go missing in some Bermuda Triangle-type hole in the space-time continuum following their exhausting travails on the labour ward. Which is something I have experienced too. And I shall say no more about it.

Other than, you try sitting in a post-natal ward, padded up to the max, only just regaining the sense of feeling in your legs, with your baby wrapped in what appear to be old tea-towels, and see if you are able to keep your sense of humour when your husband reappears after a 6 hour absence (during which he was completely uncontactable due to a conveniently dodgy battery in his mobile phone), and he has forgotten to bring the baby-gros...

But I digress.

My initial aim was in fact to tell those of you who are currently considering making that jump from one to two children that this a decision not to be taken lightly. Think you're tired after your first baby? Forget it, amateur. Whilst there are of course wonderful moments with your newborn and your older child, I'm afraid that my overwhelming memory of that time is of exhaustion. Breastfeeding a 2 month old whilst the 2 1/2 year old is demanding a story / the potty / a sandwich / a bath / for you to fix the wheel back on his Thomas Tank Engine / your attention in any shape or form, is a far cry from the halcyon days of having only one baby to feed on the sofa whilst watching Big Brother, I'm a Celebrity, and 24 to your hearts content during maternity leave.

And I could definitely have done without the 6 months of changing 2 sets of nappies before Boy #1 was potty trained at nearly 3 years old. But I think I covered all that off in my first couple of months of blogging, so I won't bore you with it now.

In brief, going from one to two children is hard work. I won't lie; Husband and I found it tripled the work-load, not doubled it. It was a shock to the system, that's for sure.

But, but, but.

Over the last few weeks on our Australia trip, something wonderful has happened. The masterplan that we had at the back of our minds when we decided to make that leap from one to two children seems finally to be coming good. The Boys have become a unit. It may be because Boy #2 is now the right age, it may be the 5 weeks when the only play-mates they had were each other, but for whatever reason, they are now as thick as thieves.

Boy #1 and his sometimes Mini-Me are now a team, whispering under the table together, plotting mischief under the bed-clothes together (usually under my bedclothes, usually with their shoes still on), and standing hands on hips in the garden, looking quizzically in my direction as they wait for me to transform into whatever 'chase monster' they have ordered today.

Yes, I know there will be times when I will have to throw a bucket of water over them to break up their fights, when they won't speak to each other for days, and when one finds the other so frustrating that they are ready to explode. They're siblings, it wouldn't be normal if they didn't do these things (or was that just me and mine?). But for now, it's working. And it's great to see.

So, ignore my earlier rant. Have that second child. But maybe pick up a gel-filled eye-mask and some ear-plugs when you go to the chemist to buy your pregnancy test.


Grit 12 June 2008 at 21:53  

perhaps it's because of your trip and the time you all spend together ...

Nora 13 June 2008 at 06:11  

Maybe you should ask yourself, why have that second child at all? Is it necessary? Is there a golden rule that says you must? I question the validity of it. You can have a wonderful life with your only child and forgo all the "blessings" of having the second one. 13 June 2008 at 06:36  

you planning to go from two to three then PM ...? we did. go from two to three. not that there was much ''plan'' about it. she was a joy from the moment she appeared. less because i was older (much). or that i had experience (i've never been much good at harnessing the stuff). I think i just no longer cared what anybody thought about how i was coping with the job of a third. Or not

Elsie Button 13 June 2008 at 11:06  

This was a very refreshing (if a little scary) read, as everyone i speak to says the transition from one to two is a piece of cake, and much easier than having your first - to be honest i never believed that for a moment and decided that these people were living in cloud cuckoo land.

But then to hear what happens after the first hellish year or so, more than makes up for it - it must be such a joy to watch your boys becoming real buddies.

Part of me agrees with what nora has written also...

It's a hard one!

MyUtopia 13 June 2008 at 15:24  

A couple of my friends are making this transition. I just have the one and am content with having just him for awhile.

aims 13 June 2008 at 15:56  

(holding back a tear or two)

Potty Mummy 13 June 2008 at 16:40  

Grit, probably. Or maybe because Boy #2 is now making himself understood, which makes it a bit easier for them to communicate.

Hi Nora, no, there's no golden rule, and am not for a moment saying that everyone should have 2 children (for the sake of world population pressure, if nothing else!). I would never put pressure on anyone to have more than one; it's just that there are (different) benefits to having 2. And I'm quite relieved they are manifesting themselves now because it was a bit of a slog to begin with!

