Tuesday, April 13, 2010

+ 1 Changes Everything

Being pregnant for the second time, I have reflected a lot about the changes this addition will bring to our family. The changes a first child brings are more obvious: they turn a couple into a family, it adds a lot of responsibility and requires many sacrifices, especially when it comes to flexibility and activities, but it more than makes up for it with the kind of love that is beyond anything one can imagine: the unconditional love between a parent and a child. One is also rewarded with the amazing experience of watching this child grow from a completely dependent infant to a more and more independent person, with a unique character.

Being pregnant for the second time, I experienced a lot of "been there, done that" (didn't get a T-shirt though). I knew about what I had to expect of being pregnant, even though this pregnancy was much different from my first (that's why it took us 10 weeks to find out). Of course, the birth experience itself couldn't have been more different, with a prolonged 60 hour labor and a birth under heavy epidural at a military hospital with Lily to a 14 hour start-to-finish labor with a completely unmedicated birth in the peace and quiet of a birth center with just the midwife, the student, and Richard by my side.

But how would bringing this precious little angel home with us change our family? I gave that much thought, especially during the last weeks of pregnancy. How would Lily adjust from being the only child at the center of our family to being a big sister? How would the arrival of a second child change the relationship between me and my husband? How will our family transform to include our second child? Over those questions I could only speculate.

Thus, even though we've done it before, we started our family on a completely new experience bringing Violet home on April 5. Early morning on April 6, after not getting too much sleep due to a restless baby, our little Tornado Lily stormed our bedroom to investigate her new sister. All our fears about her being jealous of her little sister for having to share much of the attention that was focused on her so far, were completely unfounded. Lily fell in love with Violet the second she saw her, and we constantly need to hold her back from sharing her excited love with her little sister. She is sharing her toys and her food (which of course she can't quite do at that point), and wants to hug and kiss Violet constantly. Within seconds, Lily has transformed from our baby to being a protective big sister, and we are amazed each time how much love she displays for Violet despite struggling with some issues of being a 2-year old. We as parents also had to learn a few things, most importantly that even though our girls are siblings, they already show different personalities, as well as likes and dislikes. While Lily as a baby was constantly wiggling around and HATED being restrained, we learned fairly quickly that the only way to get Violet to sleep in her own bed was swaddling her tightly in a couple of blankets. But we also enjoy seeing how much alike Lily and Violet are in other aspects: they both are/were very alert babies, being awake for hours at a time, soaking their environment in like a sponge; they are/were both active and enjoy moving around (Lily could hold her head up for a few seconds within a week while Violet already rolls to her side, since she's a determined side-sleeper).

Our family has truly changed in its very foundations. We are all learning our roles and enjoy the experience, even though it sometimes drives us up the wall. We are looking forward to watching our girls grow up together to be strong and independent individuals. I can't wait for Lily helping Violet on her first attempts to walk, and eventually having both girls storm our bed at the crack of dawn. Thinking about the future makes me smile thinking about all the gifts these two little girls are going to give us without even being aware of it. Being a parent of two couldn't be more different from being a parent of one, but every challenge is met with the so much more rewarding gift of love from our daughters. I couldn't be more grateful for both of our miracle girls!

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