RM, if I were 5 - or even 2 - years younger, absolutely. But I'm not, so we are sticking at 2. And frankly, I have enough grey hairs and stretch marks already!

Elsie, it can be scary, but 'people' are right in some sense; you are definitely a great deal more relaxed about the details second time round. A friend (who has 4 children) told me once that for your first, you sterilise EVERYTHING. For the second, run the bottles under a tap. And for the third? A quick wipe out with a dishrag will suffice... (She has since had her 4th. I haven't asked how that babies get cleaned...)

Myutopia, you know, I wish I had taken more time just to enjoy being with Boy #1 before his brother arrived. Good call. And thanks for the visit!

Aims - sorry, I didn't mean to pull at your heartstrings. Am sending you a mental hug as an apology.

Jonny's Mommy 13 June 2008 at 20:41  

Oh. So glad I read this before I even thought further about the second one. I'm exhausted just reading this post. Off to have my tubes tied, I believe!

Samurai Beetle 13 June 2008 at 21:03  

I'll stick with getting the first one out and flag this post as a reference point in 2-3 years when #2 is under consideration.

Working mum 14 June 2008 at 14:03  

I'm under no illusions - I'm sticking with one!

Glad your boys are getting along and it feels right to have them both. Just a word of warning for the future: my brother and I tried to kill each other as teenagers. I guess there are phases for siblings.

We're good friends now though!

Potty Mummy 14 June 2008 at 15:35  

J's Mommy, I would hate to be responsible for such a big decision - it's different for everyone, and of course there is no right or wrong answer on the 1 vs 2 debate...

SB, and then you'll ignore it. Just don't say I didn't warn you...

WM, my sis and I were not the best of friends whilst growing up either. But now, she's my best friend. I may be lucky, who knows? (Though not sure my parents thought they were whilst we were both living in the same house!)

Expatmum 14 June 2008 at 17:56  

I'll tell you what's exhausting - having the "bonus baby" when your older two are 10 and 7 and you've forgotten how exhausting the whole thing was the first time round, and you're 41 and your husband has just started his own company so is working rather long hours.
All seems like a bit of a fog now. Ladies, be warned.

Potty Mummy 14 June 2008 at 20:41  

Thanks EPM for that timely reminder - especially since I'm 41 and the bonus baby (love that description) keeps popping up in my mind as a possibility via friends who are going for it and on a wave of my own hormones...

Vika 14 June 2008 at 20:50  

Like the honesty. I am surrounded by people who tell me it's a breeze going from 1 to 2, but I always suspected those hours of reading while the baby peacefully feeds are confined to the first child. It must be incredibly exhausting with a very demanding toddler and a newborn! I suppose though as you say it all gets so much better when they are older. So a couple of years of hell and then it's worth it. Is that what you are saying?

Potty Mummy 14 June 2008 at 21:21  

At this point in time, Vika, yes it is worth it. Ask me again when they've spent the afternoon fighting like cat and dog though, and you might get a different answer... (But yes, joking aside, ultimately for me, it is worth it.)

Mel 16 June 2008 at 16:28  

Just wait until you go from two to three. That momentary idea that turns inot trying, then pregnancy and then a new life is wonderful but with a nearly 4 year old and a 2 year old I frequently doubt my own sanity. Having said that September beckons the eldest to school full time and the middle one to nursery so maybe there is life after the summer...

Motheratlarge 16 June 2008 at 20:20  

Oh cripes. I'm for it now. Three weeks to go until number two is due to arrive. No idyllic snuggle time on sofa watching rubbish TV? Really? How come nobody told me all this earlier? Still, fraternal bonding in Oz sounds heart-warming.

Potty Mummy 17 June 2008 at 21:32  

Mel, hi, and thanks for the visit. And what you said is mainly why we AREN'T going from two to three. No way, no how. Not until those pesky hormones get the better of me, anyway.

Helen, hello and sorry for scaring you. And nobody tells you, you're right, it's like some giant joke they play on those of us with only 1. Having said all that, you won't be sorry. Exhausted, maybe, but not sorry...

Carolyn 21 June 2008 at 18:31  

The last part was nice and all, but the first part has scared me back into not wanting the second. Er, well maybe not. I don't know. I'm so confused. Thanks for this post. It's only confirmed that I have no idea what I want. All I know is that exhaustion does not look good on me.

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